Essay, Research Paper
A Summary of the Book of Ruth
By Sharon C. Martinez
The book of Ruth is found in the Old Testament of the Bible, it is one of the five scrolls. It takes place in a time of Jewish history when the judges ruled over Israel from 1370 to 1010 BC. The story tells of Naomi wife of Elimelech of the tribe of Judah. Elimelech moved his family from the Promised Land to Moab during a severe famine. Naomi stayed in land of Moab for 10 years, during this time she lost her husband and two sons. Naomi returned to her hometown of Bethlehem impoverished. Her Moabite daughter in law Ruth insist on following Naomi proclaiming your ?people will be my people, your home my home, your God will be my God.? Out of concern for her mother in law, Ruth begins to glean in the fields. She happens to be gleaning in the field of a wealthy kinsman named Boaz. At this point Ruth is unaware that Boaz can redeem her. Boaz has heard of Ruth?s kindness towards Naomi and treats her well ordering his servants to leave a little grain behind and to not rebuke her but to treat her well. By the end of the harvest Naomi knows Boaz is a near redeemer kinsman and advises Ruth to seek out Boaz by night on the threshing floor. Ruth entreats Boaz to accept responsibility of the next of kin and to redeem the fortunes of the family. Boaz agrees, but does not dishonor Ruth on the threshing floor for he knows there is a kinsman nearer then he. After dutifully asserting that the nearer kinsman will not take responsibility, Boaz lawfully takes Ruth for his wife. She bears a son, who is given to Naomi. The child?s name is Obed. He is to become the Grandfather of King David.
Ruth was a woman of courage, faith, and loyalty. She proves this by following her mother- in- law into a land hostile to the Moabite people. Ruth is faithful to her mother in law even though she could bear no more sons. Ruth proves her loyalty by not gleaning in any other field and going to the threshing floor of Boaz as Naomi asked her to. Scripture tells us in Deut. 23:3 that no Moabite could enter the temple of the Lord down to tenth generation. We also read in scripture that the Israelites were forbidden to take a wife from the Moabites presumably because the Moabite people came from the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters. The Moabite culture was similar to that of the Hebrew and they also shared the same language. The country was not that far in modern time?s apprioxamenttly 50 miles from Bethlehem. According to the (Catholic Encyclopedia Volume X), the highlands are the great bulk of these territories. They form a table-land about 3000 feet above the Mediterranean, or 4300 feet above the dead sea, rising slowly from north to south, having steep western slopes, and separated eastward from the desert by low, rolling hills. The geology of this almost trees less plateau is the same as that of the range of western Palestine, but its climate is decidedly colder. In the spring, its limestone hills are covered with grass and wildflowers, and parts of the plateau are now sown with corn. In Old Testament times, Moab was an excellent pastureland (IV kings iii, 4) and its population was much more considerable than at present day. At the time that Naomi went into the land there was a period of friendly intercourse between Moab and Israel.
The Moabites were polytheists. They worshipped Chamos as their national god; they also worshipped Asthar and Baal. Their religion is not fully known but it is a common belief that they sacrificed humans and did many impure rituals in there worship of foreign gods. No wonder the Lord commanded his people to steer clear of these pagans and there practices.
The Biblical account starts of telling us that the Judges ruled over Israel and that the land was experiencing a severe famine. Elimelech in a weakened spiritual condition took his family to stay in the land of Moab. I have to question this decision because the Bible does not tell us of any others migrating out of Israel which leads me to believe that the famine was not so severe that he could have survived it. Why did he not choose to suffer with his people in the Promised Land? Elimelech was the father of two sons named Mahlon and Kilion, which meant sickness and consumption. Were these names prophetic of the coming time to the family or simply were they named that way due to the lack Elimelech and Naomi were experiencing in the land of Bethlehem at the time of birth? Elimelech died in the land of the Moabites I wonder if his bones were buried in his hometown or did they lay him to rest in a foreign country and not the Promised Land? After his death, his sons married Moabite women; one named Oprah and the other one named Ruth, transgressing the commandments of God. Soon after they also died.
Ten years later Naomi impoverished, broken, and barren, hears that the Lord is providing for his people. She longs for the familiar surroundings of home. Naomi packed her belongings and headed for her homeland, her daughters- in- law journeyed with her all the way she is talking to them of the Jewish customs. Custom by custom they moving further from Moab. Oprah begins to wonder if she can live life accordingly and Naomi begins to wonder if her Moabite daughters in law could handle the strict convents by which the Jewish people lived. Naomi bid her two daughters- in- laws to go home, but they urged her to let them continue. Naomi persisted until finally Oprah wept and kissed her mother in law goodbye. Ruth clung to Naomi pleading with her to not insist she return to Moab. Was Ruth so hungry to see the works of the mighty God that she would leave her family and country? Surely she had heard how the Lord continually delivered and provided for his people. Did she long to see him act on her behalf. She said to ?Naomi your God shall be my God, you?re home my home and your people, my people.? (King James)
Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem at the time of the Barley harvest. God had provided a way of escape even though it was not yet made plain. Without food or provision and no man in the household to care for them, the humble Ruth asked if she could glean in the fields, in other words, she said I would beg for food to feed us. Naomi agreed what a desperate state she had been reduced to.
