The Book Of Ruth


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  • Moab is the land where Ruth lived.  She married one of the sons of Elimelech and Naomi, before following her mother-in-law to Bethlehem.  At the time Judah was experiencing a severe famine, but Moab was apparently receiving more rainfall.  This may be explained by the elevated plateau that Moab is on.
  • The Book Of Ruth

    1. 1. The Book of Ruth <ul><li>   </li></ul><ul><li>וַיְהִי , בִּימֵי שְׁפֹט הַשֹּׁפְטִים , וַיְהִי רָעָב , בָּאָרֶץ ; וַיֵּלֶךְ אִישׁ מִבֵּית לֶחֶם יְהוּדָה , לָגוּר בִּשְׂדֵי מוֹאָב—הוּא </li></ul><ul><li>וְאִשְׁתּוֹ , וּשְׁנֵי בָנָיו </li></ul>
    2. 2. The Capital of Moab, Kir (Today Known as Kerak)
    3. 3. Nahal Arnon
    4. 4. Map of Ancient Israel, Moab and Environs
    5. 5. The Middle Assyrian Empire (1392-1180 BCE) Ruled Assyria during the Time of Ruth Tukulti-Ninurta, brutal Assyrian king who ruled from 1248-1208 before being killed in his palace which nobles and son set on fire Ashur was the principal god of the Assyrians
    6. 6. The Kassites and Hittites Ruled in Babylonia, (ca. 1600-717 BCE) This ziggurat was built 14 th century BCE and was used until the 11 th century
    7. 7. The Lion’s Gate at Boghazkoy, Anatolia, from a Famous Hittite Palace The Hittite Empire period was 1343-1200 BCE
    8. 8. The Widow in the Ancient Near East <ul><li>The Akkadian word, almattu , means widow </li></ul><ul><li>Similar to the Hebrew word, almanah </li></ul><ul><li>Widows and orphans were the most vulnerable members of society, because they didn’t have men to protect them </li></ul><ul><li>The king himself was supposed to intervene on behalf of these weak members of his society </li></ul>“that the strong may not oppress the weak, that justice may be dealt the orphan and the widow.”
    9. 9. Some Laws Pertaining to Widows <ul><li>Ur period III (ca. 2000 BCE) – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Widow who was remarried lost her right to husband’s house, which was given to her son </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interesting to note here that woman relinquishes a garment in this transaction to show her change of status </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1780 BCE): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only property of widow was her dowry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>While he was alive, husband could bestow marriage settlement on wife so she could support herself after her husband’s death </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. More Laws <ul><li>Egypt – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If a couple were childless, the rights of the wife were more unstable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Egyptian man by name of Nebnufre adopted his wife as his daughter in order to protect her position after his death </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Middle Assyrian Law – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The union between a second son and widow of dead first son known as ahuzete – marriage without formalities </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Even More Laws! <ul><li>Middle Assyrian Law – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Deals with “inchoate” marriage – a marriage where the girl is considered married by law but marriage is not consummated and therefore woman is still childless </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A fragment text suggests even a father-in-law might be able to marry his daughter-in-law in such a case </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hittite Law – </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If a man has a wife, and the man dies, his brother takes the widow as a wife. If the brother dies, the father takes her. If the father dies, the father’s brother takes her </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hittite Law distinguishes between this type of levirate marriage and sex between a man and his brother’s wife, which is expressly forbidden if the brother were alive. </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. There Were Cases of Rich Widows, but . . . . <ul><li>If a widow were poor and had no male to protect her </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Later ancient Near Eastern society said the god Marduk was protecting her and therefore </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Temple families were supposed to support her </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And she was supposed to do temple work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In neo-Babylonian times, she could live in a home called a mar bani , which she left if and when she remarried </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Interest in “Endogamous” Marriages <ul><li>The continuance of the family name was very important in a time when a small tribe’s survival was at stake </li></ul><ul><li>When tribes and clans were more landed, this interest became even more important, as land and inheritance were involved </li></ul><ul><li>When the future of a nation is at stake, continuance of the king’s line is obviously of the utmost importance </li></ul>How does all this apply to Ruth?
    14. 14. Levirate Marriage in the Torah <ul><li>It’s clear that there is levirate marriage in the Torah – the Tamar and Judah story – the laws of which most closely resemble Hittite Law </li></ul><ul><li>Unclear in the Torah if what Tamar and Judah do is desirable </li></ul><ul><li>Most probably the kinsman-redeemer in Ruth is not legally obligated to marry Ruth, but is he morally obligated to do so? </li></ul>What do you think, based on the laws and ideas you’ve seen from the ancient Near East?
    15. 15. Here’s Something Else: How Does Boaz Begin the Transaction with the Kinsman-Redeemer ?
    16. 16. 10 ‘Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I acquired to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place; ye are witnesses this day.' What do you think of Boaz’s actions now?
    17. 17. Is Going Beyond the Bounds of the Law Really What We Need to Do? <ul><li>Lot’s daughters went beyond the law and slept with their father in order to continue the world. From them, we get Ammon and Moab </li></ul>Tamar goes beyond what is required of her and Perez, Boaz’s ancestor, comes from her What do both Ruth and Boaz do that is beyond what one would expect legally? What do they merit?
    18. 18. The Torah is not just a Code of Laws; It is a Code of Honor Happy Shavuoth!