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-Unconditional Selfless Love-
The story of Ruth, a young widow, who faithfully loves and supported her elderly mother-in-law, provides an important equilibrium because of the decline of national spiritual and moral decay. It was at the time before Israel had a king but there were still pockets of faith although many had embraced pagan ways and idols.
Judges, who were God's servants continued the teaching of God's Laws and of His Righteousness during this degenerating period of time in Israel's history.
In approximately 1300 B.C. a famine in the
area forced a distinguished family of Judah's aristocracy, (who were
descendants and relatives of Prince Salmon and Rahab, the woman who
helped the Israeli spies hide in Jericho) Elimelech, his wife, Naomi and his two sons, move from
to the neighbouring nation of Moab (descendants of Lot, Abraham's
The sons married two Moabite women, which was against Mosaic Law but
tolerated under certain conditions.
Ruth was one of the Moabites married to one of Elimelech's sons. Jewish tradition claims her to be a Moabite princess, the daughter of King Eglon of Moab. (Later on in history King David, a descendant of Ruth, and because of her commended his parents to the care of the King of Moab in a time of crisis).Over the period of ten years, all three women were widowed.
Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem for the famine had long been over and her late husband had land there, but entreated her daughters-in-law to stay in Moab, their own country. Ruth, one of the Moabite daughters-in-law commited herself to go with Noami and entrusted herself to the True Living God, with an oath, "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. May the Lord deal with me ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me", the other, Orpah decided to remain in Moab.
Naomi would have lived a godly life in Moab for Ruth to see the difference in worship of gods and worship of The True God. Ruth's decision to leave Moab was a conversion from pagan gods to serve God. She showed great unconditional loyalty and selfless love to Naomi, her mother-in-law. This love was by the grace of God from the young widow toward her embittered mother-in-law, for the degree of loyalty shown was very rare and her pure devotion was extrordinary. Ruth is recoded as the most disinguished Moabite in the Bible.
Ruth faced an unknown situation, similar to Abraham, leaving all behind, forsaking all she had known to commit herself to God and her future by faith, not aware of what lay ahead of her in a foreign land. She did not seek pity and showed strong maturity of faith, greater than her mother-in-law, Noami.
Ruth had many issues against her, for she lived in a cultural time when women were honoured if they had children and the women depended upon husbands for their welfare. Communities were close amongst themselves, Ruth was in poverty and a foreigner. She was socially vulnerable to ill treatment by others because of her situation.
Naomi returned home a bitter, poor woman, for she had left Bethlehem a much more prosperous, happier person than when she returned.All the city was interested in Naomi's return, for she was well known by all. She and Ruth had no means of support so Ruth gathered the left over grain from the harvest fields of barley for them both. The Law of Moses requires that the poor be permitted to follow harvesters as they gleaned. Ruth was not ashamed to gather grain among the poor and the outcast of society nor her lowly status of work.
The owner of the field Ruth chose was Boaz, a man of great wealth, son of Salmon and Rahab, a person of noble character and of high standing in the community, (son of Rahab who was saved from the destruction of the city of Jericho because she helped the people of Israel) noticed Ruth, he knew of her good reputation and her faithfulness to her mother-in-law Naomi, and she was recognized by all in Bethlehem that she believed in God. It was not by mere chance that it happened to be Boaz's field in which she chose to gather the barley grain.
Boaz demonstrated extraordinary concern for Ruth and Naomi's provision. He told Ruth to continue to gather the barley in his field and he would give her protection. Privately he told his reapers to purposely leave sheaves behind for her. God faithfully provided for the two needy widows. Noami also agreed that Ruth should gather the grain from Boaz's field only, for he was a godly blood relative of her late husband, and therefore he was a potential 'kinsman redeemer'.
A kinsman redeemer was a close influential relative to whom members of the extended family turned for help, usually in a family crisis when land or any possessions were in danger of being lost. The kinsman redeemer was to buy back family land, buy back enslaved relatives, provide an heir for a dead brother or blood relative by a special marriage called levirite marriage. A kinsman redeemer was also the avenger regarding the killing of a relative and carer for all relatives in difficult circumstances.
Naomi told Ruth how to propose marriage to Boaz and sent her to the public threshing floor. Boaz slept at the threshing floor to protect his grain from theft. Ruth had the right to ask Boaz for marriage but he had the right to refuse her.
Boaz had been willing to help the two widows from the beginning and was grateful to Ruth that she was willing to be his wife, for he was a few years older than Ruth. He was impressed with her accepting sincerely the Hebrew laws, which meant conforming one's life to the will of God through obedience which can only come from trust and belief in Him, and he was overwhelmed by her own virtue and her godly loyalty and kindness to Noami. Boaz spoke to relatives and the elders at the city gate who gathered there for official business and announced his intentions to buy Noami's field, Ruth's inheritance, and marry the foreign daughter-in -law. They were all unopposed to Boaz's plans.
Boaz and Ruth were married and became parents to a son they called Obed. Ruth became the great grandmother of King David. Naomi never turned away from God's help and the child of Boaz and Ruth, came to be born in what seemed to the two widows such a hopeless situation at the beginning. The child was such a blessing from God to forget all the past tragedies, that had happened to the women.
Through her grandson Naomi renewed her life and was sustained in her old age. Because of Ruth's constant devotion she was satified and happy and all the other women of the City were filled with joy for her, she now had a kinsman-redeemer herself.The virtues of Ruth are the outstanding qualities that are the foundation on which happiness and relationships are built.
Ruth's story is in The Book of Ruth in The Old Testament, the only other woman to have a book in the Bible after her name is Queen Esther. Ruth's obedience and willingness to embrace God, was rewarded greatly. She married into wealth, and bore a son, no longer a childless widow, no longer a foreigner, but an Israelite and member of the family ancestral line of Jesus.Boaz redeeming a foreigner points to Jesus redeeming all, Jew or non-Jew who believe.
Jesus, The Christ is the Kinsman Redeemer of mankind, by His death he reconciled man back to God, saving many from the loss of their souls, those who accept Him as their Lord and Saviour.
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Last updated August 2017