The Book of Ruth sensitively portrays bonding and devotion between two women. [But also don’t miss Book of Judith for a surprising overturning of male/female roles: Judith sneaks into the enemy camps, cuts off the head of Holofernes, the leader of the enemy army, returns and receives a hero’s welcome, and then lives out the remainder of her days with her maidservants, rejecting all male suitors]
The final pledge of Ruth to Naomi – more moving in the King James Version than any other [including the Hebrew apparently] – is often used in heterosexual marriage ceremonies. But it is made between two women. This story may or may not be a “lesbian” story: many commentators reject such an interpretation, but others [such as Tom Horner in David Loved Jonathan support a lesbian reading.
Quite apart from the lesbian reading of this passage, note that the Bible reveals a major internal debate in the book of Ruth. The point of the story is that Ruth becomes the grandmother of King David, – but Ruth was a Moabite women. The Deuteronomic code, probably adopted about the time of Ezra and Nehemiah condemns marriages between Jews and non-Jews – a reflection of the problems and nationalism of post-exilic Judaism. Interestingly Deuteronomy and the book of Nehemiah do not agree as to the details – but both books would exclude King David from the “congregation of the Lord” – because he was within ten generations of a Moabite, and Nehemiah would exclude Jesus of Nazareth!
The Book of Ruth