A Woman Visible

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Biblical Woman Visible

Since the beginning of the new year, we've been studying the book of Ruth in my Sunday school group. It's been a really interesting study because the class is mostly women and we've focused primarily on the relationships that are made in this book.

I talked a little about what I thought about this text and my classes response in The Other Invisible.

Ruth is a curious, wonderful character in the Bible. She is an outsider who becomes a part of the Hebrew fabric. She is a woman that is bold, beautiful, and adventurous. She is a woman visible.

Today we discussed chapter 3 of Ruth. (The lovely picture featured today is the cover of a book called This Ruth by Harold S. Paisley, a devotional book published by Olive Press).
For those of you that are not familiar with the story, let me give you a quick over view: Naomi, who lives in a place called Moab and is Hebrew, loses her husband and both sons within a very short amount of time. She is left with only her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Naomi decides that she should go back to Israel to her village (most likely Bethlehem--she's related to the family that will be the house of David). She tells her daughters-in-law to go back to their parents. Orpah goes back to her parents, but Ruth does something remarkable. She decides that she will go back to Israel with Naomi, and become part of her family and people.

So the set off and go to Israel, where Naomi's people take them into the village. Because they are widows, the law allows for them to glean wheat from the fields during harvest time to eat.

It's there that we meet Boaz. I love the manliness of his response upon first seeing Ruth--"Whose woman is that?" This is a question that begs a few things:

1. Who is that woman? I've never seen her before.
2. Is she seeing anyone or is she married?
3. Who's family does she belong to?

Boaz is amazing. He makes sure she gets her share and a bit more of the grain, he offers her lunch (the first date in the Bible?), and he tells the other men working the fields to leave her alone. Ruth goes home after working the fields, and tells Naomi everything. Naomi is thrilled! Boaz is her kinsman, and by law, he may be able to help Ruth, and even, possibly, marry her. So, Naomi encourages her to get closer to Boaz by doing something a little sneaky. This is where Chapter Three begins, and my questions begin.

Read the chapter, if you like, and think about this:

Is doing this a form of pursuit? If so, is it ok to pursue a man so blatantly? Something I considered this morning was that Boaz started this, so it was ok for her to continue to show her interest. Also note how he acts--he's just so great! He's respectful, and kind. She is visible throughout the book,but is she visible in a positive or negative way? Can you explain why?

I will post my thoughts more clearly later. I'd love to see a discussion follow.

More later!


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