Alright we get to wash a bit of the stench of that last section of Judges off of us and dive into Ruth today. It’s a story about a Gentile girl named Ruth who marries into a Jewish family. Unlike other parts of the Old Testament, it’s has the message that maybe those foreign devils really aren’t all bad after all.
Elimelech lived in Bethlehem with his wife and two sons, but is forced to move due to a localized famine. He takes his family over to the lands belonging to Moab, and he dies. His sons take two Moabite wives for themselves, but they die too.
So Naomi, Elimelech’s widow is in mourning, and probably sick of the place that reminds her of her loss, she returns home, hearing that the famine is over. Her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, go with her.
On the way, she tells them to go back home and marry again and have lots of kids, but they’re unwilling to leave her side, but she tries to convince them to leave again, and Orpah kisses her and returns home, but Ruth stays by her side and refuses to leave, so they return to Bethlehem. Naomi calls herself Mara, which means bitter, because she’s angry with what God has done to her.
Being two widows, they don’t have a lot of money, so Ruth persuades Naomi to let her go and glean in the fields. If you didn’t fall asleep during that whole law section we went through, gleaning was basically the welfare program of the day for the poor. Land owners had to leave the corners of their fields unharvested and couldn’t pick up any produce that they dropped on the ground while harvesting, it was to be left for the poor.
So Ruth is out picking crops, and the land owner, Boaz notices her.
Boaz: “Who’s the hot chick?”
Reaper: “That’s Ruth, she came back from Moab with Naomi.”
Boaz: “Hey, Ruth, uh, why don’t you just stick around here. Me casa su casa.”
Ruth: “What have I done to deserve your favor?”
Boaz: “Have you looked in a mirror lately, er, I mean… uh, you were very kind to your mother-in-law… yeah… Why don’t you have lunch with us?”
So they eat, and Boaz commands his servants to purposely drop bundles of grain in front of Ruth, so they comes back to Naomi with a huge bag of barley and Naomi, perhaps, not as naïve as Ruth, asks whose field she was working in that day, and she tells her. Boaz, is a relative of Elimelech, and Naomi tells her to stay and work Boaz’s fields.
Naomi realizes that Boaz is attracted to Ruth and that he has the power to marry her and buy back Elimelech’s lands, so she tells Ruth, to take a bath, put on perfume, put on her best clothes. Then she’s to wait and watch to see where Boaz lies down, and when he lies down and goes to sleep, Ruth is to, ahem, “uncover his feet.” That is, she is to uncover him basically from the hips down, and then lie next to him.
So she follows Naomi’s advice, and Boaz wakes up, finds himself naked, with a hot girl lying at his feet..
Boaz: “I’m not complaining, but what’s up?”
Ruth: “You’re my kinsman, will you marry me?”
Boaz: “Score! I mean, uh, yes, I will, but there’s a closer relative than I, so I need to go talk to him. If he won’t marry you, I will.”
So they sleep together (we’ll assume nothing untoward happened) until morning and he sends her home with another bag of barley and tells Naomi about what happened.
Boaz goes out the next morning and accosts this relative at the gate. He tells him about Naomi and Ruth and the other relative declines to buy their land and marry Ruth, so he takes off his shoe and gives it to Boaz and Boaz buys Naomi’s lands and marries Ruth.
And Ruth has a baby named Obed, and we’re given a little genealogy that links Ruth to King David, which may or may not be true, but is probably just trying to get the message across that Gentiles really aren’t horrible after all, look, our famous King David was part Moabite.
It’s a nice short story with a happily ever after ending.