Book of Ruth

illustration of Naomi and Ruth, date unknown, artist unknown; taken from the free pictures sectionArticle

One of the proto-canonical writings of the Old Testament, containing a beautifully written story of a family of Bethlehem in the time of the Judges. Elimelech, under the pressure of famine, left Bethlehem with his wife Noemi and his two sons, to settle in the land of Moab. The sons there married Moabite women, but died without children. After the death of her husband and her sons, Noemi returned to Bethlehem accompanied by Ruth, one of her daughters-in-law, whose filial devotion is expressed in most touching terms (Ruth 1:16). At Bethlehem Ruth married Booz, a relative of Elimelech. The marriage was not strictly a levirate marriage, such as is legislated about in Deuteronomy 25. Booz and Ruth were ancestors of David (Matthew 1), of whom a genealogy is given at the end of the book. The purpose of the book was doubtless to preserve an edifying story relating to the origins of the great king, David, not to recommend levirate marriage nor to combat the rigor of Esdras and Nehemias in regard to marriage with foreigners. The example of filial piety and its reward is particularly striking. As regards the date of composition, the first verse makes it evident that it was written after the times of the Judges; and the genealogy comes down to the time of David. Father Paul Jouon, S.J., judges, chiefly from the language of the book, that it dates from after the Exile.

MLA Citation

  • “Book of Ruth”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 December 2018. Web. 29 November 2021. <>