Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David, is a role model to us all. She is one of only three women to have a Biblical book named after her, and one of the few women and non-Jews named in St Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus.
Her story begins in Bethlehem with a man named Elimelech, who had a wife Naomi and two sons. When famine struck, the family travelled to the idolatrous country of Moab to live. The Fathers teach that we are like Elimelech when, due to temptations and difficulties, we leave the Church to find haven in other places.
In Moab, Elimelech’s sons married Moabite women – one married Ruth and the other married Orpah. As time passed, Elimelech and his two sons passed away, leaving just Naomi and her two daughters-in-law.
Naomi, seeing these deaths as punishment for leaving Bethlehem, decides to return to Bethlehem. Full of nobility, Naomi gives Ruth and Orpah permission to stay in Moab and re-marry. Ruth, however, refuses to leave Naomi and says, “wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). In sacrificing her easy life in Moab, the Fathers teach that Ruth represents us when we take steps to abandon our sins.
The pair then return, and Ruth works hard every day in the fields to obtain bread for herself and Naomi. The owner of the fields is Boaz, an Israelite who loves God and obeys His commandments. Boaz notices Ruth and admires her sacrifices for Naomi.
Eventually, Boaz and Ruth marry and have a son, Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. In this way, a woman from an idolatrous nation played an important role in the history of Israel. Ruth willingly accepted God’s invitation, given through Naomi, to leave Moab and come to the Truth.
Ruth did not waver in her new way of life but showed herself to be a hardworking and obedient daughter filled with humility. May we emulate her.
Source: Lychnos August-September 2021