Lesson 1: Introduction and Chapter 1
Ruth Entrusts her Life to Naomi

Holy Father,
We have the promise of Your Son that He is our "Emmanuel,"- "God with us," and that we will never be abandoned in our hour of distress when we call upon Your mercy, Lord.   Sometimes in the depths of suffering it is hard to understand why such misery should be visited upon us.  It is in those times that Jesus calls us to lift up our crosses of suffering and to trust that He will help us to bear our burdens and to shoulder our grief until our hope and trust in Him has enriched our faith and brought us closer to Your glorious throne of salvation.  Send Your Holy Spirit to guide us in our study of a grieving mother and a grieving young widow whose lives You restored for their sakes and for the sake of the salvation of all mankind.  We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


When I call, answer me, God, upholder of my right.  In my distress you have set me at large; take pity on me and hear my prayer!
Psalm 4:1

In you, Yahweh, I have taken refuge, let me never be put to shame, in your saving justice deliver me, rescue me, turn your ear to me, make haste.  Be for me a rock-fastness, a fortified citadel to save me.  You are my rock, my rampart; true to your name, lead me and guide me ... Be brave and take heart, all who put your hope in Yahweh.
Psalm 31:1-3, 24

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All Scripture is quoted from the New Jerusalem Bible translation unless otherwise noted (NAB = New American Bible; RSV = Revised Standard Version; IBHE = Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English; JSB = Jewish Study Bible).


The Book of Ruth takes its title from the name of a Gentile woman from the land of Moab who plays a central role in the story.  Ruth marries a man from the Israelite tribe of Judah whose family was living as refugees in her land.  Upon his death, she becomes a destitute widow who accompanies her bereaved mother-in-law back to Israel where she finds a new life.  However, the Book of Ruth is more than the story of a destitute Moabite widow who finds love in the land of Israel.  It is a story that foreshadows the redemption of the Gentile nations and their entrance into the covenant family of the One True God.  Ruth's redemption by Naomi's blood kinsman Boaz and her conversion and inclusion into the covenant community of Israel prefigures the redemptive work of Jesus Christ as the Go'el Haddam, literally the "Blood Redeemer," of the Israelites (Jews) and the Gentile nations.

Ruth came from a people who had a scandalous past and a turbulent history.  After the destruction of cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:1-35), the incestuous relationship between Abraham's nephew Lot and his daughters resulted in the birth of the ancestors of the Moabites and Ammonites (Gen 19:36-38).  Lot's elder daughter named her son Moab (Hebrew = me'abi), meaning "from my father," and the younger daughter gave birth to a son she named Ben-Ammi (Hebrew = ben 'ammi), meaning "son of my kinsman" (Gen 19:37).   The pagan Moabites settled on the plateau to the east of the Dead Sea between the rugged Dead Sea escarpment and the Arabian Desert (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 4, "Moab," pages 882-3).  Their Ammonite kinsmen settled to the north of them.  They did not worship Abraham's god but instead worshiped a pantheon of false gods including the Canaanite god Baal and their national god, Chemosh (Num 21:29; 25:1-3; Jer 48:46).  

The Moabites had an uneasy and sometimes violent relationship with the children of Israel after the Israelites' exodus from Egypt (Ex 15:15; Num 22-25; 31:1-12; Dt 23:4).  At the end of the Israelites' forty year wilderness journey, the Moabites opposed the Israelites traveling through their lands and camping to the north of their territory along the Jordan River. Despite the objections of the Moabites and their attempts to dislodge them, the twelve tribes of Israel continued to camp on the plains of Moab across from Jericho in preparation for the conquest of Canaan (Num 22:1-6).  At the instigation of their Midianite allies/overlords, the Moabites successfully enticed the Israelite men to sin against Yahweh and His covenant with Israel by inviting the Israelite men to join in pagan fertility rites for the false god, Baal, worshiped throughout Canaan and on the east side of the Jordan River (Num 25:1-3). However, their success was short lived.  Their intrigue so angered God that He sent the righteous Israelite warriors who had resisted the temptations to engage in pagan worship into battle against the Moabites and Midianites who were defeated in a holy war (Num 21:29-25:18; 31:1-12).  The contentious relationship between the Moabites and the Israelites continued after two and a half tribes of the Israelites settled on the east side of the Jordan River to the north of Moab while the remaining Israelite tribes settled in the land of Canaan on the west side of the Jordan River (Josh 24:9; Judg 3:28; 1 Sam 12:9; 14:47; 2 Sam 8:2; Jer 48:1-9). 

Concerning any future relations with the people of Moab after the events on the plains of Moab prior to the conquest of Canaan, the Law of the Sinai Covenant included the command that because of their incestuous origins, their refusal to help the Israelites at the end of their wilderness journey and their acts of treachery, no descendant of Moab may be admitted into the community of Israel: No child of an incestuous union may be admitted into the community of the LORD, nor any descendant of his even to the tenth generation.  No Ammonite or Moabite may ever be admitted into the community of the LORD, nor any descendants of theirs even to the tenth generation, because they would not succor you with food and water on your journey after you left Egypt, and because Moab hired Balaam, son of Beor, from Pethor in Aram Naharaim, to curse you ... Never promote their peace and prosperity so long as you live (Dt 23:3-7 NAB; emphasis added). 

Authorship and Date

The authorship of the book is unknown; however, Jewish tradition identifies the prophet Samuel as the inspired writer.  The priest-prophet Samuel lived at the end of the Age of the Judges and at the beginning of the Age of the United Monarchy of Israel (see the chart on the 12 periods of Salvation History in Appendix I at the end of the lesson).  The story of Samuel's birth and early life is told in 1 Samuel chapters 1-3. Samuel was one of the last of Israel's judges (1 Sam 7:6; 8:1), and he was God's holy prophet who anointed Saul as the first king of the twelve tribes of Israel (1 Sam 10:1).  Later, when Saul began to oppose the will of God, he was rejected by God as Israel's divinely appointed leader (1 Sam 15:10-11, 23), and Samuel was told to anoint a successor, the boy David of Bethlehem (1 Sam 16:1-13).  It is David's genealogy that is the climax of the Book of Ruth.

