Women of the Bible - Ruth

    A Woman of Devoted Love
     by Kathryn Capoccia

    Young Adults Sunday School Class
   
   All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW
   INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by
   permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

 Copyright Kathy Capoccia 2000.  This file may be freely copied, printed out,
and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact,
and that it is not sold.
 I. Introduction

     A. Opening Prayer

     B. Review of Last Week's Lesson/Verse

 
II. Character Profile: Ruth, A Woman of Devoted Love

     A. Who was she?

        1. A woman living in the time of the Judges (RTH 1:1), about 1100
           BC.

           RTH 1:1 " In the days when the judges ruled..."

        2. A Moabite

           RTH 1:2 "...his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were
           Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and
           lived there.  RTH 1:4  They married Moabite women, one named Orpah
           and the other Ruth."

           a) THE Moabites were the descendants of Lot by his eldest
              daughter (GEN 19:30-38).

              GEN 19:36,37  "So both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by
              their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him
              Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today."

           b) The land they occupied was mostly on a plateau east of the
              Dead Sea, about 4,300 feet above the level of the Dead Sea.

           c) The land was used for viticulture (grapevines), agriculture,
              and the grazing of flocks and herds, particularly, sheep.

           d) The prevalent religion seems to have been like the pagan
              Canaanite practices; A god of war, Chemosh, a despicable
              deity requiring the sacrifice of one's children, appears to
              have been regarded as the chief god- also a female deity,
              Ashtar-Chemosh, was worshiped as a goddess of fertility.
              These gods were a snare to the Israelites during the period
              of the Judges.

              JDG 10:6 " the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD.
              They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of
              Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the
              Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines."

           e) During this time Moabite armies were used to chasten the
              erring Israel kingdom (JUD 3:12-30) but at the time of Ruth's
              story there seems to have been peace because of the ease of
              travel between the two countries (RTH 1:1, 1:22).

        3. Named "Ruth" which means:

           a) "a sight" or

           b) "a female friend"

        4. A widow

           a) She had been married to Mahlon.

              1) Mahlon ("Weakling") was one of the sons of Elimelech
                 and Naomi (RTH 1:2, 4:9).

                 a] Mahlon's family consisted of his parents, Elimelech
                    ("God is King") and Naomi ("Pleasant"), and his
                    brother, Kilion ("Sickly").

                 b] Mahlon's family had come to live temporarily in Moab in
                    a time of famine in Israel, and thus Mahlon had come to
                    marry Ruth while they were sojourning there (RTH 1:4).

                    RTH 1:4 "... they had lived there about ten years..."

                 c] Mahlon's family originated in Judea, in
                    Bethlehem/Ephrath (RTH 1:1,2).

                    RTH 1:1,2 " In the days when the judges ruled, there
                    was a famine in the land, and a man from Bethlehem in
                    Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to
                    live for a while in the country of Moab. The man's name
                    was Elimelech, his wife's name Naomi, and the names of
                    his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were
                    Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to
                    Moab and lived there.

                 d] Mahlon and Ruth married in Moab

                    RTH 1:4  "They (Kilion and Mahlon) married Moabite
                    women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth."

                    * In ancient Jewish marriages the groom and bride would
                    often reside in the groom's father's house after the
                    wedding, it having been enlarged to accommodate the new
                    family unit.

                    JOH 14:2 " In my Father's house are many rooms; if it
                    were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to
                    prepare a place for you."

                    Whether Mahlon and Ruth (and Kilion and Orpah) lived
                    thus closely with Elimelech and Naomi or not, it is
                    clear that Ruth and Orpah both knew and deeply loved
                    Naomi.

              2) The Law did not prohibit marriage between Jews and
                 Moabites but no Moabite or his sons to the 10th generation
                 was allowed to "enter the assembly of the LORD" (DEU 23:3,
                 because they did not offer hospitality when the exodus
                 took place and they hired Balaam to curse the Israelites.)

           b) She was widowed while the family still lived in Moab (RTH
              1:5).

              RTH 1:5 ..." both Mahlon and Kilion also died..."


           c) She was childless (RTH 1:7,22 ).

              RTH 1:5,6 ..." both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi
              was left without her two sons and her husband. When she heard
              in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by
              providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law
              prepared to return home from there."

              * Since there is no mention of grandchildren and the two
              daughters-in-law were leaving Moab with only Naomi, the
              assumption may be made that the marriages were childless.

        5. She was a "young woman" (RTH 2:5). HEBREW: a girl, maiden.

           RTH 2:5  " Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, "Whose
           young woman is that?"

     B. What did she do?

        1. She was devoted

           a) To Naomi, an old (lit. " bearded") widow (RTH 1:3,12).


              RTH 1:12 " I am too old to have another husband."

              1) She was willing to leave her homeland to stay with Naomi
                 (RTH 1:6,7).

