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´╗┐Title: A Farmer's Wife - The Story of Ruth
Author: Willard, J. H.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Farmer's Wife - The Story of Ruth" ***

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Altemus' Beautiful Stories Series

A FARMER'S WIFE

The Story of Ruth

by

J. H. WILLARD

Illustrated



Philadelphia
Henry Altemus Company

      *      *      *      *      *

Altemus' Illustrated Beautiful Stories Series

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS.
THE FIRST EASTER.
ONCE IN SEVEN YEARS.
      The Story of the Jubilee
WITH HAMMER AND NAIL.
      The Story of Jael and Sisera
FIVE KINGS IN A CAVE.
      The Story of a Great Battle
THE WISEST MAN.
      The Story of Solomon
A FARMER'S WIFE.
      The Story of Ruth
THE MAN WHO DID NOT DIE.
      The Story of Elijah
WHEN IRON DID SWIM.
      The Story of Elisha
WHAT is SWEETER THAN HONEY.
      The Story of Samson

Twenty-five Cents Each

Copyright, 1906
By Henry Altemus

      *      *      *      *      *


[Illustration: Working in the fields]


A FARMER'S WIFE

THE STORY OF RUTH.


In the district called Ephrath, belonging to the tribe of Judah, stood
the city of Bethlehem, or "house of bread." It was a city with walls
and gates, and lay between fruitful hills and well-watered valleys.
There among pleasant cornfields and pasture lands lived a man named
Elimelech, which means "my God is my King." He was descended from one
of the princes of Judah, and was a man of means and consequence.

[Illustration: A FERTILE REGION IN PALESTINE.]

Elimelech's wife was named Naomi, meaning "pleasant," and they had two
sons whose names were Mahlon and Chilion. This old and noble family
lived in this fertile region, amid pleasant surroundings, and with
happy prospects, until one of the frequent famines that were brought
on by want of rain visited their district.

[Illustration: "THE PARCHED AND STERILE FIELDS."]

Leaving the parched and sterile fields around Bethlehem, Elimelech,
his family and his flocks, left their home and settled in the rich and
well-watered lands of the Moabites, beyond the Jordan. As a wealthy
foreigner, he probably was well received by the people of Moab, and
secured good pasturage for his sheep and cattle.

[Illustration: SEEKING PASTURAGE FOR HIS SHEEP.]

But much trouble was in store for this family, notwithstanding its
wealth had enabled them to leave their own famine-stricken lands.
First Elimelech died, and the family was without a head.

[Illustration: ON THE WAY TO THE LAND OF MOAB.]

Then Mahlon married a beautiful woman of the country in which he was
then living, named Ruth, and his brother Chilion married another named
Orpah. Such marriages were against the law of Moses, because the
Moabites worshipped idols, but as the nation was descended from Lot,
the nephew of Abraham, the marriages were not so bad as they would
have been with women belonging to other of the different tribes of
Canaan.

[Illustration: PLAIN AND MOUNTAINS OF MOAB.]
_From a Photograph._

After a while both of the sons of Naomi died, and she was left a
childless widow in a strange land. By her gracious ways she had won
the affection of both Ruth and Orpah, and now sorrow locked their
hearts together in sympathy. At length, Naomi turned her longing eyes
to her old home in Bethlehem. Ten years had come and gone since she
left it, and now the news had reached her that there was plenty of
food there.

Naomi and her two daughters-in-law started on their way to the land of
Judah. After a while, thinking that they had accompanied her far
enough, Naomi bade Ruth and Orpah return to their own mothers' homes,
and spoke very kindly to them. She kissed them and would have taken
leave of them, but they insisted that they would go with her to the
home of her own people.

[Illustration: "NAOMI BID RUTH AND ORPAH RETURN."]

Then Naomi suggested that they would not be welcome at Bethlehem
because they were Moabites. They would be looked upon with reproach,
strangers in a strange land, and again she pleaded with them to go
home, lest their love for her should prove a sorrow to them.