The Hebrew manuscript is well preserved; there were four copies of Ruth in Hebrew discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  According to the Book of Ruth, the story takes place during the Age of the Judges of Israel:  In the days when the Judges were governing ... (Rt 1:1).  The story unfolds during about a twelve year period, ten years in Moab (Rt 1:4) prior to the deaths of Naomi's sons and then the c. two years between Naomi's decision to return to Israel and the birth of her grandson.  The Book of Ruth takes place when there was no apparent tension between Israelites and Moabites.  The events in the story probably occurred about two centuries after the last Israelite war with Moab when the Israelite Judge Ehud, of the tribe of Benjamin, killed Eglon the king of Moab and led the Israelite army in the defeated the Moabite army (Judg 3:12-30) and about eighty years before the next war between Moab and Israel (1 Sam 14:47). 

Many modern scholars believe that interior dating of the story to a time in the past identified as the age of the Judges and the genealogy in Ruth 4:18-22 that ends with the name of David, Israel's second king, suggests that the book was not written until the age of Israel's United Monarchy under the Judahite kings, either during the reign of King David or his son King Solomon but before the Assyrian conquest in 722 BC.  Most scholars who do not believe Samuel was the author suggest a date between 950 and 700 BC (Jewish Study Bible, page 1579). 

However, the argument can be made that the two objections to the prophet Samuel as the inspired writer of the Book of Ruth and the assigning of a date several centuries later based on the mention of age of the Judges in Ruth 1:1 and David's genealogy in Ruth 4:18-22 as a means of establishing the genealogy of the Davidic kings are not valid objections:

  1. The life of the prophet Samuel is the historical bridge between the age of the Judges and the united monarchy of Israel.  Samuel and his sons were the last of the judges of Israel (1 Sam 7:15-8:2), and Samuel inaugurated the age of the kings of Israel when he anointed Saul the king of a united Israel and served as the new king's prophet (1 Sam 10:1).  Years later, when Saul broke his allegiance to Yahweh (1 Sam 15:10-11), God commanded Samuel to anoint the boy David son of Jesse as the new king of Israel (1 Sam 16:1-13).  Samuel died after David became an adult and before David was officially accepted as Israel's king, but he clearly died in the age of the kings of Israel (1 Sam 25:1).
  2. The suggestion that the genealogy in Ruth 4:18-22 was composed centuries after Samuel is not valid.  The genealogy does not end "Jesse fathered David the king" but ends instead only naming David as a direct descendant of Boaz and Ruth with no mention of his kingship. It is a genealogy that Samuel would have known and considered important but it would not be a genealogy that could be an advantage to the descendants of David since it revealed an ancestral line that included a woman who came from the Israelites' traditional enemies and a people who were forbidden entrance into the covenant with Yahweh.  Ruth is not named in David's genealogy in 1 Chronicles 2:5-15.  Rather, it seems the link to the Moabitess ancestress would be information later Davidic kings would prefer to avoid.

Outline of the Book of Ruth

Biblical Period #5 THE JUDGES OF ISRAEL
Focus Ruth entrusts her life to Naomi & Naomi's God Ruth entrusts her life to Boaz & the God of Israel
Scripture 1:1---------------------------------------------------3:1-----------------------------------------------------4:22
Division of Text Ruth and Naomi Ruth and Boaz
Topic Introduction: Naomi's family is destroyed in the deaths of her husband and sons Ruth unites herself to Naomi and travels to Israel Ruth asks Boaz to become her Go'el Haddam, "Blood Redeemer" Conclusion: Naomi's family is restored in the birth of Obed son of Ruth and Boaz
Location Moab Israel: the fields of Bethlehem in Judah Israel: the threshing floor of Bethlehem and gates of the town Israel: Boaz's home in Bethlehem
Time c. 1100 BC covering c. 12 years during the latter age of the Judges and prior to the kingship of Saul.

In the oldest Greek codices, in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, and in most modern translations, the Book of Ruth is placed after the Book of Judges and before 1 Samuel.  In Hebrew Bibles, however, the Book of Ruth is found among the Kethuvim, "Writings."  It is one of the five megil-lot, the five parchment rolls which are read on certain Jewish feast days.1)  Ruth is read in Jewish Synagogues on the Feast of Shavuot, known in English as the Feast of Weeks and at the time of Christ as the Feast of Pentecost (Greek word meaning 50th day since 50 days were counted from the previous annual feast).  Reading the scroll of Ruth at the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost is considered particular appropriate by Jews for three reasons:

  1. Much of the Book of Ruth takes place during the period that is somewhat equivalent to the interval of the seven weeks between the beginning of the barley harvest on the day after the holy Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:9-14) and the end of the wheat harvest fifty days later on the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost (Lev 23:15-21). It is in the instructions for the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost that the requirement for leaving the gleanings for the poor like Ruth is mentioned a second time in the Torah (see Lev 19:9-10; 23:22; Dt 24:19).
  2. Since the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost has been associated with the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai (Jewish Study Bible, page 1579) and is related to the theme of Ruth taking the Torah upon herself as the ideal convert at the time the giving of the Law was remembered.
  3. Ruth's descendant, King David, was believed by Jewish tradition to have been born and also having died at the time of the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost.2)

The book is easily divided into two parts (see the outline summary above).  The focus in the first half of the Book of Ruth is on Ruth's decision as a Moabitess widow of an Israelite man to accompany her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Israel to the village of Bethlehem in the tribal lands of Judah.  The second half of the Book of Ruth focuses on the Israelite custom of geula, "redemption."  Under the Law it was expected that the kinsmen and/or kinswomen who had fallen on hard times were to be "redeemed" by their nearest blood relative who was willing to take on the obligation (Lev 25). 

Not every Israelite could qualify as a redeemer.  To redeem an Israelite's ancestral lands, the willing kinsman had to be a close blood relative (Lev 25:48-49).  The kinsman who accepted the obligation to redeem the ancestral lands was called the Go'el Haddam, literally the "Blood Redeemer," also called the "Kinsman Redeemer" (Milgrom, JPS Torah Commentary: Leviticus, page 2191). The obligation of geula could also extend to marrying the widow of a near relative who died without producing an heir to ensure the protection of the land.  The first son born from the widow and the Go'el Haddam became the heir of the dead kinsman and inherited the portion of the Holy Land belonging to the dead kinsman. This custom ensured that the ancestral lands remained within the family/extended family. It was the solemn duty of a Go'el Haddam to act as God's agent to prevent the alienation of these lands (Lev 25:23-25; Jer 32:6-15).  If no member of a family was willing to act as God's agent to protect the land, God intervened by the unilateral action of restoration in the 50th Jubilee year, which automatically cancelled the debt and returned the land to its rightful tenant (Lev 25:8-17, 23-28). 

