An Overview Of The Book Of Ruth Theology Religion

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The Bible is full of inspirational constructs and full of indicative truth. While the Old Testament points to Jesus of New Testament, it besides contains basic philosophies that are established in the New Testament. Hence, words like kindness, fidelity and clemencies have their root in the Hebrew Bible. Hesed is “ an interesting and fascinating Hebrew word that has a broad scope of significance. ” The desire to analyze it makes one to larn a great trade about the characters and properties of God as it relates to His kindness, fidelity, goodness, clemency and steadfast love. Hesed was explicitly expressed in the Bible, most particularly in the Old Testament. God revealed Himself to His chosen state ( Israel ) through His personal properties and characters ( Jenkins,2011:1 ) .

No treatment of hesed would be complete without adverting its function in the interactions of Naomi, her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth, and the Jesus Boaz. It is on this fact that this paper answers the undermentioned inquiries: What does the construct of hesed entails? What is the general overview of the Book of Ruth? How is hesed described in the book of Ruth? And what deductions do hesed nowadays to the Nigerian Christians? This paper hence intends to discourse how hesed was embraced and expressed in the Book of Ruth.


There is a beautiful and rich word in the Hebrew linguistic communication that strongly describes the fidelity, clemency, staunchness and loving-kindness of the Lord. This Hebrew word is transliterated into English as hesed ( Maxey, 2012:1 ) . Hesed ( pronounced khesed ) is non merely a Hebrew word to be translated by exegete as merely “ loving-kindness ” or “ mercy “ , it is in fact an property of God. The hesed of God is a godly feature and is at the centre of why God acts as He does in existent infinite and clip. ( Belnap,2009,1 )

Hesed as Jenkins ( 2011 ) asserted can be divided into the undermentioned three classs: household relationships, relational and spiritual ( 1 ) . He went farther to depict its happenings in the Bible in the undermentioned words:

Hesed occurs in the household relationships classs seven times in the Old Testament, six times in Genesis, one time in 1samuel and one time in Ruth. Hesed occurs in nine times in a relational manner in the Old Testament- one time in Ruth, one time in Psalms, one time in Esther, one time in Daniel, twice in Ezra, one time in Job, one time Psalms and one time Zechariah. Hesed used in a spiritual class involves 40 times in the Old Testament- four timed in Genesis, one time in Exodus and Deuteronomy two times in 2nd Samuel, 15 times in Psalms. Once in 1Kings, one time in 2nd Histories, one time in Job, three times in Isaiah, one time in Jeremiah, and one time in Ruth. ( 2 )

The Bible besides reveals that hesed is an property that kids of God possess and they are commanded by God to emulate and develop it. Bing made in God image, God ‘s people can emulate the godly property of hesed. While the thought of loving-kindness and clemency may look to be merely that of positive emotion, it will be demonstrated that Gods loving-kindness is a two-edged blade. Hesed can besides intend a mechanism of judgement and answerability before God. Peoples can be described as holding the gift of hesed or holding “ no hesed, ” or no loving-kindness. Hesed is both a Hebrew word and more significantly a Judaic theological construct. Hesed is found approximate 250 times in the Hebrew Bible, with about125 visual aspects in the Psalms entirely. And while the word is non identified specifically as hesed in the Grecian New Testament, the Old Testament construct of loving-kindness, clemency and selfless giving can be said to be the very bosom of the New Testamnt Gospel. “ For God so loved the universe that He gaveaˆ¦ ” ( Jn 3:16 ) ( Emilio, 2012:4 ) .


The Book of Ruth is named after one of the chief characters in the narrative. There are two books in the Bible that bear the name of a adult female. These books are: Ruth and Esther. While Ruth was Moabites, Esther on the other manus was a Jewess. The Book of Ruth has the records of a Gentile adult female who came to populate among the people of Israel and became the great-grandmother of David, Isreal ‘ greatest male monarch ; while in the Book of Esther an Israelite adult female was taking into the tribunal of the Gentile male monarch and became a queen who secured rescue for her people ( Cowle, 2008 ; 22 ) . Besides, Tiessen in his write up portrays the book of Ruth as “ one of the most well-crafted pieces of literature in the Old Testament ” . He submits that:

Despite its lesser position within the Judaic canon and the Christian Bible, the narration of Ruth is good known. This popular acquaintance is mostly due to the engaging and disputing narrative the book offers: The narrative of two adult females who overcome several formidable obstructions and win in continuing themselves and the household line, which finally leads to the great King David ( Tiessen,2010:1 )

The name of Ruth is mentioned 12 times in this book which bears her name ( Heijkoop, 1989:7 ) . The significance of this name is friendship. This intending harmonizing to Harlow ( 1987 ) reflected in the relationship of Ruth with her female parent in-law ( Naomi ) , and other people that came along her manner. Even though she was a alien in a unusual land she blended good with the people because being friendly was portion of her ( 5 ) .

