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by Gary H. Everett
STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
Using a Theme-based Approach
to Identify Literary Structures
By Gary H. Everett
THE BOOK OF RUTH
January 2013 Edition
All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.
All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed., Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c1925, morphology c1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author’s daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.
© Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.
Foundational Theme How to Serve the Lord with All Our Strength
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Structural Theme The Davidic Lineage Predestined
There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed:
he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
A Place Called Heaven
Here we are doing our best
Loving and laughing like all the rest.
Putting our shoulders to the wheel
Gleaning like Ruth in the Master’s field.
Praying each day for those who are lost
Not minding the labor nor counting the cost.
Knowing that finaly, when this life is past
We’ll reap our reward with Jesus at last.
The winter is coming, the harvest will pass;
Only what’s done for Jesus will last.
So, let us take courage and do our best
And leave it to Jesus, He’ll do the rest.
I know we can trust Him, I’ve tried Him so much,
The only thing needed is the Master’s touch.
And so I will trust Him till this life is ore,
Then take that last trip to far distant shores.
Where angels and loved ones are waiting for me
There’ll will be no more sorrow, yes, I shall be free.
My passport is ready to go on that day
So, don’t weep for me when I sail away.
I’ll be waiting to greet you, so be sure and come
To a place called Heaven
We’ll welcome you home.
(To my family and church)
(Flossie Powell Everett 1910-1987)
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF RUTH
Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
Introductory Material - The introduction to the book of Ruth will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework.  These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God’s message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.
 Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel’s well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalms: (1) “a common setting in life,” (2) “thoughts and mood,” (3) “literary forms.” In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses “Form/Structure/Setting” preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol. 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).
“We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture
if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible.”
(J. Hampton Keathley) 
 J. Hampton Keathley, III, “Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah,” (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23 May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.
Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the book of Ruth will provide a discussion on its title, historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the Jewish tradition that Samuel the prophet was the most likely author of the book of Ruth.
I. The Title
The ancient Hebrews entitled the book of Ruth ( רות ), which was derived not from its author, but from the main character of its historical material. The LXX provides the Greek equivalent “ Ρου ́ Θ.”  The Greek title was known by Melito, bishop of Sardis (d. c. 190).  Origen (c. 185 c. 254) testifies to the use of this title by the Jews in his day, but adds a note that the books of Judges and Ruth were combined in the Hebrew Scriptures into a single book called “Saphateim,” or ( שפטים ), meaning “judges.”  Jerome (A.D. 342 to 420) was familiar with the Greek title as well, and also noted that Judges and Ruth were one book.  The Vulgate uses the Latin title “Liber Ruth,”  from which the English title “Ruth” comes. The ancient Hebrew title ( רות ) has remained essentially unchanged, and can be found in the standard work Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. 
 Henry Swete believes the Greek title “Ρου ́ Θ” is “of Alexandrian and pre-Christian origin.” See Henry B. Swete, An Introduction to Old Testament in Greek (Cambridge: University Press, 1902), 215.
 Eusebius writes, “‘I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David; the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.’ Such are the words of Melito.” Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.26.14 , trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff, (Oxford: Parker and Company, c1890, 1905), 206.
 Eusebius writes, “Judges and Ruth, among them in one book,” Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.1-2 , trans. Arthur C. McGiffert under the title The Church History of Eusebius, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, A New Series, vol 1, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: Parker and Company, c1890, 1905), 272-3.
 Jerome says, “Next in the series is Sophtim, that is the book of Judges; and in the same book they include Ruth, because the events narrated occurred in the days of the Judges.” See Jerome, “Prefaces to the Books of the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament: The Books of Samuel and Kings,” trans. W. H. Freemantle, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, vol. 6, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1893), 489-90.
 Biblia Sacra Juxta Vulgatam Clementinam, ed. electronica (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2005), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004).
 Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, eds. A. Alt, O. Eißfelt, P. Kahle, and R. Kittle (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, c1967-77).
II. Historical Background
A. Internal Evidence
B. External Evidence - If we look outside of biblical literature for clues to authorship and into other ancient Jewish literature from which much Jewish tradition is found, the Babylonian Talmud says that Samuel wrote his own book as well as the books of Judges and Ruth.
