Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week we’re going to study the story of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz in the Bible. This is a long story, we don’t have time to read the whole thing today. Read it all in the Book of Ruth. The context is that Israel has now settled in the promised land. Lots of amazing things happened during that time, that this series unfortunately doesn’t cover, but they now live in their own land. It hasn’t been easy, and so God has grudgingly given them a system of judges to lead them.
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. (Ruth 1:1-5 ESV)
Starts with a Jewish man named Elimelech moves his family to the land of the Moabites to escape a famine at home. He settles there with his wife Naomi and two sons, and they both marry local women – Ruth and Orpah. They took a huge risk – leaving the promised land, leaving the nation of Israel, and disobeying God’s laws by intermarrying with Moabites, who were normally enemies of Israel.
For a while, it seems like Naomi has it all, as much as a woman can have in her society. She has sons – they ensure that she and her husband have security and comfort in life, in old age especially.But then all the men die, and so the women are left in a foreign country with no legal rights to any property. In a society dominated by men, they have no power, no resources at all, and no way to generate any more.
But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. (Ruth 1:8 ESV)
She tells her daughters to do what they can to survive, and not to worry about her. Go find husbands here in your homeland, leave me to fend for myself in Israel.
Next, Ruth promises never to leave her with these famous words:
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16-17 ESV)
She could be a free agent, able to travel where she wishes, find a husband who will support her. But she chooses to commit herself to looking after an elderly widow. Nice girl.
Together they travel back to the land of Judah to try and take ownership of Elimelech’s old land. They find themselves basically begging for food, eating what the harvesters leave behind in fields, while they wait for someone to help.
A landowner named Boaz goes out of his way to help them, giving Ruth far more help than what he had to do by law. He gives Ruth the right to collect and eat what his workers leave behind in his fields, drink their water, and more.
When he and Ruth find themselves alone, and her very powerless, Boaz has an opportunity to take advantage of her, but doesn’t give in to the temptation. We miss it, but there is lots of sexual imagery in this passage. He eventually marries Ruth, they have a son, and they give him to Naomi so she will be okay.
Question: What do you think is the point of this story?