This study in Ruth takes a look at three extraordinary people of faith who loved Yahweh and loved others despite the culture they lived in and how Yahweh blessed them as a result. This study is ? hours long (recorded in 2018). This is worth 3 Bible CEUs along with the Judges study. 


Ruth Notes (445.45 KB)

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The book is named after Ruth, who is the focus of the story in providing a descendant for Naomi’s husband Elimelech. While Ruth is the focus in the story, the main character is actually her mother-in-law, Naomi. The story begins with the family of Elimelech and how he and his two sons die, bringing an end to his line. Naomi, his wife, is the only one left from the line. The main idea in the story is the need to continue the line of Elimelech. Everything that Ruth does is to take care of Naomi, even to the point of marrying Boaz in order to provide a descendant for Elimelech. This is made clear at the end of the story, when the women of the village praise Naomi for the birth of her grandchild and emphasize that Boaz had become the guardian of Naomi rather than Ruth. It is important that one understands this point, which will be developed in detail throughout this commentary, in order to understand the main idea and the importance of the genealogy at the end.

The book of Ruth begins with the conjunction and, meaning that it was meant to be read as the sequel to Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges. Deuteronomy is the beginning of what scholars call the Deuteronomic History, which includes the books of Deuteronomy through Kings. Judges continues the history of Israel that began in Deuteronomy of a unified people under the headship of Yahweh who brought them into the Promised Land and delivered the Canaanites into their hands. Unfortunately, the height of Israel’s success and obedience is in the book of Joshua, and Judges begins the downfall of Israel into ever-increasing compromise and idolatry.

The authorship and date of the book of Ruth are uncertain. The closing genealogy traces Boaz’s genealogy back to David, showing that its final form postdates the birth of David. The positive perspective on the line of David in the genealogy points to a pro-Davidic line perspective that was more dominant before the exile. However, there are exceptions to this. The linguistic style of the book also points to a pre-exilic dating. Ultimately, there is no consensus among scholars on the date of the book.

The purpose of the book of Ruth is to show that Yahweh cares for needy people like Naomi and Ruth. He is their ally in a world where death often leaves people helpless and vulnerable. This is seen in the repetition of the Hebrew word hesed. The Hebrew word hesed means an “unfailing love, undeserved love, loving kindness.” So far, this root word has not been found in any ancient Near Eastern text outside of the Bible, whereas hesed and its related words occur 275 times in Scripture. It is the idea of someone being given favor to which they do not have the right by someone who is not obligated to give that favor. It has special covenantal language. Often associated with the word hesed is the Hebrew word aman, which means “to be stable, reliable, secure.”

The word hesed occurs three times, at the beginning, middle, and end of the story (Ruth 1:8; 2:20; 3:10). The characters in the story continually proclaiming the demonstrated acts of hesed as being a great amazement and blessing in their lives shows that this is the focus of the book. In the book, it is not Yahweh who specifically demonstrated the acts of hesed; rather, it is Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. Yet by the way the narrator develops the story, it is clear that Yahweh is using these three in the lives of each other in order to demonstrate His hesed.

Yahweh’s hesed manifested through the characters in the story makes the point that His people are to demonstrate hesed because He is a God of hesed, and one of the ways He demonstrates hesed is through the lives of His people. Thus, the second purpose of the book is to show that Yahweh expects His people to share his concern for the needy and demonstrate loyalty and sacrificial love in their relationships.

Because Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz lived this out in their lives, Yahweh rewarded them by using them as a blessing in the lives of the others. They were a blessing to others and were blessed by others. Thus, Yahweh blessed them with a true community of hesed because they were committed to demonstrating hesed to others. Thus, the third purpose of the book of Ruth is that Yahweh will reward those who are loyal and sacrificially love others by abundantly blessing them.