The book of Ruth (Ruth 1)

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The author of this little book is unknown. Some scholars have attributed it to Samuel, but its literary style suggests that it may date to the period of the monarchy, years after the events it describes.

Generations of Israelites after the time of the judges read Ruth. The book offered the Israelites a view of true faith and piety during a time of national disunity, foreign oppression and religious and moral degeneracy.

During Ruth’s day the Israelites alternated between pleading with God for help during desperate times and forgetting all about the Lord and participating in the debauchery of neighbouring cultures. Yet God, working behind the scenes, continued to fulfill Hid plan of redemption. In a surprising way He used Ruth, a faithful, courageous – and female – foreigner, not only to impact the Jews but also to exercise a key role in changing the world through Jesus.

As you read, notice the motif of the faithful love among God’s people – Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi, the acceptance of Ruth by the citizens of Bethlehem and Boaz’s kindness toward both widows (Ruth 2-4). Observe how God orchestrated seemingly insignificant details to work out His overriding purpose. Follow Naomi’s transformation from emptiness to fullness (Ruth 3:17).  Finally, discover the story’s true significance at the end of the book (cf. Matthew 1:5-6, 16): Ruth, a foreigner whose faith touched God’s heart, is listed in the lineage of Jesus, who completed God’s redemptive work and fulfilled the promised blessings of God’s kingdom.

Did you know that uncovering a man’s feet and lying down was customary, nonverbal means of requesting marriage? (Ruth 3:1-4) Did you know that the land of a family or clan could not be sold permanently? (Ruth 4:1-3) Did you know that taking off one’s sandal and giving it to another was a public way of renouncing one’s property rights and transferring them to another? (Ruth 4:7) The Nuzi documents (Akkadian, mid-second millennium B.C.) refer to a similar custom, which no longer applied during the time of Israel’s judges.


 

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