The Book of Ruth

Naomi entreating Ruth to follow Orpah by William Blake

Ruth – NIV archaeological study Bible: An Illustrated walk through Biblical history and culture. (2005). Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan. 9780310938521.

Ruth was the fourth book I completed in the Read through the Bible Challenge. Another “History,” this book comes after Judges in the Christian Bible. Ruth differs greatly from the other “History” books in that it seemed like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. Also, I read the whole book in one sitting.

In the time of the Hebrew Judges, a famine drove an Israelite family from Bethlehem into Moab. They were Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their sons Mahlon and Chilion. Elimelech died in Moab and both his sons took Moabite wives – Ruth and Orpah respectively. Then, Mahlon and Chilion died. Naomi embarked on a trip back to Bethlehem and her daughters-in law followed. When Naomi insisted these widows return to Moab, Orpah did so. Yet, Ruth eloquently stays with her mother-in law.

Upon their arrival, Naomi called herself Mara for the Lord has dealt with her bitterly. Ruth began gleaning the fields of Boaz, a cousin of the late Elimelech. Boaz permitted this due to Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi. From this point forward, Naomi pushes Ruth towards marriage with Boaz.

This book is part of the Hebrew Tanakh, more specifically the The Five Megillot. Ruth is remarkable in that this book relates a story of a non-Israeli woman who ultimately becomes part of the line of David and then Jesus Christ. While I may be uncomfortable with Naomi’s methods for ensnaring Boaz as a husband for Ruth, I did admire both Ruth and Boaz. Also, this book bears another one of my favorite passages from the Bible. The passage is often voiced during weddings but it began as something a devoted daughter-in law said to her mother-in law.

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. (Ruth 1:16-18)

For more on Ruth and Bible-Reading Challenge, check out the following links:

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