Ruth is famously one of the two books named after a woman. It comes in our standard 21st century Bibles immediately after the book of Judges. A book that ends with some not very nice or Godly things happening, including to unnamed women.

But let us not get carried away with ourselves! One of the key questions of this idea is: When did Ruth start becoming immediately after the book of Judges*? Is this a later novelty of the Church, or does it precede Jesus?

  • In some recognizable sense, not necessarily appearing one after another in some single codex.
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    The Tanakh places Ruth between Song of Songs and Lamentations, which is not even in the same division (of 3: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings) as Judges. Also, of possible interest, I just came across this article: Why We Should Use the Hebrew Order of the Old Testament, where Ruth is placed between Proverbs and Song of Songs. Nov 1, 2022 at 15:51
  • @Ray Butterworth I've edited my answer in view of your helpful comments. Clearly, you know more about this than I do, so maybe you could provide a more detailed answer?
    – Anne
    Nov 1, 2022 at 16:40
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    @Anne, sorry but that was what I know, and much of that was from a Google search for "order of books in Bible" (so you don't really need to give me credit in your answer). It looks like Lesley has since covered it in much more detail. Nov 1, 2022 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


Whilst there appears to be agreement between Jewish and Christian scholars that the author of Ruth was the prophet Samuel, the placement of Ruth (one of the five Hebrew Megillot or scrolls) is to be found in the third division, or the Writings (Ketuvim), of the Hebrew Bible. It was written in Hebrew sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C.E. In most Christian canons it is treated as one of the historical books and placed between Judges and 1 Samuel.

The book does not name its author. It is traditionally ascribed to the prophet Samuel (11th century BCE), but Ruth's identity as a non-Israelite and the stress on the need for an inclusive attitude towards foreigners suggests an origin in the fifth century BCE, when intermarriage had become controversial (as seen in Ezra 9:1 and Nehemiah 13:1). A substantial number of scholars therefore date it to the Persian period (6th–4th centuries BCE). The genealogy that concludes the book is believed to be a post-exilic Priestly addition, as it adds nothing to the plot; nevertheless, it is carefully crafted and integrates the book into the history of Israel running from Genesis to Kings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Ruth

The Sections and Books of the Tanakh (Judaism):

The Torah or Instruction (in its original sense): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.

The Neviʾim or Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Book of the Twelve Prophets.

The Ketuvim or Writings:

Poetic: Psalms, Proverbs, Job

Megillot (scrolls): Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther

Historical: Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles

Compare this with the order of the books in the Old Testament (Protestant Christianity):

Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Historical: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings, 1–2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

Wisdom/Poetic: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs

Prophetic: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, 12 Minor Prophets

From this, it seems that the Hebrew Tanakh of Judaism has never placed the book of Ruth after Judges and before Samuel. Rather, the book of Ruth appears in the section that contains Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther. This would be the arrangement familiar to Jesus.


The account of the Moabitess Ruth is set in the time of the judges. Events show a temporary time of peace between Israel and Moab. If you look at Judges 3:12-30 you will see it details a time of Israel being suppressed by Moab until Ehud "did some not very nice things" (as you might put it) but God blessed this and Moab was made subject to Israel for 18 peaceful years.

The author is unknown. Jewish tradition points to Samuel, the last judge before Israel's first king was appointed. That would be a good reason why the book of Ruth would be placed immediately after the book of Judges and before the books of Samuel.

Jesus and his Church did not appear on the scene until around 1080 years after the time of Samuel. By then, the Judaic system had Ruth in different places (as per. Ray Butterworth's comment to the OP shows) The Church simply placed it according to logic based on its contents. Interestingly, although some doubt has now been expressed by some as to when the account of Ruth was written, it has not been removed from its historical positioning in the Hebrew scriptures by the Church. Because king David is mentioned, and the literary style suggests it being written during the period of the monarchy, it might be better placed later, but nobody in the Church has done that.

Because there are areas of imprecise dates in some parts of the Hebrew scriptures, a lot of those scriptures do not seem to follow a strictly chronological order. They were never intended to do so as a collective whole. That deliverance by Ehud and the period of rest following give one example of difficulty arriving at exact dates. Also, some of the judges overlapped.

So, my answer would simply be that the book of Ruth appears to have been accepted in its present literary place for centuries after Christ by the Church, which has kept it there.

Sources: A Concise Chronology of the Bible, John D Brand, pp26-27 (Edinburgh Bible College 2014) and The NIV Study Bible, p358 (1987 ed.)

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    When we track Ruth's genealogy - Boaz and Ruth, Obed, Jesse, David - her story falls in the judgeship of Jair. Jair's time coincided with the collapse of the late bronze age, a period characterized by severe droughts. My chronology of the Judges here: academia.edu/6812820/Chronology_of_the_Judges_of_Israel Nov 3, 2022 at 20:38

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