The Book of Ruth is a book in the Hebrew Bible known to Jews as the Tanakh and to Christians as the Old Testament.
Ruth (רוּת "Compassion", Standard Hebrew Rut, Tiberian Hebrew Rūṯ) is a Moabite woman whose father-in-law, Elimelech, had settled in the land of Moab. Elimelech died there, and his two sons married, Mahlon taking Ruth as his wife, and Chilion taking Orpah, both women of Moab; both sons likewise died.
Naomi heard that the famine in Judah had passed, and determined to return. Ruth accompanied her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, at the beginning of barley harvest, in a state of poverty. Elimelech had had an inheritance of land among his brethren, but, unless a Go'el, a redeemer, could be found, Naomi would be compelled to sell it. Elimelech had a prosperous relative in Bethlehem whose name was Boaz, and who was engaged in the harvest. Naomi sent Ruth to glean in his fields, and, after he had spoken kindly to her and shown her some favors, she, acting on the advice of her mother-in-law, approached Boaz.
Boaz was attracted to her, but informed her that there was a kinsman nearer than he who had the first right to redeem the estate of Elimelech, and that it would be necessary for that kinsman to renounce his right before he (Boaz) could proceed in the matter. Accordingly Boaz called this kinsman, and told him of the situation, and of the kinsman's right to redeem the estate and to marry Ruth. The kinsman declared that he did not desire to do so, and drew off his shoe, the ritual way of showing that he had renounced his rights in favor of Boaz. Boaz thereupon bought the estate from Naomi, married Ruth, and became by her the father of Obed, who in due time became the father of Jesse, the father of King David.
Ruth and Naomi
Some scholars contend the relationship between Ruth and Naomi was romantic. They cite examples such as Ruth 1:14 "Ruth clave onto her", with the Hebrew word translated as "clave" identical to the description of a heterosexual marriage in Genesis 2:24.
Origin of the book
There is some debate about when and why the book was written. According to many scholars, it was originally a part of the Book of Judges, but it was later separated from that book and made into an independent book. It is the shortest book in the Hebrew Bible, the books of the Minor Prophets being considered a single book. The language and description seem to make the authorship contemporary with that of Judges, and its opening verse explicitly places it in that period. On the other hand, the message of the book, which shows acceptance of marrying converts to Judaism, has been used to suggest that the book was written during the early days of the Persian period. At that time, Ezra condemned intermarriages and, according to his eponymous book, forced the Israelites to abandon their non-Jewish wives. According to this theory, the book was written in response to Ezra's reform and in defense of these marriages.
Ruth in the rabbinic Jewish tradition
The opinions of some rabbis in the Talmudic tradition claim that Ruth was the daughter of the Moabite king Eglon, who figured briefly in the Book of Judges. Like many other Rabbinic exegetic identifications of certain Biblical characters with other Biblical characters, this assertion has no support from the plain meaning of the text.