However, the way the book is written does not seem to be a contribution to anembittered controversy.
To encourage devotion and loyalty to God
The book shows that personal devotion to God is more important than racial origin.Ruth¶s devotion to God is constantly stressed and she is highlighted as an examplefor the present and future. This would fit the earlier dating.
To combat Israel¶s narrow view of purity / holiness
Sometimes Ruth is seen as an appeal against Ezra¶s purity laws in 5th/4th centuryBCE, whereby mixed marriages between Jews and non-Jews had to be dissolved andforeign wives sent away. (Ezra 10:17, 44). As a Moabite, according to the Law of Moses, Ruth was not to be included in ³the Lord¶s people´ (Deut 23:3). But YHWH,Israel¶s God, did accept her devotion. What¶s more, she was the great grand-motherof Israel¶s greatest king, David. So his blood was not pure Israelite blood! This wasimportant to understand at a time when Israel was purifying herself through gettingrid of foreigners. Further, for Christians Ruth was an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew1:5).
To emphasize God¶s providence
God is not explicit in the narrative. But the characters express his presence, will andaction as they try to live faithfully with each other. God is in firm control of whathappens. His purpose for Israel and humankind is being worked out in the story of these characters; their story does not depend on chance. Ruth¶s needs are providedfor by God. There is a theme of providential restoration throughout: loyalty andkindness are rewarded and Naomi and Ruth are restored from emptiness to fullness,from bitterness to joy, from sterility to fruitfulness.
The point of the book for some lies in the way it shows the Moabite ancestry of David andthe fact that a Moabitess recognized the claim of Israel¶s God and was fully received intoIsrael. The importance of the book is to show that Israel has received God¶s revelation,which must be preserved from contamination from paganism, but at the same time must beavailable to all, even a Moabite woman. Israel¶s monotheism (emphasis on one God) forcedher to recognize the need to welcome foreigners into Israel¶s community. cf Isaiah 2:3f;45:22f.
The role of women
The rabbis regard Ruth as the epitome of the obedient wife and mother figure whom theyexalted. Feminist theologians, on the other hand, see Ruth as a foreigner whose radicalaction challenges the male-centered values that permeate the story. It is a story of independent women and shows the bonding and close relationships built (Ch.1) betweenthem.