Old Testament Lesson 20: "All the City . . . Doth Know That Thou Art a Virtuous Woman"

Sometimes the Book of Ruth is looked upon as only a lovely story with little theological value. However, I see within the story two basic theological messages that are of great worth to Latter-day Saints. In order to discover these messages, the book must be viewed as a story that typifies two principal doctrinal concepts: first, the scattering and gathering of Israel; and second, the atonement of Jesus Christ. Whether these were intended messages or not, I cannot say.

Historical Background

The story of the Book of Ruth took place during the period of the judges, the period which followed the death of Joshua. Prior to his death, Joshua fulfilled the command given him (and all Israel) by Moses requiring that upon entrance into the land of Canaan, the Israelites were to participate in a very important covenant ceremony at the sacred site of Shechem. Shechem was situated between two mountains, Mt. Ebal on the north and Mt. Gerizim on the south. Moses charged Israel that once they arrived at Shechem, they were to set up the ark of the covenant between the two mountains (Joshua 8:33). Then six of the tribes of Israel were to place themselves on Mt. Gerizim while the other six were to ascend Mt. Ebal (Deut. 27:11-13). Upon large stones, the law of Moses was to be written in the presence of the children of Israel (Deut. 27:1-8; Joshua 8:32). The law was then to be read to all the Israelites (Joshua 8:33). This was to be followed by the Israelites covenanting that they would honor the law of Moses.

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