Story 14 - Ruth

An interesting love story!

Before Israel was ruled by kings, when the judges ruled, Elimelech lived in the town of Bethlehem. His wife was named Naomi, and they had two sons.There was a famine in the land, and the family were struggling to find food and so they moved to Moab, Israel’s ancient enemy. While they were there, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi with only her two sons. Eventually they married Moabite women, one named Orpah, and the other Ruth. As Moabites, they knew very little of the God of Israel, the God of Naomi and her sons. But they were good and kind, and Naomi loved them very much.

 About ten years later, Naomi’s sons also died. Now Naomi had no husband or sons! So widowed and childless Naomi decided to return home to Bethlehem. She thanked her daughters-in-law for all their kindness and strongly encouraged them to return to their mothers. At first they both refused but Naomi persisted saying, “Bethlehem is no place for Moabite women. My people will not accept you. You'll be strangers there.” Orpah finally agreed with Naomi, and she kissed her mother-in-law good-bye and went back to her mother’s home. Ruth continued to plead with Naomi, “Please don't tell me to leave you and return home! I will go where you go, I will live where you live; your people will be my people, your God will be my God. I will die where you die and be buried beside you. May the Lord punish me if we are ever separated, even by death!” When Naomi saw Ruth’s determination she stopped telling her to go. They began their journey back to Bethlehem.

When Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, the barley harvest was just beginning. With no husbands to support them, the women had to glean in the fields, which meant following the harvesters to pick up any grain left behind. Ruth went out to glean in a field owned by a rich man named Boaz, who, as it turned out, was a relative of Naomi's husband. Boaz told his harvesters to look after Ruth as he is impressed by the loyalty she has shown Naomi. He ensured she had water to drink and food to eat at lunchtime.

Ruth worked in the fields until the barley and then the wheat were harvested. And all this time she lived with Naomi.

Naomi felt it was time for Ruth to find a husband and have her own home. She decided to help out in this and thought Boaz would be a good match! She instructed Ruth to take off her widow’s clothes and put on her best dress and go to where Boaz was working. When he had finished work and eaten Boaz would lie down on the threshing floor to rest. Ruth was to creep in, lift his blanket and lie down at his feet. By doing this, she was asking him for protection and for marriage.

Ruth did what Naomi had told her!

Boaz, initially surprised to find a woman lying at his feet in the middle of the night, agreed, “I’ll do what you have asked. You are respected by everyone in town. It's true that I am one of the relatives who is supposed to take care of you, but there is someone who is an even closer relative. Stay here until morning, then I will find out if he is willing to look after you. If he isn't, I promise by the living God to do it myself. Now go back to sleep until morning,” which Ruth did. Before daylight, Ruth left and went home and told Naomi everything that had happened.

Meanwhile, Boaz had gone to the meeting place at the town gate and was sitting there when the other close relative came by. After some discussion the other relative decided it was the best thing for Boaz to marry the Moabite Ruth, so Boaz did!

And then they had a son Obed… who Naomi helped look after.

Obed’s son was Jesse and Jesse’s son was a shepherd boy named David who fights a giant! We will hear about him another time.