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Ruth: Plot

The introduction to the story (1:1-5) poses the central problem for the characters. The death of Elimelek and his sons, in a foreign land, leaves the family without issue, and the women without protection. The solution of this problem is only completed after several partial or false solutions have been presented:

Orpah's departure is a partial solution, at least for her, as Naomi indeed suggests (1:8-9). 
The return to Bethlehem suggests a partial solution (1:6). 
Boaz' kindness to Ruth, "his handmaid" and the revelation that he is a close relative (Go'el). 
The women's plots (in ch.3), and Boaz' consequent promise to Ruth (though notice how her reputation and position have been placed in jeopardy before this is achieved). 
When he finally succeeds in persuading the other, closer, Go'el to desist.

All of these provide the hope of (at least partial) resolution. However it is only at the end with the birth of the son that all is finally indeed resolved.

© Dr Tim Bulkeley, 2004.

You may quote and use these study notes, subject to the usual provsions of fair use - like giving proper credit e.g.
Tim Bulkeley, "Ruth: Genre" in Study Notes on Ruth [downloaded today's date].

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Tim teaches Hebrew Bible (First or Old Testament) at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and at Carey Baptist College his other sites include:
Amos - Postmodern Bible commentary
Study Notes on Jonah
Images of Archaeological Sites in Israel (Focusing on the Iron Age)