Telling the Story of Ruth in Your Own Words

by Glenn on June 9, 2021

So I thought I would try and tell the story of Ruth from memory, to see how much I remember and to establish some sort of baseline for being able to re-tell this story myself. This is a first attempt.

There is a family made up of a husband and wife, Elimelech and Naomi, and their two boys, Mahlon and Killion. They are living in the time of the judges, the period of time before the monarchy of ancient Israel. Their home is in the town of Bethlehem which experiences a period of famine.

This family decides to leave their home in the promised land in search of food outside the promised land. They cross the river Jordan and enter the land of Moab. They leave a large-scale disaster and then experience personal tragedy. First, Elimelech dies, leaving Naomi a widow.

Mahlon and Killion marry Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth. No children come to these marriages and then after ten years Mahlon and Killion also die. Now three widows are living with each other.

Naomi hears that the famine has ended back home in Bethlehem so she decides the three women should head there. After they start out, Naomi seems to have a change of heart. She tells her two daughters-in-law to return to their homes and their gods. Perhaps they can find new husbands. Naomi will go on alone.

Both daughters-in-law find themselves weeping and say no. After Naomi insists, Orpah returns home. But Ruth says she will not leave Naomi. In fact, she says this will be true until death. Where Naomi lives, Ruth will live. Naomi’s people will be Ruth’s people. Naomi’s God will be Ruth’s God. Ruth has had some sort of a conversion and dedicates herself to Naomi.

Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem at the start of barley season and because so much time has gone by and Naomi’s situation is so desperate, it creates something of a stir. Naomi tells people she doesn’t want to be called Naomi, which means “pleasant.” She wants to be called Mara, which means “bitter.” She believes God’s hand has been against her.

There is a man named Boaz living in Bethlehem who is a relative of Naomi. Ruth realizes she and Naomi need something to eat and Ruth sets off to glean a barley field after it has been harvested. It turns out that the field she gleans belongs to Boaz, this relative of Naomi’s.

Boaz comes to the field one morning and checks in with his foreman. Boaz sees Ruth out in the field and asks his foreman about her. He says she is the one who came back with Naomi and has been working all day except for a short break. Boaz goes to Ruth and thanks her for what she is doing for Naomi. He tells her to only glean in his field. He has told his men to leave her alone. He tells her to help herself to the water provided and he invites her to have lunch with his crew where she has enough to eat plus leftovers to take home. To his men Boaz gives special instructions to be very sloppy about their harvest so that there will be plenty for Ruth to glean.

When Ruth comes home with an abundance of food, Naomi asks where she has been gleaning. When she hears the name Boaz, she realizes this is a good thing. She tells Ruth to stay working in that field only.

Then Naomi hatches a plan. One day she tells Ruth to get cleaned up and dressed up in her finest clothes. At the end of the day, Ruth is to go to the threshing floor where Boaz is sleeping, uncover his feet and lie down by his feet, and see what happens. Boaz wakes up and is startled. He wants to know who this girl is that is sleeping at his feet. Ruth establishes who she is and then asks Boaz to spread his garment over her and to be a kinsman-redeemer for her.

Boaz thanks her for this request which he takes as a great kindness.  Boaz says Ruth could have looked at someone younger. Boaz says he will take on the role of kinsman-redeemer though there is a relative who is closer in relation. In the morning, Boaz gives Ruth six measures of grain to take home and she slips away before anyone knows that a woman has been on the threshing floor.

Boaz heads to the city gate where he finds the closer relative and gets a group of men together to conduct business. He explains the situation. Naomi is selling her field and wants a kinsman-redeemer to buy it. The closer relative is very interested, but Boaz explains there is a catch—the person who buys the land must take Ruth as a wife. Her child will become the heir of the property. The other kinsman decides he can’t entangle his estate this way.

Through a sign of the passing a sandal, it is established that this other relative will not be the kinsman-redeemer and that Boaz will take on this role.

Boaz marries Ruth. They have a child named Obed. Ruth gives the child to Naomi to care for. The women of Bethlehem rejoice for Naomi. King David will be the descendant of this child.