Naomi & Boaz - a love story
The Book of Ruth
is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. It
celebrates loyalty: to God, to family, to each other. Family
continuity is achieved through
and by women. These women are unlikely heroines: an
elderly woman and her non-Israelite daughter-in-law.
preservation of the family, central to Ruth's
story, is linked to the future of Israel: Ruth
and Naomi ensure the survival of the nation, personified in
Ruth's great-grandson David.
Book of Ruth 1-4, Chapter 1
Naomi Loses Her Husband and
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a
man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to
live for a while in the country of Moab.
2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was 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.
3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her
4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other
After they had lived there about ten years,
5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her
two sons and her husband.
Prepares to Return to Bethlehem
the positions of Bethlehem and Moab
When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people
by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to
return home from there.
7 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
8 Then Naomi said to her two
daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May
the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown
kindness to your dead husbands and to me.
9 May the Lord grant that each of you will
find rest in the home of another husband.”Then she kissed them goodbye
and they wept aloud
10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
Argues with her Daughters-in-Law
Will Not Leave Naomi
But Naomi said,
“Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to
have any more sons, who could become your husbands?
Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I
thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and
then gave birth to sons—
13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for
them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the
Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
14 At this they wept
aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung
15 “Look,” said Naomi,
“your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back
16 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 even death separates you and
18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she
stopped urging her.
19 So the two women went on
until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole
town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara,
because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.
21 I went away full, but the Lord has
brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord
has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her
daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was
Meets Boaz in the Grain Field
1 Now Naomi had a
relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of
Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.
2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and
pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi
said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.”
3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the
harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to
Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.
4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters,
“The Lord be with you!” “The Lord bless you!”
5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young
woman belong to?”
6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from
Moab with Naomi.
7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves
behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here
from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and
glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the
women who work for me.
9 Watch the
field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I
have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty,
go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked
him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me - a
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.
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.”
13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she
said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your
servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
and Boaz Share a Meal
14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread
and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with
the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted
and had some left over.
Women grinding grain
15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her
gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her.
Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them
for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”
17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the
barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.
18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much
she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left
over after she had eaten enough.
Sees an Opportunity
19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where
did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” Then
Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been
working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.
in the fields
20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law.
“He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.”
She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our
21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with
my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”
22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for
you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in
someone else’s field you might be harmed.”
23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the
barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her
Tells Ruth What To Do
One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must
find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.
Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight
he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.
3 Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in 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.
4 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.”
5 “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered.
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her
mother-in-law told her to do.
and Boaz on the Threshing Floor
7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good
spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth
approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down.
8 In the middle of the night something startled the man; he
turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!
9 “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant
Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you
are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”
10 “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
11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all
you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble
12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family,
there is another who is more closely related than I.
13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his
duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not
willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until
14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone
could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to
the threshing floor.”
15 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
placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town.
Reports Back to Naomi
16 When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it
go, my daughter?” Then she told her everything Boaz had done for
17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying,
‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”
18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what
happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”
bargains for the land - and Ruth
Naomi, He Qi
Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the
guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over
here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.
2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,”
and they did so.
3 Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back
from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative
4 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.” “I will redeem it,” he
5 Then Boaz said, “On the
day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the
dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his
6 At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it
because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot
Possession of a man's sandal
was tangible evidence that a transaction had taken place; this
could be backed up by the witness of ten men of good standing in
(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.)
8 So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And
he removed his sandal.
9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you
are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek,
Kilion and Mahlon.
10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, 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 his hometown.
Today you are witnesses!”
11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are
witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like
Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have
standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.
12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may
your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
Gains a Son
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord
enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day
has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous
15 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.”
16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him.
17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they
named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Genealogy of David, King of Israel
then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of
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,
the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.
Read about more
fascinating women of the Bible
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