Age of Judges
Ruth takes place during the time of the Judges. As is written in the book of Judges, there were no rulers during this time, and God would set up a judge in times of need to save Israel. Overall people did as they pleased. Book of Ruth itself is said to have been written around 4th to 6th century B.C.
Story of Ruth is famous among Israelites, and is often read aloud during one of the festivals called Shavuot. Shavuot is equivalent to the Pentecost of modern day.
Main character who is not “the chosen one”
Since the election of Abraham by God in Genesis, up through the book of Judges the story of the Bible centers around the “chosen people” of Israel. The main character of the book of Ruth, who is Ruth, is interestingly not an Israelite, and was rather a Moabite, who was at one time even an enemy of Israel.
The story starts when Naomi, her husband, and her 2 sons left Israel and fled to Moab during a famine. Naomi’s 2 sons marry Moabite women, and one of the women was Ruth. During their stay in Moab, Naomi’s husband and her 2 sons pass away. When Naomi decided to go back to Israel, Ruth knowing that she will be a foreigner there, decided to follow Naomi.
Going to a foreign country and trying to live by themselves was not easy. Though Ruth knew that it will be difficult, she decided to go with Naomi. Since they were very poor, Ruth had to resort to gleaning in fields.
Right to redeem
Fortunately, the field Ruth was gleaning from happened to be owned by Boaz, who was a close relative of Naomi. He had the “right to redeem”. He was able to have the right to marry Ruth and redeem her.
After planning with Boaz, they are successful in making this happen. Though she was just a foreigner in the land, Ruth was able to have land and a husband.
This is a story that gives many of us who are not Israelites hope as well. We are not born as “chosen people”. However, through God, no matter what we were born as, we can become His “chosen people”.
“Death and sadness” and “Birth and joy”
At the beginning of the book of Ruth, Naomi loses her husband and 2 sons. She is in deep sorry. Naomi’s name means “joy”, but she tells others to call her Mara, which means “bitter”.
At the end of the book of Ruth, Naomi has a grandchild through Boaz and Ruth. In the end, she is able to be “joyful” as she was named. Naomi probably would not find out, but through her grandchild King David would be born.
One of the big themes of the book of Ruth is the “right to redeem”. In Hebrew is is called “Goel”. Boaz became Ruth’s “Goel”, and saves her even though she was a foreigner. From God’s eyes, we too are foreigners, but God becomes our “Goel” and saves us.