Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 10, “Ruth” pp. 179-188.
Lessing notes that though Ruth is a brief book, it has important themes of love for family and God’s provision in advancing his promise of a Messiah (Lessing 2014, 179). The inclusion of David as king and the view of a unified Israel points to composition during the reign of David or Solomon (Lessing 2014, 179). Lessing sees the presence of a main character from Moab and the inclusion of some Aramaic elements as a negligible element in dating. This does not convince him of a late date (Lessing 2014, 180).
The plot is centered around various crises. In each situation a character needs help and protection. There is an obstacle which is eventually overcome (Lessing 2014, 80). The issue of Levirite marriage comes up frequently. In this system, if a man dies childless, his brother is responsible to raise up offspring. This may also be extended, as in Ruth 3-4, to a more distant relative in case of an inheritance (Lessing 2014, 181). Lessing notes that the law may well not have applied to the reeemer in Ruth, but that it is suggested by Boaz that it would (Lessing 2014, 182).
Lessing discusses the exchange of a sandal along with the land transaction in chatper 4 (Lessing 2014, 182). The custom a pparently predates much written documentation. Ruth looks back in history to an activity which had since fallen out of common use.
The genealogy of ten generations, a number of symmetry, with Boaz at the important sevent position, suggests an artful depiction of the move from Jericho to Jerusalem (Lessing 2014, 183).
Ruth features the theme of fidelity, both God’s to his people and his people’s to their families (Lessing 2014, 183). Closely related to the theme of fidelity is that of God’s providential care for his people (Lessing 2014, 184). The promise of redemption is also a strong, recurring theme(Lessing 2014, 185). This includes not only the symbolic return to Israel but the kinsman redeemer and the genealogy pointing to David (Lessing 2014, 185).
Lessing notes the thieme of sin and grace in Ruth is very important. The sin in this text is a returning to our own plans, wisdom, or background rather than depending on God (Lessing 2014, 186). Despite this sinful pattern God repeatedly intervenes and points his people back to himself.