The Book of Ruth

I. Title

        The English title is the same as the title of the book in Hebrew.

II. Author and Setting

        The author of the book of Ruth is unknown. From the genealogy at the end (4:18-22) the book obviously could have been composed no earlier than the time of David. Two periods have generally been proposed for the date of Ruth, one, during the post-exilic period of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the second, during the reign of either David or Solomon.

Late Date:

1. Linguistic clues -- apparent use of Aramaic words and grammar, pointing to a time when Hebrew was being replaced by Aramaic in daily life.
2. Theological -- reminding people of David's foreign ancestry (Moabite) in the face of anti-foreign sentiment during the post-exilic period.

Early Date:

1. Linguistic clues -- the supposed Aramaisms can be explained in other ways, and there is wide ranging evidence of rather archaic language in the book, in contrast.
2. The book does not seem to have such a polemical purpose, and Ruth's Moabite origin is not such an important feature of the story.
3. The story of Ruth seems consistent with the sorts of literature that was being produced during the time of David and Solomon.

III. Outline

I. Ruth joins Israel 1:1-22
II. Ruth meets Boaz 2:1-23
III. Ruth traps Boaz 3:1-18
IV. Ruth marries Boaz 4:1-22

Questions on Ruth

1. What is the purpose or theme of the book of Ruth?
2. How does Leviticus 19:9-10 explain Ruth 2:2?
3. Read Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Leviticus 25:25 and 27:9-33, and Genesis 38; how do those passages help explain what transpires in the book of Ruth?
4. Why did Naomi suggest that Ruth go to Boaz after he had been partying and uncover his feet? Consider Exodus 4:25, Judges 3:24, 1 Samuel 24:3, and Ezekiel 16:25, where the word "feet" and/or "uncovering the feet" is used.
5. Deuteronomy 23:2-8 forbids the descendants of Moabites from entering the assembly of Yahweh down to the tenth generation. David is a descendant of a Moabite. How could he become king?