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Ruth

Naomi and Ruth

[Ruth 1] Naomi, together with her husband and two sons, leaves Bethlehem because of a famine in the land and goes to live in Moab. Her husband dies before her two sons marry Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Her sons then die leaving Naomi and her daughters-in-law alone. Naomi hears that the famine is over in Canaan and decides to return to her home. On the way she tells her two daughters-in-law that they should return to their own people and find new husbands there. They initially refuse, but Orpah agrees and returns home. Ruth, however, insists on staying with her mother-in-law, giving her a wonderful declaration of love. They arrive in Bethlehem when the barley harvest is about to begin.

Ruth meets Boaz

[Ruth 2] Now Naomi and Ruth are destitute, so Ruth is sent to glean in the fields after the reapers. She is gleaning in Boaz’s field when he notices her and enquires after her. Boaz, hearing of her story, speaks to Ruth and tells her to glean only in his field and to take refreshments with his servants. He then tells his servants not to hinder her gleaning and to even let a little extra fall for her to collect. She collects so much that she has to beat it before returning to Naomi in the evening. When Naomi is told all that had happened, she realises Ruth had chanced upon the field of a near kinsman, Boaz. Ruth is told to continue gleaning in Boaz’s field and not to go to any other. This she does until the end of the harvest.

Ruth and Boaz at the threshing floor

[Ruth 3] At winnowing time, Naomi gives Ruth instructions on how to get Boaz as her husband (by means of the custom of Levirite marriage, as he is a near kinsman). That evening, Naomi follows her instructions and Boaz responds favourably, but has to tell her there is a nearer kinsman than he. The night’s events are kept secret and Ruth is sent home to Naomi with six measures of barley, which Naomi recognises as a sign that Boaz intends to fulfil his role as kinsman redeemer, seven being the number of completeness.

Boaz marries Ruth

[Ruth 4] The next morning, Boaz tells the nearer kinsman of the situation and, in front of witnesses, offers him the opportunity to be her kinsman redeemer. The offer is declined and Boaz is free to marry Ruth. They have a son who is named Obed by Naomi’s neighbours. Obed is to be the father of Jesse, who is to be the father of King David.

Hierarchical Précis