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Discovery Magazine 12/1/2001

Ruth: Ordinary Woman or Ancestor of Christ?

by  Melinda Harrub

At first glance, the Old Testament story of Ruth appears to be the story of an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. However, upon closer examination this story is anything but ordinary. On the contrary, the four chapters of the book of Ruth paint an inspiring and heartwarming portrait of a woman who is extraordinary! She was so extraordinary, in fact, that she was the great-grandmother of King David and ultimately an ancestress of Jesus Christ!

Ruth’s admirable character is demonstrated first in chapter one as we are introduced to Naomi, her mother-in-law, and the tragic loss of Naomi’s husband and two sons. Here, amidst this grief, we find one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. After Naomi pleaded with her two daughters-in-law to return to their homelands and families, Ruth responded: "Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for 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). Can you imagine leaving your own family to go and live with someone that is not your blood relative? Ruth promised to stay with Naomi as long as she lived, and she, like Naomi, would worship Jehovah God rather than idols (like many did in that day).

The beautiful portrait of Ruth becomes even clearer as we continue reading. Because Ruth and Naomi were widowed, the Law of Moses permitted them to glean (gather "leftover" crops) in fields that belonged to someone else. The inspired writer records that Ruth volunteered to glean grain in the field so that she and Naomi would have food to eat. Even though Ruth was considered a foreigner in this strange land, she felt it her duty to help provide for Naomi and herself. We learn that the field in which Ruth gleaned belonged to a wealthy man named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s late husband. Boaz not only allowed Ruth to glean in his fields, but also offered her additional food, water, and protection.

So what can we learn from the life of Ruth? We have seen in her the kind of loyalty, devotion, humility, service, gratitude, and honor that should characterize every child of God. But one of the most important characteristics was her strong faith in God. Even in tragedy, she remained faithful and chose to follow God. As a foreigner in a strange land, she reaped bountiful blessings because of her faith that God would provide for her. Finally, her faith in God allowed her ultimately to become an ancestress of Jesus Christ.

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