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by Arno Clemens Gaebelein
THE BOOK OF RUTH
This book, containing the beautiful story of Ruth, is closely linked with Judges. The beginning of the book makes this clear: “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled.” The events happened during the period of the judges. It therefore belongs next to that book. In the Hebrew Bible it occupies another place. We find it there next to the Song of Solomon, followed by Lamentations. Five books are called by the Jews “Megilloth” and are read by them at different feasts commemorating past events. The Song of Solomon is read during Passover; Ruth at Pentecost; Lamentations on the ninth day of the month Ab in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem; Ecclesiastes is read during the feast of Tabernacles and Esther they read when they celebrate Purim.
The author of the book of Ruth is unknown. The conclusion of the book shows that it must have been written after David had been made king. However the late date assigned to it by the critics, after the exile, is incorrect. We do not enter into their arguments. Any intelligent reader must see at once that its place between judges and Samuel is the right place, for it is as sequel to the former and an introduction to the latter. If we read the books of Samuel we discover that they do not contain any reference whatever to the ancestors of the house of David. To supply this deficiency is one of the reasons why this book was written. It is more than probable that Samuel is the author.
The story is so familiar that we do not need to repeat it in this brief introduction. Ruth the Moabitess is the chief character in the story. She who was cursed by the law becomes married to Boaz and as we learn from the ending, Ruth is the great-grandmother of David. Her name appears therefore in the first chapter of the New Testament in the list of ancestors of Him, who is David’s son and David’s Lord. She is the third Gentile woman in the genealogy of our Lord. The two Canaanitish women, Tamar and Rahab, precede her. The promises made to Abraham that the Gentiles were to receive blessing through his seed are confirmed through the history of these Gentile women among the ancestors of David and our Lord.
The typical dispensational meaning of the story of Ruth is interesting and has many blessed lessons. (The best application we have seen is in the Numerical Bible to which we acknowledge our indebtedness.) Ruth is often given as a type of the Church, as the bride of Christ. This application is difficult to make and leaves much of the beautiful story unexplained. Naomi represents Israel in unbelief, widowed and in bitterness. Ruth is the type of the remnant, who is called and received back by grace (like the sinners of the Gentiles) identifying itself with Israel’s ruin, as Ruth identified herself with Naomi. The Kinsman-Redeemer, who espouses their cause and through whom Naomi’s bitterness is changed to joy, who marries Ruth, is the type of the Redeemer, Christ. We shall follow briefly this correct dispensational foreshadowing in the annotations. A special division of this little book is not needed. The story has been divided into four chapters which makes another division unnecessary.
the Seventh Week after Easter