The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)
Ruth 1 - Elmelech in Bethlehem went to live in the country of Moab with his wife, Naomi, and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. While living in Moab, Elimelech dided and left Naomi with her two sons. Her sons took Moabite wives named Orpah and Ruth. After ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion died, leaving Naomi without a husband and sons.
Naomi wanted to set back out to the land of Judah, hearing the Lord had considered his people and they once again had food. Naomi urged her two daughter-in-laws to return to their mother's houses. Since Naomi had no husband and there was no chance of her bearing more sons for them to marry, even if they wanted to wait that long for the sons to come of age. The hand of the Lord had turned against Naomi, but it did not have to make Orpah and Ruth's lives bitter as well. They wept, Orpah kissed Naomi but Ruth clung to her. Ruth tells Naomi that she wants to stay with her, go where she goes, live where she lives, die where she dies. So Naomi allowed Ruth to go with her. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the women asked if this was Naomi who'd come back to them. Naomi told them to call her Mara, for she was bitter because God had dealt harshly with her and brought calamity upon her.
Ruth 2 - Naomi had a kindsman on her husband's side, a rich man named Boaz. Ruth asked Naomi if she may glean ears of grain in the field, behind someone in whose eyes she may find favor. Naomi told her to go do so. Ruth ended up working in the fields of Boaz. When Boaz returned to Bethlehem and saw Ruth in the field he asked his servants whom she belonged to. The servants told him she had returned from moab with Namoi and had been working the field all day without rest.
Boaz spoke to Ruth telling her keep her eyes on the field and follow his women, he would tell the men to not bother her and when she is thirsty she may drink from the vessels the young men have drawn. Ruth lied prostrate and asked Boaz why he has found favor with her when she is a foreigner. Boaz said, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and native land and came to a people that you did not know. May the Lord reward your deeds and may you have a full reward from the Lord." Ruth spoke to him, "May I continue to find favor in your sight, even though I am not one of your servants."
At mealtime Boaz told Ruth to come eat with him. So she sat with the reapers and Boaz heaped up for her some parched grain. She ate until she was satisfied, and there was some left over. She then got up to glean and Boaz instructed his men to let her glean among the standing sheaves and to not disturb her and they must also pull some handfuls from the bundles for her and to not rebuke her.
Ruth gleaned in the field until evening and then brought what she had gleaned into town. Naomi saw how much she had gleaned and asked Ruth whose field she had worked in and who had taken favor with her. Ruth told Naomi she had worked in Boaz's fields. Naomi blessed the Lord and told Ruth that Boaz was kin. So Ruth stayed close to the women in Boaz's fields and gleaned until the end of the barley and wheat harvests.
Ruth 3 - Naomi spoke to Ruth, "I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now there is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight on the threshing floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor. But do not make yourself known to the man till he has finished drinking and eating. When he lies down observe where he lies; then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do." Ruth told Naomi she will do this.
Ruth went to the threshing floors and did just as Naomi told her. At midnight Boaz was startled and turned over and found Ruth lying at his feet. He asked who she was and she told him she is Ruth his servant and told him to spread his cloak over his servant since he was next of kin. Boaz said, "May you be blessed by the Lord. This last instance of loyalty is better than the first, for you have not sought after younger men, whether rich or poor. Do not be afraid for I will do for you what you ask, but there is a man who is an even closer next of kin than me. Remain the night and the morning and if he will not act as next of kin then I will act as next of kin for you. Lie until morning."
She lay until morning but got up before one person could recognize another, for it must not be known a woman was on the floor. Boaz gave her barley and Ruth left. She told Naomi all that happened and Naomi said for Ruth to wait and see how the matter turns out.
Ruth 4 - Boaz goes to the next of kin and tells him of Naomi's land and Ruth. The next of kin said that he could not take the land and Ruth without damaging his own inheritance so Boaz may take his right of redemption in his place. The next of kin and Boaz officiated the exchange in front of witnesses. Boaz took Ruth as his wife and she conceived a son. Ruth said to Naomi, "Blessed be the Lord who did not leave you without a next of kin." Then Naomi took the sona nd laid him on her bosom and became his nurse. The child was named Obed, father of Jesse and father of David.
So more active women. Pretty cool. Of course the whole story revolves around them getting Ruth a new husband, but it's to be expected. Having a man to take care of the property and give Ruth sons so Elmelech's lineage will not die off is pretty much the be all end all of being a woman in Biblical times. Women may be allowed to inherit if their father has left no sons or next of kin to inherit for him, but they are still nothing without men. No matter how independent they may be, they are still nothing without men. Without men they are pitied and find themselves bitter. Kind of sad.
Also note the first book dedicated specifically to a woman and named after her is one of the shortest books so far. It's only 4 chapters long and is about two and a half pages long. Not long at all.
So it's cool there is an entire book for just the story of a woman, but it's kind of sad that despite Ruth being the book's namesake it's pretty much a story that centers around Boaz.
Note: I'm feeling better, so updates should resume as normal. :)
Tomorrow: 1 Samuel 1-4