Ruth, Book of
Ruth, Book Of.
This book is inserted in the canon, according to the English arrangement and that of the Sept., between the book of Judges and the books of Samuel, as a sequel to the former and an introduction to the latter. Among the ancient Jews it was added to the book of Judges, because they supposed that the transactions which it relates happened in the time of the judges of Israel (Jg 1:1). Several of the ancient fathers, moreover, make but one book of Judges and Ruth. In the Hebrew Bible it stands among the Kethubim, or Hagiographa. But the modern Jews commonly place, after the Pentateuch, the five Megilloth (q.v.) —
1. The Song of Solomon; 2. Ruth; 3. The Lamentations of Jeremiah;
4. Ecclesiastes; 5. Esther.
Sometimes Ruth is placed the first of these, sometimes the second, and sometimes the fifth.
1. The true date and authorship of the book are alike unknown, though the current of tradition is in favor of Samuel as the writer (Talmud, Baba Bathra, 14, 2). That it was written at a time considerably remote from the events it records would appear from the passage in Ru 4:7, which explains a custom referred to as having been "the manner in former time in Israel, concerning redeeming and concerning changing" (comp. De 25:9). That it was written, also, at least as late as the establishment of David's house upon the throne appears from the concluding verse, "And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David." The expression, moreover (1:1), "when the judges ruled," marking the period of the occurrence of the events, indicates, no doubt, that in the writer's days kings had already begun to reign. Add to this what critics have considered as certain Chaldaisms with which the language is interspersed, denoting its composition at a period considerably later than that of the events themselves. Thus Eichhorn finds a Chaldaism or Syriasm in the use of א for ה in מָרָא though the same form occurs elsewhere. He adverts also to the existence of a superfluous Yod in שׁמתי and ירדתי (Ru 3:3) and in שׁבבתי; (ver. 4). As, however, the language is in other respects, in the main, pure, these few Chaldaisms may have arisen from a slight error of the copyists, and therefore can scarcely be alleged as having any special bearing on the eras of the document. The same remark is to be made of certain idiomatic phrases and forms of expression which occur elsewhere only in the books of Samuel and of Kings, as, "The Lord do so to me, and more also" (Ru 1:17; comp. 1Sa 3:17; 1Sa 14:44; 1Sa 20:23; 2Sa 3:9,35; 2Sa 19:13; 1Ki 2:23; 1Ki 19:2; 1Ki 20:10; 2Ki 6:31); "I have discovered to your ear," for "I have told you" (Ru 4:4; comp. 1Sa 20:2; 2Sa 7:27).
2. The canonical authority of Ruth has never been questioned, a sufficient confirmation of it being found in the fact that Ruth, the Moabitess, comes into the genealogy of the Savior, as distinctly given by the evangelist (Mt 1:6). The principal difficulty in regard to the book arises, however, from this very genealogy, in which it is stated that Boaz, who was the husband of Ruth. and the great-grandfather of David, was the son of Salmon by Rahab. Now, if by Rahab we suppose to be meant, as is usually understood, Rahab the harlot, who protected the spies, it is not easy to conceive that only three persons — Boaz, Obed, and Jesse — should have intervened between her and David, a period of nearly four hundred years. The solution of Usher is not probable, that the ancestors of David, as persons of pre-eminent piety, were favored with extraordinary longevity. It may be that the sacred writers have mentioned in the genealogy only such names as were distinguished and known among the Jews. But a more reasonable explanation is that some names are omitted, as we know is elsewhere the case in the same genealogy. (See above.)
3. The leading scope of the book has been variously understood by different commentators. Umbreit (Ueber Geist und Zweck des Buches Ruth, in Theol. Stud. und Krit. for 1834, p. 308) thinks it was written with the specific moral design of showing how even a stranger, and that of the hated Moabitish stock, might be sufficiently noble to become the mother of the great king David, because she placed her reliance on the God of Israel. Bertholtt regards the history as a pure fiction, designed to recommend the duty of a man to marry his kinswoman; while Eichhorn conceives that it was composed mainly in honor of the house of David, though it does not conceal the poverty of the family. The more probable design we think to be to preintimate, by the recorded adoption of a Gentile woman into the family from which Christ was to derive his origin, the final reception of the Gentile nations into the true Church, as fellow heirs of the salvation of the Gospel. The moral lessons which it incidentally teaches are of the most interesting and touching character: that private families are as much the objects of divine regard as the houses of princes; that the present life is a life of calamitous changes; that a devout trust in an overruling Providence will never fail of its reward; and that no condition, however adverse or afflicted, is absolutely hopeless, are truths that were never more strikingly illustrated than in the brief and simple narrative before us.
