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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Ruth (Book of)

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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.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Ruth (Book of)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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