[CF Devotionals] 2008-04-30 - Ruth

Introduction ~ Part 1

In his introduction to Ruth, Henry Halley states:

“ The lovely story of a lovely woman, following, like calm after a storm, the turbulent scenes of Judges, is a delightful and charming picture of domestic life in a time of anarchy and trouble. A thousand years earlier, Abraham had been called of God to found a Nation for the purpose of one day bringing a Saviour to mankind. In this book of Ruth we have the founding of the Family within that Nation in which the Saviour would come. Ruth was the great grandmother of king David. From here on Old Testament interest centers mainly around the Family of David.” 1

This morning we are going to start a series on the book of Ruth. In this introduction we will examine the background of the book, review the time of the Judges and talk about the Moabites. Finally, I want to touch on the Orthodox Jewish perspective of the book.


  1. The Book: Here we will consider the usual information, but we will also find there is little known about the book. The following was taking from The New Ungers Bible Handbook and from Huey.

    1. Background: The setting of the book is the time of the Judges. Chronological uncertainties, however, make it impossible to date this period more precisely than the last third of the second Millennium B.C. 2

    2. Place in the Canon: Its events transpired during the period c. 1400-1050 B.C. (Ruth 1:1). Therefore Ruth is correctly placed after Judges. Its place in the Hebrew Bible is in the third division of the threefold canon among the five shorter books called Megilloth or Scrolls (Song of Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther). It was apparently transferred from the second to the third division for liturgical reasons, its scenery of the harvest field adapting it for the harvest festival. 3

    3. Author and Date: The general understanding is that the author of the book is unknown. There is speculation that Samuel is the author though nothing in the text supports this. Nevertheless, this is the position of contemporary Jewish scholarship.


      “ The Book of Ruth begins with a phrase that, at first glance, appears designed to place the story in a historic time frame: — And it was in the days when the Judges judged. Upon closer examination, however, we see that Samuel, author of Megillas Ruth has, in fact, told us very little.” 4

      Speaking of the time of the writing of the book MacArthur notes:

      “ This exquisite story most likely appeared shortly before or during David’s reign of Israel (1011- 971 B.C.), since David is mentioned (4:17, 22) but not Solomon.” 5

    4. Typology: The rich underlying typology of this idyll makes the book of Ruth more than a pastoral story of love. It is an important link in the unfolding account of redemption, presenting in figure our Lord as the great Kinsman-Redeemer in general, but particularly as that aspect of His glorious character will affect Israel, His covenant people, in their future restoration. It presents an important link in the messianic family, from which our Lord came some 1,100 years later. 6

    5. Themes: John MacArthur identifies some seven major themes within the book. While we go through the book we will certainly consider some in detail and only touch on others. He states the following:

      “ First, Ruth the Moabitess illustrates that God’s redemptive plan extended beyond the Jews to Gentiles (2:12). Second, Ruth demonstrates that women are coheirs with men of God’s salvation grace (see 1 Peter 3:7). Third, Ruth portrays the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10 (see 3:11). Fourth, 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’s will. Fifth, Ruth along with Tamar (Genesis 38), Rehab (Joshua 2), and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12) stand in the genealogy of the Messianic line (4:17, 22; see Matthew 1:5). Sixth, Boaz, as a type of Christ, becomes Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer (4:1-12). Finally, David’s right (and thus Christ’s right) to the throne of Israel is traced back to Judah (4:18-22); see Genesis 49:8-12). 7

      The themes I want to focus on deal with the providence of God and the kinsman-redeemer. I may take one session to consider Proverbs 31 in relationship to Ruth. As we progress we may consider some other side paths, but we will have to wait and see.

Comments or Questions?

[email geoff] GKragen@aol.com

Additional studies by Geoff
Podcasts of Studies in Matthew can be found at www.GKragen.com

  1. Halley, Henry H., Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1965, p. 175.
  2. Huey, F. B., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, “Ruth,” Zondervan Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990
  3. Larson, Gary N., reviser, The New Unger’s Bible Handbook, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1966, p. 139.
  4. Zlotowitz, Rabbi Meir, Translator and compiler, The Book of Ruth, Mesorah Publications, Ltd., Brooklyn, NY, 1994, p. ix-xx.
  5. MacArthur, John, Ruth & Esther, Word Publishing, Nashville, TN, 2000, p. 1.
  6. Larson, p. 139.
  7. MacArthur, p. 3.