Bible study // thoughts on the book of Ruth

Chapter 1

Verse 1: “…a man from Bethlehem in Judah”

They were in Bethlehem! As in the Bethlehem of David and Jesus? One thing I’ve learned from the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is that there was apparently more than one Bethlehem in Israel, but I really hope it’s the same one.

Verse 3: “Now Elimelek, Noami’s husband, died, and she was left with h1er two sons.”
Verse 5: “both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.”

This kind of reminds me of Job. It was just one horrible event after another. First Naomi’s life was devestated by famine, then she had to move to a foreign place, and then she lost the three people closest to her in a span of ten years. I guess in Job’s story, God spoke to him Himself to comfort him, but in Naomi’s story, God comforted her through Ruth.

Also, I wonder why neither Ruth or Orpah had kids. (Well, at least it doesn’t say they did, which I’m assuming means they didn’t.) Maybe their kids died at a young age? It doesn’t say they were barren either, which is a detail I feel like the narrator would include if it was the case.

Verse 16: “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.'”

Why did Ruth stay with her?? People always talk about how faithful Ruth was, and that verse sixteen is so well-known, but I’ve never heard someone try to explain the motivation behind her decision. I feel like most daughter-in-laws are usually not loyal to their mother-in-laws to the extent that they would choose them over their family. If it wasn’t because of how much Ruth loved her husband and Naomi, I wonder if it might’ve been because she had a bad family she didn’t want to go back to?

Verse 19: “When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them

Haha, I usually don’t use this word, but it seems like a perfect scenario to use it in: Naomi and Ruth coming back was a hundred percent the village tea. A note in my Bible says that a typical village at the time had a population of only a few hundred, so the arrival of two people making a splah makes sense.

Verse 20:‘Don’t call me Naomi,’ she told them. ‘Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.'”

I’ve always been curious about this part of the story. The speech feels like another Job parallel. I’m almost certain that this is the only name change in the Bible that doesn’t stick. And I’m even more certain that this is the only name change not given by God. Those two things are definitely related.

Verse 22: “arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning

That is God’s perfect timing right there.

Chapter 2

Verse 5: “Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, ‘Who does that young women belong to?’ The overseer replied, ‘She is the Moabite who came back with Moab with Naomi.'”

It seems like either Boaz was either too busy at the moment to keep up with his village’s social news cycle or he just didn’t keep up in general. Maybe he wasn’t interested in gossip?

Verse 8: “I have told the men not to lay a hand on you.”

Did Boaz tell his workers to leave Ruth alone because he knew otherwise they wouldn’t or only because he wanted to emphasize it?

Verse 19: “Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. ‘The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,’ she said.”

The feeling Naomi must’ve had when Ruth told her it was Boaz being kind to her!

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 in general:

Ohh, the threshing floor story. Dude, I know this story can be controversial, but I just think it’s cool. I’ve never thought of it like this, but Naomi and Ruth totally went for an opportunity when they were otherwise basically powerless.

Verse 9:Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”

Another note in my Bible says that Ruth’s request is an idiom for marriage. She straight up asked Boaz to marry her!

Verse 12-13: “‘Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.'”

Boaz must’ve already thought through this if he was able to give Ruth a clear and immediate answer after being woken up in the middle of the night. He’s decisive too. He promised to carry out his plan the very next morning and then does it.

Verse 14: “So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized

How did people wake up back then without alarm clocks? This whole story could’ve been derailed if they woke up too late.

Verse 14: “and he said, ‘No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.'”

I feel like Boaz had that good balance of caring about what people think not because he was prideful, but because he wanted to protect his reputation so that it reflected who he was.

Verse 17: “‘He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty handed.’

Haha, if my mom was Naomi, she would’ve given Boaz so many gold stars for that and talked to her friends about it for days.

Chapter 4

Verse 2: “Boaz took ten of the elders of the town”

He made sure to do things the right way.

Verse 3-6: “Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, ‘Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.’
‘I will redeem it,‘ he said.
Then Boaz said, ‘On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.’
At this, the guardian-redeemer said, ‘Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estae. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.'”

In my seventh grade Bible class, I remember my teacher explaining how much of a savage Boaz was in this exchange. This is what happened. He asked the other guardian-redeemer if he wanted the land, and the other guy was like of course, who doesn’t want more land. Then Boaz was like, oh yea, if you buy the land, you also have to marry Ruth. The other guy was like, wait nevermind, that would totally mess up my family dynamic and financial situation, I don’t want the land anymore. Brilliant!

Verse 15: “The women said to Naomi…’For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons

Dang, in that culture and time period when sons were everything, that must have been the highest compliment ever.

Verse 18-22 (the genealogy): “…Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.”

I love that this story might’ve been this family love story that people loved to tell and then at one point somebody recorded it. I love that there’s a good chance David probably heard this story. Maybe even Jesus did too. I love that when they recorded it, they didn’t keep out the weird (the threshing floor) and imperfect (Naomi changing her name) parts. I also love that the book is called Ruth and not Boaz.

Do you have thoughts on the book of Ruth?
What is your opinion on Bible names as names for kids? Mine is that I would most likely not give my kids Bible names. I understand why people name their kids after heroes such as Samuel and Joseph, but when they grow up and there’s three Daniels in one grade (true story), it doesn’t feel special anymore.
What are you reading right now?

P.P.S. Bible and notebook image from Simply Spontaneous

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