Saturday 20 September 2014

Bible Book:

"'He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for the daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.' Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. The women of the neighbourhood gave him a name. 'A son has been born to Naomi.'" (vv. 15-17)

Ruth 4:13-17 Saturday 20 September 2014


The book of Ruth is short enough to read all the way through andit is worth doing so. Some of the action may be puzzling incontemporary terms, being related to Israelite rules about theobligations of a deceased man's closest male relative to marry hiswidow and raise up children in the dead man's name. But much of itis very recognisable human behaviour, told from the perspective ofthe women involved: the desperate poverty of two women on theirown; the tendency of men to 'bother' young women forced to findtheir living on the fringes of society; the way women readcorrectly the over-generous behaviour of the relatively wealthyBoaz; the audacity of two women determined to find a legal solutionto their dilemma; and the influence of the village women inretelling and interpreting the whole soap opera.

What the conclusion reveals is that it is really the story of Naomirather than that of Ruth, even if she plays a leading part. It isabout how Naomi's fortunes are restored (rather like thoseof Job after she has endured terrible loss andin particular the pain of losing both her sons and, as she hadimagined, her possible grandchildren.

Many grandmothers today can echo the village women's estimate of agrandchild as "a restorer of life and a nourisher of old age". Veryfew (in our society at least) would go so far as to breastfeed thebaby, and no-one would refer to the child as the grandmother's own.But this exaggeration emphasises the significance of the reversalthat has been achieved for the woman who called herself 'Mara'(bitter) (Ruth 1:20), because of the astounding love ofher daughter-in-law who would not abandon her, and became more toher than "seven sons". In a world where only sons really counted,this is praise indeed.

To Ponder

  • This is story with no miraculous or divine intervention. Allthe action is achieved by the women; yet at the end the villagewomen say "Blessed be the Lord" for the outcome. Is this right inyour view? How does this apply in your life?
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