Key Words in the Book of Ruth

Three key words in the Book of Ruth are the Hebrew words hesed, baruk, and berukah.  The noun hesed refers to "covenant loyalty" and "faithfulness" in action as well as attitude (see Rt 1:8; 2:20; 3:10).  The verb baruk, "to bless" and its related noun berukah, "blessing," is the bestowing of God's favor in a sanctifying act (see Rt 2:19; 3:10).  Hesed is found alone near the beginning of the story (Rt 1:8) and baruk is found alone at the end (Rt 4:14).  The two words occurs twice together in the middle of the story (Rt 2:19-20 and 3:10).  In the Book of Ruth, Naomi, Ruth and Boaz are models of hesed.  Their loyalty and commitment go beyond the basic limits of the Law of that which is required by duty to a kinsman/family member.  Related to the theme of hesed is the role God plays in the unfolding story and His blessings on Naomi, Ruth and Boaz for their covenant loyalty to each other and to Him.  A faithful God is involved in the lives of His people who receive their blessings through their faithful acts.

Other key words include the Hebrew verb ga'al, "to redeem," and the noun go'el "redeemer" (see Lev 25) related to the obligation of the Go'el Haddam (Blood Redeemer) who voluntarily shows hesed to his kinsmen in need of assistance (Milgrom, JPS Torah Commentary: Leviticus, page 2190). 

Main Theme of the Book of Ruth

The most often repeated reference in the Book of Ruth is not to the three main characters, Naomi, Ruth or Boaz.  The most often repeated reference is to someone who neither speaks nor is seen.  It is the God of Israel who is primary actor in the drama.  He is the force behind the events, and He drives those events according to His will for the sake of salvation history.  God is mentioned an amazing twenty-three times in eighty-five verses!  Of those times, the Divine Name YHWH is written eighteen times, the title Shaddai (Almighty?) is used for God twice, and the word Elohim (god plural) is used for Yahweh God of Israel three times (as YHWH-Elohim in Rt 2:12).3)

References to the God of Israel in the Book of Ruth
Hebrew word Scripture reference in the Book of Ruth
YHWH (the divine Name believed to be pronounced Yahweh) Chapter 1: verses 6, 8, 9, 14 17, 21 (twice)
Chapter 2: verses 4 (twice), 12 (twice), 20
Chapter 3: verses 10, 13
Chapter 4: verses 11, 12, 13, 14
Elohim (god plural but referring to the One true God of Israel) Chapter 1: verse 16 (twice)
Chapter 2: verse 12
Shaddai (Almighty?) Chapter 1: verses 20 and 21

Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2012

From The Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I.

The main theme of the book is God's hesed in His involvement in the lives of His covenant people.  God's concern, however, is not limited to the Israelites.  He also extends His love and protection to non-Israelites who seek to know Him, like the Moabitess, Ruth.  God's presence and actions are not only evident in the direct assertion of the inspired writer in Ruth 1:6 and 4:13, but also when people in the story the call for His blessings, or when Naomi complains about her sufferings, and the invocations made in His name throughout the narrative.  God's presence can also be subtly discerned in what seem to be only a series of fortunate events:

It is evident that in every event and circumstance in the story that God's people are willing to yield their lives to His will-even in their suffering.  And it is God working through the lives of His people that the fulfillment of His divine plan is achieved in the end of the story in Boaz's redemption of Ruth that results in the marriage of a Gentile woman to an Israelite man.  It is a marriage that brings about her acceptance into the covenant family of Israel and the birth of her son whose future descendant will have an eternal impact on salvation history. 

Outline of Part I of the Book of Ruth: Ruth and Naomi

  1. Ruth's Devotion to Naomi in Moab
    1. Introduction: Naomi and her daughters-in-law become impoverished widows
    2. Ruth and Orpah request to remain with Naomi
    3. Ruth's decision to stay with Naomi
  2. Naomi and Ruth travel to Israel and the tribal lands of Bethlehem in Judah
    1. Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem
    2. Ruth's devotion to Naomi in Bethlehem
    3. Ruth supports Naomi by gleaning for food



God's promised covenant blessings to the Israelites for faithful obedience and the warning of His temporal judgments for covenant failure: "Yahweh your God looks after this country, the eyes of Yahweh your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end.  Depend on it: if you faithfully obey the commandments I enjoin on you today, loving Yahweh your God and serving him with all you heart and all your soul, I shall give your country rain at the right time, rain in autumn, rain in the spring, so that you can harvest your wheat, you new wine and your oil.  I shall provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat to your heart's content.  Beware of letting your heart be seduced: if you go astray, serve other gods and bow down to them, Yahweh's anger will be kindled against you, he will shut the heavens, there will be no more rain, the soil will not yield its produce and, in the  fine country given you by Yahweh, you will quickly perish."
Deuteronomy 11:12-17

Yahweh to Israel: "If you live according to my laws, if you keep my commandments and put them into practice, I shall give you the rain you need at the right time; the soil will yield its produce and the trees of the countryside their fruit; you will thresh until vintage time and gather grapes until sowing time. You will eat your fill of bread and live secure in your land ... But if you will not listen to me and do not put all these commandments into practice, if you reject my laws and detest my customs, and you break my covenant by not putting all my commandments into practice, this is how I shall treat you: I shall subject you to terror, consumption and fever, making you dim of sight and short of breath.  You will sow your seed in vain ..."
Leviticus 26:3-5, 14-17

In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did as he saw fit.
Judges 21:25

Ruth 1:1-7 ~ Naomi and Her Daughters-in-law become Impoverished Widows in Moab
1 In the day when the Judges were governing, a famine occurred in the country and a certain man from Bethlehem of Judah went-he, his wife and his two sons-to live in the Plains of Moab.  2 The man was called Elimelech, his wife Naomi and his two sons Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem of Judah.  Going to the Plains of Moab, they settled there.  3 Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she and her two sons were left.  4 These married Moabite women: one was called Orpah and the other Ruth.  They lived there for about ten years.  5 Mahlon and Chilion then both died too, and Naomi was thus bereft of her two sons and her husband.  6 She then decided to come back from the Plains of Moab with her daughters-in-law, having heard in the Plains of Moab that God [YHWH] had visited his people and given them food.  7 So, with her daughters-in-law, she left the place where she was living and they took the road back to Judah. 

[..] = literal translation (The Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 700).

Question: According to verse one, in what age of salvation history did the story of Ruth take place?
Answer: During the Age of the Judges of Israel and before there was a king ruling over Israel.

