hebrew english


Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think Osnath is so fascinated by Ruth's story? Why does the mystery of the long-dead woman compel Osnath?

2. As Osnath begins researching the life of Ruth, Adah gives her the following warning: "...some secrets are so vicious, they lash out at those who reveal them even after several generations" (p. 17). How does Adah try to dissuade Osnath from examining Ruth's life? How do others try to convince Osnath to cease?

3. Why does Osnath prefer David to Eliab at first? In what ways are the two men different? What about David is appealing? What about Eliab seems unappealing? Do you think that Osnath ever truly loves David? Does he love her?

4. Osnath is a proud and headstrong young woman. Do you think that these are flaws or virtues? Why?   In what ways do these traits help her? In what ways do they hinder her? Discuss.

5. Why does Eliab's s relationship and marriage with Adah cause Osnath so much grief and regret? Why does she ultimately change her mind about Eliab?

6. Discuss the birth of Adah's son. Why does Osnath risk everything she has to save Adah and the baby? How does this change her relationship with Adah?

7. In what ways are Ruth and Osnath similar? What parallel experiences do they have? 

8. What is nonetheless special about Ruth? What are her most outstanding personality traits?

9. Why is Ruth so taken with Naomi? What does Naomi have to offer her? Why does Ruth stay so close with the older woman, even after her husband dies?

10. What truly motivates Ruth to leave her land and her people and make her home in Bethlehem?

11. In what way does Ruth's relationship with Boaz differ from her previous connection with "The Unnamed", her secret lover?

12. Why was Ruth's initial reception in Bethlehem so cold and hostile and why did it change so dramatically later on? Did Ruth ever truly cease to be a Moabite and become an Israelite?

13. In the end, do you think Osnath was satisfied with the solution to Ruth's mystery? Were you? Why were Ruth's descendents so afraid to have the secret parts of Ruth's story revealed? Discuss.

14. Although this story takes place in biblical times, some of the issues Ruth deals with--unwanted pregnancy, religious persecution versus tolerance, religious conversion--are still relevant today. Discuss these issues as they relate to the time of the novel and the modern day. Have people progressed since biblical times? Are we any more adept at dealing with these situations than Ruth was?