"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Ruth 1:1-17 Commentary
by Vanessa Lovelace
The story of Naomi and Ruth is set during the period before monarchs ruled in Israel.
The book opens with the verse, “In the days when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1). This is a period in Israel’s history depicted as a state of continuous decline, where people did whatever was right in their own eyes because there was no king in Israel (Judges 21:25; ca. 1200-1025 B.C.E.). However, the notice that this was when the “judges judged” (Hebrew text) implies that the legal system was functioning the way it should.
In the Jewish Bible Ruth follows the Song of Songs (also Song of Solomon). The Christian Old Testament places Ruth after the books of Judges due to its contextual setting. There is an ongoing debate among scholars whether the book’s composition should be assigned to the monarchic period or the postexilic period (fifth century B.C.E.), given the book’s neutral portrayal of intermarriage between Israelites and non-Israelites.
Reminiscent of Abraham’s migration to Canaan, a famine has forced Elimelech, his wife, Naomi, and their ...
| Bible Text
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
2020-21 Worship Resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
October 18, 2015
This podcast discusses Ruth 1:1-17, the Narrative Lectionary reading for Oct. 18, 2015.