                 RTH 1:6,7 "When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come
                 to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi
                 and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from
                 there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place
                 where she had been living and set out on the road that
                 would take them back to the land of Judah."

                 * This act of selfless devotion meant that Ruth was
                 willing to give up remarriage to care for Naomi, her dead
                 husband's mother; and it meant that she was willing to go
                 to an unknown future among people that were, historically,
                 enemies of her own.

              2) When Naomi urged her to go back to her own people and
                 family she refused (unlike her sister-in-law, Orpah, who
                 wept over the prospect but went. RTH 1:14.)

              3) She took a vow to remain as Naomi's daughter until death
                 (which would mean providing for her), and to become an
                 Israelite (RTH 1:16).

                 RTH 1:16,17 "But Ruth replied, '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.'"

                 * Naomi must have been an extraordinary woman to have
                 inspired the devotion of two foreign, young women to the
                 extent that they did not return to their fathers' homes
                 after their husbands' deaths so that they could care for
                 her; they were willing to leave all that they knew to stay
                 with her; and Ruth was so impressed with her faith that
                 she wanted to worship her God too.

           b) To her God, "the God of Israel" (RTH 1:16).

              * The text does not say when Ruth's heart was touched to
              worship the True God and serve Him only, but Ruth was a woman
              of wholehearted devotion - when she vowed that "your God will
              be my God" she meant it.

        2. She was rewarded

           a) Materially - God providentially met her needs.

              1) She and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem just as the barley
                 harvest was beginning" (RTH 1:22).

              2) The Law provided for the poor, the alien, the widow and
                 the fatherless to "glean" in the fields of Israelites in
                 the harvest season in order to survive.

                 LEV 19:9,10  "When you reap the harvest of your land, do
                 not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the
                 gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a
                 second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave
                 them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God."


                 LEV 23:22  "When you reap the harvest of your land, do not
                 reap to the very edges of your field or gather the
                 gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the
                 alien. I am the LORD your God."

                 DEU 24:19 "When you are harvesting in your field and you
                 overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for
                 the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD
                 your God may bless you in all the work of your hands."

              3) When she went out to "pick up the leftover grain" of the
                 harvesters she went to the field of Boaz, who was a near
                 relative of Elimelech's (RTH 2:3).

                 a] He was a kind man, treating his workers well (RTH
                    2:4,5), and treating Ruth with consideration (RTH
                    2:8-16).

                    RTH 2:4  " Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and
                    greeted the harvesters, 'The LORD be with you!' 'The
                    LORD bless you!' they called back."

                 b] He was a "kinsman-redeemer", a member of the extended
                    family responsible for protecting the interests of
                    needy members.

                    i] kinsman-redeemers had to provide an heir for a
                       brother that died (DEU 25:5-10).

                   ii] they had to redeem land that a poor relative had
                       sold outside the family (LEV 25:25-28).

                  iii] they had to redeem a relative who had been sold into
                       slavery (LEV 25:47-49).

                   iv] they had to avenge the killing of a relative (NUM
                       35:19-21).

                 c] He was prosperous (because he had a large field and
                    workers to tend it RTH 2:8.)

                 d] He was not a young man because he contrasts himself to
                    them (RTH 3:10.)

              4) Boaz instructed her to continue to glean in his fields
                 with his servant girls, promised her protection from the
                 men workers, and told her to get water from the worker's
                 water jars (RTH 2:8,9).

              5) She harvested an abundance of grain in Boaz's field (RTH
                 2:17).

                 RTH 2:17 "So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then
                 she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted
                 to about an ephah."

              6) Boaz provided grain for her by instructing his workers to
                 "pull out some stalks from among the bundles " for her to
                 pick up (RTH 2:16).

           b) Socially - Ruth gained a reputation as a "noble woman".

              1) The people of Bethlehem spoke well of Ruth to Boaz (RTH
                 2:11).

                 RTH 2:11  " Boaz replied, 'I've been told all about what
                 you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of
                 your husband--how you left your father and mother and your
                 homeland and came to live with a people you did not know
                 before.'"

              2) Boaz commended her for her actions toward Naomi and asked
                 the LORD'S blessing upon Ruth (RTH 2:11,12).

                 RTH 2:12  " May the LORD repay you for what you have done.
                 May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel,
                 under whose wings you have come to take refuge."

              3) Boaz again blessed Ruth and told her that she had a
                 sterling reputation (RTH 3:10,11).

                 RTH 3:10,11 "'The LORD bless you, my daughter,' he replied.
                 'This kindness is greater than that which you showed
                 earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether
                 rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I
                 will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know
                 that you are a woman of noble character.'"

           c) Emotionally - Naomi secured "a home" for Ruth.

              RTH 3:1  " One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, 'My
              daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you
              will be well provided for?'"