[Illustration: BETHLEHEM.]

Orpah was persuaded to return and settle down among her kindred, and
probably did so from a sense of duty; but Ruth would not leave Naomi,
although her mother-in-law gave her one more opportunity to go back to
Moab.

The chief cause for separation, according to Naomi, was, not that they
belonged to different races, but that they did not worship the same
God. But Ruth, in words at once pathetic and sincere, unselfish in
spirit and expression, declared her resolve.

_"Intreat me not to leave thee, and 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 aught but death part thee and me."_

[Illustration: "'INTREAT ME NOT TO LEAVE THEE.'"]

Ruth gave up father and mother, friends and relatives, religion and
country, and chose poverty and a life among strangers because of her
love for Naomi, and her trust in Naomi's God. They reached Bethlehem
about the beginning of the barley harvest, and secured some kind of a
home.

The city of Bethlehem was stirred by the return of Naomi. She had left
them accompanied by husband and sons, and in prosperity. She returned,
altered in circumstances, changed in appearance, and accompanied only
by a Moabitish woman.

[Illustration: A HARVEST FIELD IN PALESTINE TO-DAY.]
_From a Photograph._

Her friends could hardly believe their eyes, and exclaimed, "Is this
Naomi?" To which she would reply, "Call me not Naomi, 'pleasant,' call
me Mara, 'bitter,' for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me."
There was much surprise shown at the return of Naomi with Ruth, but
there is no record that people were helpful or even kind to them, and
probably the first thing they had to do was to secure food.

[Illustration: "'IS THIS NAOMI?'"]

As it was harvest time, Ruth volunteered to go into the fields and
glean, and so, one morning, she went forth as an alien, among
strangers, to find bread for the two. She came to one of the fields of
Boaz, a man of wealth and position, and a kinsman of Elimelech, and
asked permission to glean among the sheaves.

In the glory of the early morning, a band of reapers were cutting the
bearded barley with their sickles. Behind them, women bound the grain
in sheaves, and behind these workers were a group of gleaners, made up
from the aged and the young.

Ruth took her place among the gleaners, and bending her back like the
rest gathered the stray ears left by the binders. The overseer watched
both laborers and gleaners. All were known to him, even the beautiful
stranger from the land of Moab.

[Illustration: A HARVEST FIELD NEAR BETHLEHEM TO-DAY.]
_From a Photograph._

As the day advanced, Boaz entered the field with the salutation to his
men, "The Lord be with you." They replied, "The Lord bless thee." Then
glancing around the field, Boaz saw Ruth among the gleaners and asked
the overseer who she was. The overseer replied that she was the
Moabitish woman who came back with Naomi, and that she had asked
permission to gather the barley ears with the rest of the gleaners.

Boaz was interested at once, and, struck by Ruth's modesty and beauty,
he went to her and said she was not to glean in any other fields but
his all the time of harvest. He told her she need fear no rudeness
from the young men, for he had laid his commands upon them not to
molest or offend her. He also told her that when she was thirsty she
was to drink of what had been prepared for the reapers.

[Illustration: "SHE WAS NOT TO GLEAN IN ANY OTHER FIELDS."]

Ruth was deeply touched by this slight kindness. Bowing to the ground
she asked why it was that she, a stranger, had found grace in his
sight. Boaz replied that he had learned of her loving treatment of
Naomi, since the death of her husband, and how she had left her father
and her mother, and the land where she was born, to live with her
mother-in-law; and then he invoked the blessing of God upon her and
upon her work.

[Illustration: "BOAZ INVOKED THE BLESSING OF GOD UPON HER."]

The sympathy and sincerity of Boaz were very grateful to Ruth. She was
comforted as well, for she knew that he had recognized her goodness to
Naomi, and knew that she had come to trust in the care of God.

At meal time Boaz invited her to eat with the reapers, and even handed
food to her himself. After the simple meal was eaten and Ruth was
again among the gleaners, Boaz told the reapers to let her glean
wherever she chose, and to drop some of the grain on purpose for her,
so that her work might be lightened.

