Ruth’s story is so important that it is recorded in the Bible in a book that bears its own name. She was a Moabite woman who lived during the era of Israel’s judges – a period of great spiritual degradation for the nation – and although the Moabites were Israel’s enemies, she was married to a Jew named Mahlon, who moved from Bethlehem to Moab with your family during a time of famine. By marrying a Jew, Ruth joined not only her husband, but also the God of Israel.
Soon the story of this woman of faith became a sad drama, because in addition to not having children, she soon lost her husband who died at the same time as her brother. As her father-in-law had passed away, the women of the family were left alone. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, decided that she would return to her community in Israel and encouraged her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to remarry in Moab. But while Orpah reluctantly agreed, Ruth decided to go with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem and remain faithful to God (Ruth 1: 16,17).
Naomi and Ruth
As widows, her mother-in-law and daughter-in-law had to take care of themselves. So Naomi instructed Ruth according to Jewish traditions, so that she could provide a better life for them. The first custom was for farmers to leave behind the food that fell on the ground for the poor to collect to feed their families (Leviticus 23:22).
Naomi told Ruth to collect food for them in this way and while collecting food, she caught the attention of a landowner named Boaz. He heard of his loyalty to his mother-in-law and made sure that she could collect safely from his fields. When Naomi discovered that it was the fields of Boaz, she told Ruth that he was related to her husband, which was very important for the time.
The second Jewish costume reported in the book of Ruth, is that of the redemptive relative, who referred to a male relative who could act on behalf of another relative in danger or in need. In the case of a childless widow, the deceased husband’s brother or closest relative was the redemptive relative and this man had the right and even the responsibility to buy a property from the deceased husband and care for the widow.
Ruth and Boaz
Naomi prepared Ruth to approach Boaz to be her redeeming relative. Then, instructed by her mother-in-law, Ruth went to the threshing floor during the night to persuade Boaz to become a redeeming relative. Boaz consented to Ruth’s proposal and sent her home with a gift of six measures of barley. However, there was a relative closer than Boaz, who should refuse his right so that Boaz could marry Ruth.
Then, in the presence of ten city elders, Naomi’s closest relative had the opportunity to rescue the land that belonged to Elimelech – the late family patriarch – and to marry Ruth. But this relative gave up his right, which allowed Boaz to voluntarily accept his place and follow the traditions of levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25: 5-10).
Boaz married Ruth, and the couple’s first child was Obede, which means “servant”. With Obed’s birth, Naomi’s bitterness was softened and her descendants include King David and Jesus (Matthew 1: 5, 6).
What does Ruth’s story teach us?
Even in difficult times, we must maintain our Christian character and stand firm with God and with our fellow believers. After losing her husband and children, Naomi found herself alone and in misery asked her daughters-in-law to leave her. However, due to her strong character, Ruth did not abandon her mother-in-law, nor did she rebel against the Lord. Together, they got stronger and started a new chapter in their lives.
Ruth’s story shows that even if everything is going badly, we shouldn’t lose hope, because God can completely change our story. Another precious teaching is: it is worth working hard! Ruth did not hesitate to work even though it was a servile and tiring job, she did not consider her job humiliating, but rather it was humility and showed strength of character, being aware of her reality and need.
Anyway, it is impossible to talk about the story of this emblematic character without talking about family relationships. Naomi and Ruth had everything to “go wrong”, considering the fact that one was Moabite and the other Israelite, but the differences between them were nothing close to their faith in God. Do you keep fighting with someone in your family? Remember that through faith you can learn to live in harmony and pray for that person.
God bless you!
Follow Bible JFA on social media: @bibleofflineapp. If you have not yet downloaded our app, just search for “Bible Offline” by Mr Rocco in the app stores (Google Play Store and Apple App Store).