Hesed in Ruth: A Frail Moral Tool in an Inflexible Social Structure

Gili Kugler, Ohad Magori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars have paid much attention to the attribute of hesed in the book of Ruth, pinpointing it as a pivotal feature and the main message of the book. However, the protagonists in the tale do not seem to exhibit hesed out of free will or as part of their natural conduct. They rather resort to such a maneuver in order to survive and extricate themselves from dire predicaments. This article argues that the virtue of hesed attributed to the protagonists in the book of Ruth reflects a mechanism for surviving in the confining communal structure of the Judean patriarchal society, which allowed limited social mobility. While the actions exhibited in the story can be argued to be an amendment of the previous generations’ perversions, the story effectively accepts and preserves the common inflexible social system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number604
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • book of Ruth
  • divine intervention
  • endogamy
  • foreign women
  • hesed
  • levirate marriage
  • patriarchal society
  • poverty
  • social mobility
  • social perversions
  • social rigidness
  • widowhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Hesed in Ruth: A Frail Moral Tool in an Inflexible Social Structure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this