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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Ruth, a Moabitish woman, brought, under peculiar circumstances, into intimate relation with the stock of Israel, and whose history is given in one of the books of the sacred canon which bears her name. The narrative that brings her into the range of inspired story is constructed with idyllic simplicity and pathos, and forms a pleasant relief to the somber and repulsive shades of the picture which the reader has just been contemplating in the later annals of the Judges. It is the domestic history of a family compelled, by the urgency of a famine, to abandon the land of Canaan, and seek an asylum in the territories of Moab. Elimelech, the head of the emigrating household, dies in the land of his sojourn, where his two surviving sons 'took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth.' On the death of the sons, the widowed parent resolving to return to her country and kindred, the filial affection of the daughters-in-law is put to a severe test, and Ruth determines at all hazards to accompany Naomi. She accordingly arrives at Bethlehem with her mother, where, in the extremity of want, she goes to glean after the reapers in the harvest-field of Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of her deceased father-in-law, Elimelech. Attracted by her appearance, and informed of her exemplary conduct towards her mother-in-law, Boaz bade her return from day today, and directed his servants to give her a courteous welcome. An omen so propitious could not but be regarded as a special encouragement to both, and Naomi therefore counseled Ruth to seek an opportunity for intimating to Boaz the claim she had upon him as the nearest kinsman of her deceased husband. Boaz received this intimation favorably, yet he replied that there was another person more nearly related to the family than himself, whose title must first be disposed of. Without delay he applied himself to ascertain whether the kinsman in question was inclined to assert his right—a right which extended to a purchase of the ransom (at the Jubilee) of Elimelech's estate. Finding him indisposed to the measure, he obtained from him a release, ratified according to the legal forms of the time, and then proceeded himself to redeem the patrimony of Elimelech, and espoused the widow of his son, in order 'to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.' From this union sprang David, the illustrious king of Israel, whose line the writer traces up, in conclusion, through Boaz, to Pharez, son of Judah.

Ruth, Book of

The Book of Ruth is inserted in the Canon, according to the English arrangement, between the book of Judges and the books of Samuel, as a sequel to the former and an introduction to the latter. The true date and authorship of the book are alike unknown, though the current of opinion is in favor of Samuel as the writer. Its canonical authority has never been questioned.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Ruth'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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