This book of Ruth is in connexion with the geneology of Jesus Christ as recorded in ( Matt 1.5 ) . Heijkoop ( 1989 ) besides asserted that, “ The book itself attractively illustrates how the Holy Spirit gathers up household fortunes in a mode which rather of course directs the head and ideas to a really of import truth ” ( 7 ) . This particular narrative in the Book of Ruth draws one ‘s attending to the most cherished rubrics of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “ kinsman ” as used here could be translated as “ Redeemer ” or “ Avenger ” . This small book of merely four chapters has drawn testimonials from really many, and it has even been described as ‘the Perfect Story. ‘ It is told merely and straight. Cundall and Morris ( 1968 ) in their ain averments described this book in the undermentioned words:

The book is a book about friendly relationship. The devotedness that Ruth shows to Naomi and the attention that Naomi exercises towards Ruth run through the book. It is simple a narrative of friendly relationship. The three chief characters of the book are depicted as being mindful of their duties to the household. Ruth does non bury her responsibility to Naomi, and accordingly to Elimelech, Naomi seeks out a matrimony that will continue the name of her asleep hubby while Boaz marries the Moabites to raise up the name of the dead ( 241 ) .

It is better to see the book as a narrative told because it is true and because it shows something of the relationship between God and adult male. The book of Ruth raises the inquiry of whether or non Yahweh can be trusted. The incident suggests to Naomi that God had abandoned her or He is no more dependable. The writer of the is unknown, but the last poetry of chapter 4 points to the fact that it was written during the clip of king David because the is where the list of Ruth ‘ posterities terminals. ( Harlow,1987 ; 6 ) . The narrative harmonizing to Reid ( 2000 ) , is told from a female point of position and surely seems to commend Naomi and Ruth to trusters ( 25 ) .


The book of Ruth revolves around the construct of hesed. Hesed is an active construct and it is considered as an indispensable portion of the nature of God. The word is often used to depict the gracious and merciful patterns of God ( Farmer, 1991: 96 ) . Human existences, as said earlier are besides expected to demo hesed to one another. The Book of Ruth is about a alien who had likely non encountered God personally but might hold been hearing her female parent in-law talked about that God. This gentile adult female acted as an agent of God ‘s hesed when she showed hesed to Naomi. When Naomi thought that every hope was gone, this non- Israelite adult female that brought hope by demoing kindness to her female parent in-law. In conformity with this, Farmer asserted:

Ruth ‘s address in 1:16-17constitutes an act of hesed. By perpetrating herself and her hereafter to the Lord, Ruth becomes the agencies through which God will transform Naomi ‘s emptiness into fulfilment. The Lord will be able to work through the loving-kindness of Ruth to alter a crises state of affairs into an juncture for hope.

The Book of Ruth is a particular book Christians should analyze and chew over good upon. It has an unhappy beginning, an unsure center and a happy stoping. The calamity that befell Naomi made her to bury that YHWH is still in control and that He can still convey salvation. This reflected in her statement:

8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “ Travel back, each of you, to your female parent ‘s place. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will happen remainder in the place of another hubby. ” Then she kissed them and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “ We will travel back with you to your people. ” But Naomi said, “ Return place, my girls. Why would you come with me? Am I traveling to hold any more boies, who could go your hubbies? 12 Return place, my girls ; I am excessively old to hold another hubby. Even if I thought there was still hope for me – even if I had a hubby tonight and so gave birth to sons- 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you stay single for them? No, my girls. It is more acrimonious for me than for you, because the Lord ‘s manus has gone out against me! ” 14 At this they wept once more. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her. 15 “ Look, ” said Naomi, “ your sister-in-law is traveling back to her people and her Gods. Travel back with her. ” ( Ruth:8-15 ) NIV