              1) A husband

                 a] Naomi found a way for Ruth to marry

                    RTH 3:2-4 "'Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you
                    have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be
                    winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash and
                    perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go
                    down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you
                    are there until he has finished eating and drinking.
                    When he lies down, note the place where he is lying.
                    Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell
                    you what to do.'"

                    i] She advised Ruth to dress as a bride and appeal to
                       Boaz, as kins-man redeemer, to offer her the
                       protection of marriage (RTH 3:1-4; 3:9.)

                   ii] Boaz responded favorably. He praised her for her
                       obedience to Naomi and for her "noble character"; he
                       promised to redeem her if possible and he sent her
                       home with a generous token of his care- 6 measures
                       of barley (RTH 3:10-15).

                       RTH 3:10-15 "' The LORD bless you, my daughter,' he
                       replied. 'This kindness is greater than that which
                       you showed earlier: You have not run after the
                       younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my
                       daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you
                       ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a
                       woman of noble character. Although it is true that I
                       am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer
                       than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning
                       if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if
                       he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I
                       will do it. Lie here until morning.' So she lay at
                       his feet until morning, but got up before anyone
                       could be recognized; and he said, 'Don't let it be
                       known that a woman came to the threshing floor.' He
                       also said, 'Bring me the shawl you are wearing and
                       hold it out.' When she did so, he poured into it six
                       measures of barley and put it on her. Then he went
                       back to town."

                 b] Boaz settled matters

                    i] Boaz arranged to meet another relative in the city
                       gate, the closest kins-man redeemer to Elimelech, to
                       ask him if he would redeem Elimelech's land and
                       marry Ruth ( and thus to provide an heir for Mahlon.
                       RTH 4:1-4.)

                       RTH 4:1-4  " Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate
                       and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had
                       mentioned came along, Boaz said, 'Come over here, my
                       friend, and sit down.' So he went over and sat down.
                       Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said,
                       'Sit here,' and they did so. Then he said to the
                       kinsman-redeemer, 'Naomi, who has come back from
                       Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to
                       our brother Elimelech. I thought I should bring the
                       matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it
                       in the presence of these seated here and in the
                       presence of the elders of my people. If you will
                       redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I
                       will know. For no one has the right to do it except
                       you, and I am next in line.'"


                   ii] The nearest kins-man redeemer declined and legally
                       turned over his right of redemption to Boaz, with
                       the elders of the city as witnesses (RTH 4:6-12.)

                       RTH 4:6-8 " At this, the kinsman-redeemer said,
                       'Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my
                       own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.'
                       (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption
                       and transfer of property to become final, one party
                       took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This
                       was the method of legalizing transactions in
                       Israel.) So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, 'Buy
                       it yourself.' And he removed his sandal. Then Boaz
                       announced to the elders and all the people, 'Today
                       you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all
                       the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon.'"

                  iii] Boaz and Ruth marry (RTH 4:13.)

                       RTH 4:9-11 "Then Boaz announced to the elders and
                       all the people, 'Today you are witnesses that I have
                       bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech,
                       Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the
                       Moabitess, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to
                       maintain the name of the dead with his property, so
                       that his name will not disappear from among his
                       family or from the town records. Today you are
                       witnesses!' Then the elders and all those at the
                       gate said, 'We are witnesses.'"

                       RTH 4:13  " So Boaz took Ruth and she became his
                       wife."

              2) A child

                 a] Ruth and Boaz were enabled to have a son, Obed, "a
                    servant who worships" (RTH 4:13).

                    RTH 4:13  " So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife.
                    Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to
                    conceive, and she gave birth to a son."


                 b] The child became the heir of Mahlon (RTH 4:14-17).

                    RTH 4:14-16  " The women said to Naomi: 'Praise be to
                    the LORD, who this day has not left you without a
                    kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout
                    Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your
                    old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and
                    who is better to you than seven sons, has given him
                    birth.' Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap
                    and cared for him. The women living there said, 'Naomi
                    has a son.'"

                 c] The child eventually became the father of Jesse and the
                    grandfather of David, King of Israel (RTH 4:17-22).

                    RTH 4:17-22 "He was the father of Jesse, the father of
                    David. This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez
                    was the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram
                    the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of
                    Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the
                    father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, Obed the
                    father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David."

     C. What can we learn from her?

        1. God is very concerned about the welfare of widows.

           JAM 1:27  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and
           faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their
           distress ..."

        2. God provides for His children.

           PSA 37:25 " I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen
           the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread."

        3. God accepts anyone who truly seeks Him.

           JOH 6:37  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and
           whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

           * So God brought Obed, and ultimately David and Jesus, from this
           devoted woman; and He accepted her into the line of believers
           tracing back to Adam and Eve who came by faith alone to the One
           who can meet all one's needs.

 III. What fruits of the Spirit can we see in her?

     A. love

     B. kindness

     C. self-control

  IV. Memory Verse:  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

     "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast,
     it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not
     easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight
     in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always
     trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

 

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
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