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Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Ruth

My A to Z blogging theme is characters in (people from) the scriptures. Since my blog is a book blog, this theme would fit right in and help me strengthen a weakness at the same. How fantastic is that?!  This challenge is a blessing. Thank you A to Z Challenge team!  *Book: LDS quad combo scriptures: KJV Holy Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price. (p)1989, (c)1979.

In the book of Ruth found in the Old Testament, we learn the history of the family of Elimelech, an Israelite.  Due to famine, Elimelech fled Bethlehem with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons to Moab.  There the two sons married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah.  The two sons and their father died leaving the women widowed.  Naomi returned to Bethlehem and Ruth went with her expressing loyalty and devotion stating that she not only wished to stay with her mother-in-law but also desired to make Naomi's people her people and Naomi's god her God.

Back in Bethlehem, Ruth was among the destitute and thus offered to go into the fields and glean (gather) fallen stalks.  One day while gleaning in the field of Boaz, Ruth found a liking to Boaz.  Naomi wanting to secure a husband and family for Ruth, planned to have Boaz marry Ruth.  She considered doing this through the levirate marriage (see Deut. 25:5-10).  Boaz was willing but only if the nearer kinsman to whom the right belonged declined.  He did and so they married. 

By the way, with Naomi's bidding, Ruth proposed to Boaz!  While Boaz asleep on a heap of corn after eating and drinking (drunk), Ruth laid beside him.  Boaz awoke startled and asked who she was.  Ruth replied with the proposal, "I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a kinsman." (Ruth 3:8).  The idiom skirt meaning, protect me, or in other words, be my protector or husband.  Go Ruth!!

Famously, the story of Ruth is a beautiful account of the conversion of a non-Israelite into the fold of Israel, giving up her former god and former life to unite with the household of faith in the service of the God of Israel.  You rock Ruth!

Interesting tidbit about gleaning:
“Harvesting was difficult work and demanded long hours. Young men moved through the fields grasping handfuls of the grain and cutting through the stalks with sickles. These small bunches of grain were then bound into bundles called sheaves. As the men worked rapidly, a number of stalks fell to the ground. If the men were careful and took the time, these too could be gathered up. However, any stalks that dropped were allowed to remain where they fell. Poor people, following the reapers, were permitted to ‘glean,’ or gather, the random stalks—possibly all that stood between them and starvation. In addition, the edges of the field, where the sickle was not as easily wielded, were left unharvested. The poor were welcome to that portion, as well." (Great People of the Bible and How They Lived, pg 129)

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