Preparing To Be His Help Meet: Creative Interpretations of the Book of Ruth

Preparing To Be His Help Meet: Creative Interpretations of the Book of Ruth June 26, 2014

by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide

After Debi finishes twisting Esther from an active woman into a passive girl, Debi turns her attention to Ruth.  In her discussion of the Book of Ruth, Debi pulls a two-fer: Ruth is a passive follower as befits a young girl while Naomi, a wise older woman, gives her great counsel.  In short, Debi uses the story of Ruth to imply that Debi’s young, naive readers should follow Debi’s ideas unquestioningly.   On a positive note, Debi is blessedly brief on the subject.

Away we go!

“[Ruth] was a young widow caring for her old mother-in-law.”

Jeepers.  We’re ONE sentence in and already Debi’s drifted away from the Bible.  Nowhere in the Book of Ruth does it say that Ruth was caring for Naomi.  Yes, Naomi was past child-bearing years.  That doesn’t make her in need of care – even in the much harder times of history.

“Ruth was given an opportunity to leave the old woman, but chose to stay and help her.”

Oh, good. We’re back.  That sounds like Ruth 1:6-18.

“This would have greatly limited her chances of marrying again and having children.”

Nice use of the martyr card, Debi.  We know nothing about Ruth’s life prior to her marriage. Ten years had passed since she married into Naomi’s family.  Ruth may not have had a home to return to.  Her people might have expected the family of her husband to take care of her.  If Ruth left Moab and went to Judah with Naomi, she would at least have access to food through gleaning and whatever benefits Naomi’s relatives could bring.  Like Esther, Ruth made a choice based on her circumstances and staying with Naomi could well have been a safer choice than returning to her home.

“Every day Ruth worked in the fields of Naomi’s relatives in order to feed them both.”

Who brings up the idea of Ruth working in the fields of Boaz?  Why, Ruth herself in 2:2!  Funny how Debi missed that…..

“A wealthy man named Boaz took note of the hardworking girl who labored in his fields, gathering the leftovers after his workers had already harvested the grains.  Boaz was impressed by both her hard work and her faithfulness to her mother-in-law, yet the older Boaz still never considered Ruth for his wife.”

I’m surprised how Debi can write a neat, concise description of a set of Bible verses like the passage above and also just make things up as she goes along.  Amazing how our minds work.

Debi ignores Boaz’s protectiveness toward Ruth.  In Chapter 2, both Boaz and Naomi remind Ruth to stay with the young women of Boaz’s family to prevent “being bothered” by the other male workers.  Boaz allows Ruth to eat with the hired reapers and instructs the hired workers to leave extra grain behind to make Ruth’s job easier.  Boaz tries to keep Ruth safe from harm – an excellent quality in a partner.  Sadly, I doubt Mike Pearl keeps Debi safe….

“It was the old woman who took matters into her own hands, forcing Boaz to notice the young Ruth.”

Well, Debi, the Bible disagrees with you, again.  Boaz had noticed Ruth in Chapter 2.  In Chapter 3:1-5,  Naomi is giving Ruth a crash course in how Ruth can identify herself a member of the Jewish community that Boaz can legally marry (notice how Ruth doesn’t call herself a foreigner anymore but a servant or handmaiden; it’s an important distinction)  and how to request that he marry her as her nearest redeeming kinsman.   Important point to remember for later chapters: Ruth asks Boaz to marry her, not vice versa.

There is a bit of a hiccup; another man should be asked first to marry Ruth.  Boaz springs into action the next day and everything works out well in the end.

“When you read the story you will notice that Ruth trusted and obeyed Naomi concerning Boaz. “

Yes, but not blindly.  Ruth was working with Boaz and/or the young women of his family for at least part of the barley harvest and all of the wheat harvest.  Ruth saw how Boaz prevented her from being harassed or raped while she worked.  Presumably, she saw how he treated the women in his family.  By the time Naomi instructs Ruth in how to properly ask Boaz to marry her, Ruth knows Boaz better than Naomi does.

Debi, I know you’re trying to draw parallels between Ruth’s story to  Lydia’s story, but doing that makes me feel even worse for Lydia.

“Read the stories of these two young girls, Ruth and Esther. (…) Come to know these girls.  Think about their hardships, their pain, fear, worries and victories.  Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would respond to situations they went through.”

I agree.  Esther and Ruth are strong, vigorous role models for women today.

(I’m trying to ignore the little voice in my head that says “Yes!  Set up an action plan for the eventuality of being recruited into a “divorced heathen” king’s harem!  Do it now!  *giggles*)

AntiPearl:  My husband can’t wear a wedding ring for safety reasons on the farm.  As a wedding gift, I gave him a pocket watch engraved with part of  Ruth 1: 16 so he could keep it in his pocket on the farm.

Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
(Well…that was the idea.  Cows intervened.)

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Read everything by Mel!

Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide

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