Ruth - Introduction
Ruth was a Moabite woman who, after the death of her Judean husband, chose to give up the security of her homeland to return to Judah with her mother-in-law, Naomi (ch. 1 ). There Ruth's loyalty and devotion to Naomi brought her to the notice of Boaz, a relative of her late husband. Boaz married Ruth ( 2.1–4.12 ), and through this marriage she became the great-grandmother of David ( 4.13–22 ).
The opening verse sets the story in the period of the Judges. Some scholars consider Ruth a postexilic literary creation, though perhaps based on an older tale; on this view, it was intended to counteract the harsh decrees of Ezra and Nehemiah against foreign wives (Ezra 10.1–5; Neh. 13.23–27 ). Others, however, date it much earlier, during the reigns of the first kings of Judah, before bitter enmity toward Moab had developed; furthermore, Davidic connections with Moab are indicated by 1 Sam. 22.3–4 , and it is argued that a foreign extraction would hardly have been attributed to David without any basis.
In the Hebrew Bible this book is found in the Writings, in some MSS. in first place; it is placed after Judges in the Sept. and Vg. In the synagogue traditions, Ruth, one of the five Megilloth (“Scrolls”), is read in public at the pilgrim-feast of Weeks (“Pentecost”).