The book of Ruth is a bridge between the days of Abraham’s descendants becoming a nation and the days of the kings leading the nation. It is set in the time of the Judges and is just a short little book but it tells us a lot about faith, commitment, and Jesus’ genealogy. It also gives us insight in to strength in a crisis, where to find hope, when to step out in faith, and even when to go home.
I’ve read this book many times in my life but always just as a history lesson. Not as a life lesson. I know that every book of the Bible is meant to teach us something but until recently, I wasn’t sure what that was for Ruth, aside from pointing out that Jesus comes from not just Israeli blood. That is, of course, covered several times in the Old Testament, Rehab is part of Jesus’ blood line as well, but I thought that was all God was showing us here. Not that his bloodline isn’t crucial, it is, of course, and probably needs to be explored further (I think I just found another blog topic!), but there are a lot of little nuggets in Ruth about faith, commitment and just a whole lot of other great stuff!
The book starts during a famine in Bethlehem. Naomi, her husband Elimelek, and their 2 sons, Mahlon and Kilion head to Moab to be able to feed their family. We’ll stop right there for a second. This is big. Moab wasn’t a friendly place for Israelites. Not even a little bit. I’m sure it took a lot of courage for these people to go there, but if you’re a parent, you know, you’ll do what you have to do to feed your family. Am I right?
So off they go to Moab. By the way, we’re only on verse 2 of this book. What happens in verse 3? Elimelek dies. So now Naomi is a widow with 2 sons in a hostile foreign country. The Bible doesn’t give a clear timeline of how long they were in Moab when this occurred or how old the boys were when they went there.
The boys married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth and after they had been together 10 years-and no children- both of the men, Mahlon and Kilion, died. That was in verse 5. I point that out because it’s clear this book is not about the men. It’s about the women that survived them and, well, how they survived!
At this point in the story, Naomi is completely overcome with grief. She’s lost her home, her husband, and now her sons, who left her with no heirs. In the ancient world, this was a tragedy beyond what we can imagine because she was now nothing in the eyes of society. Nothing. Her life meant nothing to anyone as far as society was concerned. She had no one to take care of her, and being a woman, that was required back then. I have to interject right here that I’m glad I didn’t live back then! Hahaha!
By this time, the famine was over in Bethlehem so Naomi was going to head back there. She headed out with Orpah and Ruth but told them to go back home where they may have a future. Orpah went on back to Moab but Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi.
This is where we’ll pick up our discussion next time! I just wanted to lay the groundwork for where we’re going. The backstory.
The book of Ruth wouldn’t take you long to read so I’d suggest doing so before we dig in. In my next post we’ll look into the dedication Ruth had to Naomi and what that can mean in our own lives!
Much love to you! I hope the rest of your week is blessed beyond measure!