[b-hebrew] Dating the Book of Ruth

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Jun 2 05:06:40 EDT 2010

On 6/2/10, Yigal Levin wrote:
> -----Original Message-----
> Yitzhak Sapir wrote:
> ..The book of Ruth includes definite examples of upper class individuals.
> Further, the book of Ruth deals with a noble family to begin with.
> Hi Yitzhak,
> Assuming that the story is historical, how in the world do you know that the
> Elimelech family were "a noble family"? What does "nobility" even mean in a
> pre-monarchic era? Bethlehem was a small village (the main town of Judah was
> Hebron, and even it was not very big in Iron I). The fact that they were
> forced to migrate in time of famine means that they did not have much
> reserve wealth. Naomi's destitute shows that she did not have a very wealthy
> extended family. So she had a distant cousin, Boaz, who had done well for
> himself. But he was not close enough to volunteer to support her as soon as
> she returned penniless from Moab. Neither did "Ploni Almoni". And four
> generations later, Jesse was still a not-too wealthy farmer/shepherd. The
> family only became "nobility" retroactively after David's rise.

The issues with reference to nobility were raised with regard to the late Iron
Age.  At that time we have epigraphic evidence for a lot of Yahwistic names,
but we might argue that this represented only the situation in the nobility,
and in the common illiterate masses the situation was different and the
names were not Yahwistic.

But if the story and names were composed at that time, then, as you say,
the family was made noble retroactively -- illustrated in the story by such
elements as the lineage from Peretz, or Boaz who has done well.  So the
use of non-Yahwistic names, especially for Boaz, is significant.

Yitzhak Sapir

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