Literature / Book of Ruth

"For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God."

A short story set in the time of the Book of Judges , detailing how Ruth, a Moabite widow, finds a new husband.


  • Adaptation Expansion: The 1960 Hollywood version briefly shoehorns the basic elements of the Bible account into a new tale of espionage, child sacrifice, and escape from slavery.
  • Babies Ever After: The ending. And these are some pretty important babies too, since Ruth is the ancestor of David, and subsequently, an ancestor of Jesus.
  • Batman Gambit: How Boaz ensures he'll marry Ruth, and not the nearer kinsman redeemer. When bringing up the topic with him, Boaz mentions only the land to be reclaimed, and leaves out the detail about also marrying Ruth until the other redeemer agrees. Once the man hears about the sudden marriage detail, he promptly backs out for fear of endangering the ownership of his property.
  • Breather Episode: The previous book had Israel be invaded several times and its people turning wicked. Now it's time for the fluffy love story!
    • the Christian ordering, anyway. In the Jewish canonical ordering, Ruth is with the other literary books, in a different section of the Bible than Judges.
  • Broken Bird: Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law. When moving back to Israel, she tells the other women to not call her Naomi (meaning "pleasant") but Mara (meaning "bitter".) Luckily, her spirit recovers after Ruth's marriage and her gaining a grandson.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: It's only at the end of her story do we find out Ruth's significance; she's David's great-grandmother. And thus for Christians, the ancestor of Jesus.
  • Determined Widow: See quote
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The bit about Ruth uncovering Boaz's feet while he slept as part of getting him to marry her. Biblical scholars debate that Ruth did more than just expose Boaz's feet that night. But because this is the good romantic story in the Bible, Boaz puts a stop to it. He still lets her stay the night.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ruth and Naomi; Ruth even abandons her family and homeland to stay with her mother-in-law.
  • Hope Spot: A mostly bright and heartwarming tale, especially when contrasted with the violent and bleak Book of Judges.
  • Loophole Abuse: There's another relative who's more legally eligible to marry Ruth than Boaz is, and is keen to acquire the property that would come with the marriage. Boaz figures out a way around this by persuading him it would be bad for his estate.
  • The Matchmaker: Naomi schemes to get Ruth and Boaz together.
  • May–December Romance: Boaz was much older than Ruth, and says as much. This does not deter her.
  • Meaningful Rename: After Naomi's husband and sons die, she tells her friends to call her "Mara," meaning "bitterness."
  • Nice Jewish Boy: Boaz, natch. Although he's well older than Ruth, it's implied in the Bible that he didn't ask after women until she showed up working the fields for her kinswoman. Hearing how she's taking care of her mother-in-law Naomi, Boaz sets aside a portion of the best grain for her take home and lets her sit with his table during meals (as a foreign-born, she normally wouldn't have been allowed in those days).
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Ruth, which reads like a domestic drama, is set in the action-packed Crapsack World times of Judges.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Boaz had something of a legal obligation to marry Ruth, but there's little doubt they were genuinely in love.
  • Plucky Girl: Ruth yet again.
  • Quote Mine: The familiar verse "Where you go I will go..." is sometimes quoted in marriage services. It does sound very romantic out of context, but in context Ruth is saying it to her mother-in-law. They did evidently have a very close relationship, but (probably?) not that close.
  • Rescue Romance: Boaz catches Ruth's eye by helping save her and Naomi from starving through his generosity.
  • Romancing the Widow: Boaz to Ruth, although Ruth (with Naomi's collusion) did a fair bit of the romancing herself.
  • Romantic False Lead: There's another family member of the tribe that's technically more qualified to marry Ruth and carry on the Levirate duties (i.e., first child born belongs to the family line of the dead husband, not to new hubby), but he backs out of the obligation.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Boaz going above and beyond the laws of generosity is one of his good points.
  • Second Love: Ruth's first husband dies early in the book, and is barely mentioned afterward. Only one verse even tells us specifically which one of Naomi's sons he was (it was Mahlon).
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Ruth.
  • Shipper on Deck: Naomi for Ruth/Boaz—she's even the one who teaches Ruth what to do and say to get Boaz to agree to cementing the 'ship.
  • Tomato Surprise: Ruth, a foreign born woman, is the Great-Grandmother of David, Israel's greatest king.
  • Undying Loyalty: To her mother-in-law, Naomi.
  • The Unseen: At no time does God show up or be directly invoked... and yet the whole book is a perfect example of God's covenant with the Hebrew faith.
  • Unusual Euphemism: There are those who say that when Ruth uncovered Boaz's "feet", she was actually uncovering... a different body part.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Why Naomi wanted to send her two daughters away—if they stayed with her they would have been foreigners in Israel.
  • You Have Waited Long Enough: Naomi tried to send her two daughters-in-law away to remarry (in Moab), but Ruth would have none of it.

Alternative Title(s): Ruth