The writer places the setting of the story during a time in the past identified as the "Age of the Judges."  It was a time in Israel's history that fell between the death of Joshua and the coronation of Israel's first king, Saul, c. 1200-1020 BC.  Joshua succeeded Moses as the political leader of the children of Israel (Dt 31:1-3; Josh 1:1-5).  After Joshua's death, there was no central political authority.  Each of the tribes settled on the lands allotted to them on both sides of the Jordan River, and the civil affairs of each tribe were handled by the various tribal chieftains and elders (Judg 2:6).  In time of war, a tribal chieftain from one of the tribes would arise to respond to the danger (see the chart on the Judges of Israel).  The histories of these chieftains, referred to as "judges," are recorded in the Book of Judges.  The only central unifying force for the twelve tribes of Israel during the period of the Judges of Israel was Yahweh's Sanctuary and the anointed High Priest (a descendant of Moses' brother Aaron, the first high priest) who officiated at Yahweh's one sacrificial altar and served as God's representative to the people.  It was a time of political and religious chaos-violent invasions by pagan armies, lawlessness, tribal civil wars and an apostate Israelite population drawn to worshiping the false gods of their pagan neighbors.

A man name Elimelech from the tribe of Judah and the town of Bethlehem migrated to Moab with his family during a time of famine in Israel.  Famines were not uncommon in the land of Canaan.  They were often the result of lack of rainfall in the crop growing season, destructive hail storms, rain out of season, insect infestation and the burning of crops during invasions.  Famines that were the result of natural causes in Genesis are recorded:

Other Old Testament famines occurred:

Question: If conditions were better to the east side of the Jordan River, why is it strange that Elimelech would migrate to Moab?  Consult a map that shows the divisions of tribes in this period.  The nearest crossing to the east of the Jordan for someone traveling from Bethlehem would be to travel the c. 20 miles to Jericho and to cross over the river to the east.
Answer: The land immediately to the east of the Jordan across from Jericho was land occupied by the Israelite tribe of Reuben.  It is strange that the family continued on to settle in the pagan lands of Moab.

In verse 1, "Bethlehem of Judah" is the term used in Scripture to distinguish the Judean Bethlehem (Judg 17:7-9; 19:1, 2, 18; 1 Sam 17:12) from another town of the same name in the tribal lands of Zebulun (Josh 19:15).

Question: What covenant promise did God make the Israelites concerning their living conditions in the Promised Land so long as they were obedient to His covenant and kept His commandments? See Lev 26:3-13; Dt 11:10-17; 28:1-4.
Answer: If the children of Israel were obedient and served no other gods, Yahweh would ensure that they had plentiful crops with no fear of famine.

Question: What does it suggest that Elimelech and the family left Israel because of famine in the land?  Also see the observation of conditions in Israel in the time of the Judges recorded in Judges 2:7-19; 17:6 and 21:25.
Answer: The people neglected the obligations of their covenant with Yahweh, and God lifted His hand of protection over the land and the people.

Notice the irony between the name of Elimelech's home town in Judah and the condition that caused him to take his family and migrate to Moab.  Bethlehem means "house/place of bread."  It will become the birthplace of Him who became "bread" for the life of the world-Jesus the Christ (Mt 2:1; Lk 2:1-7; Jn 6:35, 48-51).  While famines have many natural causes, famines were often seen as God's judgment on an apostate people (see 2 Kng 8:1; Is 3:1; Jer 14:13-18; Am 4:6; Hag 1:10-11; Mk 13:8).

Ruth 1:2 ~ The man was called Elimelech, his wife Naomi and his two sons Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem of Judah.  Going to the Plains of Moab, they settled there. 

Elimelech's name means "my God is king."  Like the other names in the story this name is not found in other Old Testament books.  It is the only name in the story, however, that is found outside the Bible on the onomasticon of the Late Bronze Age, in a letter from the Jebusite ruler of Jerusalem to his overlord, the Egyptian Pharaoh, dated to c. 1365 BC, in documents from the city of Ugarit c. the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries, and among other 14th century BC sources (Campbell, Ruth, The Anchor Bible, page 52).  It is a name that is typical of the pre-Israelite monarchical period, in other words, consistent with the era in which the story is set (Hubbard, The Book of Ruth, page 88). 

Elimelech's wife's name is Naomi, which is believed to mean "pleasant" or "lovely."  As with Elimelech, the name "Naomi" and the names of her sons and daughter-in-laws occur nowhere else in the Old Testament (Hubbard, page 94).  The name "Naomi" is also consistent with the era, its root appearing widely in West Semitic proper names as early as c. 1400 BC (Hubbard, page 88).  The meanings of the sons' names are uncertain.  Mahlon probably means "sickness' and Chilion may mean "pinning away" or "consumptive" (The Jewish Study Bible, page 1580).  That none of the names in the story, with the exception of Elimelech's name, appear in later Old Testament stories or in secular texts of any later century points to the antiquity of these names and the ancient period in which the story of Ruth takes place.

For most ancient Near Eastern peoples, the naming of a child was descriptive or symbolic and was based often upon circumstances associated with the birth of the child (The Archaeological Bible, page 28).  There are several examples in Scripture: giving birth to a son through her incestuous relations with her father, Lot's elder daughter named her son Mo'ab, meaning "from my father."  The younger daughter of Lot gave birth to a son she named Ben-Ammi, meaning "son of my kinsman" (Gen 19:36-37).  Rebekah's sons where named Esau ('admoni), which means "red" because he was born with red hair and his brother got the name Jacob (ya'aqob) from gripping the heel ('aqeb) of his twin at birth (Gen 25:24-26).  Jacob's wife Rachel, as she was dying, named her son Ben-Oni, meaning "son of my pain", although Jacob wisely renamed the boy Ben-yamin, "son of the right hand" (Gen 35:18).

they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem of Judah.  Ephratha appears in the Old Testament as both a place name and a clan name.  The children of Israel were separated into twelve tribes and into various clans within each tribe.  Ephratha (Hebrew = "fruitful") appears as the name of the wife of a Judahite named Caleb (or his wife from the Judahite clan of Ephratha).  As a place name, Ephratha is connected with Bethlehem.  It is where Rachel, wife of Jacob, gave birth to Benjamin and later died; Ephratha was also the location of her tomb (Gen 35:16-20; 48:7).  "Ephrathites" may refer to the members of the clan of the tribe of Judah that settled in Bethlehem or to the settlement of the Ephrathite clan that later came to be called Bethlehem (see Gen 35:16, 19: 48:7; Rt 4:11; 1 Chr 2:19, 50-51; 4:4; Mic 5:1).  Jesse, the father of King David, is also called an Ephrathite of Bethlehem (1 Sam 17:12). 

