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This topic is collecting some Ruth background resources.

Don't forget to check out our Writing Team's "Story of Ruth" Lesson Set. It has a terrific Bible Background on the Story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz that includes historical and teaching notes, plus several insights word studies. The Writing Team's Ruth Bible Background is open to all!

Last edited by Neil MacQueen
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It's interesting that most of us focus on RUTH and NAOMI in the story and distill the book down to subject of "friendship." This is natural. It's important to identify female heros in the Bible. But the story of Ruth has much more than just "friendship" to teach.

I've often thought that BOAZ gets overlooked. He had MUCH MORE TO LOSE than Ruth did by marrying an outsider. And he has to take care of his wife's dead husband's mother.

Our kids will be able to relate to how it feels not only to be an outsider, but how it feels to consider befriending somebody that others may ridicule you for.

Many will also be able to relate to the concept of "extended family" and the obligations we have to those connected to us.

The other part of this story that often gets overlooked is the law of "gleaning." This is a stewardship issue: leave something left over for those less fortunate. "Gluttony" is the theological corrolary. Here too kids will be able to relate. All of them have at sometime been the LAST person in line at the cafeteria or received the leftovers at home.

Finally, there is the fact that Ruth doesn't abandon her older mother-in-law, and equally as important NEITHER does Boaz. The Bible makes the point over and over again that widows have a special place in Israelite society. The elderly were a treasure.

<>< Neil MacQueen

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

 "Reading Ruth: Contemporary Women Reclaim a Sacred Story." 


Posted by member "revshannan "

I'd like to suggest to everyone a really fantastic book (for adults) on the Book of Ruth. The book is titled, "Reading Ruth: Contemporary Women Reclaim a Sacred Story." and it is edited by Judith Kates and Gail Reimer.


It's a series of articles on the Book of Ruth written by women from a variety of perspectives and it has some beautiful renderings of the Hebrew. This is great to use to copy a chapter out for your teachers on a particular area you are focusing on, and/or to read as the person putting together the curriculum for your kids and adults.

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

Ideas of Ruth


I've always considered this story to be one of the more delightfully shocking ones in the Bible!

The book's theology has been frequently debated and discussed because God takes no obvious active role in the story. God never speaks directly, but is only referred to by the characters occasionally. No burning bushes here! How IS God active in the story? Or is God irrelevant? How DO the characters hear God?

I am particularly struck by the unconventional view of family (at least unconventional for Israel at the time). "Family" is not defined by kinship or even duty, but by choice. Ruth's choice of an adopted mother and a new husband are shockingly forthright. The reference to "uncovering Boaz's feet" can be interpreted as a sexual advance by Ruth (the lower parts were politely referred to as "feet"). How amazing that this young foreign woman would risk damaging her reputation and her security for the sake of choosing a new family for herself.

Many children and youth I teach come from painful family situations: death of a parent, abuse, separation, step families. Most have little choice in who is considered "family": their mom's new boyfriend, step-siblings, and so on. Some desperately need to choose family for themselves, i.e. safe and trustworthy role models in the community who can give a positive influence in their lives.

Some make surprising choices about whom to include in their family: an elderly neighbour they adopt as a "Gramma", a runaway who is welcomed into their friend's home, or a young teen asking to be placed with a foster family she has personally "chosen" -- one much healthier and stable than her biological family.

Those radical choices are reflections of God's choice. Amazingly, God chooses family beyond the bonds of blood and kin. God chooses US. Wow! How can we not make the same surprising, loving, radical choices when we name our own "family".

Last edited by Lesson Forma-teer

Here's an excerpt from the Writing Team's Bible Background on

The Story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz

View the full background here! 



The Book of Ruth

Memory Verse:
Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16, NIV)


Family, steadfastness, loyalty, honor, virtue, redemption, seeking protection and providing protection to others, just treatment of the poor and “foreigners.”

