The book of Ruth.

Counted among the writings.


Attributed author(s).
Anonymous.

Text(s) available.
None on site.
CCEL: Ruth (Hebrew only).
Swete LXX (Greek only).
Bible Gateway (English only).
HTML Bible: Ruth 1, 2, 3, 4 (Hebrew and English).
HTML Bible: Genesis 1, 2, 3, 4 (Latin Vulgate only).
Zhubert (Greek and English).
Kata Pi BHS: Ruth 1, 2, 3, 4 (Hebrew and English).
Kata Pi LXX: Ruth 1, 2, 3, 4 (Greek and English).
Sacred Texts: Ruth 1, 2, 3, 4 (polyglot).

Useful links.
Ruth at the OT Gateway.
Ruth in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).
Ruth at Kata Pi (Oesterly and Robinson).
Ruth from the Plymouth Brethren.
Introduction to Ruth (David Malick).
Outline of Ruth (David Malick).
Life and Literature of the Late Period (Gerald A. Larue).

The book of Ruth is counted as an historical book in our English Bibles, but in the Jewish scriptures it is one of the writings.

The book was originally written in Hebrew, but the ancient Greek translation known as the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX) is also a very important witness to the text.


Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).

Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the book of Ruth:

James King West writes: "The much beloved story of Ruth is told with a consummate skill that most likely reflects a long process of polishing through repeated retellings. Though the events described are set in the period of the Judges, the form of the story as we have it can hardly be earlier than the post-Exilic era. The opening verse shows a familiarity with the Deuteronomic edition of the Book of Judges; and the custom described 4:7-12 is explained as belonging to 'former times.'" (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 404)

J. Alberto Soggin writes: "The language of the book contains a series of Aramaisms, and despite the simplicity of the argument, it is not always easy. Nor is the text in the best of condition; indeed Ruth is a book which has one of the highest numbers of Massoretic notes. In any case, it is not possible to date the book back beyond the fifth or fourth centuries BC. That does not mean that it has not preserved the memory of much earlier customs: for example, the village tribunal meets at the gate, and we have beena ble to use the way in which it assembles, following the study by L. Köhler, in our reconstruction of trials in Israelite law. The book does not show any signs of disruption, and there are no omissions or additions of any substance. It may be that the genealogy, which is the feature which gave the book its place in the canon, is an addition. It is interesting that the work maintains its argument by making David the descendant of a converted foreigner." (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 396)

Samuel Sandmel writes: "Ancient rabbinic speculations believed Samuel to have been the author of Ruth. A respectable number of modern scholars, though not accepting Samuel as the author, believe that Ruth was written in the pre-exilic period. Such a view tends to regard the book as reliable history. The allusion to the act of confirmation by the ceremony of the shoe as though it were an obsolete practice is only one of several indications that the book is later than this. Another is the fact that Ruth is found in Hebrew Bibles in the Hagiographa." (The Hebrew Scriptures, p. 492)

Jay G. Williams writes: "Just what the point of the story is is somewhat debatable. Is it an attempt to quell rumors that David's ancestry was Moabite and that the great king was not truly an Israelite? If so, the story clearly shows that although his great-grandmother was from Moab she was a devoted Yahwist and was properly married by Boaz. Perhaps, however, the point is more subtle. Perhaps, like the book of Jonah, Ruth is a gentle reminder to Israel that foreigners are not all bad and that in fact the great king David was descended from one. If so, it may well have been included in the canon to offset what might be regarded as the excessive exclusiveness of such men as Ezra and Nehemiah who forbade foreign marriages entirely." (Understanding the Old Testament, p. 294)

Adele Berlin writes: "According to rabbinic tradition, the main theme of Ruth is chesed, loyalty or faithfulness born of a sense of caring and commitment. Chesed is a Hebrew term used to describe God's relationship to Israel as well as the relationship among members of a family or a community. All of the main characters in the book, Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, act with chesed. Naomi, although she technically had no responsibility for her widowed daughters-in-law, was concerned that they find new husbands; she went out of her way to see that Ruth did. Ruth, on her part, had no obligation to Naomi, but she remained steadfastly with her, even giving up her native land and religion; all of her actions were directed toward finding support and protection for Naomi. Boaz too took upon himself a commitment beyond what was required; not only was he willing to redeem the family's land, but he was eager to marry Ruth and enable the family name to be perpetuated. God also manifested his chesed, by virtue of which the individuals are repaid for their loyalty by finding security and fulfillment, and the family that came close to destruction finds new life and continuity." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 262)