Reflections on Ruth

Just finished working my way thru the Hebrew text of the Old Testament book of Ruth. It took me two months, few nights a week and has been richly rewarding. Here are some insights gleaned:

1.1 Ruth follows Judges in the Christian Bible. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Ruth follows Proverbs. Hmm…

1.2 The story begins with Naomi – and it ends with her too. Although the book is titled “Ruth,” I can’t help but to wonder if Naomi is the primary protagonist; in other words, is this Ruth’s story or is it Naomi’s?

1.11 I find it interesting that whenever Naomi addresses Ruth directly she calls her “my daughter,” not so much “my daughter-in-law.” I don’t think even once does she do otherwise… not sure if this is a colloquialism (any younger woman may have been called a “daughter”) or if it is a testament to the closeness of Naomi and Ruth.

1.20 Naomi insists the women call her “Mara” (literally, “Bitter”). She repudiates her old name, “Naomi” (Pleasant). But after her own self-renaming to Mara, the narrator insists immediately thereafter on calling her Naomi in vs 22. She is never called Mara again.

2.11 Ruth has: left father, mother, land of her birth and come to a people she did not previously know. I am not alone in recognizing echoes of Abraham in Genesis 12.

3.11 There’s the “woman of excellence” connection to Proverbs 31. I for one, however, think it’s a greater excellence than just the “proverbial” connection; she is excellent in that she was the last, final, and greatest judge of the history of Israel. Ruth can’t be read simply for it’s moralistic maxims, but rather her place in heilsgeschicte. Ruth the Deliveress.

4.22 The last verses from 18-22 read like an orchestral finale, crescendoing in the final, triumphant note of DAVID; interestingly, verse 4.17b is repeated, but here extracted, expanded. Why the reiteration? The geneological listing is almost like a closing credits scrolling with the triumphant final note of David. Whereas Judges closed saying “there was no king,” Ruth closes with the final resounding note of “David.” Epic.

Here’s the link to the sermon mp3:

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

One thought on “Reflections on Ruth

  1. Interesting. I also finished reading Ruth in one setting just two days ago.

    I noticed there might be some connection between Ruth 1:16-17 and Matthew 8:18-20 (and also Luke 9:57-58) about the cost of following.

    I found some bible study notes online highlighting the hardship Ruth had to face:

    Click to access WhyDidRuthGo.pdf

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