This book is the history of the family of Elimelech, who in the days of the Judges, because of a famine, went away from Bethlehem to dwell in the land of Moab. There his two sons married Moabite wives and died, as did also their father. Naomi, the mother, returned to Bethlehem, and Ruth, one of her widowed daughters-in-law, came with her. Ruth, when gleaning in the field of Boaz, a kinsman of Elimelech, found favor with him. Naomi planned that Boaz should marry Ruth, and he was ready to do so, if a nearer kinsman, to whom the right belonged according to the law in Deut. 25:5–10, declined. He did decline, and so Ruth became the wife of Boaz. Her son was Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. The book appears to be intended to connect the history of David with the earlier times, and also to form a contrast, in its peaceful and pastoral simplicity, to the disorders of which we read so continually in the Book of Judges.
The story of Ruth beautifully illustrates the conversion of a non-Israelite into the fold of Israel, giving up her former god and former life to unite with the household of faith in the service of the God of Israel (see Ruth 1:16).