by Ken Cayce

Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


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Ruth Explained

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Book of Ruth Explained

Title: Ancient versions and modern translations consistently entitle this book after Ruth the Moabitess heroine, who is mentioned by name 12 times (1:4 - 4:13). Only two Old Testament books receive their names from women, Ruth and Esther. The Old Testament does not again refer to Ruth, while the New Testament mentions her just once, in the context of Christ's genealogy (Matt. 1:5; compare Ruth 4:18-22). "Ruth" most likely comes from a Moabite and/or Hebrew word meaning "friendship." Ruth arrived in Beth-lehem as a foreigner (2:10), became a maidservant (2:13), married wealthy Boaz (4:13), and was included in the physical lineage of Christ (Matt. 1:5).

The Book of Ruth derives its name from its principal character. The biographical sketch of this godly young Moabitess contains much information concerning the customs of the ancient Near East and provides its readers with some valuable data regarding the ancestry of King David. It also demonstrates God's gracious concern for all mankind, Jew and Gentile alike. The book was read at the Feast of Pentecost.

All 85 verses of Ruth have been accepted as canonical by the Jews. Along with Song of Solomon, Esther, Ecclesiastes and Lamentations, Ruth stands with the Old Testament books of the Megilloth or "five scrolls." Rabbis read these books in the synagogue on 5 special occasions during the year, Ruth being read at Pentecost due to the harvest scenes of Ruth (chapters 2 and 3).

Authorship: Jewish tradition credits Samuel as the author, which is plausible since he did not die (1 Sam. 25:1), until after he had anointed David as God's chosen king (1 Sam. 16:6-13). However, neither internal features nor external testimony conclusively identify the writer. This exquisite story most likely appeared shortly before or during David's reign in Israel (1011 - 971 B.C.), since David is mentioned (4:17, 22), but not Solomon. Goethe reportedly labeled this piece of anonymous but unexcelled literature as "the loveliest, complete work on a small scale". What Venus is to statuary and the Mona Lisa is to paintings, Ruth is to literature.

The author has many purposes.

1. Historically, he provides information as to certain activities and customs in the period of the judges.

2. Theologically, the book emphasizes the sovereign activity of God's providential working in the affairs of man. Not only does God's promise to the seed of Abraham go on through the troubled time of the judges, but He so arranges the details of earth's history and the chosen line to include salvation for Gentiles as well. Ruth then provides an important link in the unfolding messianic genealogy.

3. Devotionally, the book provides several analogies between the work of the kinsman-redeemer of ancient Israel and that of Jesus Christ, who serves as the saving Mediator for all men. It also assures the believer of God's continuing love for a helpless mankind and of His willingness to meet man's needs.

Historical Setting: The opening verse places the book in the era of the judges, at a time of a great famine. Such a condition existed in the days of the Midianite oppression (Judges 6:3-6). If this was the occasion spoken of in the Book of Ruth, a date in the middle of the twelfth century B.C. would be distinctly possible for the events narrated here. Besides the opening statement of the book, the internal evidence reveals an intimate acquaintance with ancient Hebrew and Near Eastern social customs (chapters three and four). This data argues strongly for an early date. Moreover, Jewish canonical tradition links (Judges and Ruth), together as one book, again pointing to an early date. Thus seen, the Book of Ruth provides its readers with a light of spiritual faithfulness in a period of otherwise spiritual darkness.

Genealogically, Ruth looks back almost 900 years to events in the time of Jacob (4:11) and forward about 100 years to the coming reign of David (4:17, 22). While Joshua and Judges emphasize the legacy of the nation and their land of promise, Ruth focuses on the lineage of David back to the patriarchal era.

At least 7 major theological themes emerge in Ruth.

1. Ruth the Moabitess illustrates that God's redemptive plan extended beyond the Jews to Gentiles (2:12).

2. Ruth demonstrates that women are co-heirs with men of God's salvation grace (compare Gal. 3:28).

3. Ruth portrays the virtuous woman of (Prov. 31:10; compare 3:11).

4. Ruth describes God's sovereign (1:6; 4:13), and providential care (2:3), of seemingly unimportant people at apparently insignificant times which later prove to be monumentally crucial to accomplishing God' will.

