Introduction to Ruth

by Dr. Henry M. Morris:

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

The book of Ruth is one of the two books in the Bible featuring a particular woman, the other being the book of Esther. Oddly enough, Ruth was a Moabitess, whose people were almost perpetual enemies of Israel, the chosen people. Still more surprisingly, Ruth actually appears in the genealogical ancestry of Jesus (Matthew 1:5), having married Boaz, who was (assuming no gaps in the recorded genealogies) the great grandfather of King David (Ruth 4:21, 22).

The book was written by some unknown author, and its final edited form must date from the time of David (note Ruth 4:7, as well as 4:18-22). It is possible—perhaps even probable—that the prophet Samuel, or David himself, was this final, inspired editor. The historical setting of the book is in the times of the judges (Ruth 1:1), but whether early or late in that period is uncertain.

The Jewish historian Josephus says that Ruth lived in the time of Eli, when Samuel was young, and this would correlate with the implication of Ruth 4:21, 22, that she was David's great grandmother. On the other hand, if Salmon was both the husband of Rahab and the father of Boaz (Matthew 1:5, Ruth 4:21), that would make Rahab a mother-in-law of Ruth, and this would seem to place Ruth rather early in the period of the judges. Since that period surely lasted 300 years or possibly 450 years (Acts 13:20) or even longer, it seems there must be a significant gap somewhere in this genealogy. If Josephus was right (and he was much closer to the time than we are) that gap most likely is between Salmon and Boaz. Thus Salmon begat Boaz in the ancestral sense, rather than the immediate sense.

The story of Ruth is beautiful and inspiring. Even in the turbulent time of the judges, God was providentially looking after His people, and yet was also still concerned about those individuals in other nations (even Moab) whose hearts were open to Him. It also provides a striking type of Christ in the person of Boaz, who became the “kinsman-redeemer” for Ruth (Ruth 4:1-12). He brought her into the family of God's people by paying the price for her redemption, just as the Lord Jesus purchased us with the price of His shed blood (Ephesians 1:7) in order that we might become part of the eternal family of God.