The Book of Ruth
The story of Ruth is a book in the Old Testament – a short book comprising a mere four chapters. Although herself a foreigner, Ruth shows deep faith and devotion to the God of Israel. It is this faith that sustains her through the death of her husband and subsequent relocation. In the bible, the book of Ruth follows the book of Judges, the latter describing a period of violence and raging wars for the Israelites.
The story of Ruth begins with her father-in-law Elimelech emigrating from Bethlehem to Moab with his wife Naomi and their two sons. The move became necessary because of a famine in their native land. The two sons grow up there and subsequent marry Moabite girls, Ruth and Orpah.
Tragedy strikes the family with the death of Elimelech. Some years later, the two sons also pass away. Naomi then decided to return to Bethlehem. She suggested that both Ruth and Orpah go back to their parents’ house so that they could remarry, as was the prevailing custom of those times.
Naomi gave several reasons as to why her daughters-in-law should return to their parents’ homes – Orpah opted to return but Ruth followed Naomi to Bethlehem. This action of Ruth exemplifies her loyalty to her Israelite mother-in-law and is often cited as a model for a relationship that should exist between a daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law.
As the story unfolds there is a chance meeting between Ruth and her future husband Boaz – a rich landowner who is also related to Naomi. This encounter would appear to have been planned by God.
The story then traces the events that lead Boaz to take Ruth as his wife. God blessed them with a son Obed. Obed becomes the father of Jesse who in turn was the father of David. Thus, the genealogy of Jesus Christ when he was born as the Son of Man can be traced back to this selfless woman.