Home   e-Library       中文 
e-Library Home |  Browse By Category |  Study the Bible    
Book of Ruth

Book of Ruth

I.       Introduction

A.                 Date and Author

Although the story is ostensibly set in the days of the Judges (about 1375 B.C.), it has nothing in common with the sanguinary tales of international and inter–tribal warfare in that period of time.  Since the woman Ruth is a Moabitess, not an Israelite, the book expresses a sympathetic feeling toward foreigners who put themselves under the protection of Israel’s God.  For this reason, plus the similarity in both content and language with the postexilic period Scriptures, many have assumed it to be a postexilic composition based on an older tale.

B.                  Place in the Canon

Ruth follows Judges in today’s Bible.  It’s placed there to fit the chronological sequence.  In Hebrew Canon, it appears in the third division (“Writings”) of the threefold Canon, under a group of five books called “Megilloth” (Song, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther).  These books are read by the Jews at annual feast or holidays.  The harvest field setting of Ruth makes it an appropriate liturgy for the harvest festival, Pentecost.

C.                 Main purposes of the Book

1.        Genealogy

The book introduces a few of the ancestors of David, the royal lineage of Christ the Messiah, especially the inclusion of a non–Israelite, Moabitess Ruth, in this line (c.f. Mt 1:1–6).

2.        Typology

The -el (Kinsman-redeemer) Boaz is the prominent Messianic type.  Ruth then is the type of the church.

3.        Theology

Underlying the entire book is its revelation of the character and ways of God:  His providence, sovereignty, grace, holiness and His invitation of salvation to all people.

4.        History

The book describes a few intimate experiences of a godly family of Bethlehem during the period of the judges.

II.    Content and Teachings

A.                 Elimelech and his family moved to Moab (1:1–5)

1.        There was a famine in the land …

 a.      “Famine” serves as a trial to the faith (Gen 12:10ff; 26:1–5) or the chastisement to the disobedient (Deut 11:13–17; 2 Ch 6:26–31) from God. 

 b.      Perseverance and repentance are the merits required at the time of tribulation (Mt 24:13; Jas 1:2–4; 1 Kg 18:20–45; c.f. Jer 42:13–17).

2.        They went into the country of Moab and remained there.

 a.      Moabites were barred from participation in the life of Israel, and the Israelites were forbidden to seek their prosperity (Deut 23:3–6).

3.        Mahlon and Chilion took Moabites wives …

 a.      “You shall not make marriage with them … For they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods … ”(Deut 7:1–11).

 b.      Abraham determined to find a wife for Isaac among his kindred (Gen 24:1–9).

4.        The woman was bereft of her two sons and her husband (1:5)

B.                  Returning to Bethlehem (1:6–22)

1.        For Naomi had heard that the Lord had visited his people and given them food (1:6; Lk 15:11–18).

2.        For it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me(1:13).

3.        Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara …” (1:19–22).

 a.      “For the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me”.

 b.      “I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty”.

4.        Ruth’s Decision (1:15–18)

 a.      Orpah has gone back to her people and to her gods (1:5)

 b.      Ruth’s decision:

“Where you go I will go and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you” (1:16–17).

C.                 Between Ruth and Naomi in Bethlehem

1.        “Let me go to the field … ”, “Go, my daughter”  (Ex 20:12; Lev 19:32; 1 Sam 3:1–9; Lk 2:51; Col 3:20–21)

2.        She showed her mother–in–law what she had gleaned, and she also brought out and gave her what food she had left over (2:18).

3.        Conversation between Naomi and Ruth (2:19–22)

 a.      “My daughter, should I not seek a home for you, that it may be well with you?” (3:1; 1 Cor 13:5; Phil 2:4)

 b.      “All that you say I will do” (3:5)

4.        Boaz’s comments

 a.      “All that you have done for your mother–in–law has been fully told me…” (2:11–12)

 b.      “… for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of worth” (3:11).

5.        Women’s comment

 a.      “ … for your daughter–in–law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons … ” (4:15)

D.                 D.         Boaz’s Temperament

1.        Gracious to servants (2:4; Col 4:1)

2.        Loving and caring for the needy (2:8–9, 14–16)

3.        Pure and holy (3:6–11)

4.        Considerate (3:13–14)

5.        Respectful/righteous (3:13, 4:1–10)

E.                  Words of Grace (Col 4:6; Jas 3:17–18; Rom 12:14)

1.        Naomi to her daughters–in–law

“May the Lord deal kindly with you …” (1:8)

2.        Boaz to the reapers

“The Lord be with you!” (2:4)

3.        The reapers to Boaz

“The Lord bless you!” (2:4)

4.        Boaz to Ruth

“The Lord recompenses you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord …” (12:12)

5.        Naomi to Boaz

“Blessed be he by the Lord …” (2:20)

6.        Boaz to Ruth

“May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter …” (3:10)

7.        The people and the elders to Boaz

“May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel … ” (4:11–12)

8.        Women to Naomi

“Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next to kin …” (4:14–15).

F.                  Descendants of Boaz and Ruth (4:17–22; Mt 1:1–6)

G.                 Final notes

1.        Levirate marriage (Lev 25:5–10)

2.        Rules of gleaning (Deut 24:19–22; Lev 19:9–10)

3.        Meanings of Names

 a.      Naomi– pleasant one

 b.      Elimelechmy god is king

 c.      Mahlonsick

 d.      Chilionpining

 e.      Orpahneck(i.e. stubbornness)

 f.       Ruth– friendship

 g.      Boaz– in him is strength

4.        Kinsman–redeemer (–el)

5.        Typical interpretation

 a.      Deciding by Faith –> Gleaning under Grace –> Communing in Fellowship –> Resting in Redemption