(a female friend) a Moabitish woman, the wife, first of Mahlon, second of Boaz, the ancestress of David and Christ,and one of the four women who are named by St. Matthew in the genealogy of Christ. A severe famine in the land of Judah induced Elimelech, a native of Beth-lehem, or ephratah, to emigrate into the land of Moab, with his wife Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. This was probably about the time of Gideon. At the end of ten years Naomi now left a widow and childless, having heard that there was plenty again in Judah, resolved to return to Bethlehem, and her daughter-in-law Ruth returned with her. They arrived at Bethlehem just at the beginning of barley harvest, and Ruth, going out to glean, chanced to go into the field of wheat, a wealthy man and a near kinsman of her father-in-law, Elimelech. Upon learning who the stranger was, Boaz treated her with the utmost kindness and respect, and sent her home laden with corn which she had gleaned. Encouraged by this incident, Naomi instructed Ruth to claim at the hand of Boaz that he should perform the part of her husband’s near kinsman, by purchasing the inheritance of Elimelech and taking her to be his wife. With all due solemnity, Boaz took Ruth to be his wife, amidst the blessings and congratulations of their neighbors. Their son, Obed, was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David.
Smith's Bible Names Dictionary (1866).