5. Ruth along with Tamar (Gen. Chapter 38), Rehab (Joshua chapter 2), and Bath-sheba (2 Sam. chapters 11 and 12), stand in the genealogy of the messianic line (4:17, 22; compare Matt. 1:5).

6. Boaz, as a type of Christ, becomes Ruth's kinsman-redeemer (4:1-12).

7. David's right (and thus Christ's right), to the throne of Israel is traced back to Judah (4:18-22; compare Gen. 49:8-12).

Background - Setting: Aside from Beth-lehem (1:1), Moab (the perennial enemy of Israel, which was east of the Dead Sea), stands as the only other mentioned geographic/national entity (1:1-2). This country originated when Lot fathered Moab by an incestuous union with his oldest daughter (Gen 19:37). Centuries later the Jews encountered opposition from Balak, king of Moab, through the prophet Balaam (Num. chapters 22-25). For 18 years Moab oppressed Israel during the time of the judges (3:12-30). Saul defeated the Moabites (1 Sam. 14:47), while David seemed to enjoy a peaceful relationship with them (1 Sam. 22:3-4). Later, Moab again troubled Israel (2 Kings 3:5-27; Ezra 9:1). Because of Moab's idolatrous worship of Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7, 33; 2 Kings 23:13), and its opposition to Israel, God cursed Moab (Isa. Chapters 15 and 16; Jer. chapter 48; Ezek. 25:8-11; Amos 2:1-3).

The story of Ruth occurred in the days "when the judges governed" Israel (1:1; ca 1370 to 1041 B.C.; Judges 2:16-19), and thus bridges time from the judges to Israel's monarchy. God used "a famine in the land" of Judah (1:1), to set in motion this beautiful drama, although the famine does not receive mention in judges, which causes difficulty in dating the events of Ruth. However, by working backward in time from the well-known date of David's reign (1011 - 971 B.C.), the time period of Ruth would most likely be during the judgeship of Jair (ca 1126 - 1105 B.C.; Judges 10:3-5).

Ruth covers about 11 or 12 years according to the following scenario.

1. Verses 1:1-18, ten years in Moab (1:4);

2. Verses 1:19 - 2:23, several months (mid-April to mid-June), in Boaz's field (1:22; 2:23);

3. Verses 3:1-18, one day in Beth-lehem and one night at the threshing floor; and

4. Verses 4:1-22, about one year in Beth-lehem.

An exciting story of true romance, the book also gives instruction in practical living in such things as personal morality, a genuine concern for the needs of others, and the necessity for personal godliness in the face of testing and adversity. A great deal of helpful information for today's Christian woman may also be found in the example of Ruth, whose virtues of godliness, purity, humility, honesty, fidelity and thoughtfulness remain an exemplary standard for all. Similarly, Boaz becomes for the Christian man a model of God-given strength, honor, graciousness, courtesy and compassion; that can give encouragement for becoming a believing gentleman in the finest sense of the word.


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Ruth 1
Ruth 2
Ruth 3
Ruth 4

Ruth 1

Ruth Chapter 1

Ruth 1:1 "Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons."

Ruth 1:2 "And the name of the man [was] Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Beth-lehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there."

Ruth 1:3 And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

Ruth 1:4 "And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one [was] Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years."

Ruth 1:5 "And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband."

Ruth 1:6 "Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread."

Ruth 1:7 "Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah."

Ruth 1:8 "And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me."

Ruth 1:9 "The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each [of you] in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept."

Ruth 1:10 "And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people."

Ruth 1:11 "And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? [are] there yet [any more] sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?"

Ruth 1:12 "Turn again, my daughters, go [your way]; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say, I have hope, [if] I should have a husband also tonight, and should also bear sons;"

Ruth 1:13 "Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me."

Ruth 1:14 "And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her."

Ruth 1:15 "And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law."

Ruth 1:16 "And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, [or] to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people [shall be] my people, and thy God my God:"

Ruth 1:17 "Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, [if ought] but death part thee and me."

Ruth 1:18 "When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her."

Ruth 1:19 "So they two went until they came to Beth-lehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Beth-lehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, [Is] this Naomi?"

Ruth 1:20 "And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me."