“And who wrote all the books? Moses wrote his book and a portion of Bil’am [Numbers, xxii.], and Job. Jehoshua wrote his book and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch beginning: “And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died.” Samuel wrote his book, Judges, and Ruth. David wrote Psalms, with the assistance of ten elders, viz.: Adam the First, Malachi Zedek, Abraham, Moses, Hyman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korach. Jeremiah wrote his book, Kings, and Lamentations. King Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah, Proverbs, Songs, and Ecclesiastes. The men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve Prophets, Daniel, and the Book of Esther. Ezra wrote his book, and Chronicles the order of all generations down to himself. [This may be a support to Rabh’s theory, as to which, R. Jehudah said in his name, that Ezra had not ascended from Babylon to Palestine until he wrote his genealogy.] And who finished Ezra’s book? Nehemiah ben Chachalyah.” ( Babylonian Talmud, Tract Baba Bathra (Last Gate), 1.Mishna 5) 
 Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol. 13 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 45.
The book of Ruth was written after the period of the Judges (Ruth 1:1; Ruth 4:7), and after the birth of King David (Ruth 4:17-22):
Ruth 1:1, “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled , that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.”
Ruth 4:7, “Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.”
Ruth 4:17-22, “And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.”
LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)
“Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.
If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew.”
(Thomas Schreiner) 
 Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1990, 2011), 11.
Within the historical setting of the Israel prior to its kingdom, the author of the book of Ruth chose to write using the literary style of the historical narrative. Thus, the book of Ruth is assigned to the literary genre called “historical narrative literature.”
“Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework.”
(Andreas Kösenberger) 
 Andreas J. Kösenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.
Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the book of Ruth, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the book of Ruth for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.
In the midst of the time of the judges, when Israel was backsliding from the Lord, the story of Ruth reveals how God was divinely intervening in the nation of Israel in order to bring about his divine plan of redemption, both for Israel and the world. The book of Ruth also serves as a background for the genealogy of David and the kingdom of Israel.
VIII. Thematic Scheme
The primary theme of the book of Ruth is how to serve the Lord with all of our strength.
Its secondary theme is the predestination of the coming Davidic lineage and the kingdom of Israel as a means of Israel’s redemption.
Its third theme reveals how we are to reflect the image of Christ by obeying the message of Ruth, in which we are to enter into a place of rest while serving the Lord by placing one’s trust in the coming Redeemer. Thus, the chapters of Ruth reflect her journey in the plot of this narrative material into a place of marriage and rest. For the New Testament Church we are to serve the Lord with all of our strength by resting daily in divine providence through Christ as our Redeemer and Great High Priest.
Christ Jesus is our near kin man, who has redeemed us from sin (Ruth 4:15, “he shall be into the restorer of the life”). Ruth was a Gentile that was grafted into the nation of Israel, which is symbolic of the wild olive branches being grafted into the natural vine (Romans 11:1-32).
Perhaps Ruth’s nearer kinsman, who rejected and failed to redeem her, represented the Law, which failed to redeem Israel as a nation. Ruth and Rachab, in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17), illustrate the Gentile inclusion fulfilled at Pentecost and in the book of Acts. Her nearer kinsman may represent Israel, who was being unwilling to reach out and call the Gentiles unto God for redemption. The Jews were blood kin to Jesus, just as this near kinsman was blood kin to Boaz.
IX. Literary Structure
The summary and outline of the book or Ruth must follow the theme of the book. It is important to note that such a breakdown of this book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this summary and outline can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections, and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.
The structure of the book of Ruth is based upon its primary theme of the predestination of Israel’s future glorification, initially through King David, and ultimately through the King of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ. The structure of this book is built around its secondary theme, which reflects God’s four-fold divine plan of redemption for Israel and the Church: predestination, calling, justification, and glorification (Romans 8:29-30).
I. Predestined for Judgment: Introduction (Elimelech Leaves Israel) (Ruth 1:1-5 ) - Ruth 1:1-5 establishes the opening setting of the book of Ruth, picking up the theme of the book of Judges, which emphasizes the moral decline of Israel as a theocracy. The famine in the book of Ruth is the result of divine judgment upon a backslidden Israel, while its people struggle to find their redemption from their oppressors and from famine and pestilence and disease. Divine judgment was predestined as part of God’s plan for redeeming His people Israel when they fell away from Him.
Elimelech struggles to obtain rest and redemption by departing from the country of Israel and moving his family to the neighbouring country of Moab, which is ruled by heathen gods. Unfortunately, this decision did not deliver Elimelech and his family from their struggles and from divine judgment; for he and his sons died in Moab, leaving his wife Naomi and his two daughter-in-laws destitute and alone to seek out their redemption and rest.
