In order to survive a famine, a Jewish family once left Israel for prosperous Moab. In Moab the husband died and the two sons ended up marrying Moabite women. Ten years later, tragedy struck again and the two sons also died. The grief-stricken mother, Naomi, then left Moab for Israel with h
er two daughters in law. At the border Naomi urged the two women to return to their homeland and their relatives. One daughter-in-law turned back, but Ruth, the other one, refused, declaring that she’d die before she would leave her mother-in-law.
The narrative of Ruth’s story is rather brief. However, several things about the story remarkably defy expectations. First, Ruth was a Moabite—a foreigner. The Moabites typically worshiped Chemosh, to whom human sacrifices were even offered. Yet, Ruth was different. Evidently even while living in Moab, she had embraced Yahweh, the God of Israel. Second, Ruth married Naomi’s son, an Israeli. Leaders such as Moses had warned Israel resoundingly against marrying foreigners, yet here was a rare exception which had the seal of God’s approval. Third, in spite of the age-old reputation of animosity against mothers-in-law, Ruth engaged in none of the bickering and sniping so common in such relationships. Instead, she displayed undying love for a mother-in-law who truly deserved it. Fourth, the natural longing of a person is to remain in their homeland, among relatives, friends, and accustomed surroundings. Besides, after her husband died, Ruth had to know that the odds of remarriage were small, especially if she settled in a land that frowned deeply on interracial marriages. Nevertheless, leaving her homeland, Ruth remained faithfully with Naomi. Fifth, in an impoverished situation, it is common for individuals to look out for their own survival first. Ruth, however, humbly combed sweltering, harvested fields for bits of grain she could take home to Naomi each evening.
In the end, God’s face shone upon Ruth. He gave her a second, wonderfully gentle and loving Jewish husband named Boaz. She, a Moabitess, also was given the honor of being great grandmother to David, and an ancestor in the line of Christ. At the birth of Ruth’s son, the women of Bethlehem exclaimed to Naomi, “…your daughter-in-law, who loves you, is better to you than seven sons…” And they were so right.
What can we learn from Ruth?
The story of Ruth is a story of unparalleled loyalty. In our society, even friends, spouses, and relatives sometimes betray one another, seemingly without remorse. Uncompromising loyalty is rare and should be greatly treasured. Like Ruth, we can commit to loyal relationships, even when it isn’t convenient, personally profitable, or publicly expected.
Bible Verses about Ruth
Book of Ruth, Matthew 1:5
What questions does this help to answer?
- Who was Ruth in the Bible?
- What part does Ruth play in Jesus’ genealogy?
- What was the relationship between Ruth and Naomi?
- Does God reward loyalty?
Steve Fortosis served for six years as youth minister in several parishes. Meanwhile he was also working toward his masters, then his doctorate in religious education. Through the years he has enjoyed teaching on the college and seminary levels and writing professionally. He has published a number of books including story and prayer compilations, missionary biography, Biblical character biography, devotional lit, children’s lit, and even stories of Bible translation. Presently he resides in Florida with his wife, Debra, where he teaches part-time and writes on a free-lance basis.Steve Fortosis