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Old Testament and New Testament  
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Students will be able to

1) identify and describe some of the Israelite customs and regulations of the historical period, particularly the concept of the Kinsman Redeemer.

2) explain the concept of "hesed" as seen in the book.

3) discuss the significance of Ruth for Israel and the Christian church.



Ruth is best classified as a short story that records a family's history from the "days when judges ruled" in Israel. "In the Hebrew Bible Ruth stands in the third division called Kethubhim or Writings . . . In the Septuagint (Greek version of the OT)) Ruth is placed after the Book of Judges." (Kennedy, The Broadman Bible Commentary, 464) This later placement was most likely done because Ruth deals with events during the time of Judges. It serves as a good transition between Judges and Samuel. Ruth also provides information about David's ancestry. The author of the book is unknown and the date is difficult to establish. It does, however, seem probable that Ruth was composed in the late 5th or 4th century B.C. (TN#1)

Purpose (TN#2):

An overarching purpose of Ruth is to show how Israel's true, covenant faith survived the general apostasy found during the period of the judges. It survived at the family level, and it was from one such family that King David came.

Theme: God's s "Hesed" (TN#3)


1. Flight and Tragedy of Elimelech's Family (1:1 ­ 5)

A. The story takes place during the time of the judges (1200-1020 B.C.) (TN#4)

B. The Israelite family consists of Elimelech, the father; Naomi the mother; and two sons. (TN#5)

C. The family moves to Moab because of the famine in Judah. (TN#6)

D. The sons take Moab wives, Orpah and Ruth. (TN#7)

F. Elimelech and the two sons die.

II. Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem (1:6 ­ 22)

A. The famine is over in Judah (1:6) (TN#8 )

B. Naomi encourages her daughters­in­law to remain in Moab (1:6­ 14) (TN#9)

C. Ruth insists on going with Naomi and pledges her loyalty to her. (1:15­ 18) (NT#10)

D. They arrive in Bethlehem and Naomi's suffers (1: 19 ­ 22). (TN#11)

III. Ruth meets Boaz (2)

A. Ruth glean (TN#12) in Boaz's field and meets him (2:1 ­ 7).

B. Ruth finds favor in Boaz's eves (2 8 ­ 16).

C. Ruth reports the day's events to Naomi (2:17 ­ 23) (TN#13 )

IV. Naomi's plan and success (3)

A. Naomi instructs Ruth (3:1­5) (TN#14 ).

B. Ruth goes to Boaz at the threshing floor (3:6 ­ 13). (TN#l5 )

1. Identification of Boaz as Kinsman­Redeemer (go'el)

2 Revelation of a nearer kinsman

C. Ruth returns home and waits (3 14 ­ 18).

V. The marriage of Ruth and Boaz and the birth of a son (4:1 ­ 17)

A. The next of kin refuses his right (4:1 ­ 11). (TN#16)

B. Boaz assumes the right of redemption (4:7 ­ 12). (TN#17)

C. Obed is born (4:13-17). (TN#18)

VI. The genealogy of Perez (4:18 ­ 22) (TN#19)

The genealogy of David.


1. Write a brief essay discussing how the concept of Kinsman­Redeemer parallels who God is for Israel and the role of Christ for humankind.

2. Write a brief essay on the practice of Levirate marriage. Discuss how this was applied in the Book of Ruth. Were exceptions made in the details?

3. Write a brief essay contrasting the "faith" of Israel as shown in Judges and Ruth.

4. Read chapter 16, 1 ­ 2 Samuel in Hill & Walton's A Survey of the Old Testament.. or from another assigned text.




Discussion Question:

It is pointed out several times in the text that Ruth is a Moabite. Considering the religious prohibitions placed on the children produced by marriage to non­Israelites, Moabites in particular ((Deut. 23:3), why would God use this family line to produce Israel's man loved king?


Teacher's Notes:

#1 Date -- The dating of the writing of Ruth is up for grabs. Establishing a date for the book depends on the answers to several questions:

1. Is the genealogy of David a later addition or part of the original story?

2. Why are some ancient traditions explained (presumably because they are unfamiliar to the reader) and not others?

3. The language style is ancient, but was the author using the style of the times he was writing about or living in?

4. Why is so much emphasis placed on Ruth being a foreigner? Thorough, although inconclusive, discussions can be found in May on pages 150­151, Harvey on pages 132­133, and Hals on pages 758­759.

#2 Purpose The original purpose of this book can not be determined beyond reasonable doubt. Good cases can be made for several purposes such as an explanation for David's ancestry or a polemic against the postexilic reforms of Ezra/Nehemiah concerning marriage to foreign women. Hill & Walton make the case that the main purpose of Ruth was to show how the true faith of Israel survived during the period of the judges which was so "notorious for its apostasy and covenantal ignorance and offense . . . " (Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament. 184).

#3 God's "Hesed"-­ " . . . " hesed"" envelops all the far­reaching implications of Yahweh's loyalty to His covenant . . . . Ruth is a book of "Hesed" on both the human and the divine levels." (Hill and Walton 185) "Hesed" is translated as "mercy", "loving kindness", "love", "loyalty", etc. In Ruth we see ""hesed"" displayed by Ruth for Naomi (1:16 ­ 17). We see "hesed" displayed by Boaz for Naomi and her family (2:20). All the actions of these people are the process by which God's "hesed" is displayed, first to Naomi and Elimelech's family, and than to Israel as a whole because it is through this family that David's blood line is traced. "All this demonstrates that "hesed" to one another is among the most fitting vehicles God can use to display his own "hesed" (Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 185).

#4 If the genealogy at the end of the book is complete, the events would most logically be placed toward the end of the twelfth century B.C., roughly contemporary with Jephthah.

