Survey of Ruth

Book Type: Book of History; the eighth book of the Old Testament; eighth book of the Bible.

Author: Tradition records the prophet Samuel as the author. The book itself does not name its writer.

Audience: The book of Ruth was written to the Jewish people, likely during the time of David's reign as king. This audience was familiar with David, yet likely lacked the background of his family line beyond his father Jesse. The book of Ruth provides two benefits to that audience. First is a powerful relational account. Second is a theological narrative, connecting David with his ancestors in a manner reflecting God's love and divine plan.

Date: Likely written between 1011 and 931 BC.

Overview: This book consists of 4 chapters. Scholars often separate the text into seven sections. The first section provides the background of Elimelech and Naomi's downfall in Moab (Ruth 1:1–5). Naomi's husband and two sons die, leaving her with only two daughters-in-law.

Second, Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:6–22). Ruth refuses to return to her own people, but remains loyal to Naomi and her God.

Third, Boaz accepts Ruth as a worker in his field (Ruth 2:1–23). This action highlights the generosity of Boaz in addition to the hardworking attitude of Ruth. Both individuals seek to serve the Lord and show concern for others in need.

Fourth, Ruth suggests marriage with Boaz (Ruth 3:1–18). Boaz is flattered, realizing she could have sought a younger man. Instead, she sought marriage with a person of integrity who was also part of Naomi's family in accordance with the Mosaic law. However, Boaz also seeks to show discretion and proceed through the appropriate steps.

Fifth, Boaz redeems Ruth before the people of his community (Ruth 4:1–12). Everyone in the community accepts the decision and supports their marriage. Sixth, God honors Boaz and Ruth with a son (Ruth 4:13–17). He is named Obed and became the grandfather of David. Naomi's bitterness turns to joy as she becomes a grandmother and has a redeemer for her family line. Ruth is recognized as a godly woman despite not being of Jewish descent. Seventh, Ruth and Boaz's son becomes an ancestor in the line of Judah leading to King David (Ruth 4:18–22). The genealogy presents the connection between Perez, from the tribe of Judah, down to David, supporting his rightful status as the king of Judah.

Key Verses (ESV):

Ruth 1:16: "But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.'"

Ruth 3:9: "He said, 'Who are you?' And she answered, 'I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.'"

Ruth 4:17: "And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, 'A son has been born to Naomi.' They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David."