As the sun began to set, all went their homeward way, and when Ruth
reached her home she beat out all the ears of barley she had gleaned
and found there were three pecks of barley, about ten times as much as
a single Israelite's daily portion of manna while wandering in the
wilderness. Her first day's work had secured provision for several
days to come.

When Naomi saw what a quantity of barley Ruth had brought home, she
asked in whose field she had gleaned. Then Ruth related all the events
of the day, and how Boaz had been kind to her.

It pleased Naomi to hear that Boaz had shown kindness to Ruth and to
her, because he was a relation of her husband, and one whose duty it
was to care for a widow, and one who had a right to help them by law.
Such a relative was called a goel, meaning a "redeemer."

So the days of the harvest passed. Every day Ruth gleaned in the
fields, and at night returned to Naomi. Each day she kept close by the
maidens of Boaz, through the barley harvest, and then to the last
ingathering of the wheat.

[Illustration: "EVERY DAY RUTH GLEANED IN THE FIELDS."]

The harvest finished, the threshing of the grain began. Naomi was
anxious that the "redeemer" should exercise his right. According to
Israelitish law, when a man died and left his wife childless, his
nearest of kin was to take the widow to be his wife, and any son born
of this marriage should inherit the name and possessions of the first
husband.

In this way he kept his brother's name and inheritance from being
blotted out. Naomi saw with thankfulness that Divine Love had led Ruth
to the protection of her rightful guardian.

So Naomi planned how Ruth should have an opportunity of speaking to
Boaz. She told her to take off the sign of her mourning and widowhood,
and go to the threshing-floor when the grain was beaten out.

These threshing-floors were either natural spaces of rock, or open
places covered with large flat stones, so that the grain could be
readily separated from the husk without waste, and the chaff easily
blown away.

The sheaves of grain were spread on these places, and a wooden sledge,
covered with iron teeth, was dragged over them by oxen until all the
grain had fallen from the dry ears. It was a joyful time, the oxen
were not muzzled, so they could eat while they worked, and the master
and his servants feasted.

[Illustration: "THE OXEN WERE NOT MUZZLED."]

When the grain was threshed, it was cleaned by the cool winds of
morning or evening, and by the aid of large fans. As this winnowing
had to be done when the breezes sprang up, master and servant often
slept all night at the threshing floors, so as to be ready for the
first breath of wind, and to see that the grain was not stolen.

Naomi told Ruth to go to the threshing-floor of Boaz, and speak to him
during the night. Ruth did as she was told, and at the proper time
told Boaz that he had the right to redeem her. Boaz was pleased, and
told her that he would do as she had said.

But he reminded her that while he was her kinsman, there was another
who was nearer. He would see this man in the morning, and if he would
not exercise his right as "redeemer," he would perform the part of a
kinsman himself. He told her to lie quietly down until morning, and
when it was nearly sunrise he poured into the veil or cloak that she
wore, six measures of barley, and sent her home to Naomi.

[Illustration: "GAVE HER SIX MEASURES OF BARLEY."]

Ruth went on her way in the dusk of dawn, bearing the present of grain
on her head, as was the custom of the country. She was returning to
her mother-in-law with a story of hope and blessing that had come to
her in the promise of Boaz.

When she reached home, Naomi's first question was, "How hast thou
fared, my daughter?" Then Ruth told her all that Boaz had said and
done, and how he had given her the barley, saying as he did so, "Go
not empty to thy mother-in-law." Naomi was pleased, for she understood
how Boaz and Ruth felt towards each other, and so said:

_"Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fare;
for the man will not rest until he have finished the thing this day."_

In Palestine, nearly every town, and many villages, were surrounded by
walls, and at the main entrances there were deep gateways which
generally had broad and shady spaces in front, where people frequently
met.

These gates became the chief places of interest. They were often
arched over and used as watch towers; they became the guard-house,
business was transacted there, and in this way they became markets.

