The Story of Ruth
What Came Before
There they stayed ten years, and in that time Elimelech died. His two sons married women of the country of Moab, one woman named Orpah, the other named Ruth. But the two young men also died in the land of Moab, so that Naomi and her two daughters-in-law were all left widows.
Naomi had been absent from Bethlehem for ten years, but her friends were all glad to see her again. They said, "Is this Naomi, whom we knew years ago?" Now the name Naomi means "pleasant". And Naomi said,
"Call me not Naomi. Call me Mara, for the Lord has made my life bitter. I went out full, with my husband and two sons, now I come home empty, without them. Do not call me Pleasant. Call me Bitter." The name "Mara", by which Naomi wished to be called, means "bitter". But Naomi learned later that "Pleasant" was the right name for her after all.
There was living in Bethlehem at that time a very rich man named Boaz. He owned large fields that were abundant in their harvests, and he was related to the family of Elimelech, Naomi's husband, who had died.
It was the custom in Israel when they reaped the grain not to gather all the stalks, but to leave some for the poor people, who followed after the reapers with their sickles, and gathered what was left. When Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem it was the time of the barley harvest, and Ruth went out into the fields to glean the grain which the reapers had left. It so happened that she was gleaning in the field that belonged to Boaz, this rich man.
Boaz came out from the town to see his men reaping, and he said to them, "The Lord be with you" and they answered him, "The Lord bless you." And Boaz said to his master of the reapers, "Who is this young woman that I see gleaning in the field?"
The man answered, "It is the young woman from the land of Moab, who came with Naomi. She asked leave to glean after the reapers, and has been here gathering grain since yesterday."
Then Boaz said to Ruth, "Listen to me, my daughter. Do not go to any other field, but stay here with my young women. No one shall harm you, and when you are thirsty, go and drink at our vessels of water."
Then Ruth bowed to Boaz, and thanked him for his kindness, all the more kind because she was a stranger in Israel. Boaz said, "I have heard how true you have been to your mother-in-law. Naomi, in leaving your own land and coming with her to this land. May the Lord, under whose wings you have come, give you a reward!" And at noon, when they sat down to rest and to eat, Boaz gave her some of the food. And he said to the reapers,
"When you are reaping, leave some of the sheaves for her, and drop out some sheaves from the bundles, where she may gather them."
That evening Ruth showed Naomi how much she had gleaned, and told her of the rich man Boaz, who had been so kind to her. And Naomi said, "This man is a near relation of ours. Stay in his fields as long as the harvest lasts." And so Ruth gleaned in the fields of Boaz until the harvest had been gathered.
At the end of the harvest Boaz held a feast on the threshing floor. And after the feast, by the advice of Naomi, Ruth went to him, and said to him, "You are a near relation of my husband and of his father, Elimelech. Now will you not do good to us for his sake?"
And when Boaz saw Ruth he loved her, and soon after this he took her as his wife. And Naomi and Ruth went to live in his home, so that Naomi's life was no more bitter, but pleasant. And Boaz and Ruth had a son, whom they named Obed, and later Obed had a son named Jesse. And Jesse was the father of David, the shepherd boy who became king. So Ruth, the young woman of Moab, who chose the people and the God of Israel, became the mother of kings.