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Bible Dictionaries
Ruth (Book of)

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

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RUTH ( Book of )

1. Contents . The book is really the narrative of a family story, told in a charmingly idyllic way. The fact of most far-reaching interest which it contains is that the Moabitess Ruth, i.e. one who is non-Israelite, is represented as the ancestress of the house of David; this is very important, as testifying to a spirit which is very different from ordinary Jewish exclusiveness, and as far as the OT is concerned can be paralleled only by the Book of Jonah. A point of subsidiary but yet considerable interest in the book is its archæology; the notices concerning the laws of the marriage of next-of-kin ( Ruth 2:20 , Ruth 4:1 ff.), and of the method of transferring property ( Ruth 4:7-8 ), and of the custom of the formal ratification of a compact ( Ruth 4:11-12 ), are all evidently echoes of usages which belonged to a time long anterior to the date at which the book was written, though in part still in vogue.

2. Date . The language of the book has an ‘Aramaicizing tendency’; it implicitly acknowledges itself to have been written long after the time of the events it professes to describe ( Ruth 1:1 , Ruth 4:7 ); in the Hebrew Canon it is placed among the Hagiographa; these considerations lead to the conclusion that the book must be of late date. That it is post-exilic cannot admit of doubt; but to assign to it a date more definite than this would be precarious. This much, at least, may be said: the third portion of the Hebrew Canon was completed, at the earliest, after the close of the 3rd cent. b.c. Now it is not likely that a book which purported to contain a fuller genealogy of David than that of 1Samuel would have been long in existence without being admitted into the Canon.

W. O. E. Oesterley.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Ruth (Book of)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​r/ruth-book-of.html. 1909.
 
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