A young woman of Moab, Ruth was widowed together with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her Moabite sister-in-law, Orpah. Brokenhearted and destitute, Naomi decided to return to her native town of Bethlehem in Judah. She urged her daughters-in-law to return to their parent's homes, where they might be helped to find new husbands. Orpah complied. Ruth refused.
"Entreat me not to leave you," she said, "or to turn back from following you. For where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God."
Enduring poverty and great hardship without complaint, Ruth supported herself and Naomi in Bethlehem by gleaning barley left behind for the poor by the harvest reapers. The labor was backbreaking and humble, but she persevered. Her hard work and love for her mother-in-law impressed the townspeople and attracted Boaz, a wealthy landowner and kinsman of Naomi's.
Noticing that Boaz liked Ruth, Naomi arranged for her future. She told her to go to Boaz's barn on the night of harvest festival when he would be sleeping there. Ruth was to lie at his feet and cover herself with his cloak. Under Jewish law, this gesture amounted to a silent claim on him for his protection and care. Ruth obeyed.
Waking to discover her there, Boaz wasted no time. He hurried to the city gate where he arranged to redeem Naomi and Ruth's small property, and to marry Ruth. Their happy marriage was blessed with a son, Obed, who was the apple of his grandmother Naomi's eye. This child was a link in the great House of David, which produced King David, Solomon, and eventually Jesus Christ.
The Book of Ruth is a story of the triumph of steadfast love over poverty, obscurity, and the stigma of being a foreigner. Ruth is one of the most endearing characters in the Bible. (Story and Biblical references on back of card)
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