Beyond Sighing and Swooning: Love in the Hebrew Bible

Although it does not seem to be about romantic attachment at all, the tale of Ruth and Boaz is the quintessential example of a biblical love story.

From Ruth in Boaz’s Field, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1828. Wikimedia.

From Ruth in Boaz’s Field, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1828. Wikimedia.

Observation
Jan. 12 2017
About the author

Alan Rubenstein, director of university programs at the Tikvah Fund, teaches a great-books seminar, “Windows on the Good Life,” at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Where in the Hebrew Bible can you find expressions of human love and the part it plays in life? There’s Jacob and Rachel’s enchanting kiss at the well in Genesis; there’s the Song of Songs, that fantastic and mysterious poem of sexual and romantic longing. And then of course there’s the book of Ruth, the most complete example of a biblical love story: a tale of two highly sympathetic characters, Boaz and Ruth, one an older bachelor and the other a young widow, who navigate a series of obstacles that seem to prevent their union from ever taking place until, in the end, it does—and, in a final scene, bears fruit in the birth of a child.

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More about: Book of Ruth, Love, Religion & Holidays