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Ruth - the outsider

Ruth the Moabite arrives in Bethlehem with Naomi.
Boaz was a rich landowner in the town of Bethlehem. At harvest time he obeyed God’s laws and allowed the poor to follow behind his reapers to pick up the loose grain that had fallen to the ground. One day he noticed a stranger, a foreign refugee, among the poor hunting for grain. – Slide 1
‘Who is that young woman over there?’ he asked the worker in charge of the reapers. <br/>‘She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi.’ <br/>Boaz knew Naomi, he was a distant relative of hers. Naomi’s husband, Elimelech had owned land in Bethlehem. But in a time of famine, Elimelech and Naomi had traveled to live in nearby Moab. Their two sons had married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. – Slide 2
Sadly tragedy struck. Firstly, Elimelech died and then Naomi lost her two sons too. She had become a widow with two daughters-in-law who were also widows. – Slide 3
Naomi had decided to return to Bethlehem. She told Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab. Orpah wanted to remain with her people but Ruth replied. ‘Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.’ – Slide 4
Ruth was now a widow, a Moabite foreigner living among Jews in Bethlehem. With nothing to eat, she had gone out into the fields to gather grain for herself and Naomi. <br/>Naomi struggled to understand why God allowed her to suffer so much.  She changed her name from Naomi (meaning pleasant) to Mara meaning ‘bitter’). – Slide 5
Boaz went over to Ruth, ‘Stay in my fields and you will be protected. Follow behind the young women reapers. I have warned the young men not to mistreat you. When you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.’ Ruth thanked him warmly. ‘What have I done to deserve such kindness?’ she asked. ‘I am a foreigner.’ <br/>‘I know you have looked after my relative Naomi,’ Boaz replied. The God of Israel will be your refuge.’ – Slide 6
When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, ‘Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!’ – Slide 7
So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket. She carried it back to her mother-in-law. ‘Where did you gather all this grain today?’ Naomi asked. ‘May the Lord bless the one who helped you!’ <br/>So Ruth told her mother-in-law about Boaz. – Slide 8
‘May the LORD bless him!’ Naomi exclaimed. ‘He is showing his kindness to us. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.’ <br/>A family redeemer was someone who could purchase the land of dead relative but had to care for his widow and family. – Slide 9
Ruth continued gathering grain in the fields of Boaz throughout the wheat harvest. The Naomi said to Ruth, ‘Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Dress up and go to the threshing floor. Notice where he lies down to sleep, then go and lie down by his feet.’ – Slide 10
Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to see a woman at the end of his makeshift bed. <br/>‘I am your servant,’ Ruth explained. ‘And you are my family redeemer.’ <br/>‘Don’t worry Ruth,’ Boaz replied. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. I will sort out this matter in the morning.’ – Slide 11
The next morning Boaz went to the town gate and met up with the man who was the closer family redeemer. ‘If you purchase of the land from Naomi the law requires you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow,’ Boaz explained. ‘That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.’ – Slide 12
The man was interested in buying the land but did not want the complication of marrying Ruth the Moabite. <br/>‘I can’t redeem it,’ he replied. ‘You redeem the land instead.’ It was the custom for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. So the other family redeemer handed his sandal to Boaz. – Slide 13
So Boaz bought the land belonging to Naomi’s husband and her sons. He then married Ruth. Later Ruth gave birth to a son. – Slide 14
They named their son Obed. The local women said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord, who has provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel and care for you in your old age. <br/>Obed became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of King David. – Slide 15
Slide 16