The Book of Ruth of the Tanakh

The Book of Ruth

Ruth or the Book of Ruth is a text of the Old Testament, i.e. the Tanakh. Also known as “the Scroll of Ruth” or Megilath Ruth, it forms a part of the Ketuvim (Writings) section of the Jewish canon. The Book of Ruth is considered to be a historical text in Christian canon and is positioned with the Book of Judges and Book of Samuel 1. The exact author of the Book of Ruth is not known. Although Jewish traditions associated with the Talmud indicate that the book was written by the prophet Samuel, there are no strong evidences to suggest so. The text itself of the book of Ruth makes no mention of the author. One of the main reasons why many scholars reject the idea that it was written by Samuel is that it mentions the name of King David which suggests a later date. Also, the literary aspects of the Hebrew language used in the Book of Ruth suggest that the text was written at the time of monarchy.

Elimelech lived with his wife Naomi and 2 sons Chilion and Mahlon in Israel. When a famine broke out in Bethlehem, they moved to Moab. Elimelech died after a point of time and his 2 sons got married to 2 Moabite women. Chilion married Orpah and Mahlon married Ruth. With the passage of time, the two brothers died as well, leaving their wives and mother.

After spending about 10 years in the land of Moab, Naomi chose to go back to Bethlehem. Naomi told her two daughter-in-laws to go back to their mothers and remarry. Although Orpah left reluctantly, Ruth refused to do so, and told Naomi not to plead her to return, as she is inclined to accompany her mother-in-law wherever she goes, stay wherever she stays and die where Naomi dies. Ruth further stated she will accept Naomi’s people (Jewish people) and her God (Yahweh) as her own.

Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem during the early period of barley harvest. Ruth took to gleaning in the fields in order to provide for herself and her mother-in-law. Boaz, the man who owned the fields, was kind and sympathetic to her condition for her loyalty to Naomi. Ruth continued to glean the fields for the remaining of the wheat and barley harvesting season.

As Boaz was a relative of Mahlon’s family, he was obliged to marry Ruth according to Levirate law for carrying on the inheritance of his family. According to Naomi’s instructions, Ruth went to the place where Boaz was sleeping during the night; she slept near his feet at which Boaz woke up feeling startled. They both interacted that night and Boaz said that although Ruth was a close member of the family, he had someone else who was closer and so he deterred to the needful at that moment. Ruth remained in submission at Boaz’s feet for the night and went back to the city next morning.

When Boaz discussed the matter with another male relative Ploni Almoni, he gave up his own right of redemption as he was not willing to endanger his own inheritance rights. Boaz thus got married to Ruth and between them had a son who was named Obed. Obed was to become a forefather of David.


The Book of Ruth of the Tanakh Chapters

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4