Biblical People

Biblical People: Ruth

Ruth, a widow and foreigner (a non-Hebrew), remains faithful to her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. When Naomi decides to return home to Judah, she urges Ruth to stay behind in her own country, with her own family.

Ruth, however, won’t be dissuaded, clinging to her mother-in-law and pledging her allegiance. The reason behind Ruth’s intense loyalty to Naomi, however, is a mystery.

Having lost her husband and both sons, Naomi is now a bitter woman, so it certainly isn’t her personality that causes Ruth’s devotion.

When they return to Judah, Ruth, at great personal risk, goes in search of grain missed by the harvesters so she and Naomi will have some food to eat. Ruth finds favor with a wealthy farmer, Boaz, who has heard of her devotion to Naomi and sees her hardworking character.

Naomi wants to find another husband for Ruth. Although much older, Boaz seems the ideal choice. Naomi develops a shrewd strategy for Ruth to capture the heart of Boaz, and Ruth dutifully does as her mother-in-law directs.

While it’s unclear if Naomi’s instructions cause Ruth to act in a manner considered chaste or brazen, she does garner Boaz’s attention. 

Boaz immediately sets out to make Ruth his wife, deftly dealing with another relative who could thwart his intentions. When Boaz and Ruth marry, the people bless her and her future children.

Ruth has her first child, a boy they name Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse, the father of David. This makes Ruth the great-grandmother of King David. 

God rewards Ruth’s allegiance to him and loyalty to her mother-in-law, providing Ruth with a husband, saving her from poverty, and giving her a son.

Ruth is one of four women honored by Matthew in his record of Jesus’s family tree.

Do we have a reputation for being loyal and hardworking? Is our godly character affirmed by others?

[Discover more about Ruth in Ruth 1–4 and Matthew 1:5.]

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at