#5 Elimelech means "My God is King", which suggests the religious ideals of the family (Kennedy 467).

#6 The land of Moab was in the hill country across the Dead Sea from Judah. "The Moabites were a kindred people to the Israelites, descended from Abraham's nephew Lot (Gen. 19:37)." Their relationship with Israel varied from both antagonistic to sympathetic over the years (Hill 183­184).

#7 No negative remark is made in the text about the marriages, but Deuteronomy 23:3 points out the negative consequences imposed in the Law. This teaching was revived in Nehemiah 13:1­3.

#8 The relief from the famine is attributed to God's intervention

#9 Naomi encourages her daughters­in­law to return to their own homes so they will have some hope of finding husbands. The concept of levirate marriage (brother­in­law) is introduced here. "According to this custom a man was expected to marry the widow of his deceased brother (kinsman), if he had died childless, and thereby provide an heir to the brother's name and heritage. The prescribed procedure in Israel (Deut. 25:5-10) represented a codified version of what was a general custom in the ancient East, including Moab." (Kennedy, The Broadman Bible Commentary 468)

#10 Ruth pledges utter devotion to Naomi using the familiar Hebrew name for God, Yahweh, not the general designation for deity, 'Elohim, customary for the foreigner. (Kennedy 469.)

#11 Naomi means "Pleasant" and Mara means "Bitter." Naomi sees her sufferings as punitive acts of God, e.g. "the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me" (verse 13) and "the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me" (verse 20).

"Both Ruth (vv. 16 ­17) and Naomi (vv. 20 ­ 21) confess God's sovereign control of events, each in her own way. What truth does each convey about God? . . . What confession do you think would startle the original readers most? Why? (Coleman, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups, 352).

#12 "Gleaning: The practice of gathering or picking up what was left in the field after reaping. . . . Hebrew law prohibited an owner from clearing up his own field, vineyard, or orchard, so that there would be provision for the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the alien resident (Lev. 19:9 ff.; 23:22; Deut. 24:19 ­ 21; cf. Judges. 8:2; Ruth 2:2 ff.). (Richardson 401)

Was Ruth's gleaning in Boaz's field just "chance"? How do "chance" and God's providence appear to us as humans? The same? Differently? How so?

#13 What are some of the reasons for Naomi's excitement? Much of Naomi's excitement centers around the reality that Boaz is a potential Kinsman­Redeemer. The idea of Kinsman­Redeemer is essential to the story. (This is a good place to present a mini­lecture on the concept.)

Kinsman­Redeemer -­ Levirate marriage (comes from the word "levir" meaning "a husband's brother) is described in Deuteronomy 25:5 ­ 10. "Under this law if married man died without having a son, his brother was obligated to bear a son by his widow. That son would thereafter be considered the heir to the dead brother's household. In this way families could not easily die out." In Ruth this levirate marriage custom is combined with land redemption rights. "The term go'el (kinsman­redeemer) is taken from the land redemption law ((Lev.. 25:25 ­31, 47 ­ 55). According to this law, land sold by a person could be bought back by a relative so as to keep the land in the family. Both the land and levirate marriage were intended to preserve family and land -- covenant matters of the first degree . . . . The "go'el" provided the means by which jeopardized covenant blessings could be regained and thus served as an appropriate metaphor for God's grace." (Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 184 ­ 185) For further information see the articles in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible on "Marriage" in volume 3 and ""Redeem, Redeemer, Redemption" in volume 4 .

#14 ":Winnowing took place in the evening from four or five o'clock until shortly after sunset, when a cool breeze blew in from the Mediterranean Sea" (Kennedy, The Broadman Bible Commentary, 474) After a time of celebration, the workers then slept on the threshing floor to protect the grain.

#15 ". . . this act of covering with the skirt was a familiar ceremony in certain cultures of the ancient Near East. It was evidently symbolic of protection and was therefore specially associated with marriage." (Kennedy, The Broadman Bible Commentary,, 474-475)

#16 The next of kin refuses his right to buy the land because Ruth goes with it. An investment in the properly would not profit his family. When Ruth bore a son, he would actually fall in the family line of Ruth's deceased husband, Mahlon. Ultimately the property would revert to the Mahlon/Elimelech family. His investment would not profit his family line in the long run, so he passes his option to Boaz who is next in line.

#17 The fact that a note is placed in the text to explain the sandal procedure is evidence to many that Ruth was written down at such a late date, that the people of Israel were no longer familiar with the practice.

#18 The great celebration over the birth comes because all has now been made right. For Naomi, the family line of Elimelech and Mahlon will be carded or Ruth is honored as the agent of God's blessing on Naomi. In a very real sense, Boaz serves as go'el for both Naomi and Ruth.

#19 The genealogy is almost identical with that of 1 Chronicles 2:4 ­ 13 which was used in Matthew 1:2 ­ 6 and Luke 3:31 ­ 33. The purpose of the list is twofold:

1. emphasis on David being from Judah,

2. emphasis of David having "foreigners" in his blood line.

The question of why Obed is listed as Boaz's child when by levirate law he is Mahlon's, can be answered if Boaz is assumed to be childless until this time. This would make Obed his first born and therefore his legal heir also (Kennedy, The Broadman Bible Commentary, 480).



Credits and Copyright This online text book is provided by the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, 333 N. Washington Dallas, Texas 75246-1798 214.828.5100 Use the text to meet your academic needs. If you copy any part of this online text, please give credit to the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Any donations which you give will be used in the Division of Student Ministry Summer Missions Programs.

Credits and Copyright This online text book is provided by the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, 333 N. Washington Dallas, Texas 75246-1798 214.828.5100 Use the text to meet your academic needs. If you copy any part of this online text, please give credit to the Division of Student Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Any donations which you give will be used in the Division of Student Ministry Summer Missions Programs.