- Ruth, Book of
Old Testament book belonging to the third section of the biblical canon, known as the Ketuvim, or Writings. In the Hebrew Bible, Ruth stands with the Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther; together they make up the Megillot, five scrolls that are read at prescribed times on Jewish religious festivals. Ruth is the festal scroll for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, 50 days after Passover.The book is named for its central character, a Moabite woman who married the son of a Judaean couple living in Moab. After the death of her husband, Ruth moved to Judah with her mother-in-law, Naomi, instead of remaining with her own people. Ruth then became the wife of Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of her former husband, and bore Obed, who, according to the final verses of the book, was the grandfather of David. This attempt to make Ruth an ancestor of David is considered a late addition to a book that itself must be dated in the late 5th or 4th century BC. Its author apparently wrote the story to correct the particularism that characterized Judaism after the Babylonian Exile and the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem (516 BC). The redactor who added the genealogy of David (4:17–22) carried the correction one step further by making David the great-grandson of a foreign woman.
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