Verbum et Ecclesia
On-line version ISSN 2074-7705
Print version ISSN 1609-9982
DE VILLIERS, Gerda. Ruth 4:18-22: A window to Israel's past. Verbum Eccles. (Online) [online]. 2013, vol.34, n.2, pp.1-8. ISSN 2074-7705.
The genealogy at the end of the Book of Ruth starts with Perez and ends with David, thereby covering Israel's history since the time of the sojourn in Egypt to the Davidic monarchy. This article focuses on Ruth 4:18-22 and what its genealogy may reveal. After a brief review of different types of genealogies in the Hebrew Bible, the problematic dating of the Book of Ruth becomes secondary; however, a particular perspective will determine the rest of the interpretation of the genealogy. My point of view in this article is that the Book of Ruth dates back to the period of the Second Temple. I examine the following issues: the connection between Ruth 4:18-22 and 1 Chronicles 2:4-15, as David's genealogy appears only in these two passages of the Hebrew Bible; the connection between the ten-member genealogy in the Book of Ruth and similar ten-member genealogies of Genesis; and whether Ruth 4:18-22 is a later addendum to the text or part of the original. The conclusion to these questions is that the genealogy of the Book of Ruth is similar to those in Genesis, and that it was part of the original book. The median of the genealogy of the Book of Ruth takes place in the desert with Nahshon as the representative of that era. Nahshon's sister happens to be married to Aaron whose priesthood is elevated above the rest of the tribe of Levi, and to whose descendants eternal priesthood is promised. Phinehas, his grandson, appears to be extremely intolerant of mixed marriages - an attitude which is later sustained by his descendant, Ezra, the scribe. The article also touches briefly upon the whole problem of mixed marriages and a sense of identity during the Second Temple period. The conclusion is that the author of the Book of Ruth was written by members of the scholarly circles of this period in opposition to exclusivist circles as to remind the community of the important role that women - especially foreign women - played in the formative history of the nation.