Naomi tried to convert the adult females to travel back place She even reminded them of their female parent ‘s house. She knew the weak topographic point of Moabite ‘s female. The being of Moab was the consequence of unruliness of the portion of Moab ‘s first female parent, who at all costs had to hold a relationship with a adult male and have kids. ( Gen 19:30-38 ) And the girls of Moab had manifested the same unruliness ( Heijkoop 31-33 ) . Naomi straight blames YHWH for the tragic fortunes of her life. Believing that everything came from God. Her state of affairs can be related to that of Job. Job accepted the bad luck that came upon him is from God. He said: “ Have commiseration on me, my friends, have commiseration, for the manus of God has struck me. Why do you prosecute me as God does? Will you ne’er get plenty of my flesh? ” ( Job 19:21-22 ) . NIV

Bruggeman, quoted by Tiessen explained the ideas of occupation in relation to that of Naomi in these words:

“ Job asks: Is God dependable? And Job, in his fury, entertains the option that Yahweh is non. ” Naomi, like Job, is in the throes of calamity and likewise expresses and entertains the option that Yahweh is non dependable. Notice that in 1:13b Naomi asserts that the manus of Yahweh is against her, and therefore she excludes her daughters-in-law who besides have experienced profound loss through the deceases of their hubbies ( 4 ) .

Naomi besides pointed to her alone place. A life without a hubby and no kids who would give her hope. All was God ‘s mistake. Not merely did Naomi seek to maintain her daughters-in-laws from fall ining her by striping them of any hope of aid, but she had besides given them a entire false image of God, who really is the hubby to the widows and assistant to the aliens. She indicated that God was responsible for all her bad luck, alternatively of acknowledging that she had brought those things upon herself by go forthing God and His appointive topographic point where they would hold approvals ( Heijkoop,36 ) . She and her full household chose to travel to Moab neglected the topographic point where they would hold had the experience of God ‘s hesed as the Psalmist expressed: “ Behold, the Lord ‘s oculus is upon those who fear Him who revere and worship Him with awe, who wait for Him and hope in His clemency and loving-kindness, A To present them from decease and maintain them alive in dearth ” ( Ps 33:18-19 ) .

Naomi ‘s great attempt to deter her daughters-in-law from accompany her seems unusual, particularly in position of her desire that they become true kids of the Lord God of Israel. However, it seemed to be the lone class she could take in position of her dire fortunes ( Parker, 1980:144 ) . While Orpah yielded to the advice of her female parent in-law, went back to her ain people and Gods. Ruth clave to her, “ And Ruth said, Urge me non to go forth you or to turn back from following you ; for where you go I will travel, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will decease, and at that place will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more besides, if anything but decease parts me from you ( 1:16-17 ) .

The strong desire of Ruth to travel with Naomi symbolized her committedness to her and her God. Ruth was neither obliged for expected to go her mother-in-law ‘s beginning of support. But one time they were back in Bethlehem she was the 1 who went into the Fieldss to reap the spots of grain that the crops missed. Ruth so was a good girl in-law. Her kindness was a entire ego forfeit. She took the enterprise in supplying for their demands by proposing that Naomi let her glean ear of maize. Gleaning, harmonizing to Parker ( 147 ) was a “ particular proviso of God written into the jurisprudence to supply for the hapless, particularly for aliens, widows, and orphans ” ( Lev. 19:9-10 ; 23:22 ; Deut.24:19 ) . The pattern required that proprietors should go forth at harvest the corners of their Fieldss and the dungs of the reapers to care for the unfortunate groups of people.

The attitude of Ruth towards Naomi by volunteering herself to take attention of her is an look of hesed which really belongs to YHWH. One would inquire how a heathen could expose the properties that God ‘s kids should possess. Emilio responded in the undermentioned words:

How so did Ruth, a Moabitess, come by this Godhead trait which was originally given by God to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The reply to this enigma is non found in the Holy Bible. However the Talmudic account is of value and involvement because it helps clear up the divinity of hesed which is found in both the OT and NT. Simply put, the Sages held that Ruth was a direct descendant of Abraham by manner of Lot. They teach that Ruth was the girl of Eglon and the granddaughter of Balak who were direct descendants of Moab – the boy of Lot and nephew of Abraham. Thus Ruth was an heir of the seed of lovingkindness which Abraham planted in Lot ( Emilio, 2012 )

The hesed that Ruth showed to Naomi made it possible for her to run into her “ Jesus ” . Ruth met Boaz and received unexpected congratulations and favor.

