Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Ruth 1:1-9, 16-18 (ESV)
1 In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, 5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.
Ruth’s Loyalty to Naomi
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.
16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
In our English Bibles, the book of Ruth is found after Judges, where it would fit chronologically. But in the Jewish Bibles, it was always put right after Proverbs. That meant that once you finished reading the passage praising women in Proverbs 31, you would immediately go to the story of Ruth, a woman who is an example of the “valiant woman.” After her Jewish husband died, Ruth (who was a Moabite) would have been expected to go back to her own people. But she is loyal and fearless. She goes with her mother-in-law to Israel, and makes a new life for herself in a foreign country. Through her boldness, she provides food for her mother-in-law, and attracts the attention of Boaz, who marries her. God is looking over all of this, for their child will be grandfather of King David, and therefore, the ancestor of Jesus.