Ruth in the Bible: A synopsis of the book

Around the tenth century BC, an unknown author wrote the Book of Ruth. The book is said to be during the period of the judges, in which an Israelite family was detailed. Much of the book centers on Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi. The book has two general parts to it. In the first part, which is only the first chapter, ten years of hardship in Moab was detailed for this family, in which Naomi endured adversity, Naomi making a decision to leave Moab, Ruth’s continual love, and Naomi and Ruth going to Bethlehem. The remainder of the book, which is the second part, details their new lives in Israel, which includes Ruth meeting Boaz in the harvest field, then at the threshing floor, Boaz marrying Ruth, Naomi’s fulfillment, and a detailed genealogy of Perez to David.

In the ten years of hardship in Moab, we see that a severe famine had stricken Israel. Elimelech had taken his wife Naomi and their two sons across the Jordan River and South to the land of Moab. They needed rest somewhere, however, Elimelech died, and within ten years, his two sons that married Moabite wives died also. Therefore, Naomi didn’t see a future for herself in Moab, and so knowing the famine in Israel had passed, she decided to return home. Ruth had come along and wanted to attend the journey with Naomi, trusting in the God that Naomi believed. Naomi though welcomed home with goodness, experienced grief over the hardship of the previous ten years.

Next, we see detailed was Ruth working in the field of Boaz. When a farmer reaped his harvest, according to Israelite law, he was not to send workers through the field a second time to pick up any odd stalks of grain that the reapers dropped. These were left for the poor, who’d followed the reapers and grabbed what they can get. Ruth was one of these who gleaned (went after the dropped grains), so Naomi and she could have food. What she didn’t know, however, was the field she was gathering on belonged to a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband. This man was Boaz, as we see in chapter 2.

Boaz heard of the kindness that Ruth expressed to Naomi, so he looked for ways to reward her. He wanted to be sure that the reapers would deliberately leave extra grains behind for her to pick up. Therefore, she continued to glean in the fields. After this, Ruth took home more grain than she had hoped for, and when Naomi heard the story, she knew that God had His hand on the situation. Naomi told Ruth that the man who was so kind to her was a relative of her deceased husband. Ruth would then continue to glean for the rest of the season of harvesting.

So much grain was put aside, enough to last until next summer, it seemed. However, Naomi was concerned about Ruth and her future. Naomi suggested to Ruth that she should marry. Now, we see Naomi had no sons living, and there were no brothers of Ruth’s deceased husband whom she could marry either. Naomi suggests Boaz for her to marry, because he was the closest living relative.

Therefore, Ruth wanted to speak to Boaz and went down to the threshing floor where he slept. She spoke with him, and symbolically asked him to be her husband or that he would take her as his wife in the symbol of having the skirt spread over her. Boaz, surprisingly, was delighted and honored by this, and therefore, Boaz wanted to marry, as well. Soon, we see Boaz giving her some more grain and sending her home. Naomi was excited as she saw her suggestion working out.

As we see next, it appears Naomi decided to sell her deceased husband’s land. To prevent the land from passing out of the family, she had to ensure that the nearest relative would buy it. In which case, that person would be the same one who would produce an heir through Ruth. Naomi wanted the child born an heir of the family property, so she wanted Boaz to buy it.

Nevertheless, he was quite unsure if he could handle the costs of buying the land and marrying Ruth. In surpassing nervousness, it seems Boaz went ahead with the buy, but also married Ruth with a wish that God would make them fruitful and prosperous just as Israel’s ancestors. Therefore, the child born to Boaz and Ruth was important, especially to Naomi. The child didn’t just carry on the family name (of Naomi’s husband and son), but Obed also became the grandfather of King David and an ancestor of Jesus Christ (as we see in Matthew 1:5).