Author: Uncertain – Thought to be the prophet Samuel
Ruth tells the story of the Moabitess and her mother-in-law Naomi. The two women return to Naomi’s homeland where Ruth, the foreigner, marries Boaz. Ruth was the great-grandmother of David, the ancestor of Jesus.
Two key passages to pay attention to:
Ruth 1:16 – “Ruth said, ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.'”
Ruth 3:11 – “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.”
Ruth chapter 4 is a key chapter in this short book. In twenty-two verses Ruth moves from being a widow and poverty stricken to marriage and wealth. In exercising the law of regulating the redemption of property (Leviticus 25:25-34) and the law concerning a brother’s duty to raise children in the name of the deceased (Deuteronomy 25:5-10), Boaz brings a Moabite woman into the family line of David and eventually of Jesus Christ.
Observations about the book of Ruth
1. Ruth is a story of love, devotion, and redemption set in the days of the Judges.
2. Ruth, a Moabite, forsakes her pagan heritage in order to cling to the people of Israel. Because of her faithfulness in a time of national unfaithfulness, God rewards her by giving her a new husband (Boaz), a son (Obed), and a priviledged position in the lineage of David and Christ.
3. The book of Ruth takes place in four distinct settings: the country of Moab (1:1-18), a field in Bethlehem (1:19-2:23), a threshing floor in Bethlehem (3:1-18), and the city of Bethlehem (4:1-22).
4. Love is demonstrated in chapters 1 and 2 and is rewarded in chapters 3 and 4.
There are two divisions in the book of Ruth
The story begins with a famine in Israel, a sign of disobedience and apostasy. An Israelite named Elimelech moves from Bethlehem to Moab. Although he seeks life in that land, he and his two sons Nahlon and Chilion find only death. The deceased sons leave behind two Moabite widows, Orpah and Ruth. Elimelech’s widow, Naomi, hears that the famine in Israel is over and decides to return, no longer as Naomi (Pleasant) but as Mara (Bitter). She tells her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab and remarry since there was no security for an unmarried woman in those days. Orpah chooses to leave Naomi and is never mentioned again.Ruth, on the other hand, resolves to go with Naomi and follow Yahweh, the God of Israel.
In doing so, Ruth gives up her culture, people, and language. Noami’s misfortune leads her to believe God is her enemy, but He has plans that she does not yet realize. In her plight, she must let Ruth glean at the edge of a field, a humiliating task because of the character of many of the reapers of those times. God’s providential care brings her to the field of Boaz who begins to protect, love, and provide for her.
Boaz takes no further steps toward marriage, so Naomi follows the accepted customs of the day and requests that Boaz exercise his right as kinsman-redeemer. Boaz reveals two reasons why he has taken no action: He is older than Ruth (perhaps 20 years) and he is not the nearest kinsman. Nevertheless, God rewards Ruth’s devotion by giving her Boaz as a husband and by providing her with a son.
Ruth 4:16-17 – Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.