Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ruth 1-4 Sisters are doing it for themselves

Ruth 1-4

The entire Book of Ruth in one sitting!

When life gives you lemons, thresh some barley for Boaz, the land owner.
I read this very short book wondering why is was included in the OT.  It didn't really make sense until the last verse.
The linage of David.  Nuff said.

I did like getting an extremely rare (perhaps only?) look at the plight of women in these days.  Their options must have been very limited.

My question is: Is the focus of this story about the women trying to get by or about the generosity of the male, Boaz?
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  1. I think (hope?) you meant "plight of women"....blight is something that happens to plants. ;)

  2. Ruth in the Jewish Scriptures is not placed between Judges and first Samuel but rather with the writings like Chronicles, Ezra, Psalms, and Job.

    Note that Ruth is a Moabite, a group that according to Deut. 23:3 "No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, not even in the tenth generation." Yet Ruth is listed as an ancestor of David. The rabbis explained this away by considering only male line descendants of Moabites are prohibited. It is possible that the story of Ruth was written by those who opposed the prohibition on Jews have foreign wives (a policy that Ezra rigorously enforced after the return from the Babylonian exile with no apparent exceptions for wives who had converted).

  3. did you know Oprah got her name from other sister? Her mom couldn't spell.

  4. First off, I'm a Christian and enjoy reading this blog. Thanks for keeping it up!

    Like you mentioned, the immediate purpose of Ruth was to give the lineage of David. Christians, however, believe the ultimate purpose is to give an example of God's grace and faithfulness to anybody who would commit themselves to him, including those who entered into the covenant community from without (i.e., Gentiles).

    It's interesting to note that in the Hebrew OT, Ruth is preceded by Proverbs and followed by Song of Songs. So, when you read the last chapter of Proverbs, you see the character of a virtuous woman outlined. Then you read Ruth and see a real-life example of a virtuous woman. Then you read Song of Songs and see how awesome it is being married to a virtuous woman. Kinda cool, huh?

    "[The LORD] gives the barren woman a home,
    making her the joyous mother of children.
    Praise the Lord!" - Psalm 113:9

  5. I think the genealogy tagged onto the end is considered to be, well, tagged on.

    It's interesting to note that in the Hebrew OT

    Erm, there isn't a Hebrew Old Testament, just a Hebrew Bible.

    The Christian ordering, where Ruth annoyingly breaks the flow of the Deuteronomic histories, dates back to the greek Septuagint. Ruth is definitely a product of later times, basically judges-era "fanfic".

    I've had a bad cold this week, sorry (or you're welcome) I haven't been contributing much.

  6. I think Ruth+Boaz and Adam+Eve are the only monogamous couples mentioned in the Old Testament. Just reading recollection, no fine tooth comb or anything.

  7. @Lorraine,

    I think Moses is in there as well.

    Sorry i have missed the last few days. I was looking forward to getting back into this tonight.

  8. @Christian, Jews also consider that Ruth is an example of a good convert. However her behavior does border on the scandalous for the time. She washes herself, dresses nicely, puts on perfume, goes to the barn after dark and after Boaz is asleep, uncovers Boaz's feet (which may be an euphemism), and lies down beside him. She does have an excuse in that like Tamar, Judah's daughter-in-law, her late husband's male kindred (and Boaz is one) have a responsibility to provide her with a son to inherit and to take care of her and Naomi.

  9. @Abbie - Sorry for the imprecise wording. "Hebrew Bible" (or perhaps "traditional/Jewish arrangement of the Old Testament") does indeed do more justice to the truth :o)

    Also, is it really logical to say that, because it was written a generation or two after the events took place, "definitely" makes it the equivalent to fanfic? I obviously have a bias toward believing otherwise!

    @Erp - Thanks for the info. I'm familiar with the argument for uncovering Boaz's feet as a euphemism, but I've never seen any real evidence that amounts to anything more than winking and nudging. Are you aware of anything more concrete than that?

  10. I was being flippant. But it was not written a couple generations after it took place; it was written many hundreds of years later. The dating is uncertain, but it could easily be post-exilic, ie 400s BCE, while the rhetorical "time of the judges" was 1200-1000 BCE.

    One theory is that it was written to promote acceptance of inter-marriage. In the current climate (under Ezra's puritanical law) the marriage between an Israelite and a Moabite would be unthinkable. This author crafted a clever story, and set it back in the "time of judges" so it could be tied into the lineage of David.

    Basically, Davidic fanfic.

  11. @Abbie - Any proof for those conjectures?

  12. Well wink wink I think comes in with a young woman alone with a sleeping man and she has moved some of his clothing in order to uncover part of his body (whether his real feet or euphemistic feet).

    Note I did say 'may' as the Bible I'm reading, Jewish Study Bible, is also unsure. Euphemisms are often hard to pin down.

    As for age, the story depicts a custom (the shoe) as though it is not practiced at the time the story is told and hasn't been for a long time. Also Jews include it with the Writings (which were the last of the books that became canonical) and not with Judges and Samuel (both of which are classified as part of Prophets).

  13. I've found a source-critical work that questions a late date for Ruth. (Well, it still late, but not super-late.)

    The Aramaic factor was my main reason for citing a late date; this may not be the case.

    5. The theory of a late date of the Book of Ruth rests, accordingly, exclusively on the indication found in the alleged presence of Aramaisms and late diction in the book. With the more accurate philological knowledge of the last few decades the number of these has been shown to be more restricted than was at first assumed;49 and of those still cited as clearly late or Aramaic, which number six or seven all told, there is not one which cannot be equally well or better regarded as good Hebrew usage or otherwise accounted for.
    With the removal of the necessity of recognizing any word or expression in the genuine portions of the Book of Ruth as being late or an Aramaism, the only valid evidence of a late date, and the only insurmountable obstacle to assigning an early one, is removed. We are free, therefore, to assume an early origin with Jewish tradition and a considerable number of modern scholars. Such an assumption is supported by so much good evidence that I believe an early date can be regarded as proved. The evidence is as follows:
    1. While there is not one word or expression in the genuine portions of Ruth which is late, Driver has pointed out (LOT19, p. 454) that "the general Hebrew style (the idioms and syntax) shows no marks of deterioration; it ... . stands on a level with the best parts of Samuel." There are present a relatively large number of words and usages which are paralleled only in the earliest Hebrew literature. This cannot be a matter of chance and imitation as Nowack explains: in a book of only four chapters the presence of so many old and classical usages indicates unmistakably that the book is ancient and not late.60 (For a list of such usages and forms, see Driver, LOT10, p. 454 [note J].)