The word megillat means scroll, and the term Megillat Ruth refers to the book of Ruth. By tradition, this is read on the second day of the Jewish holiday Shavuot (“First Fruits” or “Harvest” also known as Pentecost), commonly understood as the day of the giving of the Torah (the name given to the first five books of the Bible as a unit). The story takes place in the same time of year as the holiday – spring harvest time – and teaches about lovingkindness, which is also the underlying theme of the entire Torah. Ruth also is an important part of the lineage of David, one of the most well-known and beloved kings of Israel, as she gave birth to his grandfather. David is himself an important part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. Because many of her descendants were kings, Ruth is sometimes referred to as “mother of royalty.”
This text contains the story of the Moabite woman who, as a widow, joined her widowed Jewish mother-in-law in returning to the land of Israel. She left all she knew to follow Naomi to her home. There are many truths that can be learned from the story of Ruth.
The story begins with a famine in Israel. This severe lack of food led to the man Elimelech taking his wife and their sons out of the country to Moab, where food was still available. It is believed by some that Elimelech was a wealthy man who had sufficient food for his family, but that he left because he did not want to share with the less fortunate. It is said that this was the reason that he experienced misfortune himself.
While they lived in Moab, Elimelech died. His sons, Mahlon and Chilion, each fell in love with a Moabite woman. They married. After about ten years, both the sons died, leaving the three women widows. Naomi told Orpah and Ruth, her daughters-in-law, that she was going to return to Israel, and told them to return home, and blessed them. After kissing them goodbye, the two young women said they would travel with her. Naomi told them there was no reason; she could not provide them with another husband, and even if she could, it would be years until a new son would be marriage age.
The ladies wept and Orpah said her goodbyes and left. Ruth clung to Naomi and begged to go along. Naomi told her to go back like her sister-in-law had done, but Ruth spoke the famous phrases: “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Naomi then allowed Ruth to return with her, and they stayed together in a small house in Bethlehem.
Because of inheritance laws, the rule in Israel was that a woman whose husband died without leaving children was to remarry either a brother of her husband, if one was available, or another relative, beginning with whoever was nearest kin. Naomi knew this (it was what she was referring to when she said she could not provide another husband), but Ruth did not, since Moab did not have the same tradition.
Since both women were widows, it was necessary for them to obtain food themselves. In that time, the way this was done was by going to a field where they were harvesting (it was the time for barley to be harvested) and pick up what was left behind. Harvesting is not a precise science, so there was always some that was missed.
Ruth happened to go to the field of Boaz, who was a relative. Boaz saw her and liked what he saw. He asked his foreman who she was and was told she was the Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi. Boaz told her to always come to his field and to feel free to drink from the water he had for his workers. He made sure she would be safe there and then he told the men who were harvesting to purposefully leave a handful here and there extra for her.
Naomi knew he was related and told Ruth to go to Boaz and tell him that he was a close relative. Boaz, however, knew that there was a closer relative who would have first option. He went to speak to this other relative and told him that Elimilech’s land needed to be redeemed (the term for recovering inheritance for a relative that had died). The man was eager at first, until Boaz added that there was a woman who must also be redeemed with the land, and then the man declined, as he already had a wife.
This meant that Boaz was free to marry Ruth, which he eagerly did.
Where to Buy
Bible Stories for Girls: Ruth
This hardcover book is the fourth in a series called Bible Belles. It highlights the characteristic of loyalty that is shown by Ruth and how that can be applied in modern times by modern people.
Children’s Bible Study: Ruth (Kindle)
This Bible study can aid parents in teaching the story of Ruth to their children. It goes through the story from beginning to end, in eight lessons, using the King James Version of the Bible. Definitions of words that may be unfamiliar are included.
Ruth and Naomi (Arch Books)
Rhymes and bright illustrations make this Biblically accurate story easy for children to read and remember. A note in the back of the book offers parents ideas for concepts to discuss with their child after reading the book together.
Ruth and Naomi (I Can Read, Level 2)
This book is a perfect way for early readers to read the story for themselves. Children up to fourth grade will enjoy this easy to read book.
Ruth (Little Children’s Bible Books)
This book retells the story of Ruth. Concepts that may need to be considered are brought into focus through questions asked by two ladybugs on the pages.
Where to Buy
Ruth Takes Care of Naomi
Bible stories are enjoyed by children everywhere, and this is one of the favorites. The Famous People of the Bible Series includes a variety of other well-known Biblical people, as well.
Tapestries: Stories of Women in the Bible
Ruth is one of the 22 stories included in this book for 3rd-5th grade students. Beautiful illustrations help bring these ancient stories to life.
The story of Ruth is animated on this DVD to teach the truth of the power of trusting in God to young children.
The Story of Ruth (DVD)
This movie from 1960 tells the story of Ruth as told in the Bible. Older children may prefer this version instead of the animated options.