The Story of Ruth and Naomi
N OW it came to pass, many hundreds of years ago, that there was a good woman named Naomi who lived in the land of the Moabites. She had once been very rich and happy, but now her husband was dead and her two sons also, and she had left only Orpah and Ruth, the wives of her sons. There was a famine in the land. Naomi could find no grain in the fields to beat into flour. She and Orpah and Ruth were lonely and sad and very hungry.
But Naomi heard there was a land where the Lord had visited His People and given them bread; so she went forth from the place where she was, and her two daughters with her, to the land called Judah. It was a long, hard way to go. There were rough roads to travel and steep hills to climb. Their feet grew so weary they could scarcely walk, and at last Naomi said:
"Go, return each to your father's house. The Lord deal kindly with you as you have dealt with me. The Lord grant you that you may find rest."
Then she kissed them, and Orpah kissed her and left her, but Ruth would not leave Naomi. And Naomi said to Ruth:
"Behold, thy sister is gone back unto her own people; return thou!"
But Ruth clung to Naomi more closely, as she said:
"Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, there will I go; and where thou lodgest, there will I lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."
When Naomi saw that Ruth loved her so much, she forgot how tired and hungry she was and the two journeyed on together until they came to Bethlehem in Judah in the beginning of the barley harvest. There was no famine in Bethlehem. The fields were full of waving grain, and busy servants were reaping it, and gathering it up to bind into sheaves. Above all were the fields of the rich man, Boaz, shining with barley and corn.
Naomi and Ruth came to the edge of the fields and watched the busy reapers. They saw that after each sheaf was bound, and each pile of corn was stacked, a little grain fell, unnoticed, to the ground. Ruth said to Naomi: "Let me go to the field and glean the ears of corn after them." And Naomi said to her: "Go, my daughter." And she went, and came and gleaned in the field after the reapers.
And Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to his reapers: "Whose damsel is this?" for he saw how very beautiful Ruth was, and how busily she was gleaning. The reapers said: "It is the damsel that came back with Naomi out of the land of the Moabites."
And Ruth ran up to Boaz, crying: "I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves."
And Boaz, who was good and kind, said to Ruth:
"Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in any other field, but abide here."
Then Ruth bowed herself to the ground, and said: "Why have I found such favor in thine eyes, seeing I am a stranger?"
And Boaz answered her: "It hath been showed me all that thou hast done to thy mother."
So, all day, Ruth gleaned in Boaz's fields. At noon she ate bread and parched corn with the others. Boaz commanded his reapers to let fall large handfuls of grain, as they worked, for Ruth to gather, and at night she took it all home to Naomi.
"Where hast thou gleaned
"The man's name with whom I wrought
So Ruth gleaned daily, and at the end of the barley harvest the good man Boaz took Ruth and Naomi to live with him in his own house forever.