The Old Testament | The Books of History


Things to know
Where does the book begin?

The story of Ruth takes place during the time of the judges*. The story begins at a time when there was no food in Israel*.

Where does the book end?

The book ends about twenty years later. Now, Ruth had a husband and a son.

People to know


Places to go

Naomi left the land to find food
Ruth 1

Ruth returned with her mother-in-law
Ruth 1:6-22

Ruth met Boaz
Ruth 2

Naomi and Ruth made a plan
Ruth 3

Boaz made Ruth his wife
Ruth 4

The Story of Ruth

The book of Ruth takes place during the days of the judges. There was a time when the people of Israel* had no food. This made many of the people leave the land to find food. A woman named Naomi and her family left the land too. They went to the land of Moab. While she was there, one of her sons married a woman named Ruth.[1] Ruth was not a member of the family of Abraham. She was not a part of the people of Israel*. She was a foreigner. Ruth was from the land of Moab. When she married Naomi’s son, Ruth married into the house of Judah. But, soon, Ruth’s husband became sick and died. Naomi’s other sons died too.

A few years later, the food started to grow again in the land.  Naomi decided to leave Moab and go back to the land of Israel*. Her daughter-in-law Ruth went with her. When Ruth left her own land, she made a choice. She left her own gods to serve the God of Naomi.[2]

Naomi and Ruth were very poor. So Ruth went to the fields at night after the harvest. She picked up the grain that was left on the ground. She went to the fields of a man named Boaz.[3] When Boaz saw Ruth in his field, he decided to take care of her.[4] Ruth told Naomi about Boaz, and Naomi was very happy. She said that it was a sign that God was showing them kindness. She knew that God was taking care of them.[5]

Naomi told Ruth to make a night visit to Boaz. Ruth did this so Boaz would make a decision. Boaz must decide if he would marry Ruth. This was important for Naomi and Ruth. And this was also an important part in God’s plan too. This was the way God would keep his promise to Abraham. God was using these plans for his own purpose. They were part of his eternal* plan. God was preparing the way for a great king that would rule his people.

In those days, there was a law that said that a man could marry the widow of his close relative. This law made a way so that a man’s family line could continue. This law also made a way so that a widow would have someone to care for her.[6] Boaz was related to Naomi. Because of this law, he could marry Ruth. The rest of the book tells the story of how Boaz married Ruth.[7]

God is faithful*. When the people read the story of Ruth, they remembered this. God had been in control all along. God was in control even when there was no food. God was in control even when Naomi’s sons died. God was in control even when Ruth had to gather grain from the fields. God was using all of these things as part of his plan.

We can see this when we look at the list of names at the end of the book. Boaz and Ruth would have a family. One day, the future king would be born into that family. His name would be David.[8]  One day, many years later, another king would be born into that family. That king would be a son of David. His name would be Jesus. He would be God’s eternal* king.

In Ruth, we see that God does not only love people who are in Israel*. God also loves people who are not children of Abraham. God welcomes them when they trust* him.

Moses told the people many other things in this book. He told them about special days when they should gather to eat and to worship* together. He told them how to act toward each other and how to care for the poor. He gave them special rules about many different things. He told them about foods that God did not want them to eat. He told them about the kind of clothes that they could and could not wear. But all of Leviticus is really about one thing. It showed the people the way to please a holy* God. It showed the way to live as God’s holy* people.

God made a way for his people to stay close to him. When they did a wrong thing, they could make a sacrifice*. When they did, God forgave them. But the sacrifice* only lasted until the next time a person did not obey God. Then, they had to make another sacrifice*. They had to do this again and again. But, one day, when Jesus came, God would provide a better sacrifice*. That sacrifice would be made only once and never need to be made again.

  • [1] Ruth 1:3-4
  • [2] Ruth 1:16-17
  • [3] Ruth 2:2-3
  • [4] Ruth 2:11-12
  • [5] Ruth 2:20
  • [6] See Deuteronomy 25:5-10
  • [7] Ruth 4:1-12
  • [8] Ruth 4:13-22

The Old Testament | The Books of History