POSTED 24 OCTOBER, 2017
Approximate date: between 950-700 B.C.E. (Right, conservative-moderate); 586-500 or 400s-250s B.C.E. (Left)
Time period: a famine in Israel during the rule of the Judges
Author: Samuel (Right); Israel’s court historians (conservative-moderate); an unknown person from the Southern Kingdom (Left)
Location of author: Land of Israel before or during the monarchy (Right, conservative-moderate); Land of Israel after the exile (Left)
Target audience and their location: people of Israel before, during, or immediately after the reign of David (Right, conservative-moderate); Jewish people having returned from Babylon (Left)
Theological Summary: Readers of the Book of Ruth almost immediately can recognize it for what it is as a great account of human kindness, as God uses people faithful to Him to accomplish restoration. Christian tradition, following the book order of the Greek Septuagint, places Ruth immediately after Judges. This was apparently something also followed by the First Century historian Josephus (Against Apion 1.38-40), making Ruth an extended narrative as a part of the histories. In Jewish tradition Ruth is placed among the Writings, specifically among the five Megillot. The Book of Ruth is not placed in this later part of the Scriptures to demean women, but because it is used for special holiday readings. Ruth is frequently read at Shavuot/Pentecost, partly because of the belief that King David was born and died at this time.
The name of this text is for Ruth (Heb. Rut), a young Moabite woman, who would become the great-grandmother of King David and an ancestor of Yeshua the Messiah (4:21-22; Matthew 1:1, 5). Even though this book is named for Ruth, the principal character is actually the Israelite widow Naomi, who is forced to move to Moab during a time of famine in the Land of Israel. The events that Ruth portrays occur during the time of the Judges (1:1), and actually take place during a time of relative peace between Israel and the Moabites. The story of Ruth gives us a glimpse into an Israelite family during this period, and how various women must fare on their own.Book_of_Ruth
One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.
Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.
A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.