Ruth, a Moabite woman, was married to an Israelite man named Elimelech who was sojourning with his parents in the land of Moab. Unfortunately the man, his brother, and father died in the land of Moab. The young woman was left with Naomi, her mother-in-law. Naomi wanted to return to Israel from Moab and asked her two daughters-in-law to return to their families. One did but Ruth said, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16–17).
After learning about the God of Israel, Ruth experienced a change and felt she would rather live in the strange land of Israel and among its people who worshiped God than live among her own people who worshiped heathen gods. She was so impressed by the loving God of Naomi and could not separate herself from Him.
Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. They were very poor, so the young woman asked to go to the fields each day to glean food during the harvest after the reapers. The owner of the land she was gleaning from was Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. He heard of Ruth’s situation and told his workers to allow her to work in the fields and not hurt her. The young woman was very grateful to him and said, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (ch. 2:10). Boaz told Ruth that he was impressed with her kindness to Naomi (ch. 2:11-12)
Naomi learned that Boaz was a close relative who, according to Jewish law, had the right to redeem Elimelech’s property, probably already sold for debt (Lev. 25:24). Also, he had the right to marry Ruth, raise a seed for her deceased husband and become trustee of the property. Naomi then asked Ruth to go to Boaz and be in his presence as a sign of acceptance of a marriage proposal from him.
Ruth obeyed Naomi and Boaz was very happy but there was another relative who was closer than he. So, Boaz needed to first ask that relative for his permission. The second day he met with that relative in the presence of the town leaders and asked him if he would be willing to redeem Naomi’s late-husband’s land and marry Ruth. When the relative declined, Boaz then made a public announcement that he would redeem the land and marry Ruth.
Ruth’s supreme desire to be among God’s people was honored by God greatly. Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed who became the grandfather of King David, from whose lineage came the Messiah (Matthew 1:5–6).
In His service,
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