INTRODUCTION. The short book of Ruth takes place during the days of the judges. In contrast to that dark time when the children of Israel continually turned away from
God to worship idols, this is a refreshing story of love, loyalty, and faith in God. During a famine an Israelite man named Elimelech with his wife Naomi and two sons
left their home in Bethlehem and moved to Moab. After some time the man died, and the two sons married Moabite women. One of the women was Orpah and the other Ruth. After about ten years the two sons died, and the three women, Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth, were left as widows.
Naomi decided to return to her home in Israel and told her daughters-in-law to return to their families. The daughters-in-law wept and said they would go with her, but Naomi urged them to remain in Moab. Again as the women wept, Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth refused to leave Naomi.
Naomi accompanied by Ruth then returned to Bethlehem, arriving during the time of barley harvest. Since Naomi and Ruth were widows and had no means of support, they were poor. Ruth, therefore, went into the fields after the reapers to gather what grain was left in order to find food for Naomi and herself.
It happened that Ruth gleaned in the field belonging to Boaz, a relative of Naomi. He had been informed of Ruth's loyalty to Naomi, and he treated Ruth kindly, giving her food and water and allowing her to glean in his fields. He told his workers to leave extra grain for her and not to harm her.
In Israel the law required the nearest kinsman (relative) of a dead man to buy the dead man’s land, provide for his family, and even marry his widow. At Naomi's direction, Ruth appealed to Boaz to fulfill his right as near kinsman and marry her.
However, there was a nearer kinsman who had a prior claim. When the unnamed man gave up his right to Boaz before witnesses, then Boaz was free to honor the
requirements of the law and marry Ruth.
Eventually a son was born to Ruth and Boaz. Their son Obed was the father of Jesse who was the father of David. Thus this tender love story plays an important part in God's plan to fulfill his spiritual promise to Abraham. Ruth, the Moabite woman, was the great-grandmother of David, the great king of Israel, who was the earthly ancestor of Jesus Christ, the son of God.