Transfigured Night: Midrashic Readings of the Book of Ruth

Judith A. Kates

in Scrolls of Love

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780823225712
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237067 | DOI:
Transfigured Night: Midrashic Readings of the Book of Ruth

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Throughout the Talmud and early collections of midrash, one finds commentary and reflection on the book of Ruth. However, this chapter focuses on a coherently edited anthology called Ruth Rabbah, a midrashic collection composed of verse-by-verse commentary, divided into eight chapters and introduced by a long proem or petiha (opening) that is connected thematically to the initial verses of the book. Ruth Rabbah includes material found in the Jerusalem Talmud as well as in some earlier midrashic collections, such as Pesikta d'Rav Kahana. It reflects an awareness of certain motifs that one finds explicitly in the Babylonian Talmud, giving it a plausible date of the sixth or seventh century CE. One can then argue that the book of Ruth teaches people that, despite her Moabite origins, Ruth is brought under the wings of God because of her extraordinary righteousness and because she is the examplar of hesed, as Boaz himself testifies.

Keywords: midrash; Ruth Rabbah; Jerusalem; Talmud; Moabite; Ruth; God; righteousness; hesed

Chapter.  5330 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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