THE BOOK OF RUTH Sacred Heart School-Jesuit Bro. Jeff Pioquinto, SJ
What’s in a name? Ruth is the leading character in this book, which is named after her. The name Ruth means "mercy." The story shows that God’s grace and mercy extend beyond Israel to include all peoples.
WHEN? During the time of the Judges when there is a famine, an Israelite family from Bethlehem ( Elimelech , his wife Naomi , and their sons Mahlon and Chilion ) emigrate to the nearby country of Moab.
His sons marry two Moabite women: Mahlon marries Ruth and Chilion marries Orpah.
Elimelech dies. Then Mahlon and Chilion also die.
Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem. She tells her daughters-in-law to return to their own mothers, and remarry. Orpah reluctantly leaves;
However, Ruth says, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." (Ruth 1:16-17 )
he two women return to Bethlehem. It is the time of the barley harvest, and in order to support her mother-in-law and herself, Ruth goes to the fields to glean.
The field she goes to belongs to a man named Boaz, who is kind to her, as he has heard of her loyalty to her mother-in-law.
It so happens that Boaz is a close relative of Naomi's husband's family. He is therefore obliged by the levirate law to marry Mahlon's widow, Ruth, in order to carry on his family line.
How to read this book In stark contrast to Judges, the book of Ruth shows us a community that did what was right in God’s eyes. It is "the story of God’s grace in the midst of difficult circumstances
Ruth’s story occurred during the time of the judges — a period of disobedience, idolatry, and violence. Even in times of crisis and deepest despair, there are those who follow God and through whom God works. No matter how discouraging or antagonistic the world may seem, there are always people who follow God. He will use anyone who is open to him to achieve his purposes"
The book of Ruth tells us that no matter how bad things may be, goodness can exist, if we are willing to make the effort.