Question: Considering the importance of the Ephrathite clan in Bethlehem and the meaning of Elimelech's name, what is the double tragedy of this man's exodus to Moab?
Answer: If the Ephrathite clan of Judah was the first to settle Bethlehem, then it is doubly tragic that one of the "first families" of Bethlehem has abandoned their ancestral lands and that the man whose name means "my God is king" has abandoned his God-king for the land of a pagan people who worship other gods and serve another king.

he, his wife and his two sons-to live in the Plains of Moab.  The literal text reads the "fields of Moab." The land of Moab was the mountainous region east of the Dead Sea.  Moabite lands had a fertile plateau that was about twenty-five miles wide and 4,300 feet above the Dead Sea's eastern shore.  The plateau was watered in the north by Arnon River (Wadi el-Mujib) canyon and on the south by the Zered River (Wadi el-Hesa).  Both rivers emerge from the desert side of the plateau and empty into the Dead Sea (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 4, "Moab," pages 882-3).  Robert Hubbard cited excavations carried out at the ancient Moabite capital of Dibon that discovered highly organized agricultural production and large quantities of carbonized wheat.  He speculates that the fertile fields of Moab may have been an important agricultural area for the region, regularly attracting refugees from other areas during hard times (Hubbard, The Book of Ruth, page 87).  In any event, these four Israelite refugees settled in the homeland of their people's traditional enemies.

Ruth 1:3-4 ~ Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she and her two sons were left.  4 These married Moabite women: one was called Orpah and the other Ruth.

The tragic death of Naomi's husband is followed by the hope of new life in the marriages of her sons to Moabite women.  The names of Ruth and Orpah appear no where else in the Old Testament.  It is uncertain if the names are Hebrew or Moabite and the meaning of the names is also uncertain.  Ruth may mean "refreshment" or "comfort" or "companion," but Orpah's name is a mystery (Hubbard, page 94).  By tradition it is said to mean "she who turned back" but this is probably a reflection of her place in the story (The Jewish Study Bible, page 1580).

It is unusual, however, that Naomi did not insist her sons return to Bethlehem to find wives, like Isaac and Jacob returned to their ancestral home in Mesopotamia to find wives (Gen Chapter 24 and Chapter 28-29).  It was traditional to marry within the kin group and not to marry outsiders.  An exception to this tradition was Judah's marriage to a Canaanite woman (Gen 38:1-5).  It is possible that these marriages were a disappointment for Naomi who had by this time become accustomed to disappointment.

Question: For how many years did Naomi's family live in Moab?
Answer: For ten years.

It is uncertain if the ten years are meant to be understood as a literal ten year period.  The number ten appears three times in the book:

Since ten is one of the so-called "perfect numbers," symbolizing perfection of divine order, the ten years may simply represent the time ordained by God.

Ruth 1:6 ~ She then decided to come back [returned] from the Plains of Moab with her daughters-in-law, having heard in the Plains of Moab that God [YHWH] had visited his people and given them food. 

Question: After the death of Naomi's husband and sons why did she decide to return to Israel?
Answer: She heard that God had lifted the famine.

This is the first mention of Yahweh the God of the Israelites.  Notice that Naomi gives God the credit for lifting the famine.  It is the first of many mentions of God's providence in the story.  God's providence is His all-wise plan for the universe, and the carrying out of His plan in the lives of men and women (see CCC 321-23).  This verse suggests that in His special covenant relationship with His people that Yahweh evaluates the covenant loyalty of His people and punishes them for covenant failure when they rebel and turn away from Him (Ex 20:3; Jer 6:15; Hos 1:4; Am 3:2; etc.).  But, He also rewards them when they repent and return to Him by improving their conditions and life circumstances-in this case ending the famine and providing food.

Ruth 1:7 ~ So, with her daughters-in-law, she left the place where she was living and they took the road back to Judah. 

And so the three women begin their exodus out of the pagan land of Moab.

Ruth 1:8-14 ~ Ruth and Orpah request to Remain with Naomi
8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, 'Go back, each of you to your mother's house.  9 May Yahweh show you faithful love [hesed], as you have done to those who have died and to me.  Yahweh grant that you may each find happiness with a husband!'  She then kissed them, but they began weeping loudly, 10 and said, 'No, we shall go back with you to your people.'  11 'Go home, daughters,' Naomi replied.  'Why come with me?  Have I any more sons in my womb to make husbands for you?  12 Go home, daughters, go, for I am now too old to marry again.  Even if I said, "I still have a hope: I shall take a husband this very night and shall bear more sons," 13 would you be prepared to wait for them until they were grown up?  Would you refuse to marry for their sake?  No, daughters, I am bitterly sorry for your sakes that the hand of Yahweh should have been raised against me.'  14 They started weeping loudly all over again; Orpah then kissed her mother-in-law and went back to her people.  But Ruth stayed with her.

At first Naomi is prepared to leave for her homeland with her daughters-in-law, but then she unselfishly begins to consider what is best for their promise of a happy future in new marriages. 

Question: Why might Naomi think it is unlikely that an Israelite man will marry a Moabite woman living in Israel?  See Dt 23:3-7.
Answer: Moabites were forbidden entrance into the covenant and were barred from worship in Yahweh's Sanctuary. 

In verse 8 Naomi urges them to return to their "mother's house."  It is an unusual reference for a member of a patriarchal society where widows return to their "father's house" (Gen 38:11; Lev 22:12; Num 30:17; Dt 22:21; Judg 19:2, 3).4)  Perhaps this is another emphasis on the importance of women in the story or it highlights the women's need for the emotional support of their mothers even more than the financial support of their fathers. Naomi's statement in verses 8-9 releases the girls from any family obligation to her.

Question: What parting blessing does she give them and what does her action reveal about her feelings for her Moabite daughters-in-law?  See the literal key Hebrew word in Rt 1:9.
Answer: Naomi asks God's hesed (faithful love) for each of them.  Despite the fact of their foreign birth, she sees her daughters-in-law as models of hesed in their devotion to her and to her family.

Naomi's blessing formula for her daughter-in-laws occurs only two other times in the Old Testament-the literal translation is May Yahweh do with you hesed. Notice that the three times the formula blessing is used involves farewells or partings under stressful conditions (Hubbard, page 103):

Notice that Naomi evokes God's personal covenant name "Yahweh."

Question: What does Naomi's blessing suggest?
Answer: Naomi's blessing over the young women suggests that she is no longer able to provide for them and so she is entrusting them to the care of her God. 

