Ruth and Naomi - people in the story

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Women gathering in a crop

Ruth's story

Scroll of the Bible

Bible text for the story

Scene from 'Norma Rae'

Bible study ideas

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

Families 
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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Ruth was a young foreign widow without family or prospects who married a wealthy Israelite. She bore a son Obed, who was the grandfather of King David and an ancestor of Jesus of Nazareth.

Young woman being prepared for her weddingWorth noting about Ruth:

  • she is compassionate, unwilling to leave her elderly mother-in-law when the older woman is in trouble - it is unlikely Naomi would have survived the long journey back to Bethlehem if she were on her own

  • she is beautiful to look at - Boaz, who is a rich landowner and could presumably have his pick of local women, is immediately attracted to her

  • she is loyal - in the words of the modern marriage ceremony, she has forsaken all others and considers her first husband's family to be her main focus

  • she is shrewd enough to listen to the advice of an older woman, and put that advice into action


Painting of an elderly woman, by Morteza KatouzianNaomi, Ruth's shrewd mother-in-law who advised her how to get a second husband and was rewarded by the birth of a grandson...

Worth noting about Naomi:

  • she is shrewd, viewing life with pragmatism and common sense

  • she is a good judge of character, sizing up Boaz  immediately and advising Ruth how to nudge the lovesick man into proposing 

  • she inspires loyalty in Ruth, who trusts her completely

  • she is liked by the other women in the village, who help her

  • she gives good advice - Ruth is clever enough to recognise this, and follows her advice


Boaz, the wealthy Israelite who married Ruth and became the father of Obed.

Handsome older manWorth noting about Boaz:

  • he is besotted with Ruth at first sight; the young woman sparks a passion that seems to surprise and delight all the villagers

  • he is both shrewd (he recognises that Ruth may be harassed by the young men) and compassionate (though he is rich himself, he appreciates the plight of the two women, and does something about it)

  • he is religiously devout: he observes the Leverite Law even though it may disadvantage him, and he continues the Jewish custom of giving practical help to the poor


Orpah, the second daughter-in-law of Naomi

Woman showing the back of her neckWorth noting about Orpah:

  • though only a minor character in the story, her contrasting qualities throw Ruth's compassion and loyalty into the spotlight 

  • she abandons Naomi when the older woman needs her most; her name means 'back of the neck', signalling the way she turns her back on Naomi

  • she returns to her original Moabite family; Ruth on the other hand wholeheartedly adopts her husband's Jewish family 

 


The women of Bethlehem: don't overlook these people. They played an important part in the story of Ruth and Naomi. 

Arabic women harvesting olives Jennie Ebeling, in her book Women's Lives in Biblical Times, says:

'Names in ancient Israel were more than just identification; they signified a person's essence and were thus extremely important. In the story of Ruth, the women of the neighborhood uniquely gave the newborn Obed his name (Ruth 4:17). This group of women came together in solidarity around the new mother, which would have been extremely important in a situation where a woman has only recently moved, alone, to her husband's village.' (p.103)


 

Photograph of heart-shaped cloud in a blue sky

Love was in the air...

 

 

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