The Story of Ruth

About this and other paraphrased bible stories



In the days before there were kings, when Israel was still being ruled by judges, there was a famine. During this time, a man from Bethlehem which was in Judah left his home to go live in Moab for a while. He took his wife and His two sons with him. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife was Naomi. His sons were Mahlon and Chilion. The family had always lived in Bethlehem but now they were moving to the country of Moab to live there.

But Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons. Each son had married a wife from Moab. One of them was named Orpah, the other was named Ruth. After about ten years, Mahlon and Chilion also died. Naomi was left without her husband or her sons. Then she heard that the Lord came to care for His people in Israel by giving them food. So she began to leave Moab with her daughters-in-law to go back to Bethlehem in Judah.

On the way, Naomi said to Ruth and Orpah, "Go back! Both of you return to you family! May the Lord be kind to you just as you have been kind to me and my husband and sons. May the Lord give you rest and let you find new husbands." With that, Naomi kissed them and they all began to cry.

And Ruth and Orpah said, "No, we will go with you to Israel—to your people!" But Naomi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why would you want to go with me? I have no more sons to give to you as husbands. Turn back! I am too old to have a husband, and even if I did, and I gave birth to two sons tonight, would you wait until they grew up so you could marry them? Would you really want to wait for them instead of remarrying now? I am very sad for you that God has stretched out His hand against me."

Then Ruth and Orpah began to cry again. Orpah kissed Naomi and left, but Ruth held on tight to her. And Naomi said to Ruth: "You see! Orpah went back to her family and to the gods that they worship—go with her!" But Ruth said, "Please do not tell me to leave you or to stop following you. Where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people, and your God shall be my God. Where you die, I will die and wherever that is, I will be buried. May God make sure I keep this promise: that nothing shall separate us but death!

When Naomi could tell that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing else. So the two of them went on their journey

to Bethlehem and when they got there, the whole town was stirring, and the women all said, "Is this Naomi?" But Naomi said, "Don’t call me Naomi anymore because ‘Naomi’ means ‘pleasant’. Call me ‘Mara’ instead because ‘Mara’ means ‘bitter’ which is how God has dealt with me! I left Bethlehem with everything but God has brought me back with nothing. Why call me Naomi when what the Lord has done speaks against me? The Almighty has caused terrible things to happen to me.

So Naomi returned to Bethlehem from Moab with her daughter-in-law, Ruth. It was the beginning of the Barley Harvest when they came.


Now, Naomi’s husband had a relative whose name was Boaz. He was a powerful man who was very wealthy. Ruth said to Naomi, "Please let me go out to a field and pick up some of the extra grain that has been left behind. Maybe one of the owners of the fields will be kind to me." And Naomi said, "Go, my daughter." So Ruth went out to a field and followed the workers, picking up the grain that was left behind. As she went, she happened to come to the part of the field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of Naomi’s husband Elimelech. Boaz came out to the field from Bethlehem and said to his workers: "The Lord be with you!" They answered, "The Lord bless you!" Then Boaz said to the person in charge of the workers, "Who is this young woman?" And the man answered, "She is the young woman from Moab who came back to Bethlehem with Naomi. She asked us, ‘Please let me follow behind you and pick up what’s left behind of your grain.’ She came early this morning and has worked all day with only a short rest."

Then Boaz said to Ruth, "Listen, my daughter, do not go to any other field but stay close to the other women who are here. Keep your eyes on them and on this field. I have told the men not to harm you. When you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink the water that the men have drawn from the well.

Then Ruth bowed down to the ground and said to Boaz, "Why have you been so gracious to me? Why do you care about me since I am from another country?" But Boaz said to her, "I have heard about all that you have done for Naomi since your husband died—how you left your home and all your family to come here and live in a country among people that you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done, and may you receive a complete reward by God Himself since you have taken shelter under His wings!"

Then Ruth said, "You have been gracious to me, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to me as if I were your servant, though I am not our servant."

Later on, at mealtime, Boaz said to Ruth, "Come here and eat some bread and drink some whine." So she sat with the workers and Boaz gave her food. And she ate until she was full and she had some food left over. When she got up to continue working, Boaz told his men: "Let her even have some of the bundles of grain and do not stop her. And pull out handfuls from the bundles and leave it for her to pick up; do not stop her."

So Ruth gathered grain until evening. When she measured what she had gathered, it was an entire bushel full! And she took it into the city to show Naomi. She also gave her the food she had left over from what she ate at mealtime. Naomi said to her, "Where did you work today? May the man who took care of you be blessed!" Ruth told Naomi, "The man’s name was Boaz." And Naomi said, "May the Lord bless him for his kindness and for not forsaking us! This man is a close relative of ours—one who can redeem us!" Ruth said, "He told me, ‘Keep close to my workers until they have finished all my harvest.’" Naomi said, "It is good that you stay in his field because in another field you might get hurt."