Do not miss that Naomi believes that Yahweh is capable of protecting these women in a foreign land and she does not mention Chemosh, the false chief deity of Moab, which speaks to Naomi's deeply held monotheistic belief.  Most ancient peoples believed the protection of their gods did not extend beyond the people who worshipped them or beyond their own frontiers.  Naomi has confidence that her God's authority over people and events extends beyond the borders of Israel into foreign lands as with His protection of Joseph son of Jacob and the tribes of Israel in Egypt. It also speaks to her understanding that Yahweh is the true God of all peoples and not just the ethnic god of the Israelites.

When the women protest and express their desire to go with her, Naomi attempts to persuade them to remain in Moab.  She tells them that she is unable to provide husbands for them.  Naomi's argument is that the girls stand a better chance of finding a husband to take care of them if the stay in Moab. 

Question: What three rhetorical questions does Naomi ask in verses 11-13?  What is the obvious answer?

  1. "Have I any more sons in my womb to make husbands for you?
  2. "Shall I take a husband this very night and shall I bear more sons, would you be prepared to wait for them until they were grown up?"
  3. "Would you refuse to marry for their sake?"

The two Moabite widows realize that the obvious answer to each question is "No."

Question: When Naomi says, Have I any more sons in my womb to make husbands for you?
to what stipulation of the Law of Israel is she referring concerning a family's obligation to a childless widow?  See Dt 25:5-10.
Answer: Naomi is referring to the obligation of providing for childless widows by giving them a husband from among the dead husband's brothers. 

Provisions for childless widows was legislated in the Sinai Covenant with the intention of perpetuating the family name and maintaining the stability of the family's property by keeping the inheritance of ancestral lands within the tribe.5)  Under this law a widow who has no son to inherit is taken as a wife by her brother-in-law.  The eldest son of this marriage will be considered the dead husband's son and heir. The same law is also found in Assyrian and Hittite law codes (New Jerusalem Bible, note Dt 25a, page 253).  A childless widow marrying within her husband's family was a common practice for cultures in the region including ancient Canaan prior to the Israelites' migration into Egypt.  In the Book of Genesis, when the eldest son of Judah died (Judah son of Jacob/Israel), he married his daughter-in-law Tamar to his next oldest son.  When the second son died, Tamar expected to be given in marriage to the third son, but by this time Judah saw the girl as unlucky and refused to fulfill his obligation to her (Gen 38:1-11). 

Question: Depressed over her situation, who does Naomi blame for her misfortunes?
Answer: She blames God.

Orpah's desire for self-preservation overcomes her desire to stay with Naomi and she returns to her people, but Ruth is willing to sacrifice her future to stay with Naomi.  It is Ruth's self-sacrificial act of staying with Naomi that is the true measure of her hesed.

Ruth 1:15-18 ~ Ruth's Decision to Stay with Naomi
15 Naomi then said, 'Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her god.  Go home, too; follow your sister-in-law.'  16 But Ruth said, 'Do not press me to leave you and to stop going with you, for wherever you go, I shall go, wherever you live, I shall live.  Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.  17 Where you die, I shall die and there I shall be buried.  Let Yahweh bring unnamable ills on me and worse ills, too, if anything but death should part me from you!'  18 Seeing that Ruth was determined to go with her, Naomi said no more. 

Now Ruth is faced with to clear choices: to continue on with Naomi to Bethlehem in the land of Israel or to return with her Moabite sister-in-law to the land of her birth-the choice between the safe and familiar compared to the unfamiliar and uncertain.

Question: Naomi's statement in verse 15 makes it clear that Orpah is not only returning to Moab but she is also returning to what else?
Answer: Orpah is returning to Moab and to the false gods of her people.

Orpah's seemingly sensible act of self-preservation only serves to highlight Ruth's extraordinary choice and the remarkable and beautiful words she speaks in verses 16-17.

Question: What is the significance of Ruth's statement in verses 16-17?  Why does she invoke Yahweh's name?
Answer: Ruth's statement in verses 16 to 17 is a sworn oath binding her life to Naomi's life.  In invoking Yahweh' name Ruth is not only making Yahweh the witness to her oath, but she is also binding herself to Naomi's God and putting herself under Yahweh's divine judgment in a self-curse (verse 17b) should she fail in keeping her vow.

Verse 17 is the only time Ruth speaks the covenant name of Yahweh in the Book of Ruth.  The literal Hebrew in verse 17b reads Thus may Yahweh do to me, and thus may he add ....  It is a statement that was probably accompanied by a symbolic gesture of sacrifice as in drawing one's thumb or index finger across one's throat, equating the solemn act of ritual sacrifice and equating it to one's self should the oath taker violate his/her oath.  It is an oath formula that occurs with slight variations twelve times in the Old Testament; the formula is found here in Ruth 1:17 and in eleven other passages in the books of Samuel and Kings; see 1 Sam 3:17; 14:44; 20:13; 25:22; 2 Sam 3:9, 35; 19:14; 1 Kng 2:23; 19:2; 20:10; 2 Kng 6:31 (Campbell, Ruth, page 74).  Ruth's oath swearing is an act of covenant ratification in which she swears her loyalty to Naomi and her submission to Yahweh as her one God.  In the Old Testament covenants are ratified by oath swearing (see Gen 15:7-17 and Jer 34:18-20).  Only in this verse and in Jonathan's covenant oath to David in 1 Samuel 20:13 is God's covenant name YHWH invoked in the oath swearing formula instead of using the plural Elohim.  Jewish scholars see Ruth's declaration as an act of conversion in a time prior to the formal conversion ritual established in the time of the rabbis in the New Testament era (The Jewish Study Bible, page 1581).

Ruth has put aside self interest in favor of self-sacrifice in offering herself to Naomi for the duration of her lifetime.  In her devotion to Naomi, this Gentile woman is the model of hesed-faithful, loyal covenant love.  It was the covenant bond of family until this point in their relationship that united Ruth to Naomi, but in solemn vow, Ruth has also renounced the gods of her people in favor of Yahweh as her only God.