11A And Boaz said to her, I have been made to the full cognizant of all you have done for your mother-in-law since the decease of your hubby, and how you have left your male parent and female parent and the land of your birth and have come to a people unknown to you before. 12A The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full wages be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under Whose wings you have come to take safety! 13A Then she said, Let me happen favour in your sight, my Godhead. For you have comforted me and hold spoken to the bosom of your housemaid, though I am non as one of your housemaids. 14A And at mealtime Boaz said to her, Come here and eat of the staff of life and dunk your morsel in the rancid vino [ assorted with oil ] . And she sat beside the harvesters ; and he passed her some parched grain, and she ate until she was satisfied and she had some left [ for Naomi ] . 15A And when she got up to reap, Boaz ordered his immature work forces, Let her glean even among the bundles, and do non upbraid her. Ruth 2:11-15

The author of this paper has discovered that Ruth and Boaz are like-minded people. The similarities between them are emphasized. Reid ( 2000 ) , enumerates their similarities as follows: Boaz praised Ruth for her kindness to Naomi ( Ruth 2:11-12 ) and Ruth praised Boaz for his generous kindness to her ( Verses 10, 13 ) . As Boaz enters the field, he pronounced a charitable phrase, “ The Lord be with you! “ ( verse 4 ) . This suggests that Boaz is such a leader who values and respected his employees. The workers ‘ respond, “ The Lord bless you! ” Boaz is clearly a good, sort adult male ; who is suited for good, sort Ruth ( 41 ) .

Analyzing this Book one will detect that God is at work even in the lives of his people. Ruth ‘s narrative reveals loud and clear that through the ordinary and unpredictable facets of mundane life, one experience the world of God ‘s attention ( Reid, 2000:25-28 ) .


Hesed in the book of Ruth is important to the Nigerian Christians. It expresses how good and faithful YHWH is to His promises. He “ remembered Naomi in her low estate ” ( Psalm 136: 23 ) , even though she and her household brought the calamity upon themselves. Many Nigerians ‘ Christians today run to Oversee states because of the economical state of affairs of their male parent land. Some of them are lost non retrieving place once more. The author of this paper is of the sentiment that there is still hope for Nigeria. The state of affairs can still be better than what it is, if merely Nigerian Christians can trust in God and trust Him perfectly.

Similarly, hesed in the Book of Ruth stresses both household and community trueness. Naomi thought foremost of the public assistance of her daughters-in-law. She ever acted with their best involvement in head. Boaz was baronial. Ruth was loyal. Kent, ( 1980 ) submits that the simple narration besides richly illustrates the Lord ‘s heaven-sent attention. God is clearly at work in the lives of those unfastened to Him ( 143 ) . Nigerian Christians are to perpetrate to one another so as to be of aid to one another in footings of demands ; an proverb says “ a friend in demand is a friend so ”

Besides, as God expressed hesed ( clemency ) to His people, He expects them to reciprocate. God was of all time faithful and devoted to His people ( Israel ) in the ancient clip and He is still the same God of the modern-day times. In similar mode does He anticipate fidelity, entire dedication and devotional life from the Nigerian Christians. The Christian leaders are expected to be faithful and dedicated to the place they are keeping. They should be aware of the public assistance of their followings. As God is good and loyal to His promises, Boaz was good and sort to his followings so the Nigerian Christians should be good and loyal to one another. Besides, Nigerian Christians should see God as a God of love and should show that love into their personal lives and ministries towards others. By making this, Christians will be able to show to the universe in words and workss that their lives are grounded in the character of God who loves and desires to deliver the universe through the individual and work of Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, it is deserving observing that God can utilize anybody, no affair how rough the background may be. Willingness and preparedness is what He desires. In similar mode, Christians should pay forfeit of taking other people ‘s job upon themselves. They should be aware of hapless and the needy around them.


Hesed, is so a word denoting emotion but it is more a word of action. On the other manus, hesed is a gift from God, that is to state, God imparts a step of His loving kindness to His kids. And He expects all His kids to show it to one another. Hesed, as used in this paper reveals the characters of three major people, Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. Many in this universe have experienced the calamity of Naomi and long for God to be present and active amidst state of affairss where He does non ever move in the manner human existences expect. But absolute trust in Him will stop in a happy manner.

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