Ruth and Naomi - Bible study ideas

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Women gathering in a crop

Ruth's story

Scroll of the Bible

Bible text for the story

Ruth shields Naomi

People in Ruth's story

Ruth in the fields, painting by Merle Hugues

Famous paintings of Ruth and Naomi

Young Middle Eastern woman with white head covering

Heroines of the Bible

Large Middle Eastern family group, all ages

in ancient Israel

Loose-fitting woman's garment, hand woven fabric, embroidered front piece

Bible Clothes
and Houses

 Map of Samaria, Judaea and Galilee  

Bible Maps: the distance these  women travelled

A newborn baby, photograph

The Levirate Law 

Two people holding each other's hands

Meditation on the story of Ruth & Naomi

Cartoon figures looking up at a sign-post

Meditation: Where is life taking you?

Painting of an elderly woman with a wise and loving face

Bible Women: Ruth and Naomi

Portrait of a young woman with thickly plaited hair

Young People 
in the Bible

Activities, step-by-step instructions

'Mrs Miniver': Greer Garson and Teresa Wright, both of whom won Oscars for this film

  • Women in films: list your favorite films about family relationships...

  • Debate: ' arranged marriages have a better chance of success'

  • Focus questions: What interests you most about Ruth? etc. 

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Activities for groups and individuals

Women in films

Stage 1:  Make up a list

List your favorite films about family relationships. You can choose recent films or classics. If this is a group activity, it's better to choose films most people know. 

'Love Actually' poster showing interrelating characters

'Love Actually' explores the complex web of relationships between people

Stage 2:  Glance over your list

1.  Have you chosen films that are realistic, showing the nitty-gritty of family life, or do you prefer films that are inspiring/uplifting?
2.  Do your favorites have both these qualities?
3.  What does this say about you and what you need in a story?

Stage 3:  Choose your favorite 
4.  What are the central relationships in this film? Mother/daughter, father/son, friends, sisters, etc?
5.  Is the relationship shown in a realistic light? 
6.  Do any of the scenes remind you of your own life or experiences?
7.  Or does the film express what you would like to have in your own relationships?

Stage 4:  Think about your choices

Group activity: discuss these questions, making sure everyone in the group has a chance to talk about their ideas.

Individual activity: sit down for a few minutes and focus your mind; make a quick list of your favorites; read through the Stage 3 questions, and think about them while you do other tasks in your day.

Movies about loyalty and friendship 

Can you name them?

Can you see a connection with Ruth's story?

'Pride and Prejudice' : sisters support, and sometimes saborage, each other

Movie classic: Mrs MinerverMovie classic: Norma Rae

As Good As It Gets

Answers HERE (see 'Ruth')  Can you think of others?

Debate: Marriage: arranged, or for love?

Topic: 'that arranged marriages have a better chance of success than marriages for love. The debate can be as formal (with a panel of judges and an audience) or informal (around the kitchenBlindfolded Bride table) as you wish. 

Stage 1
Divide into two groups, one to argue for the statement, one to argue against.
Make a list of points that support your argument, and points the other side may raise.
Decide who will speak on behalf of the group.
Nominate a chairperson to regulate the debate. You may also have a panel of judges if this is a formal debate.
Find out the rules for debating; make sure everyone knows these rules.
Stage 2
Hold the debate.
Listen to feedback from each person who spoke.
Have a debriefing session where members of the team speak about the experience, with appropriate feedback and opinions.

In defense of a good woman

The story of Ruth is set in the period of the Judges before the birth of King David, when the Jewish tribes were battling for survival. 

Broken egg shell with 'Marriage' written on it

But it was almost certainly written much later, after the exile in Babylon, when the Jewish people had returned to Jerusalem an were trying to re-establish their identity. At that time the leaders of the people decreed that 

  • Jews could not marry foreign women

  • Jewish men had to divorce foreign wives and take Jewish wives instead.

The Book of Ruth is a protest against these new laws. It describes a foreign woman (Ruth) who was not only  a loyal member of a Jewish family, but an ancestress of King David, the great national hero of the Jewish people.

Stage 1
Read Ruth's story in the Book of Ruth
Stage 2
Contrast it with the stories of other foreign women, such as 

  • Jezebel, an autocratic queen who dominated her husband King Ahab, or 

  • Potiphar's Wife, a sexually promiscuous Egyptian.

Focus questions for the story of Ruth

1. What interests you most about the story? 
2. In the story, who speaks and who listens? Who acts? Who gets whBurne-Jones, Ruth Meets Boazat they want? 
3. If you were in the story, which person would you want to be friends with? Which person would you avoid?
4. What is God's interaction with the main characters? What does this tell you about the narrator's image of God? Do you agree with this image? Is it yours?
5. The narrator/editor has chosen to tell some things and leave other things out. What has been left out of the story that you would like to know? For example, why does Ruth choose not to go back to her family? Why does Orpah choose instead to leave Naomi?
7. Is the story relevant in some way to your own life, or to the modern world? Does it remind you of some aspect of your own story?  


MeditationYellow flower, red flower

Step by step guide to mediations on the story of Ruth and Naomi at 

Meditation: Helping Each Other Through Life 
Lessons from the story of Ruth and Naomi

Meditation: Trust God  
When You Don't Know Where Life Is Going


Paintings of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz

He Qi, Ruth and Naomi

Ruth: Paintings has 20 famous paintings of the story of Ruth

Stage 1

Read the story at Bible people: Ruth

Stage 2

Go to Ruth: Paintings. Scroll through the paintings from first to last.

Which part of the story of Ruth has been the most popular with artists?

Would this have been your choice?

Artists paint what they want to paint, but they also paint with their audience in mind. Look at the paintings again. Who is the painting directed at? Explain your reasoning.

Stage 3

If you have chosen something different, ask yourself why this other incident appeals to you more than the scene favored by the artists. Spend some time quietly thinking about your response.

Acting the part
Imagine that you are one of the people mentioned in the story of Ruth. Assume their persona, then try answering some questions.

  • Women harvesting olives You are a woman of Bethlehem who greets Naomi and Ruth on their return. 
    What is your reaction to the return of Naomi, whom you have not seen for years? 
    How has she changed? What do you think of the new woman, a Moabite, whom Naomi has brought with her? Remember that Moabites are traditional enemies of people who live in Bethlehem.

  • Men Harvesting GrainYou are one of the workers in the field
    What is your opinion of your employer Boaz? What do you see going on between Boaz and the newly arrived foreign woman, Ruth? What do you think about it? Describe the scene, and your reaction.

  • You are one of the elders at the city gates
    You are expected to have a wise opinion on everything. You are aware of rumors about Boaz and Ruth, and you have known Boaz and Naomi for many years. What do you think about recent events concerning these three? What are your opinions about the people involved? Now describe the scene, and your reaction.


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