HISTORICAL BOOKS: Ruth
Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go,
Wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people will be my people,
And your God my God.
The Book of Ruth is a short tale of love and loyalty to family and to God. It begins with the story of Naomi, an Israelite woman who marries a Moabite man (i.e., a foreigner) and goes to live in his country. They have two sons, both of whom marry among the locals. One of those women is called Orpah; the other is named Ruth.
While in Moab, Naomi’s husband and two sons tragically die, prompting her to return home to Israel (no social safety net in Moab). She tells her daughters-in-law to stay behind and find themselves good husbands. Orpah chooses to hang back, but Ruth insists on following and caring for her mother-in-law. Ruth’s filial respect eventually leads to her fortunate marriage with Boaz, a well-to-do relative of Naomi’s deceased husband. The couple give birth to a son named Obed, who is the grandfather of King David. Thus springs forth the House of David, of whom Jesus is a direct descendant.
In the Book of Ruth, we learn that God’s favor does not rest on the Israelites alone, but on all those who have faith.
Ruth, which means “companion,” is situated between the Judges and the two books of Samuel. Though it was likely written long after these books (after the exile in Babylon), its connection with David makes it an important lead-in to the books of Samuel, which chronicle the life of Israel’s great king.