Summary of Meaning

The story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz begins as a story about steadfast love in the midst of tragedy and becomes an exemplary tale about two virtuous people who will become the great-grandparents of King David and the ancestors of Jesus. If you ever wondered how David became “a man after God’s own heart,” it started with Ruth and Boaz! Without mentioning God, their story is a subtle reminder of how God's redeeming work continues through redeeming people.

On a personal level, the Book of Ruth is a story about family, loyalty, and protecting those in need—subjects that are as relevant today as ever. Unlike stories of other flawed Bible heroes (Jacob, Moses, and David, for example), the Book of Ruth depicts good people living godly lives without miracles or God's voice telling them what to do.

On a historical level, the Book of Ruth was written to remind the exiles returning from Babylon (and all of us) that "foreigners," "immigrants," and the poor should be treated with respect, and indeed are part of God's family tree.

On a theological level, Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi's virtuous actions are a metaphor for God's relationship with Israel and an example to all of us. Eight different times in the Book of Ruth, Boaz is referred to as the Gaw-al' —a title that in Hebrew means "Guardian-Redeemer." Boaz is not only obligated by tradition to be the Guardian of his family, he goes out of his way to do so.

גָּאַל Gaw-al' = "Guardian-Redeemer"

In addition to eight times in Ruth, the title of Gaw-al' is used 18 times in Leviticus and over 40 times in Isaiah to describe the role and work of God—our Guardian, Protector, and Redeemer. Like Boaz, God is our Guardian-Redeemer, the One who watches over us and the One to whom we humbly return seeking protection.

Importantly, among modern English translations, only the NIV properly translates "Gawal" as "Guardian Redeemer." Other English translations use the weaker and meaningless "kinsman" or "close relative" which only describes his relation to Naomi and Ruth, when in fact, it describes his RESPONSIBILITY to them as outline in the Law of Moses.

Ruth also acts as a Guardian-Redeemer when she:

  • pledges her steadfast love to Naomi, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay." (Ruth 1:16)
  • accompanies Naomi on the difficult journey back to Bethlehem.
  • gleans in the fields to provide for Naomi.
  • knows that her marriage to Boaz will provide Naomi with security in her old age.

Naomi's acceptance of Ruth and willingness to bring her Moabite daughter-in-law back to Bethlehem is also exemplary.

Connecting the Guardian-Redeemer dots in this story and other places in the Old Testament, we can see the thematic origins of Jesus' message of inclusion, care, protection, and redemption.

Jesus' very last words in Matthew echo Ruth's to Naomi,"Lo, I am with you always, even to the close of the age." (Mt 28:20)

Learn more about the phrase and role of "Guardian-Redeemer" in the full background.

View the full background here! 

Why did Ruth ask to be "covered" by Boaz?

The Hebrew word translated as "covering of your garment" is Kaw-nawf, and literally means “wings.”  Ruth is reminded Boaz of his blessing in Ruth 2:12 and his role as one who protects.

In chapter 3 when Ruth asks Boaz on the threshing floor to “Spread the corner of your garment over me” (Ruth 3:9), she is not asking Boaz to cuddle with her. Instead, in the Hebrew she literally asks Boaz to "spread his (protective) wings over me." The Hebrew word for "cover" used by Ruth is kaw-nawf.' Kaw-nawf is translated 74 other times in the Bible as “wings” --a metaphor for protection most often ascribed to God. In fact, Ruth is echoing Boaz's praise that he gave to Ruth in Ruth 2:12 when he says, “May you be richly rewarded by the God of Israel under whose wings you have to come to take refuge.”   "Wings "can also be translated as "feathers." And of course, we know from nature both the protective and lifting role of feathers.

Hebrew readers would have heard this "wings" connection and undoubtedly recalled the words of Psalm 91 where the protective wings or feathers of the Redeemer are beautifully described:

 Psalm 91 wings

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.

He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91  (v 1, 2, 4 NLT)

Learn more about the Writing Team's 7 Creative Sunday School Lessons for Children at

Last edited by Neil MacQueen

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