Well, we can’t talk about Ruth without remembering a bit about Orpah ( and yes, I’ve heard that one letter was changed in her name for that famous one in our time). Orpah….decided to listen to her mother-in-law, Naomi and turned away and went back home. Maybe she felt that traveling that distance to a foreign land with foreign peoples just wasn’t her cup of tea. I imagine many of us would have ‘thought twice’. And so she goes. Wonder what happened to her?
However, we find that Ruth determined to follow Naomi back to the ‘house of bread’ (Bethlehem) and heeds everything that Naomi instructs her to do. As she gleans the edges of Boaz’s field a love story begins to unfold. We’ll never know all the details, but I really bet it would make a great mini-series!
Love stories always have their secrets though don’t they? Well, what if you found out that the man Boaz is quite a bit older than Ruth? According to various scriptures and scholars he would have been quite older than young Ruth – maybe as much as 80 years! And then what on earth does it really mean that Ruth spread his skirt over her on that threshing floor? Sounds bizarre doesn’t it?
We could, of course, super-spiritualize it or gloss over it so we don’t blush, but let’s not do that – let’s look at it as a real life story with real life people.
These are real people in real situations – they have real emotions – real issues and real expectations. Boaz was a wealthy land-owner, an employer and had high-expectations for success.
When Ruth came along, he must have taken notice – was she pretty? Was she sweet? Was she wife material? What was the age difference? Just some questions that float through my head. In fact, I wonder if they spoke the same dialect or even the same language? Just some thoughts.
The age thing kind stuck with me so I tried to flesh that out in the scriptures. Ok, so who is this “Boaz“, which meant strength, or to be strong or some say of sharp mind. Well, apparently Boaz was a wealthy landowner of Bethlehem in Judea, and relative of Elimelech, Naomi’s late husband. Interesting. Since Boaz was a close relative of Naomi, he had the right to offer to marry Ruth after her husband had died. After Boaz consulted with one who was closer than he was and getting the ok to marry, they did so. I would imagine it was a wedding to beat all weddings. After all, he was very well respected and admired in his home town.
Their first son was named Obed (which means worshipper), was the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David – King David! And of course, our Messiah goes back to King David! What amazing things can happen when we take a chance. So what do we learn from all this – short study as it is?
To me….it is simply that love always wins out. No matter how bleak the road, how many tragedies we have to face, how low we become, we simply have to keep going.
It is difficult to imagine all that these women had to endure crossing barren lands, avoiding scavengers and those out to harm them, ending up in a strange land with strangers and trying to fit in. They were poor and had to literally go out into a field and gather grain….how can we even imagine that in our day and age of instant gratification?
Maybe this is one of those stories that is never ending – one that we can embrace and draw close to us as we seek to be covered by our King in the desert of our lives.
What do you think?