The book of Ruth is a love story illustrating the custom of the "kinsman redeemer." The redemption of tribal land owned by the family of a dead man is accomplished by a relative of the deceased. The action of this story took place during the time of the judges. Beginning in a famine , a Judahite named Elimelech ("My God is King") flees to neighboring Moab with his wife Naomi and sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Elimelech dies in their new home, the land of Moab and their two sons die after taking Moabite wives: Orpah and Ruth. After 10 years, the sons have died, presumably childless, leaving Naomi with the decision to return to her husband's hometown of Bethlehem ("House of bread") or starve.
When faced with a choice, the daughters-in-law chose differently. Orpah stayed among her own people, but Ruth went to live among the people in Bethlehem. Arriving during harvest time, probably in the mid twelfth century B.C., Naomi sends Ruth to work in the fields of Boaz , a relative of her late husband. Through further maneuvers, Ruth gets Boaz's attention and eventually marries him, giving him a son, Obed ("servant"), grandfather to David , the second king of the united kingdom of Israel .
Though no author is claimed for the book, the prophet Samuel has been proposed as the writer of the historical narrative. The last verses appear to be appended at least after the anointing of David to be king in the place of Saul. The genealogy, though, is introduced by introducing Obed as "father of Jesse, the father of David." This probably indicates that at the time of publishing David had already been crowned. This rules out Samuel as the final publisher. The window of publishing falls between 1010 and 970 B.C. (reign of David).
I. Ruth Decides 1:1-22
II. Ruth Serves 2:1-23
III. Ruth Rests 3:1-18
IV. Ruth's Reward 4:1-22
- ↑ The King James Reference Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishing, p. 445