In the time of the judges, the neighboring pagan peoples
were constant enemies of the Israelites. There were occasions though when
several pagans from these people accepted faith in the true God, and then the
Israelites considered them as their fellow-tribesmen. Such a person was the
Moabite Ruth. This is her story.
In Bethlehem, Judah, lived a man, whose name was Elimelech, with his wife
Naomi. They had two sons, Mahlon and Chilian. During the famine Elimelech was
obliged to move with his family to the land of Moab. There Elimelech soon died. His sons married the Moabites
Orpah and Ruth, and after living with them not more than ten years, they both
died. The widow Naomi remained with her daughters-in-law.
When Naomi heard that the Lord had sent a rich
harvest to the Israelite land, she decided to return to her homeland. She and
both her daughters-in-law went.
On the way Naomi began to urge them to return
home, saying to them, "Go, return each of you to your motherís house. May
the Lord grant you mercy for the way you dealt with the dead and with me,"
and she kissed them. The daughters-in-law sobbed and cried and did not want to
leave her, but one of them, Orpah, with tears, obeyed Naomi and returned home.
But Ruth said, "Whither thou goest, I will
go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people and thy
God my God. Where thou diest, will I die and there will I be buried."
Naomi and Ruth, coming to the land of the
Israelites, settled in the town of Bethlehem and lived on the wheat which Ruth
picked up from the harvested fields. This was enough for sustenance, since it
is written in the Law of God, "And when ye reap the harvest of your
land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou
gather the gleanings of thy harvest; thou shalt leave them for the poor and the
stranger" (Lev. 19:9-10).
The Lord God rewarded Ruth for her attachment and
respectfulness towards her mother-in-law. The Israelites had a law: if one of
them died, not leaving children, then the nearest relative had to marry the
widow of the person who died, and the children from this marriage were
considered the dead manís children. This law was called the Levinite Law.
At this time in Bethlehem there lived a rich man,
Boaz, a relative of Ruthís dead husband. According to Levinite Law, Boaz
married the poor Moabite Ruth. When a son was born to them, Obed, women said to
Naomi, "Blessed be the Lord, Who hath not left thee this day without a
kinsmen, that his name may be famous in Israel." Naomi rejoiced and was
In fact Obedís name was glorified in Israel, for
he was the father of Jesse, the father of King David.
the Book of Ruth.
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