Glossary of Terms



Harperís 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 Ďsatiationí), 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 Naomiís worthy relative Boaz. The result was security for Ruth as well, through the birth of her child, Obed, Davidís 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.


Oxford Dictionary of the Bible

by W.R.F. Browning (NY: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Ruth. An outsider, a Moabitess, who as a widow married into the tribe of Judah at Bethlehem. Her son was the grandfather of David, and therefore Ruth appears in the Genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1:5).

Ruth, book of. A charming OT story placed between the books of Judges and 1 Sam. as being a bridge between the two epochs in Israelite history -- the judges and the monarchy. Ruth, a moabitess, cared for her widowed mother-in-law Naomi, who in turn was instrumental in finding a husband for Ruth, whose husband had also died. The man chosen was from the tribe of Judah, by name Boaz (Ruth 2:1), who was prominent and rich. The son born was called Obed (Ruth 4:17) and was the grandfather of David. Because of the Moabite involvement, it has often been supposed that the book was written as a universalist tract (in the same spirit as Isa. 56:6-8) in protest against narrow nationalism in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah after the Exile, when intermarriage with foreigners was prohibited (Neh. 13:23-8). On the other hand, is it likely that at such a time after the Exile someone should deliberately ascribe a foreign ancestry to King David? Thus there is also an opinion that the book should be dated earlier -- between the 10th and 8th cents, BCE, and not as late as 400 BCE -- and could be a timeless story about vulnerable people in society.


Topical index of terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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