The Book of Ruth is the eighth book in the order of the canon of Sacred Scriptures as assembled in the English bible. It comes after the Book of Judges and precedes the Book of 1 Samuel. The Book of Ruth is the personal story of a Moabite woman. She was not an Israelite, but the writer tells a moving story of Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law, her journey to Israel, and her subsequent marriage to Boaz.
Years earlier before the story began, Elimelech, a Hebrew, migrated along with his wife, Naomi, and two sons to Moab during a famine. In time, the two sons married Moabite women. Then Naomi’s husband died, and later her two sons also died. No explanation is given as to the cause of their deaths, but they left behind a grieving mother and two young wives—her daughters-in-law, who had as yet not given birth to any children. Left alone with no one to care for her, Naomi decides to return to Israel, broken in grief from the loss of her husband and two sons.
Unlike Orpah, the daughter-in-law who decided to stay in Moab, Ruth loved Naomi and decided to return to Israel with her grieving mother-in-law. In Israel, the two women struggled to put food on the table. According to the law at that time, a woman always lived under the care of a man—her father, her husband, or her son. These two women had no one, so they were forced to gather barley and wheat that had not been picked up with the bulk of the crop at harvest. This brought Ruth to the field of a man by the name of Boaz.
Boaz was a man who owned property and had achieved some degree of prosperity. More importantly, he was a relative of Mahlon, Ruth’s deceased husband. If a young man died, the law required the next of kin to assume the care of his widow. The law intended that the man would take her as his wife and, hopefully, the union would give birth to a son who could eventually assume the responsibility of caring for the family. He would keep the name of the deceased alive and will eventually inherit the property of his mother’s first husband. Boaz was this man, a kinsman redeemer.
When Boaz accepted this legal responsibility, he married Ruth. From that moment on, Boaz was the protector and provider for Ruth, his wife, and Naomi, her mother-in-law.
The story has a happy ending. Ruth gives birth to a son, whom they named Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of Israel’s greatest king, David. It is the story of a young widow, a native of the rival tribe of Moab, who demonstrates a deep loyalty to the mother of her deceased husband, adopts the religion of Israel as her own, and, in the end, becomes one of the mothers in the lineage of King David’s greater Son, Jesus Christ.
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