4. The separate commentaries on the entire book are not very numerous. Of the Church fathers we mention the following: Origen, Fragmentum (in Opp. 2, 478 sq.); Theodoret, Qucestiones (in Opp. 1, 1); Isidore, Commentaria (in Opp.); Bede, Qucestiones (in Opp. 8); Raban, Commentaria (in Opp.); also Irimpertus, Expositio (in Pez, Thesaur. 4, 1, 141 sq.). By modern expositors there are the following: Bafiolas, פֵּרוּשׁ[includ. Song of Solomon etc.] (finished in 1329; pub. by Markaria, Riva di Trento, 1560, 4to; also in Frankfurter's Rabbin. Bible); Bertinoro, פֵּרוּשׁ(Cracov. s. a. 4to; also in his works, Ven. 1585); Sal. Isaak, פֵּרוּשׁ (Salon. 1b51, 4to); Alkabaz, שֹׁרֶשׁ יַשִׁי (Const. 1561; Lubl. 1597, 4to); Mercer, Versio Syriaca cum Scholiis (Par. 1564, 4to); Isaak ben-Joseph, פֵּרוּשׁ (Sabbionetta, 1551, 8vo; Mantua, 1565, 16mo); Strigel, Scholia (Lips. 1571, 1572, 8vo); Feuardent, Commentaria (Par. 1582; Antw. 1585, 4to); Lavater, Homilioe (Heidelb. 1586, 8vo; also in English, Lond. 1601, 8vo); De Celada, Commentarii (Lugd. 1594, 1651, fol.); Cuper, Commentarius [includ. Tobit, etc.] (Mogunt. 1600, 4to); Topsell, Commentarius (Lond. 1601, 8vo); also Lectures (ibid. 1613, 8vo); Alscheich, עֵינֵי משֶׁה (Ven. 1601, 4to); Manera, Commentarius (ibid. 1604, 4to); Heidenreich, Expositio [includ. Tobit] (Jen. 1608, 8vo); Serrarius, Explanatio [includ. Judges] (Mogunt. 1609, fol.); Bernard, Commentary (Lond. 1628, 4to); Sanctius, Commentarii [includ. other books] (Lugd. 1628, fol.); Bonfiere, Commentarius [includ. Joshua and Judges] (Par. 1631, 1659, fol.); Crommius, Commentarii [includ. Judges, etc.] (Lovan. 1631, 4to); Drusits, Commentarius (Amst. 1632, 4to); Schleupner, Ezpositio (Norib. 1632, 8vo); D'Acosta, Commentarius (Lugd. 1641, fol.); Fuller, Commentary (Lond. 1654, 1868, 8vo); Osiander, Commentarius (Tüb. 1682, fol.); Crucius, Verklaaring (Haarlem, 1691, 4to); Schmid, Adnotationes (Argent. 1696, 4to); Carpzov, Disputationes [to 2, 10] (Lips. 1703, 4to [Rabbinic]); Werner, Interpretatio (Hamb. 1711, 4to); Outhof, Verklaaring (Amst. 1711, 4to); Moldenhauer, Erlauterung [includ. Joshua and Judges] (Quedl. 1774, 4to); MacGowan, Discourse (Lond. 1781, 8vo); Asulat, שׂמחִת הָרגֵל (Legh. 1782, 4to); Wolfssohn, בּאוּר. (Berl. 1788, 8vo); Lawson, Lectures (Edinb. 1805, 12mo; Phila. 1870, 8vo); Dereser, Erklärung (Fr.- a.-M. 1806, 8vo); Riegler, Anmerk. (Wirzb. 1812, 8vo ); Paur, Bearbeitung (Leips. 1815, 8vo); Macartney, Observations (Lond. 1841, 8vo); Blücher, רוּת. (Lemb. 1843, 8vo); Philpot, Lectures (Lond. 1854, 18mo); Tyng, History (N.Y. 1855; Lond. 1856, 8vo); Metzger, Interpretatio (Tüb. 1856, 4to); Roordam, Versio Syr.-Hexapl. Greece cum Notis (Havl. 1859 sq., 4to); Wright, Commentary (Lond. 1864, 8vo). SEE OLD TESTAMENT.