Posting Ruth background resources.
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It's interesting that most of us focus on RUTH and NAOMI in the story and distill the book down to subject of "friendship." This is natural. It's important to identify female heros in the Bible. But the story of Ruth has much more than just "friendship" to teach.
I've often thought that BOAZ gets overlooked. He had MUCH MORE TO LOSE than Ruth did by marrying an outsider. And he has to take care of his wife's dead husband's mother.
Our kids will be able to relate to how it feels not only to be an outsider, but how it feels to consider befriending somebody that others may ridicule you for.
Many will also be able to relate to the concept of "extended family" and the obligations we have to those connected to us.
The other part of this story that often gets overlooked is the law of "gleaning." This is a stewardship issue: leave something left over for those less fortunate. "Gluttony" is the theological corrolary. Here too kids will be able to relate. All of them have at sometime been the LAST person in line at the cafeteria or received the leftovers at home.
Finally, there is the fact that Ruth doesn't abandon her older mother-in-law, and equally as important NEITHER does Boaz. The Bible makes the point over and over again that widows have a special place in Israelite society. The elderly were a treasure.
<>< Neil MacQueen
"Reading Ruth: Contemporary Women Reclaim a Sacred Story."
Posted by member "revshannan "
I'd like to suggest to everyone a really fantastic book (for adults) on the Book of Ruth. The book is titled, "Reading Ruth: Contemporary Women Reclaim a Sacred Story." and it is edited by Judith Kates and Gail Reimer.
It's a series of articles on the Book of Ruth written by women from a variety of perspectives and it has some beautiful renderings of the Hebrew. This is great to use to copy a chapter out for your teachers on a particular area you are focusing on, and/or to read as the person putting together the curriculum for your kids and adults.
Ideas of Ruth
I've always considered this story to be one of the more delightfully shocking ones in the Bible!
The book's theology has been frequently debated and discussed because God takes no obvious active role in the story. God never speaks directly, but is only referred to by the characters occasionally. No burning bushes here! How IS God active in the story? Or is God irrelevant? How DO the characters hear God?
I am particularly struck by the unconventional view of family (at least unconventional for Israel at the time). "Family" is not defined by kinship or even duty, but by choice. Ruth's choice of an adopted mother and a new husband are shockingly forthright. The reference to "uncovering Boaz's feet" can be interpreted as a sexual advance by Ruth (the lower parts were politely referred to as "feet"). How amazing that this young foreign woman would risk damaging her reputation and her security for the sake of choosing a new family for herself.
Many children and youth I teach come from painful family situations: death of a parent, abuse, separation, step families. Most have little choice in who is considered "family": their mom's new boyfriend, step-siblings, and so on. Some desperately need to choose family for themselves, i.e. safe and trustworthy role models in the community who can give a positive influence in their lives.
Some make surprising choices about whom to include in their family: an elderly neighbour they adopt as a "Gramma", a runaway who is welcomed into their friend's home, or a young teen asking to be placed with a foster family she has personally "chosen" -- one much healthier and stable than her biological family.
Those radical choices are reflections of God's choice. Amazingly, God chooses family beyond the bonds of blood and kin. God chooses US. Wow! How can we not make the same surprising, loving, radical choices when we name our own "family".