Commenting on the different choices made by the two Moabite widows, St. Paulinus of Nola writes: Next pass with eager eyes to Ruth, who with one short book separates eras-the end of the period of the Judges and the beginning of Samuel.  It seems a short account, but it depicts the symbolism of the great conflict when the two sisters separate to go their different ways. Ruth follows after her holy mother-in-law, whereas Orpah abandons her; one daughter-in-law demonstrates faithlessness, the other fidelity.  The one puts God before country, the other puts country before life.  Does not such disharmony continue through the universe, one part following God and the other falling headlong through the world?  If only the two groups seeking death and salvation were equal!  But the broad road seduces many, and those who glide on the easy downward course are snatched off headlong by sin which cannot be revoked (Poems, 27.511)

Question: Why is Ruth an unlikely heroine of an Old Testament Bible story?
Answer: Ruth is an unlikely Bible heroine because:

Question: What do Ruth's devotion to Naomi and her denunciation of her people's gods in favor of the God of Israel demonstrate?  See Dt 10:12-20.
Answer: Ruth has what is most valued by Yahweh, the faithful covenant love of a circumcised heart-a heart of faithfulness, loyalty and obedience (Dt 10:16).  From God's point of view, to be a true child of the covenant was not determined by ethnicity but on the virtue of a clean heart.

Ruth 1:19-22 ~ Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem
19 The two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.  Their arrival set the whole town astir, and the women said, 'Can this be Naomi?'  20 To this she replied, 'Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, for Shaddai has made my lot bitter.  21 I departed full, and Yahweh has brought me home empty.  Why, then, call me Naomi, since Yahweh has pronounced against me and Shaddai has made me wretched?'  22 This was how Naomi came home with her daughter-in-law, Ruth the Moabitess, on returning from the Plains of Moab.  They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Notice the continued importance of women in the story.  It is the women of the community who welcome Naomi and Ruth.  Once again, Naomi blames God for her misfortune and she asks to be called "Mara," a Hebrew word meaning "bitter," which is a description of her emotional state.

Question: Why does Naomi blame God?
Answer: Naomi acknowledges that everything in her life is under God's control because she is a daughter of the covenant God made with Israel.  She gives God credit for the good that happens to her (Rt 1:6), but she also gives God credit for the events that have led to her sufferings (Rt 1:15, 20-21).

Question: Does God cause suffering?  See Wis 1:13-15; Sir 15:11-20/21; CCC 311, 1730 and Gen 50:20.
Answer: Suffering is a consequence of evil.  God is not the author of evil-He wants only good for mankind, but because He has given man the gift of free will He allows that gift to impact the lives of men and women for good and even for evil.  Sin in the world and the sinful decisions of men can bring suffering to the innocent and the righteous.  However, God promises that if one turns to Him in the hours of suffering that He can bring good out of the evil that entraps us as He did for Joseph son of Jacob (Gen 50:20).

The mystery of human suffering is the theme in the Old Testament Book of Job.  It is the fullest expression of this mystery before the Advent of Christ and the offering of His suffering for the salvation of all mankind.  In the Book of Job suffering is shown to be connected to God's righteousness and sovereignty but not necessarily connected to God's judgment upon those who suffer.  Faced with undeserved suffering, Job fell to the ground and worshipped God (Job 1:20-22), and unlike Naomi, he did not reproach God for his misfortune. God's answer to the justice of Job's suffering was that God's plan is deeper than human understanding of justice.  God's justice works through the lives of men and women but beyond its impact on the individual or the time in which that individual lives.  Humans can only see the consequences of their suffering as though they were looking through a pin-prick, but God's view embraces all eternity.  God's answer to us when we cry out in our suffering is the same answer He gave to St. Paul: My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9 NAB).  In these words, God reveals the depth of the mystery of suffering, disclosing that in Christ our personal suffering has been transformed to constitute a special support for the powers of good (Pope John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, 27).

In verses 20-21 Naomi uses God's divine Name, YHWH, and she also uses a title for God from the time of the Patriarchs, Shaddai (see Gen 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; 49:25; Ex 6:3; etc.).  It is a title for God that is believed to mean "Almighty," but its true meaning is obscure.  This title is found six times Genesis, once in Exodus, twice in Numbers, twice in Ruth, about thirty-one times in Job, twice in Psalms, once in Isaiah, twice in Ezekiel, and once in Joel.  Naomi's use of God's divine name with Shaddai appears to be a reverse pattern in verses 20-21: Shaddai/Yahweh and Yahweh/Shaddai.

Question: Is it true what Naomi says in verse 21 that God has brought her home "empty"?
Answer: No, it is not true.  God has sent her home with Ruth.

In verse 22 the inspired writer tells us They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. 

Question: What is the significance of the barley harvest in the civil and liturgical calendar?  See Lev 23:9-14 and the chart on the Israelite civil and ligurgical calendar in the Appendix II of this lesson.
Answer: Barley was the first grain harvest in the early spring.  The beginning of the harvest was associated with the annual Feast of Firstfruits after Passover and falling on the day after the Sabbath, on the first day of the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Abib (Aviv)/Nisan 15-21st.

The annual sacred Feast of Firstfruits marked the beginning of the barley harvest.  According to the Law that feast was celebrated on the first day after the holy Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the day we call Sunday (Lev 23:9-14).  The Feast of Unleavened Bread began at sundown (the beginning of the next day) after the Passover sacrifice on the 14th of Abib (called Nisan after the return from exile in the 6th century BC), and lasted from the 15th to the 21st of the month. Since Unleavened Bread was one of the pilgrim feasts that all men of the covenant over 13 years were required to attend (Ex 23:14-17; 34:18-23; Dt 16:16; 2 Chr 8:13), Ruth and Naomi were arriving in Bethlehem after the men and most of their families had returned from God's holy Sanctuary in Shiloh (Josh 18:1a1 Sam 1:3).6)

Question: Notice the contrasts in chapter one between life and death and happiness and suffering.  How many contrasts do you see in chapter one?
Answer: The struggle between life and death, happiness and suffering appears in various ways in the first chapter:

The conditions of death, suffering and emptiness in the first chapter will be, through the providence of God, turned into life, happiness and fulfillment in the final chapter.

Notice that the names of the family members describe their traits and reflect, in some cases, the role or destiny of the person within the story.  In Naomi's case, her name may reflect her nature and disposition while her husband's name "my God is king" may reflect the theme of the story-God the king is guiding the events in the lives of these people.  Then too, names of Naomi's two sons may indicate that over time, before the story of Ruth was written down, that some of the family names were lost and replaced with names that reflected their place in the story or their names came to be associated with their fate.  Also notice that although Israel is a patriarchal society, it is the women who take center stage in this story: Naomi, Ruth, and the women of Bethlehem.  It is the women of Bethlehem who greet Naomi and Ruth on their return and who bless Ruth as a new member of their community in the last chapter.

