8/19/18 – Not taught in Sunday School

Posted on : Aug 16th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

While many of us learned the story of Ruth and Naomi in Sunday School, I’ll bet there were many parts of this story that weren’t taught to you.  For example, almost every Christian marriage service has as one of the suggested readings, these words from the book of Ruth:

“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the God do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”

(Ruth 1:16-17)

Now I’ll bet that your teachers and pastors didn’t tell you that this Biblical vow of love and commitment is said by a woman to a woman (Ruth to Naomi).  Even when they are read at Christian weddings I’ve never heard a pastor, other than me, explain that this vow of love is originally said between two women.  It is always presented as if this vow is said by a woman to a man.

Another part of this story that is not often told is that at Naomi’s urging, Ruth seduces Boaz.  To be fair, even the writer of this story uses euphemisms and slang to mask the seduction and sex scene, but hey, once we reach adulthood, it’s good to know that our Biblical ancestors were as sexual as we are today.

Naomi, who is much older than Ruth, is worried about Ruth’s economic security.  In the ancient world, an unmarried woman was at great risk of being sexually abused and raped and had no means of economic support.  So, Naomi urges Ruth to go and seduce Boaz, who is a wealthy land owner (and a distant family relative).  Naomi tells Ruth that Boaz has been working all day on the threshing floor (separating barley from its husk and straw covering).  Naomi knew Boaz would be dead tired and shall we say “sweaty.”  So she tells Ruth to wash and anoint herself (put on her best perfume), and put on her best clothes and go down to the threshing floor.”  While Boaz is fast asleep, she tells Ruth to uncover Boaz’s feet and lay down at his feet.  In the ancient world, lying at a man’s bare feet was a sign of seduction.  Ruth did as Naomi suggested.  At midnight Boaz woke up and was startled to find a woman there lying at his bare feet!

Boaz questions who this woman is and Ruth gets right to the point: “I am Ruth, your servant; spread your cloak over your servant, for you are next-of-kin.”

In the ancient world, the phrase, “Spread your cloak over your servant” was a euphemism for “let’s have sex!”  Pretty forthright, for a poor widowed young woman!

The story gets even better, but I have to save something for Sunday!  This four-chapter book of the Bible is an amazing and fun story about two unbelievably courageous and powerful women.  Not only that, God rewards them greatly (I mean GREATLY!) for their courage and craftiness.  Another “bad girl of the Bible” finds great favor with God.

More on Sunday.




The Story of Ruth (Ruth 3-4 edited)

Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you.  Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.  Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.  When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.”  She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.” 

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her.  When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and he was in a contented mood, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came stealthily and uncovered his feet, and lay down.  At midnight the man was startled, and turned over, and there, lying at his feet, was a woman!  He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant; spread your cloak over your servant, for you are next-of-kin.”  He said, “May you be blessed by our God, my daughter; this last instance of your loyalty is better than the first; you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, God made her conceive, and she bore a son.  Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be our God, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may this child’s name be renowned in Israel!  He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.”  Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse.  The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David, the King.




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