The Book of Ruth relates things which happened "in the days when the judges ruled"; in the Greek Bible it immediately follows Judges, and in many early enumerations and catalogues is counted as a part of Judges. Some recent scholars have thought that this was the original place of the book: it was, like ch. 17, 18, and 19–21, an appendix to the Book of Judges proper, ch. 1–16. Ruth is, however, in subject, language, and style, unlike any of the stories in Jud. 1–16, or in 17–21; it is a product of a much later age, and belongs to a wholly different species of literature. As the events narrated in it are supposed to have taken place some half century before the establishment of the kingdom, its natural place in the series of historical books was between Judges and Samuel; or, as falling in the days of the judges, it might be appended to the former book; but this connexion was probably never universal, and may, indeed, have been peculiar to the Greek Bible.
Chapter 11–25 contains an account of the invasion of Western Palestine by the Israelite tribes, and their settlements, particularly enumerating the cities that they did not succeed in conquering, most of which long remained in the possession of the native Canaanite population. This account, which in historical value far surpasses any other source that we possess for this period, is manifestly extracted from an older work, and Schrader, Meyer, and others rightly recognize in it J.'s history of the conquest. The narrative has been considerably abridged by the editor who prefixed it to the pre-Deuteronomic Book of Judges, for the purpose, as we see from his own words in 21b–5a, of showing how Israel sinned in making terms with the people of the land and leaving them to be a constant snare and peril; it has also suffered to some extent from derangement and interpolation, whether by the editor's own hand or that of scribes. Fortunately, the motive of the
- So probably by Fl. Jos., contra Apion., c. 8; and expressly by many Christian Fathers.
- So Stähelin, Auberlen, al.; see esp. Bertheau, p. 290ff.; cf. also Schrader in De Wette, Einl8, p. 395f.
- See p. 3 ff.
- See below, p. 6 f.
- It is more probable that 21b–5a is by an editor of the school of Rje than that it is from the hand of the post-exilic redactor.