II. Predestined to Choose: God’s Calling (Ruth Chooses to Follow Naomi) (Ruth 1:6-19 a) - Ruth 1:6-19 a records the story of Naomi’s decision to return to the land of Israel, and of Ruth’s touching decision to forsake her family and follow Naomi. This sacrificial decision by Ruth will serve as the basis for her obtaining much favour with the Jewish people. The aspect of choosing between good and evil as a part of God’s calling is expounded in Proverbs 1-9. Because of Ruth’s choice, Boaz will soon impart God’s favour and blessings into her life by saying, “It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” (Ruth 2:11-12) It is this favour that predestines Ruth to find rest by becoming the wife of Boaz.
God has predestined His people to obtain rest and redemption. Naomi’s and Ruth’s decision to return to Israel was their demonstration of faith in the Lord, as they placed themselves into the hands of the Lord’s divine providence and provision. With the loss of her husband and sons, all possibilities of Naomi’s and Ruth’s redemption were lost. Their destitution led them to give up on their own ability and strength and to seek redemption and rest in the God of Israel. God magnifies His way for us by reducing our hope in other options. Naomi had no option left but to place her hope in the Lord as the One who alone could provide redemption, as He had done in the past for her people Israel. Her return the Israel was an act of love and devotion to the God of Israel, since she believed her redemption could not take place outside the nation of Israel. Ruth followed in the steps of her mother-in-law’s faith. In Bethlehem she will discover that God’s plan of redemption for her is found in her near kinsman named Boaz.
III. Predestined for Rest: God’s Justification (Naomi and Ruth Find Favour) (Ruth 1:19 b to Ruth 2:23 ) - Ruth 1:19 b to Ruth 2:23 records the story of Naomi and Ruth’s return to Bethlehem, where they found favour in God’s eyes, and in the sight of Boaz. The reason Ruth found favour in the eyes of her redeemer, Boaz, is because she chose to forsake her people of an idolatrous culture and cling to Naomi and her faith in the God of Israel.
The setting moves from the land of Moab to the land of Israel, to the city of Bethlehem, the city from which Israel’s redemption will be born, both in their king David, the son of Jesse, and ultimately in the birth of the King of Kings the Lord Jesus Christ.
IV. Predestined for Rest: God’s Glorification (Naomi and Ruth Find Rest) (Ruth 3:1 to Ruth 4:22 ) The fourth phase of Naomi’s and Ruth’s redemption is the rest that they find when Ruth marries Boaz. Ruth 3:1 to Ruth 4:22 focuses upon Ruth’s marriage to her redeemer Boaz, and the ultimate fruit of birth of King David, Israel’s redeemer.
X. Outline of Book
Here is a proposed outline of the book of Ruth organized by themes:
I. Predestined for Redemption: Divine Judgment (Elimelech Leaves Israel) Ruth 1:1-5
II. Predestined to Choose: God’s Calling (Ruth Chooses to Follow Naomi) Ruth 1:6-19 a
III. Predestined for Rest: God’s Justification (Naomi and Ruth Find Favour) Ruth 1:19 b to Ruth 2:23
IV. Predestined for Rest: God’s Glorification (Naomi and Ruth Find Rest) Ruth 3:1 to Ruth 4:22
Metzger, Bruce M., David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker, eds. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007.
Stuart, Douglas. Hosea-Jonah. In Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volum es on CD-Rom, vol. 31, Eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Dallas: Word Inc., 2002. In Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
Gunkel, Hermann. The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction. Trans. Thomas M. Horner. In Biblical Series, vol. 19. Ed. John Reumann. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967.
Keathley, III, J. Hampton. “Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah.” (Bible.org) [on-line]. Accessed 23 May 2012. Available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.
Kösenberger, Andreas J. Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011.
Porter, H. “Ephah (2),” and “Weights and Measures.” In International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Ed. James Orr. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939. In The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008.
Rodkinson, Michael L. New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol. 13. New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902.
Schreiner, Thomas R. Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1990, 2011.
Warren, Charles. “Bed.” In A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing with its Language, Literature, and Contents Including the Biblical Theology, vol. 1. Ed. James Hastings. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908.
Warren, Charles. “House.” In A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing with its Language, Literature, and Co ntents Including the Biblical Theology, vol. 2. Ed. James Hastings. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1909.
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18