People met in the city gates to discuss the news of the day, and
proclamations were made there. Kings and rulers gave audience there,
and being a place of general resort, the elders sat there to dispense
justice.

[Illustration: "KINGS AND RULERS GAVE AUDIENCE THERE."]

In the morning, then, Boaz went to the gateway of the city of
Bethlehem, ready to fulfill his pledge to Ruth. As he sat there, the
man who was the nearest relative of Elimelech passed by. Boaz summoned
him to a seat by himself, using the legal form of expression by which
he would understand that there was special business to be transacted.

Then the elders, or wise and respected citizens were asked to hear
Boaz's case, and to be at once judges and responsible witnesses, and
to ratify the proceedings. In their presence, and in the hearing of
the people who gathered near, Boaz stated the facts, saying to the
"redeemer":

_"Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, seeketh the
parcel of land which was our brother Elimelech's: and I thought to
advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the
elders of my people."_

And then Boaz went on and asked the man if he would redeem it, and the
man said that he would do so. He further explained to him the customs
and conditions of the law, and told him if he took the land he must
also take Ruth the Moabitess to be his wife.

But this was a part of the bargain that the man did not want to
perform, so he turned his right of redemption over to Boaz, giving as
his reason, that he would not mind buying the field if it would become
his own personal property, but if he should marry Ruth the field he
bought would not belong to him; and so he would have paid out money
for something which would bring him little or no benefit.

It is not at all unlikely that he refused to marry Ruth because she
was a Moabitess, fearing that a marriage with an alien might mar his
reputation and position in the city.

When the man had announced his decision, it was confirmed by the usual
custom in all cases of redeeming and exchanging. The one giving up the
claim took off his sandal and gave it to the one who received the
claim. The matter was thus ratified, as though a bond had been drawn
up and signed.

[Illustration: "HE DREW OFF HIS SANDAL AND HANDED IT TO BOAZ."]

In this way the unnamed kinsman of Elimelech refused to redeem Ruth
and her land, and as a proof of it he drew off his sandal and handed
it to Boaz before the ten elders and all the people, thus transferring
to him the legal right to be the "redeemer."

Boaz then called all present to witness that he had that day bought
all that was Elimelech's and all that was Chilion's and all that was
Mahlon's, and also that Ruth the Moabitess was to be his wife. And all
the elders and all the people who were in the gate said they would be
witnesses.

[Illustration: VIEW IN PALESTINE NEAR BETHLEHEM.]
_From a Photograph._

And because Boaz had acted so honorably, all present united in asking
the blessing of God upon his marriage. So, with the approval and best
wishes of his neighbors and friends, and above all with the blessing
of God, Boaz and Ruth were married.

The story of Ruth is a beautiful one, for it shows how the sacrifice
and service of love was rewarded. Naomi in her old age and declining
days was made glad, and the alien found a happy home. In time a son
was born to Boaz and Ruth, and the name of "Obed," or "the serving
one," was given to it. This boy grew up to be the father of Jesse,
whose son was the mightiest of Israel's kings.

[Illustration: "NAOMI BECAME THE CHILD'S NURSE."]

When Ruth's baby boy was born, the matrons of Bethlehem congratulated
Naomi, who became the child's nurse. The boy grew up to be the joy of
his parents and the comfort of his adopted grandmother, and in time
the ancestor of Mary the mother of Jesus.

[Illustration: DAVID, GRANDSON OF THE SON OF RUTH.]

The Saviour of the world, then, sprang from the tribe of Judah, and
from the Gentiles, as they are called in the New Testament, through
Ruth the Moabitess.

[Illustration: RUTH THE BEAUTIFUL MOABITESS.]

The memory of the faithful, loving Ruth has been a sweet and living
picture for many centuries. She left her home, her friends, her all,
to be kind and good to her broken-hearted mother-in-law, and to serve
God, and found much more than she gave up. She brought consolation to
Naomi, there came to her love, prosperity, and peace, and through her
children's children, Jesus the Christ.

[Illustration: A shepherd at a river]





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