Bring your curiosity with you as you read2
“They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.”
- Ruth 4:17b
Why was the story of Ruth passed down through generations?
Perhaps they told the story over and over again because everyone loves a love story. Maybe people talked about Boaz the way they talk about Mr. Darcy or Edward. Maybe they dreamed of finding someone to offer them the kind of loyalty that Ruth and Boaz have in abundance.
Perhaps they told the story over and over again because it offered a way to navigate racial and ethnic diversity within the community, as Ruth joined with Israel without losing her identity as a Moabite. Boaz’ willingness to marry Ruth across ethnic lines would have challenged the strict understanding of Deuteronomy 23:3: “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, not even in the tenth generation.” This story guided God’s people toward a broader and more inclusive interpretation of the law.
Perhaps they told this story over and over again because it’s a David story. King David was, perhaps, Israel’s greatest king. He killed Goliath. He established the kingdom by pushing back the Philistines. He wrote dozens of Psalms. God’s people down through history looked back on his story with fondness. And the story of Ruth gives us backstory for David. You can compare and contrast him to his ancestors, just as you can compare and contrast yourself to these heroes of the faith. This creates opportunities for learning and growth.
Bringing your curious mind with you when reading scripture is one healthy practice for deep and meaningful Bible engagement. Ask questions of the text. Do some research. Try on and test theories.
What do you think? Why was the story of Ruth passed down through generations?