Question: Despite the fact that the first chapter has offered the contrasts between life and death, happiness and suffering, how does the chapter end on two hopeful signs of God's providence?
Answer: Despite Naomi's claim that she God has brought her home "empty"-she is not empty because she has brought back Ruth. The other "hopeful" sign is that verse 22 tells us that they arrived at the time of the barley harvest-the first sign of new life in the land after the winter.  God in His faithful love has provided two signs of hope for Naomi.

Questions for group discussion:

Questions concerning human suffering: Life is a gift from God but sin (personal sin and sin in the world) brings grief and suffering. 

Is it fair to blame God when we suffer? 

Why does God allow His faithful to suffer along with sinners? 

Can our sufferings become a cause for good in God's divine plan and also be offered as penance for sins through "redemptive suffering"? 

What is the link between suffering and salvation? 

How did Christ's suffering become part of God's plan for man's salvation? 

How did God use St. Maximilian Kolbe's suffering and death at the German concentration camp at Auschwitz as cause for good?  See Rom 8:17, 28; CCC 1460, 1500-1513, 1604, 2012-15.  Suggested readings: Salvifici Doloris (On the Meaning of Human Suffering), Pope John Paul II; The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis; The Nature of Good and Evil, D. von Hildebrand.

Question: Orpah chose the safe and the familiar; she chose self-preservation and self-interest over self-sacrifice.  Ruth, however, risked everything in her choice to follow Naomi and to submit herself to Yahweh and to life in the Promised Land of Israel.   How does Ruth's choice highlight for all of us the free-will choice God has given every man and woman to accept or reject His promise of salvation in the heavenly Promised Land?  How does Ruth's choice relate to Jesus' command that His disciples must be willing to take up their individual crosses of suffering to follow Him if they desire the gift of eternal salvation?  


1. The five scrolls include Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther.

2. Jewish Study Bible, page 1579.  It was on the Jewish Feast of Weeks, called "Pentecost" in Jesus' time (meaning "50th day" and referring to the days counted from the Feast of Firstfruits) that God the Holy Spirit came down from heaven to fill and indwell the community of Jesus' disciples praying in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.  The event occurred ten days after Jesus' Ascension (Acts 1-2).  In his homily to the crowds of Jews on their way to the worship services at the Temple, St. Peter spoke of King David (Acts 2:29-31), which was fitting since Jesus was a descendant of the great king (Mt 1:1, 5-6) and since readings concerning David's ancestry were to be read from the Book of Ruth in the liturgical readings in that morning's Temple service (Rt 4:18-22).

3. Also see the use of Yahweh-Elohim in other Scripture passages (i.e., Gen 2:4b).

4. The words "mother's house" are found in Gen 24:28 when Rebekah ran to report her conversation with Abraham's servant who was seeking a wife for Isaac and is found only two other times in the O. T. in Song of Songs 3:4 and 8:2 where the term seems to refer to the mother's bedroom and the bridal night.

5. This provision for childless widows will come to be called the "levirate law" from the Latin word levir, translating the Hebrew word yabam "brother-in-law."

6. During the conquest in the Book of Joshua, the desert Tabernacle was set up at Shiloh (Jos 18:1), but sometime during the age of the Judges a stone building was erected there for God's altar of sacrifice and to house the Ark of the Covenant (1 Sam 1:9; 3:2, 3, 15).  This "proto-Temple" was later destroyed, probably by the Philistines when they defeated the Israelite army and captured the Ark of the Covenant (1 Sam 4; also see Ps 78:60; Jer 7:12; 26:6, 9).  Ruth's descendant, King David, will capture Jerusalem and take the Ark of the Covenant there, establishing Jerusalem as the center of worship (Dt 12:11-14; 2 Sam 6:12-19).  David's son Solomon will build the Temple of God in Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah (1 Kng 6-8; 2 Chr 3:1).

Appendix I:

(most dates are approximate)
1. Creation and History of the Early World ? – 2000 B.C.
2. The Patriarchs 2000 – 1675 B.C.
3. The 12 Tribes in Egypt/ The Sinai Covenant 1675 – 1275 B.C.
4. The Conquest of Canaan 1315/1275 – 1275/1220 B.C.
5. The Rule of the Judges of Israel 1220 – 1050 B.C.
6. The United Kingdom of Israel 1050 – 930  B.C.
7. The Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah 930 – 722 B.C.
8. The Assyrian Exile of Israel and
The Babylonian Exile of Judah
722 – 538 B.C.
9.  The Remnant of Judah Returns
The Conquest of the Greeks
538 – 323 B.C.
10. The Revolt of the Maccabees
The Rule of the Hasmons
323 – 63 B.C.
11. Jesus the Messiah 28 B.C. – 30 AD
12. The New Covenant Church 30 AD - ?

Appendix II:




Liturgical year order


Civil year order


Modern equivalent


Feast days & Agricultural Season

(+ = God ordained annual and ++ pilgrim feasts

* = national feasts)







+Passover 14th ,

++Unleavened Bread

15-21st (sacred assembly on 15th and 21st) ,

+Firstfruits on Sunday of Unleavened Bread holy week.

Spring equinox 15th. The "Latter rains"& flood season, beginning of barley and flax harvest

Ziv (Iyyar)




Dry season, apricots ripen





++Weeks (Pentecost) 50 days from Firstfruits as ancients counted; wheat harvest, dry winds, early fig harvest, grapes ripen





Hot, dry season: grape harvest





Hot, olive harvest





Dates and summer figs






+Trumpets = 1st ,

+Day of Atonement =10th

++Booths (Tabernacles)  = 15-21st & 22nd sacred assembly;

Fall equinox 15th;

"Former (early) rains,"  plowing & seed time






Rains, winter figs, wheat and barley sown





*Hanukkah (feast of dedication); winter begins





Coldest month, rains and snow in mountains





Growing warmer, almond trees in bloom





*Purim; spring: "Latter rains" begin, citrus & fruit harvest

Seven annual feasts are God ordained feasts (Ex 12:1-28; 43-51; 13:1-10; Lev 23:5-44; Num 28:16-29:39) including three pilgrim feasts; *Hanukkah and Purim are national feasts proclaimed by the people and are not God ordained (1 Mac 4:36-61; 2 Mac 10:1-8; Esther 9:20-32).  The Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles fell respectively near the spring and fall equinoxes.  ( ) indicates names of months used after the Babylonian exile.

M. Hunt  Copyright © 2009

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2012 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references for this lesson:

Rt 1:4


Rt 1:15, 20-21

311-12, 321-22, 324, 1730-38

Rt 1:16-17