Ruth gleaned all day in the fields with people she did not know. Not having permission from the landowner and scarcely gathering a morsel, she continued till evening. Boaz the landowner arrived and greeted his workers favorably apparently pleased with the way things were going for he blessed his workers. I can see Boaz looking over his fields and noticing a young woman, he has not hired, and asks his foreman who is this woman gleaning in my fields. They explained to Boaz she is Ruth the Moabite the daughter- in- law of Naomi. Even though Ruth has forsaken all for her new country, she is still looked upon as a foreigner and stranger in their land. She is not only a foreigner but also a poor woman. Ruth has left all. I?m sure the bread flowed freely in the land of Moab and here no one will even invite them to dinner. She has become a beggar and she is well aware of her lowly state. Boaz commands his young men to leave a little grain behind for her. He approaches Ruth and speaks kindly to her entreating her to not glean in another field but to stay in his fields where she is safe. Ruth bows to the ground at Boaz?s feet she is deeply grateful for the kindness. She is restored in her herself that she has found kindness in the land of the living. All of the sudden she is no longer a beggar or thief she has permission to stay with Boaz?s girls and drink from their water. Surely she raised her voice in thankfulness to the God of Naomi who has now become her Lord God.
Naomi is waiting. Evening has now come and where is Ruth. Naomi is watching for the only person who still loves her and cares for her. She sees Ruth coming with almost an ephah of wheat, Naomi is amazed and asks who has showed you this kindness. Tears of joy fall from her eyes, for she knows God has not deserted her but how, who would be so generous. Ruth where have you been gleaning at Naomi asks excitedly. Ruth tells her of the days events. Naomi blesses the Lord for she knows that Boaz is a Redeemer Kinsman. Naomi then tells Ruth, do exactly as this man tells you for he is a kinsman. That night Naomi slept well, blessing the Lord for all his kindness for he has not left her barren.
At the instruction of Boaz and Naomi, Ruth stays in Boaz?s fields all through the barley harvest gleaning with his servant girls. She worked all day in the fields and then made her way into town to return to Naomi, bringing her the days work. Ruth must have been treated very well since all knew she was closely related to Boaz. It was also well known among the people of Bethlehem that she had forsaken all to stay with Naomi. Loyalty and faithfulness where well regarded in those days as in our society today.
As the harvest was coming to a close, Naomi says to Ruth,? should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for?? (The International Inductive Study Bible 1995)? Is not Boaz a near kinsman of ours? Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but do not let him know that you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.? (The International Inductive study Bible 1995). Naomi must have been deeply concerned for this young woman who had showed her so much kindness. It was the end of the harvest, what would happen to Ruth now? I imagine Naomi daily asking the Lord what should be the future of Ruth. As she prayed and sought the Lord he gave her wisdom and direction. She was attentive and open to his leading, as we should be. Naomi tells her daughter in law to lay at the man?s feet and do whatever he tells you. What confidence Naomi had in hearing the Lord and the honorableness of Boaz. Certainly she had heard from God or else why would she ask Ruth to comprise her life. I wonder what the consequences would have been had Boaz behaved himself indifferently towards Ruth. Ruth had the utmost faith and trust in the advice of Naomi for indeed she went in unto Boaz and lay at his feet. Boaz knowing there was a nearer kinsman then he did not dishonor Ruth but sent her away full of grain and promises. He also blesses her for not choosing to run after younger or richer men then he. Ruth returns home while it is still dark because, Boaz has instructed her to tell no one that she had spent the night wanting to protect her from talk within the town.
Ruth ran eagerly home to Naomi to tell her of the news. What an anxious time waiting to see who would redeem her? Naomi encourages Ruth? Do not worry she says for the man will not rest until the matter is settled.?(KJV)
Boaz takes the elders of the town and redeems Ruth according to their customs and laws. He leaves no room for another to say he has dealt dishonorable with the maid or her mother in law. Boaz obtains the blessing of the elders and takes Ruth to be his wife. God opens her womb and she bares him a son. Ruth gives the child to Naomi to rear as her own. (Matthew Henry 1952) beautiful articulates there relationship like this. ?The child would be a comforter to his aged grandmother restorer of her life, and, if there should be an occasion, would have wherewithal to be the nourisher of her old age?. (King James Bible) chapter seventeen says ?and the woman her neighbors gave it a name saying, there is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed?: he is the father of Jesse the father of David. We all know our savior the Lord Jesus Christ came from this lineage.
This whole account leads me to believe that the book is an example of Jesus? redemption of us. In a small scale view only because no natural man could have done what the Son of God did for us. I believe God was using examples to lead to the greatest love story ever written this story points us to Jesus.
The book of Ruth has for years held a special place in my heart. I?ve often compared parts of my life to this story. I?ve tried to model myself after Ruth?s devotion to the God of her mother in law that has become her God. When Oprah turned back to her god?s Ruth hung on tighter. She left family, land, and everything she ever knew for this great love. This story means so much to me because when I was fifteen I moved to Colorado with my brother, leaving my parents and family behind. Several months later I met a young man who in time would become my husband. I was raised in a home that knew of God but not Jesus is our savior or of his work on the cross. My future mother- in- law knew the one true living God. She devoted much time towards helping to find and know Jesus as my savior, she spent hours praying with me and for me, she gave me all her knowledge in the word and challenged me to go deeper to seek more and find treasures of my own. My life has been one of following after the God of my mother in law who has now become my God. Like Ruth I have clung to my mother- in- law and our God. In seventeen wonderful years of marriage, I only go to my hometown to visit. The Lord has truly redeemed me.
The International Inductive Study Bible
1995 Percept Ministries Published by Harvest House Publishers
Matthew Henry?s Commentary Joshua to Esther
Mac Donald Publishing Company 1708
New King James Version
Thomas Nelson Publishers 1979
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X
Robert Appleton Company 1911