Food for Thought

Each Monday evening a bunch of us get together to study the Bible. We have been through several New Testament books and by popular choice we are now turning to the Old Testament. We intend to compare and contrast the Books of Ruth and Esther.

The first thing to do was to get a general background, and we have turned to Ruth first. Below are the questions we posed to ourselves (you’ll have to attend the studies if you want the real time answers, though we would respond to requests if you contacted us via this website):

The Book of Ruth

Study 1: Background

If possible, read the whole book before we start studying it together.

Questions:

  1. What is the setting of the Book in Israel’s history? Where on the following timeline does it fit? (Ruth 1:1; 4:18-22)
    Patriarchs or Exodus or Days of the Judges or Time of the Kings
  2. What do we know about the country and people of Moab? (e.g. Num.21,22,25; Deut.23:2-6)
  3. What can we learn from the New Testament reference to Ruth? (Matt.1:5)
  4. How can we explain so few generations mentioned between Salmon and David in Ruth 4 and Matt.1, if it covers (as historians propose) a period of around 400 years? See chronology below.
  5. Why would there be a famine in Israel, the promised land “flowing with milk and honey”? (Ex.3:8; Josh.24:13-20; 2 Sam.21:1)
  6. Why would the inheritor of Mahlon’s land have to marry Ruth? (see Deut.25:5-10)

Study 2: Ruth Chapter 1

  1. What does it tell us about the conditions in Moab and Naomi’s circumstances after three men in her life had died?
  2. In verses 6 – 7 Naomi set off to return to Judah for a revival, what other revival years later also came from Judah that we celebrate today?
  3. Based on verse 8, what type of wives were Naomi’s daughters-in-law?
  4. What relationship qualities did Naomi have for her daughters-in-law based on verse 9?
  5. What types of relationships did Orpah and Ruth have with Naomi looking at verses 10 – 17?
  6. What qualities do we see from Ruth that show compassion to her mother-in-law’s distress?
  7. What do we learn about the community of Bethlehem from the arrival of Naomi and Ruth?
  8. What did Naomi mean in her comment in verse 13 that “the Lord’s hand has gone out against me” and what do we learn about Naomi’s mental and spiritual condition looking at verses 20 – 21?
  9. What do we learn about the blessings of the Lord’s timing from the last verse and how does this encourage us today?

Study 3: Ruth Chapter 2

  1. What do the names “Elimelech” and “Boaz” mean? (see also 1 Kings 7:21)
  2. What is involved in gleaning?  Why is that term sometimes used to describe Bible reading?
  3. When it says in verse 3 that Ruth “happened” to work in the field of Boaz, does that mean it was purely by chance?  Does anything really happen by chance?
  4. What can we learn from the way Boaz greeted his workers?
  5. What do we learn of Ruth’s work ethic from verse 7?
  6. How does verse 10 apply as an illustration of us (non-Jews) becoming Christians?
  7. Why did Boaz do such detailed enquiry into Ruth’s background (verses 5,11)?
  8. How does the reference to taking refuge under God’s wings apply to us (verse 12)?
  9. How do verses 14-16 compare to Matthew 11:28-30?
  10. What did Naomi mean in verse 20 about not forsaking the dead?
  11. Why is the fact about Ruth being a Moabite re-introduced and emphasized in verse 21?
  12. What do you think Naomi had been praying about while Ruth had been away working (see verses 19 & 22)?
  13. How long a time is covered from the beginning of the barley harvest to the end of the wheat harvest?  Is this an indicator of wise development of a relationship?

Study 4: Ruth Chapter 3

  1. What aspects of Naomi’s plan (verses 1-5) reflect godly wisdom, and what, if any, reflect inappropriate behaviour?
  2. Ruth’s words in verse 9 may reflect her understanding of Naomi’s earlier statements, and the blessing from Boaz (chapter 2, verse 12), but how important were her appealing words about Boaz being a “redeemer”? Was that a marriage proposal?
  3. How does verse 10 indicate an age difference between Boaz and Ruth? What problems or blessings may be involved for couples of significantly different ages?
  4. Why did Boaz tell Ruth to stay until the morning? What were the risks involved?
  5. What is meant by Boaz saying a woman coming to the threshing floor should not be known? Whose reputations(s) were at stake?
  6. How did Boaz display a generous heart towards Ruth and Naomi?
  7. How difficult would it be for Ruth to comply with Naomi’s instruction in verse 18?

Study 5: Ruth Chapter 4

  1. What is the significance of Boaz going to the city gate? (Compare Job 29:7-16)
  2. Why do you think we are not given the name of the closer redeemer? Compare with verses 11 and 14.
  3. What were the benefits in Israel attributable to the operation of government by elders? Is there a present day application for this?
  4. Who was selling the property? Naomi? Elimelech? Mahlon? Chilion? Ruth? Or…? See Numbers 27 verse 9. How would its value be calculated? See Leviticus 25, verse 15.
  5. Why was there a custom of removing a shoe to confirm a property transaction (verse 7)?
  6. See Deuteronomy 25, verse 5 & 6. Why was it important to continue a family name?
  7. There is specific mention of Perez and Tamar in the blessing of verse 12; what is the significance of them being in the line that produced David, and eventually the Messiah?
  8. Is it true that conception is in every case a gift from God (verse 13)
  9. Verse 15-17 suggests Naomi’s bereavement of her sons was not to be compared to the blessing associated with the birth of her grandson. What is the basis for this statement?
  10. How do verses 18-22 explain why the book of Ruth was written?