So Ruth kept close to the people of Boaz’ field and she worked until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. All the while she lived with Naomi.


Then Naomi said to Ruth, "My daughter, I want you to find a home to be at rest in so that things well be well for you. Boaz is our relative—the man whose field you worked in, and whose young ladies you kept close to while you worked. Tonight he is going to be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Get cleaned up, put on perfume and a cloak and go to where he is, but do not let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down to sleep, take note of where he lies down. Then go and remove his blanket from his feet, lie down there, and he will tell you what to do.

"I will do everything you have told me," Ruth said. So she went to the threshing floor and did just as Naomi had told her. And when Boaz had eaten and drank and his heart was happy, he lay down at the end of a heap of grain. Then Ruth came quietly and uncovered his feet and lay down.

At midnight Boaz was startled and he turned over and saw a woman laying at his feet! He said, "Who’s there?" And she answered, "I am Ruth, your servant. Please spread your wings over me, for you are a redeemer." And Boaz said, "May you be blessed by God, my daughter! This kindness you show by not pursuing young men whether they are rich or poor is the best kindness you have shown yet! And now, my daughter, do not be afraid. I will do all that you ask me to do for you because all the people in the city know that you are a woman of great virtue. It is true that I am a redeemer to you, yet there is a redeemer who is a closer relative to you than I. Stay here tonight, and in the morning, we will see if he wants to redeem you. I he does, then good: let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then I promise to you before God that I will redeem you. Lie down until morning."

So Ruth lay at Boaz’ feet until morning but left before anyone could see who she was. And Boaz said, "Let it not be known that Ruth came here to the threshing floor." Before she left, Boaz said to Ruth, "Bring the cloak you are wearing and hold it out." So she did and he gave her six measures of barley. Then she left and went back to the city.

When she came to Naomi, Naomi said, "How did it go, my daughter?" Then Ruth told her all that Boaz had done for her. She said, "All of this barley he gave to me! He said, ‘You cannot go back to your mother-in-law with nothing!’" Naomi said, "Wait, my daughter, until we know how this is going to turn out. Boaz will not rest until he has settled this issue today."


Now Boaz went up to the city gate and sat down. Then the other redeemer that Boaz had mentioned before came by. So Boaz said to him, "Come over here and sit down with me!" So the man came and sat down. And Boaz said to 10 of the leaders of the city, "Sit down here with us!" And they came and sat down. Then Boaz sad to the redeemer, "Naomi, who has returned from the country of Moab, is selling the land that belonged to her husband Elimelech, who is now dead, who was a relative of ours. So I thought I would let you know and encourage you to buy it in the presence of all of us who are sitting here, in the presence of the leaders of the city. If you want to redeem this land, then redeem it! But if you do not want it, let me know, because if you do not, I am next in line after you and I will." So the man said, "I will redeem it."

Then Boaz said, "If you are going to buy the field from Naomi, you must also marry Ruth, the woman from Moab, who is the widow of Elimelech’s son. You will have to do this in order that Elimelech’s family name will live on in his land."

Then the redeemer said, "In that case, I cannot redeem the land because if I did it would interfere with my own family name and inheritance. You can redeem the land and take Ruth as your wife, because I cannot."

During this time period there was a custom in Israel when people would make an exchange or redeem another’s land: to confirm the transaction, one would take off his shoe and give it to the other. This is the way a person in Israel used to signify an acceptable transaction had been made. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, "You can redeem the land," he took of his shoe. Then Boaz said to the leaders and to all the people, "You have seen today that I have bought all that belonged to Elimelech and his sons Chilion and Mahlon. Also, Ruth, who was married to Mahlon, shall become my wife so that Elimelech’s family name will live on in the land." Then all the people who were at the city gate said, "We have witnessed it! May the Lord make Ruth, who is coming to your care, as fruitful as Rachel and Leah who together were the mothers of the 12 children of Israel. And may you be known as a mighty man of valor in Bethlehem, and your family be great because of the children that the Lord will give you with Ruth—as great as the family of Perez who was the son of Judah and Tamar.

So Boaz married Ruth and she became his wife. And she became pregnant and they gave birth to a son. The women of the town said to Naomi, "Blessed be the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer! May the child’s name be famous in Israel! He will be to you like one who breathes new life and one who takes care of you in your old age, because your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him!

Then Naomi became a nurse to the child and the women of the neighborhood named the child and said, "A son has been born into Naomi’s family!" They named him Obed. He went on to become the father of Jesse, who was the father of David.

So this is the family tree of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, Hezron was the father of Ram, Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminidab was the father of Nahshon, Nahshon was the father of Salmon, Salmon was the father of Boaz, Boaz was the father of Obed, Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of David.


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