Ruth 1:21 "I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why [then] call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?"

Ruth 1:22 "So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest."

Ruth 2

Ruth Chapter 2

Ruth 2:1 "And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name [was] Boaz."

Ruth 2:2 "And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after [him] in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter."

Ruth 2:3 "And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field [belonging] unto Boaz, who [was] of the kindred of Elimelech."

Ruth 2:4 "And, behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD [be] with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee."

Ruth 2:5 "Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel [is] this?"

Ruth 2:6 "And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It [is] the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:"

Ruth 2:7 And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.

Ruth 2:9 "[Let] thine eyes [be] on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of [that] which the young men have drawn."

Ruth 2:10 "Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I [am] a stranger?"

Ruth 2:11 "And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been showed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and [how] thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore."

Ruth 2:12 "The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust."

Ruth 2:13 "Then she said, Let me find favor in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens."

Ruth 2:14 "And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched [corn], and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left."

Ruth 2:15 "And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:"

Ruth 2:16 "And let fall also [some] of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave [them], that she may glean [them], and rebuke her not."

Ruth 2:17 "So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley."

Ruth 2:18 "And she took [it] up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed."

Ruth 2:19 "And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned today? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she showed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day [is] Boaz."

Ruth 2:20 "And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed [be] he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man [is] near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen."

Ruth 2:21 "And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest."

Ruth 2:22 "And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, [It is] good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field."

Ruth 2:23 "So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law."

Ruth 3

Ruth Chapter 3

Ruth 3:1 "Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?"

Ruth 3:2 "And now [is] not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshing floor."

Ruth 3:3 "Wash thy self therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: [but] make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking."

Ruth 3:4 "And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do."

Ruth 3:5 "And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do."

Ruth 3:6 "And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her."

Ruth 3:7 "And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down."

Ruth 3:8 "And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet."

Ruth 3:9 "And he said, Who [art] thou? And she answered, I [am] Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou [art] a near kinsman."

Ruth 3:10 "And he said, Blessed [be] thou of the LORD, my daughter: [for] thou hast showed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich."

Ruth 3:11 "And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou [art] a virtuous woman."

Ruth 3:12 "And now it is true that I [am thy] near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I."

Ruth 3:13 "Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, [that] if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, [as] the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning."

Ruth 3:14 "And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor."

Ruth 3:15 "Also he said, Bring the veil that [thou hast] upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six [measures] of barley, and laid [it] on her: and she went into the city."

Ruth 3:16 "And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who [art] thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her."

Ruth 3:18 "Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day."

Ruth 4

Ruth Chapter 4

Ruth 4:1 "Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down."

Ruth 4:2 "And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down."

Ruth 4:3 "And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which [was] our brother Elimelech's:"

Ruth 4:4 "And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy [it] before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem [it], redeem [it]: but if thou wilt not redeem [it, then] tell me, that I may know: for [there is] none to redeem [it] beside thee; and I [am] after thee. And he said, I will redeem [it]."

Ruth 4:5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy [it] also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

Ruth 4:6 "And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem [it] for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem [it]."

Ruth 4:7 "Now this [was the manner] in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave [it] to his neighbor: and this [was] a testimony in Israel."

Ruth 4:8 "Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy [it] for thee. So he drew off his shoe."

Ruth 4:9 "And Boaz said unto the elders, and [unto] all the people, Ye [are] witnesses this day, that I have bought all that [was] Elimelech's, and all that [was] Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi."

Ruth 4:10 "Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye [are] witnesses this day."

Ruth 4:11 "And all the people that [were] in the gate, and the elders, said, [We are] witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Beth-lehem:"

Ruth 4:12 "And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman."

Ruth 4:13 "So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son."

Ruth 4:14 "And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed [be] the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel."

Ruth 4:15 "And he shall be unto thee a restorer of [thy] life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him."

Ruth 4:16 "And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it."

Ruth 4:17 "And the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he [is] the father of Jesse, the father of David."

Ruth 4:18 "Now these [are] the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,"

Ruth 4:19 "And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,"

Ruth 4:20 "And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,"

Ruth 4:21 "And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,"

Ruth 4:22 "And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David."