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By Jewish Publication Society / 2011/
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The moving story of Ruth, with its themes of loyalty, lovingkindness (hesed), and redemption, is one of the great narratives of the Bible. Socially, the Israelites were aware of their responsibility to protect the weak and unprotected among them. Redemption secures the life of the people as a community, not just as individuals. In this story, Boaz fills the familial obligation to marry the widow of a deceased relative who never was able to father children, both to continue the family line and protect an otherwise vulnerable woman.
The authors provide a critical, line-by-line commentary of the biblical text, presented in its original Hebrew, complete with vocalization and cantillation marks, as well as the 1985 JPS English translation. The extensive introduction places the book within its historical, literary, and critical context, discusses contemporary interpretations of the story of Ruth, and examines its major motifs and themes, among them: family, marriage and levirate marriage in biblical and ancient Israel, redemption and inheritance, hesed, and the book’s connection with the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.
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Tamara Cohn Eskenazi is Professor of Bible at Hebrew Union College at the Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. She is the first woman appointed as a professor to the rabbinical faculty in HUC-JIR’s long history. Earlier she had been on the faculty of the University of Denver, directed the Institute of Interfaith Studies, and co-founded the Jewish Women Resource Center in Denver.
Dr. Eskenazi is the Chief Editor of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, the winner of the 2008 Jewish Book of the Year Award presented by the Jewish Book Council. She has served on the executive committee of the Society of Biblical Literature, and her numerous published articles include: In an Age of Prose: A Literary Approach to Ezra-Nehemiah and Second Temple Studies 2: Temple and Community in the Persian Period. An expert in postexilic history and literature and in the Bible, Dr. Eskenazi has presented papers national and international at scholarly conferences.
Tikva Frymer-Kensky was Professor of Hebrew Bible and the History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her areas of specialization included Assyriology and Sumerology, biblical studies, Jewish studies, and women and religion. She was the author of Reading the Women of the Bible (which received a Koret Jewish Book Award in 2002 and a National Jewish Book Award in 2003), In the Wake of the Goddesses, and Motherprayer.