Thursday

"Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, 'To whom does this young woman belong?'" (v.5)

Ruth 2:1-23 Thursday 18 September 2014

Background

Yuck! This verse in particular clashes with the western worldview. Most of us find the idea that a young woman automatically'belongs' to someone abhorrent. Yet it is not so far back in ourown history that women were seen as property, and marriage wasimportant to ensure proper inheritance rather than anything else.Horrifically, in this country there are still young women,particularly in the sex trade, who are brought here as slaves andowned by someone.

Ruth stands against that culture, where women are property passedfrom man to man along with the rest of their property. From thisstory we see how she is far from a powerless item of property asshe responds to the unfolding situation with dignity, honour andintelligence.

We see admirable qualities in both Ruth and Boaz as they live withintegrity, compassion and concern for others. That (during OldTestament times) is expected for a man of substance like Boaz butnot usually recognised in a poor widow like Ruth. She has achievedthat recognition through extreme faithfulness, hard work andcharacter. (Contrast her with Abraham in Genesis chapter12 who also left home and family but did so with promisesof a future, unlike Ruth who had no such promises.)

In the end Ruth is rewarded in the only way that people of theculture understood. She gets married and has a son. Now both sheand Naomi have a secure future.

The book of Ruth combines a gripping story with a subversivemessage that contradicts verse 5. In God's plan nobody is another'sproperty, and God is at work subverting human attempts to havepower over each other. It is not a promise of wealth and happinessfor those who can copy Ruth, but a challenge to stand againstinjustice and poverty by choosing to place ourselves with Godalongside those who are suffering, and to faithfully stick withthem.


To Ponder

  • Reflect on what it must be like to be considered someone'sproperty. How do you respond to slavery today?
  • Reflect on the character that other people see in you. Are youhappy with that?
  • Reflect on the ways in which you understand God to be workingin a subversive way against power. How do you feel about that idea?Where do you see it in your own life?
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