According to the Book of Ruth, Moabite ladies Ruth and Orpah married the sons of Judean refugees Elimelech and Naomi, who had fled to Moab during a famine in Judea. After the passing of their respective husbands, Naomi intends to return to Bethlehem, where she was born, and she strongly encourages her daughters-in-law to do the same.
summary of the book of ruth
Our story opens on a nice Jewish family with a problem. Famine has hit Bethlehem, which forces Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, to move east to Moab with their two sons to get some grub. There, they set up shop, eat some food, and live for about ten years. The sons marry two local girls, Ruth and Orpah, during this time. Life is good. Or so it seems.
One by one, Elimelech and his two sons die. Bummer. This leaves Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah man-less and in need of help. Naomi decides to head back to Bethlehem (ten years is enough time to get over a famine, right?) and her daughters-in-law pack their luggage and join her. Naomi begs the girls to stay behind and, while Orpah is convinced and high tails it back to Moab, Ruth pledges her devotion to Naomi, forsaking her god and her people to become part of Naomi’s life. Ruth’s stubbornness pays off and Naomi lets her tag along.
In Bethlehem, things are not good for the ladies. Naomi is feeling down and out and Ruth is reduced to gleaning in the barley fields. There, Ruth happens to run into a well-known rich guy named Boaz, who instantly takes a liking to her and offers her all kinds of sweet gleaning privileges. Boaz also happens to be a relative of Naomi’s late husband, which is very, very important, since Boaz would have an obligation to marry Ruth and provide for her as family.
When Naomi hears about Boaz and what a stand-up guy he is, she hatches a plan for Ruth to snag him as a husband. She tells her daughter-in-law to visit Boaz at night in secret and lie at his feet (it’s sexy, trust us). Ruth does what her mother-in-law asks and Boaz is pleasantly surprised to see the cute girl from the fields is interested in him. He tells Ruth that he would love to marry her, but that there’s another relative with even closer ties to her in-laws. Boaz sets out to meet the guy and everyone is left to hold his or her breath while we wait to find out whom Ruth will end up with.
As it turns out, this random relative is interested in buying some land that Naomi has, but he’s much less interested in taking her daughter-in-law as his wife. So a deal is struck—the other guy renounces his claim on Ruth and Boaz is free to marry her. Wedding bells start ringing and everyone is happy.
Soon, Ruth and Boaz have a son, which makes Naomi über happy. The women in town name the baby Obed and, surprise, surprise, he goes on to be the grandfather of King David. Talk about a happy ending.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
NIV Application Commentary Judges/Ruth by K. Lawson YoungerJudges & Ruth: Holman Old Testament Commentary by W. Gary PhillipsMore insights from your Bible study – Get Started with Logos Bible Software for Free!