The Book of Ruth
"What star of Messianic truth
More beautiful than Gentile Ruth?
In her the Gentiles find a place
To share the hope of Judah's race;
Now see from royal David's line
One hope for Jew and Gentile shine!"
The Interpreters' Bible gives the following outline of the book of Ruth:
1. Moab (1:1-18)
2. Bethlehem (1:19-22)
3. The Harvest (2:1-23)
4. The Threshing Floor (3:1-18)
5. The Gate (4:1-12)
6. Conclusion (4:13-22)
This outline is about the only conservative part of the commentary on this book. For the rest the interpreter,
Louise Pettibone Smith, takes a very liberal stand on the background of the book. There is a strong influence of
'Higher Criticism' to be detected. Keil & Delitsch is more to my taste at this point.
In Sidlow Baxter's book 'Exploring the Book' the more idyllic outline is given:
Chapter 1. Love's resolve: (Ruth's noble choice)
Chapter 2. Love's response: (Ruth's lowly service)
Chapter 3. Love's request: (Ruth's tender appeal)
Chapter 4. Love's reward" (Ruth's marital joys)
The purpose of the book:
Undoubtedly the last section of the book (4:17-22) is the reason why the book was written and why it was
placed in the canon of Scripture.
Vs.17 "The women living there said,"Naomi has a son." And they named him Obed. He was the father of
Jesse, the father of David." Vs.22 "Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David." But an even more
compelling reason for the inclusion of this book in the whole Bible is found in Matth 1:5,6 "Salmon the father of
Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, And
Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife". It is
the inclusion of Ruth in the genealogy of the Messiah, which gives the meaning and content to this book.
Of course in the Old Testament days this latter truth was still hidden. It was the person of David, who
gave reasons for the writing of Ruth, but the promise of the coming of the Messiah is written all over these pages.
That was why offspring was so important, as well as the fact that a mans name should be kept alive in his children.
The main reason for God's choice of Abraham and the people born from him, Israel, was to introduce the Son of God
into the world. The promise to Abraham in Gen 12:3 ".... and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
had to do with the coming of Jesus. That was why the purity of the Jewish race was so important. See Mal. 2:14,15
- "You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth,
because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not
(the LORD) made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly
offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth." The KJV says
"that he may seek godly seed". That was the main purpose for maintaining the purity of the Jewish race. That is why
the 'levirat's marriage was instituted, as we read in Deut 25:5 -"If brothers are living together and one of them dies
without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her
and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her."
Probably of secondary importance, but yet a point that is clearly made in the book, is the fact that Ruth, as
a Moabitess is integrated in the nation of Israel and even becomes an important link in the history of the nation and
of the whole world. The curse on the Moabites, of which we read in Deut 23:3 (No Ammonite or Moabite or any of
his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation) was cancelled in her case.
This shows that faith can break through concrete walls that were historically erected. It is true that Ruth
was a Moabite woman and the curse was addressed to the male members of that nation. But her offspring would have
been forbidden to worship God at the tabernacle, had it not been for her faith in Jehovah.
Of the four women mentioned in Matth.1 in Jesus' genealogy, Ruth is the only pure character. The other
three had all a record of immoral behavior. She is one of the most shining women in the Old Testament.
The time of writing:
Obviously the book could not have been written before the reign of David. Commentaries that are under the
influence of 'Higher Criticism' talk about the post exile period, just a few centuries before the birth of Christ.
There are some Aramaic expressions in the book, which should indicate this period. Keil and Delitsch reject this
theory. The Aramaic words would indicate at the most that the version we possess is a later edition. People in later
centuries, who would find a King James Bible published in our days, could come to the conclusion that this Bible
was only written in the twentieth century. There is no reason to believe that the book was not written during the
period David reigned.
Who wrote it?
The author is not mentioned. The assumption that Samuel is the author, is nothing more than an
assumption. It is even an unlikely one. It is more logical to believe that it was written during the time David was
king over the twelve tribes, which was after Samuel's death.
Ruth's place in the canon:
The Jews put the book with the 'Feast Scrolls'. The placement of Ruth following the book of Judges comes
from the Septuagint. Since the story takes place during the days of the Judges, this makes sense.