Ruth, or the book of Ruth, (/rθ/; Hebrew: רוּת, Modern Rut Tiberian Rūθ) is a text from the Hebrew Scriptures, and bares the name of its protagonist. Ruth can be found in Ketuvim of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), as well as the Old Testament. The narrative shows how Ruth became an ancestress of David by undergoing brother-in-law marriage with Boaz in behalf of her mother-in-law Naomi.[1]

Textual sourcesEdit

The textual sources for Ruth derive from 10th century Masoretic text and the Dead Sea Scrolls.[2]

  • Masoretic text, Ruth
  • 2Q16 Rutha (2QRutha), Ruth
  • 2Q17 Ruthb (2QRuthb), Ruth
  • 4Q104 Rutha (4QRutha), Ruth
  • 4Q105 Ruthb (4QRuthb), Ruth


Jewish tradition credits Samuel with the writership of the book of Ruth. Since the account concludes with David’s genealogy, this suggests that the writer was making a connection between the Messiah and David. According to the Book of Samuel, the prophet Samuel anointed David to be king. It would have been appropriate for Samuel to make a record of David’s ancestral background (1Sa 16:1, 13).[1] The genealogical inclusion was carefully crafted and integrates the book of Ruth into the history of Israel running from Genesis to Kings.[3]


With the exception of the genealogical listing (Ru 4:18-22), the events related in the book of Ruth cover a period of about 11 years in the time of the Judges, though it is not stated exactly when it was during this period that they occurred.[4] The record provides background material that illustrates and illuminates other parts of the Bible. The application of the laws involving gleaning (Le 19:9, 10; De 24:19-22; Ru 2:1, 3, 7, 15-17, 23) and brother-in-law marriage (De 25:5-10; Ru 3:7-13; 4:1-13) are vividly portrayed. There is also attention given to God's guidance in the preservation of the line of descent leading to the Messiah and also in the choice of individuals for that line. Israelite women who were married to a man of the tribe of Judah had the possible prospect of contributing to Messiah’s earthly line of descent. (Ge 49:10) Ruth, as a Moabitess who was favored, illustrates a Christian principle stated by the apostle Paul: “It depends, not upon the one wishing nor upon the one running, but upon God, who has mercy.” (Ro 9:16) Ruth had chosen Naomi's God–Jehovah (Biblical Hebrew: יהוה, YHWH; Tiberian Hebrew: Yahweh) as her God and Israel as her people, thus Jehovah grants to her “a perfect wage” in permitting her to become a link to the Messiah.[5]

Main charactersEdit


Ruth, was a Moabitess who married Mahlon after the death of his father Elimelech. She and Mahlon, his mother Naomi, and his brother Chilion were all living in Moab. A famine had caused the family to leave their native Bethlehem in Judah. Ruth’s brother-in-law Chilion was married to the Moabitess Orpah. Eventually the two brothers died, leaving behind childless widows. Learning that God's favor was again manifest in Israel, Naomi, accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, proceeded to return to Judah.—Ru 1:1-7; 4:9, 10.[6]


Naomi, was the mother-in-law of Ruth, the ancestress of David and of Jesus, according to the book of Matthew–Mt 1:5.[7]

Naomi was the wife of Elimelech, an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, in the days of the Judges. During a severe famine she and her husband and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, moved to Moab. There Elimelech died. The sons then married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah, but about ten years later these sons died childless.—Ru 1:1-5.[7]

The bereaved Naomi decided to return to Judah. Her two widowed daughters-in-law started to accompany her, but Naomi recommended that they return and marry in their own land, for Naomi herself had “grown too old to get to belong to a husband” and could provide no sons as husbands for them. Orpah turned back, but Ruth stuck with Naomi, out of love for Naomi and her God–Jehovah (Biblical Hebrew: יהוה, YHWH; Tiberian Hebrew: Yahweh).—Ru 1:6-17.[7]

Upon arrival in Bethlehem, Naomi said to the women greeting her: “Do not call me Naomi [My Pleasantness]. Call me Mara [Bitter], for the Almighty has made it very bitter for me.” (Ru 1:18-21) Since it was the time of barley harvest, Ruth lovingly went to work gleaning for the support of Naomi and herself, and by chance she lighted upon the field of Boaz. (Ru 2:1-18) When she told Naomi in whose field she was working, Naomi recognized the hand of Jehovah in the matter, inasmuch as Boaz was a near kinsman of Elimelech and therefore one of their repurchasers. She encouraged Ruth to bring this fact to Boaz’ attention. (Ru 2:19–3:18) Boaz quickly responded, following the customary legal procedure in repurchasing Elimelech’s property from Naomi. Ruth then became the wife of Boaz in Naomi’s behalf, in accord with the law of levirate, or brother-in-law, marriage. When a son was born to them, the neighbor ladies gave it the name Obed, saying: “A son has been born to Naomi.” Thus Obed became legal heir to the Judean house of Elimelech.—Ru 4:1-22.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Insight (1988) Vol.2, pp.829-830, Ruth, Book of
  2. Dead Sea Scrolls: Scriptural Book Transcriptions
  3. West, Gerald (2003). "Ruth". in Dunn, James D.G.; Rogerson, John William. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Eerdmans. p. 211. ISBN 9780802837110. 
  4. Insight (1988) Vol.2, pp.829-830, Ruth, Book of—Ru 1:1, 4, 22; 2:23; 4:13.
  5. Insight (1988) Vol.2, pp.829-830, Ruth, Book of—Ru 2:12; 4:13-17
  6. Insight (1988) Vol.2, pp.828-830, Ruth
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Insight (1988) Vol.2, pp.p. 469, Naomi
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