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Old Testament: The Book of Ruth

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Introduction

The book of Ruth is one of the most beloved books in the Old Testament. The themes contained in Ruth include, but are not limited to the following: (1) the lineage of David is traced back to Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:17), (2) the tender love story between Ruth and Boaz, and (3) the faithfulness of Ruth towards Naomi (Ruth 1:13-18). As endearing as these themes and other might be, the primary theme in the book of Ruth is expressed in the Hebrew concept חֶסֶד (hesed). The חֶסֶד (hesed) of God expresses itself especially in the restoration of Naomi (לְמֵשִׁ֣יב נֶ֔פֶשׁ a restorer of life) through the union between Ruth and Boaz.

The need for restoration can be seen when Ruth and Naomi return to Bethlehem. Upon the return to Bethlehem, the women asked “Is this Naomi?” (הֲזֹ֥את נָעֳמִֽי) Ruth 1:19. The response of Naomi expresses the nature of the problem (Ruth 1:20-21): (1) “for the Almighty has brought bitterness in reference to me” (כִּי־הֵמַ֥ר שַׁדַּ֛י לִ֖י מְאֹֽד) , (2) “and the LORD has testified against me” (וַֽיהוָה֙ עָ֣נָה בִ֔י) , and (3) “and the Almighty has brought hurt to me” (וְשַׁדַּ֖י הֵ֥רַֽע לִֽי). It is not just Naomi who felt that God had brought judgment upon the house of Elimelech.

Earlier in the chapter (Ruth 1:16-7) Ruth gave her great statement of support for Naomi and trust in the God of Israel. In the midst of the declaration Ruth showed that she was convinced that God had judged the house of Elimelech. Ruth made two statements in verse 17: (1) “may the LORD do so to me” (כֹּה֩ יַעֲשֶׂ֨ה יְהוָ֥ה לִי), and (2) “and more also” (וְכֹ֣ה יֹסִ֔יף). These statements by Ruth are in reference to yet another earlier statement by Naomi.

In the midst of the appeal to Ruth and Orpah, Naomi made th...

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Wilch, John R. Concordia Hebrew Reader: Ruth. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2010.
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