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THE BOOK AND STORY OF RUTH Mrs. Kenny Religion 9 March 2013.

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1 THE BOOK AND STORY OF RUTH Mrs. Kenny Religion 9 March 2013

2 The story is about a woman, Naomi, and her Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth. Naomi is from Bethlehem in Judah. With her husband Elimelech and sons Mahlon and Chilion, they move to Moab from Bethlehem to escape the famine in Bethlehem. The story/book is told in four chapters: Synopsis of the Story

3 Chapter 1  Her husband dies shortly thereafter, and her sons marry two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Ten years after their move, both of her sons die.  Naomi tries to send her daughters-in-law back to their families.  Orpah returns to her family, but Ruth declares allegiance to Naomi and the God of Israel. Because of her allegiance, Ruth returns to Bethlehem with Naomi, who is deeply troubled at the loss of her loved ones.  Little does Naomi realize that all of her losses will be reversed by the love and dedication of Ruth...

4  Ruth “gleans” in the field of Boaz, a man from Judah. She collects enough grain to sustain Naomi and herself for some time.  Naomi devises a plan for Ruth’s future security.  Naomi arranges to go at night to help Boaz “winnow” the barley harvest.  As a result, Boaz promises to marry Ruth. Chapter 2Chapter 3

5 Ruth and Boaz marry, and have a child, Obed. At the end of Chapter 4, the lineage of Obed is traced back to Perez, the child of Judah and Tamar, and forward to King David. Chapter 4

6 Themes  Emptiness vs. Fulfillment (a.k.a “feast and famine”)  This is expressed on two planes: agricultural and personal. They form parallels that foreshadow each other throughout the story. For example, the famine reflects Naomi’s loss.  The subsequent abundant harvest, a reward for the bereavement that Naomi and Ruth endured, is manifested in the personal fulfillment in the birth of a child, Obed.  Conversion to Judaism  Ruth is considered to be the ideal convert to Judaism.  This is because she accepts the Torah on her own volition, just as the Israelites accepted the Torah from Moses at Mount Sinai.

7 Motif: Hesed  The motif of Ruth’s story is hesed. Hesed is a Hebrew term that means loyalty and commitment that go beyond the bounds of law or duty.  This is demonstrated by:  Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi  Naomi’s love and concern for Ruth  Boaz’s kindness  God’s “background role” to help reverse the bad times the characters (and the nation as a whole) fall upon

8  The Book of Ruth is located within the Kethuvim/Writings section of the Jewish Bible (3 rd section).  Ruth is also part of the five “megillot” (scrolls).  Ruth is read in synagogues during Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks. This is because it is positioned in the time between Passover and Shavuot, the seven-week period between the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. (King David, the culmination of Ruth’s genealogy, is also thought to have been born and died on Shavuot.) Location in/within the Jewish Scriptures

9  Ruth is placed between Judges and the books of Samuel, following the order of the Septuagint.  This placement is due to the story being set in the time of the judges.  It provides a link between the chaotic period when Israel was ruled by judges and the scripture that leads to the monarchy (and its zenith: the rule of King David). Location in/within the non-Jewish Versions of the Bible

10 WHY THE CONTENT OF“RUTH” IS NOTEWORTHY #1 THE FIDELITY AND LOVE BETWEEN NAOMI AND RUTH IS THE MOST POSITIVE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN’S RELATIONSHIPS IN BIBLICAL LITERATURE. IT IS ALSO REMARKABLE BECAUSE IT REFERENCES LEAH AND RACHEL, THE WIVES OF JACOB; AND TAMAR, THE MOTHER OF JACOB. #2 IT MAY EXPLAIN THE ACCEPTANCE OF DAVID AS AN APPROPRIATE, ACCEPTABLE HEIR TO THE THRONE OF ISRAEL.

11 AUTHORSHIP  Unknown  Some scholars believe it was possibly written between BCE (between the reign of David and Assyrian conquest of Northern Israel)  Other scholars believe it could be written between BCE (during the Babylonian exile or early in the return period)

12 Some Questions for Thought: Ruth is a Moabite.  Does this mean that inter-marriage is actually o.k.?  Because of the lineage established in the book of Ruth, is David actually Moabitic? If so, should David, under Deuteronomic law and the Ezra- rebuilding, NOT be considered Israelite?  How does Ruth fit into the Ezra- Nehemiah/Deuteronomy/Joshua view of "foreign women?”  (NOTA BENE: this issue is why scholars vary on their dating so widely).

13 “Naomi took the child and held it to her bosom. She became its foster mother, and the women neighbors gave him a name, saying ‘A son is born to Naomi!’ They named him Obed; he was the father of Jesse, father of David.” - Ruth 4:16-17 Quote to Explain Question for Thought:

14 It is possible that the association of the child with Naomi rather than Ruth is meant to remove the taint of foreign bith from the child. (Berlin and Brettler 1585) This speaks directly to the acceptance of the lineage of David as acceptable, even though there is a disruption in the bloodline for the crown. Possible Explanation:

15 Important Quote from the Book of Ruth  “But Ruth replied, ‘Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. -Thus and more may the LORD do to me- if anything but death parts me from you.’”  Ruth 1:16-17

16 Depictions of Ruth in Art (Pedestrian to Classic)…

17

18 Depictions of Naomi and Ruth

19  Naomi and Ruth

20 Ruth and Boaz

21 Ruth Gleaning Wheat

22 Artist: Thomas Matthews Rooke

23 Coogan, Michael. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its Context. New York: Oxford University Press, Book.  Coogan 5-8, 72, 175, , 312, 353, 429 The Jewish Study Bible (ed. A. Berlin and M.Z. Brettler). New York: Oxford University Press, (Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation.)  Jewish Study Bible p References/ Where to Find More Information:


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