Moab women - one
named Orpah and the other Ruth, and they dwelt there about ten
years. Then great sorrow came to them, for first Elimelech and
then his two sons died and Naomi was left alone with her two
Since the famine
was now over in the own her own country, Naomi decided to return
to Bethlehem, where she had relatives. Orpah and Ruth wept and
grieved that Naomi was leaving, but Naomi felt it was better for
them to remain with their families in their own land, where they
might remarry. Orpah returned to her people, but Ruth said,
"Ask me not to leave you. Where you go, I will go; and where
you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your
God, my God." When Naomi saw that Ruth would be happier going
with her, she no longer urged her to return to her people. So the
two set forth and journeyed until they came to Bethlehem.
The women who had
known Naomi in the old days came to greet her. When they saw her
they said, "Is this Naomi?" for she looked so much older
and sadder. And she said, "Call me not Naomi; call me Mara,
for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me."
It was the
beginning of the barley harvest in Bethlehem. Having no store of
food or means of support, Ruth said to Naomi, "Let me go to
the fields to gather up barley and ears of corn so that we may
eat." And she went and gleaned after the reapers in the
fields of Boaz - a wealthy man of the town.
No Boaz came from
Bethlehem to see how the harvest was progressing. Boaz asked the
overseer, "Who is this strange young woman?" The
overseer answered, "It is Ruth, who came back from the land
of Moab with Naomi. She has been working hard all morning."
Boaz went over to
Ruth and addressed her kindly, for he had heard the people speak
highly of her for her great loyalty to Naomi. "Stay and glean
in these fields and eat and drink with the others," he said.
As she went back
to her work, Boaz ordered the young men, "Let her glean among
the sheaves and reproach her not. And let fall some extra handfuls
on purpose that she may gather plenty."
When Ruth told
Naomi where she had worked, Naomi said, "Blessed be he of the
Lord who is kind to the living and to the dead. Boaz is a kinsman
of Elimelech's - it is good that you should glean with his maidens
and not in any other field."
There was one
kinsman more closely related to Naomi than Boaz. According to
Hebrew custom, the nearest of kin has first right to buy the
property of a dead man and to marry his widow.
Now Boaz wished
to marry Ruth, so he went up to the city gate with the elders of
the city to advertise that he wished to buy the property of
Elimelech and to marry Ruth. The nearer kinsman greed to give up
his right. According to the way in Israel, he drew off his shoe
before witnesses an gave it to Boaz to seal the bargain.
Knowing that Ruth
had found favor in the eyes of Boaz and that she returned his
affection, Naomi said one evening: "Anoint yourself, dress in
your very best, and this night go where Boaz is sleeping on the
threshing floor, and there lie at his feet."
Ruth did as her
mother-in-law commanded. When Boaz awoke, he saw Ruth, and his
heart was stirred. "You are blessed, Ruth, for you are
virtuous and loyal, and have not sought after the young men."
So Ruth and Boaz
were married - and all the people that were about were highly
pleased that their neighbor had found such a good wife. And they
compared Ruth to Rachel and Leah, who first built up the house of
Naomi was happy,
for as her neighbors said, "Your daughter-in-law loves you
and has been better to you than seven sons could be." But she
was soon to be happier still, for Ruth bore a fine young son, and
Naomi became his nurse.
The boy was named
Obed, who when he grew up was the father of Jesse and the
grandfather of David.