Welcome to our Women in the Bible series this week we will meet Ruth.
Ruth, Book of Ruth
I am Ruth. My name means ‘compassion’. I was born in the land of Moab – 30 miles from Bethlehem. In those times, it was a huge distance for it had to be covered on foot or on donkey. The man I married had come from Bethlehem with his parents and brother because there was a famine there.
Soon after we were married, his father, brother and he died leaving 3 grieving widows. My mother-in-law Naomi decided to return to her own people in Bethlehem and urged both Orpah and I to return to ours. But I refused. “Your people will be my people Your God will be my God. Where you go I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.” And so we set off on the long road to Bethlehem. Although there was a welcome for Naomi in Bethlehem, we were still widows and now had to fend for ourselves. According to Jewish law, widows could glean corn from the edges of the fields and farmers left the edges for them to do this. Naomi told me to glean from the fields of one of her relatives; a man called Boaz, there I would be safe.
So I worked among the gleaners. It was a rough, rowdy group of mostly men who did backbreaking labour in the hopes of scraping up enough to feed their families. Boaz noticed me and gave his men instructions to leave extra for me. He told me to draw water from the men’s supply too.
Under Jewish law, the nearest kinsman to a widow could be obliged to marry/take care of her. So Naomi told me to go to the barn where Boaz would sleep during harvest and lie at his feet and see what happened. In doing this, I found out later it was like asking him to marry me. Boaz was an honourable man and so in the traditional way he went to the elders for a decision. There was someone closer than he was to me as a relative, but the man said he had quite enough family to look after and therefore Boaz became my Kinsman- Redeemer and free to marry me.
Boaz and I had a son, Obed, doted on by his grandmother, Naomi, and who in time would become an ancestor of Jesus.
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