The book of Ruth is placed
by the modern Jewish canon among the Hagiographa, the unrelated body of
holy writings which form the third section of the Bible. But
the-earliest Christian Bibles placed the book in its present position
among the historical records; and the learned Josephus, who lived in the
same century as Christ, tells us that this was customary among the Jews
in his day.
The book has sometimes been regarded as a mere appendix to Judges or
even as an actual part of that book, a detached story similar to that of
the migration of Dan or the war against Benjamin.
The story of Ruth is represented as happening during the period of the
judges, and has a direct historical bearing in that it tells of the
ancestors of King David. The authorship is wholly unknown. Probably the
work was composed in the days after the Exile as a protest against the
exclusiveness of the anti-foreign party.
From a literary standpoint the book is highly valued. It is a pastoral
idyl, almost a poem, depicting the life of the Israelites in their days
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