Today’s reading begins with the congregation of Israel finding wives for the remnant of Benjamin and concludes with return of Naomi and Ruth to Bethlehem.
Given the tie in between the end of the reading for the previous day and the start of the reading for today, that material was covered in the previous day’s post.
In the time of the Judges, with the depravity of the people of Israel comes the story of hope of Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite woman who was taken in marriage by a man of the tribe of Judah. Ruth’s brief marriage to the man of Judah was spent in the land of Moab. Moab being the people who descended from the incestuous relationship between Abraham’s brother Lot and his first-born daughter. The people of Moab were despised by the Israelites and the fact that a man of Israel had married a Moabite woman was certainly no less than a scandal.
Ruth’s husband died in Moab along with his father and brother. The only remaining people of the family because neither son had any children were the mother Naomi and her two daughters-in-law Orpah and Ruth. Naomi told her daughters-in-law that she was going to return to her home in Judah and that they were free to go and remain in their homeland of Moab. Orpah chose to do as her mother-in-law had said and stayed, but Ruth refused to leave the side of Naomi. The reasons for Ruth going to a foreign land to stay with her mother-in-law aren’t entirely clear, but it could be assumed that Ruth was very much attached to Naomi and had a great affection for her.
The hope for Ruth ever finding another husband among the men of Israel was remote at best. Her standing as a widowed woman and from a despised foreign land almost ensured that she would be without a husband for the remainder of her life. Rather than stay in her home, she likely chose a life of singleness to be with Naomi. A strange choice for any woman of that time because of her inability to having any social standing whatsoever because she would likely never marry again.