Today we’re doing the whole book of Ruth…4 chapters…2 pages…
While I’m happy to be marking another book off my to-do list, I’m seriously disappointed that there are only two books in the whole Bible named after a woman, and this one is only 2 measly pages.
Chapter 1- There is a famine in the land, so Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons move to Moab. Elimelech dies. The sons take wives, Orpah and Ruth, then they both die. Naomi decides to move back to Bethlehem in Judah, and tells her daughters-in-law to move back in with their mothers and try again to find a husband. Orpah does, but Ruth says she plans to stay with Naomi no matter what. Naomi decided to change her name to Mara (which means bitter) because her husband and sons are dead. When they arrive in Bethlehem, it is the time of the barley harvest.
After Naomi renames herself Mara, the Bible continues to refer to her as Naomi. What was the point of including that tidbit, if we aren’t going to respect her name choice?
I feel like there needs to be a mother-in-law joke in here somewhere. But, how to do you hate on a mother-in-law that is apparently so awesome that Ruth would rather move to another country with her than return home? Or maybe Ruth’s actual family is really awful…
Chapter 2- Boaz is a relative of Elimelech, and Ruth decides to go glean barley from his field during the harvest. Boaz takes a liking to her, and tells his servants to leave some extra grain behind for her, as well as offers her lunch. Some very conservative flirting passes between Ruth and Boaz. Ruth works really hard and gathers a lot of barley. Naomi is happy to see how much grain Ruth brought home.
I don’t have much to say about this. It’s a sweet story so far. I’m certainly happy for the break from reading about people being murdered.
Chapter 3- Naomi tells Ruth to sneak onto the threshing floor that night, and after Boaz has laid down, to uncover his feet and wait for instructions. Boaz say that there is another close relative of Elimelech whose duty it would be to care for Ruth, but if that man won’t do it, he would be happy to. Then he gives her all the grain she can carry home. Ruth goes and tells Naomi about all this, and together they wait to see what will happen.
“Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” (4) When I first read this, I was expecting some wanton seduction to go down. The rest of the chapter, however, makes it seem more innocent. Boaz wakes up and notices Ruth lying at his feet. They talk some, and then he refers to her as “a virtuous woman” (verse 11). But then he advises her to sneak out of the threshing floor so nobody knows there was a woman there.
I was going to write it off as weird, but innocent flirting, until I Google’d it. There’s a lot of talk on the internet that “feet” is a Hebrew euphemism for genitalia. Some seem to think that laying down at a man’s (actual) feet was a way to propose marriage. Which happened here? I don’t know. I suspect no hanky panky happened, since women who have sex don’t get called “virtuous” in the Bible, like, ever.
From my previous understanding of this story, I remembered Boaz as some super romantic figure. But now that I’ve read the previous books of the Old Testament, I happen to know that the next of kin marrying a widow was required. If you remember, Onan died because he wouldn’t impregnate his brother’s widow…so…Boaz seems less romantic in light of that.
Chapter 4- Boaz goes and talks to the other close relative, and offers him the opportunity to buy the land and Ruth from Naomi. The relative declines, so Boaz now gets the land and Ruth as a wife. She bears a son, whom Naomi nurses, and the neighbor women name Obed. Then there is a genealogy from Perez through David.
I think Boaz was playing sneaky to get to keep Ruth for himself. He first tells this other guy that the should buy the land from Naomi, and the guy agrees. Then Boaz adds, “Oh, btdubs, you have to deal with Ruth the widow as well.” At which point the other guy backs out. Shady tactics, perhaps, but I won’t deny that I was rooting for Boaz.
They make it pretty clear here that the son Boaz gives Ruth is actually to carry on the name of her dead husband, but then in the genealogy at the end of the chapter, it’s Boaz that is listed, not the first husband…so…I guess it was only a passing nod to the dead guy?
Verse 16, “Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and become a nurse to him.” I know that induced lactation is possible without having recently had a child, but I’m still skeptical that it happened here.
Also, I’m annoyed that as soon as the baby is out, Ruth doesn’t get mentioned any more. It suddenly becomes Naomi’s baby, she nurses it, and the neighbor women name it. What happened to the person attached to the womb that gave life to the kid? Huh?