Glossary of Terms



Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Ruth (Heb., probably ‘satiation’), a Moabite who married Mahlon of the Judahite family of Elimelech. Widowed and childless, she abandoned her family, country, and faith to accompany her mother-in-law Naomi to Bethlehem. Her radical actions continued as she secured food for herself and Naomi and summoned the relative Boaz to be their redeemer. Boaz married her. She bore a son who became the grandfather of David. The women of Bethlehem exalted Ruth as the loving daughter-in-law who meant more to Naomi than seven sons, the ideal number (Ruth 4:15). Her name appears later in the Matthean genealogy of Jesus (1:5).

Ruth, the Book of, the eighth book of the ot. It is a beautifully crafted historical short story about how the lovingly loyal behavior of Ruth, a Moabite widow in a Jewish family from Bethlehem, brought back fullness of life to her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, aided by Naomi’s worthy relative Boaz. The result was security for Ruth as well, through the birth of her child, Obed, David’s grandfather. The story thus offers a bridge from the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1) to the monarchy. It resembles in style and content stories in Genesis 22, 24, and 38; the Joseph cycle; the frame of Job (1; 42:7-17); and episodes in 2 Samuel 9-20. Most of these pertain to David and his antecedents; all share with Ruth dramatic tension in confronting human predicaments and problems of injustice. Scholars now tend to date the composition of Ruth early (tenth-eighth centuries b.c.), rather than around 400 b.c. as previously maintained (thought to be composed as a protest against the dissolution of mixed marriages in Nehemiah 13 and Ezra 10). The story represents the stream of openness to the world, a stream running deep and wide in the ot. E.F.C./P.J.A.


The Book of Ruth

I. Ruth and Naomi (1:1-22)

A. Ruth is married and widowed (1:1-5)

B. Ruth returns with Naomi to Bethlehem (1:6-22)

II. Ruth and Boaz (2:1-4:22)

A. Ruth gleans in Boaz’s fields (2:1-23)

B. Ruth and Boaz at the threshing floor (3:1-18)

C. Boaz marries Ruth when her next of kin refuses to marry her (4:1-12)

D. A son is born to Ruth and Boaz who will become grandfather of David (4:13-22)


Topical index of terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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