Ruth: A Female Friend


Question
Who was Ruth before she got married?
Answer
Ruth was a Moabitess before she was married to Mahlon. The land of Moab (Jer. 48:24), called also the “country of Moab” (Ruth 1:2, 6; 2:6), was on the east of Jordan and the Dead Sea.

Below are two articles that may be of help from Easton’s Bible Dictionary and Smith’s Bible Dictionary. While both are older dictionaries, the information is still valid.

From Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Ruth could mean a friend. She was a Moabitess and the wife of Mahlon, whose father, Elimelech, had settled in the land of Moab. On the death of Elimelech and Mahlon, Naomi came with Ruth, her daughter-in-law, who refused to leave her, to Bethlehem, the old home from which Elimelech had migrated. There she had a rich relative, Boaz, to whom Ruth was eventually married. She became the mother of Obed, the grandfather of David. Thus Ruth, a Gentile, is among the maternal progenitors of our Lord (Matt. 1:5). The story of “the gleaner Ruth illustrates the friendly relations between the good Boaz and his reapers, the Jewish land system, the method of transferring property from one person to another, the working of the Mosaic law for the relief of distressed and ruined families; but, above all, handing down the unselfishness, the brave love, the unshaken trustfulness of her who, though not of the chosen race, was, like the Canaanitess Tamar (Gen. 38:29; Matt. 1:3) and the Canaanitess Rahab (Matt. 1:5), privileged to become the ancestress of David, and so of ‘great David’s greater Son’” (Ruth 4:18-22). [Easton’s Bible Dictionary]

From Smith’s Bible Dictionary

Ruth (a female friend), a Moabitish woman, the wife, first of Mahlon, secondly of Boaz, the ancestress of David and of Christ, and one of the four women who are named by St. Matthew in the genealogy of Christ. A severe famine in the land of Judah induced Elimelech, a native of Bethlehem-ephratah, to immigrate into the land of Moab, with his wife Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. This was probably about the time of Gideon, B.C. 1250. At the end of ten years Naomi, now left a widow and childless, having heard that there was plenty again in Judah, resolved to return to Bethlehem, and her daughter-in-law Ruth returned with her. They arrived at Bethlehem just at the beginning of barley harvest, and Ruth, going out to glean, chanced to go into the field of Boaz, a wealthy man and a near kinsman of her father-in-law, Elimelech. Upon learning who the stranger was, Boaz treated her with the utmost kindness and respect, and sent her home laden with corn which she had gleaned. Encouraged by this incident, Naomi instructed Ruth to claim at the hand of Boaz that he should perform the part of her husband’s near kinsman, by purchasing the inheritance of Elimelech and taking her to be his wife. With all due solemnity, Boaz took Ruth to be his wife, amidst the blessings and congratulations of their neighbors. Their son, Obed, was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David. [Smith’s Bible Dictionary]

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