Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Book of Ruth: Just a Few Questions

Anywhere you go, so will I go also!

This particular story, the story of Ruth, is one of the stories I remember the most from when I was a kid in Sunday School; except when I was a kid it was called the "Children's Meeting" since our church was supposed to be non-denominational, thus using the term "Sunday School" put us uncomfortably close to the religious folk who were getting their worship of God and Jesus and the interpretation of the Bible all wrong.

Here we have a woman Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, who have both suffered great loss. Naomi has lost her two sons since they died, and Ruth has lost her husband since one of Naomi's sons was Ruth's husband.

Losing a son or a husband in the Old Testament times is one of the worst things that could happen to a woman. The loss of a husband or son was sure to birth big problems when it came to inheritance as well as carrying on the family/clan name within the respective tribe of the people involved.

All-in-all Naomi tells Ruth to go back home to her own people (the Moabites) and remarry and live a voon-der-bar life since Naomi surely isn't going to pop out any more sons, and even if she did Ruth was likely not about to wait however long until the son was of marrying age. Besides, would Ruth still be able to bare children at such a point? The longer Ruth stayed with her mother-in-law, the longer it would take Ruth to get back on the happy track of life.

Despite the opportunity to improve her situation simply by leaving Naomi, Ruth makes the decision to stay with her mother-in-law. Ruth was loyal to Naomi and chose to stay with her. Due to this steadfast loyalty the LORD rewards Ruth by allowing her to cross paths with Boaz, a relative by marriage, who marries her and has a son with her.

The moral of the story is supposed to be that when you are steadfast in your loyalty to God/the LORD no matter what the situation may be, you will find you are rewarded with an inheritance in heaven with God; except, God forbid our church should sound anything even remotely similar to the other despised denominations, the way I was taught they did not call it 'heaven' but rather called it "going to be with the LORD."

"You must be strong and follow the LORD wherever He goes, wherever He takes you in your life, giving yourself fully to Him in appreciation of the grace and inheritance He has given you," was what was taught to me. I remember finding it odd that the LORD would allow a really crappy situation just to test to see whether or not a person would stay faithful to God. For me the screwy part was that everyone has a limit to the difficulty and adversity and tragedy that they can face and God should know this. So WHY would God/the LORD feel the need to test anyone when He already knows the limits of what they can deal with, the limits of their religious loyalty?

And now...on to the questions of the book of Ruth of the Holy Bible's Old Testament. This is a very short book in the Bible and will consist only of this single posting. As always, if you wish to answer any of the questions at the end of each posting is a link where you may make comments and offer answers. If there are no existing comments to a post the comment link will say "No Comments" and you should click on that and will then be routed to the page to type whatever you wish to say.

You do not have to answer all the questions and your answers should not be what you think I want to hear. I just want to know your personal answers to these questions, what YOU believe, and WHY you believe it.

1. Ruth 1:1
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.

     1) What is it with the state of disarray that the LORD's people always seem to be stuck in?

     2) If it isn't a war or pestilence or punishment or starvation or great thirst or famine WHY is something jacked-up on some level ALWAYS happening to the people of Israel?

     3) Does God starve His people in order to keep them reliant on Him?

     4) Sooo...what happened to this land that was to be flowing with milk and honey?

2. Ruth 1:13
13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.”

     1) Why is it that whenever anything bad or unsavory happens to the people of Israel that they immediately blame God/the LORD for not giving a damn and seeding unhappiness on purpose?

3. Ruth 1:15
15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

     1) If Naomi worships the God of Israel and knows He is the only, one and true God...WHY would she tell Ruth to go back to worshiping other gods?

     2) Does the LORD not care since Ruth is a Moabite so screw her and let her worship whomever she wants since she IS NOT an actual descendant/relative of God's chosen people?

4. Ruth 1:16-18
16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

     1) Do you think it is possible that Ruth stayed with Naomi because Ruth had no where else to go?

5. Ruth 1:19-21
19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?”

20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

21 I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

     1) Why do the people of Israel seemingly only care about what happens to them, how many children they have, how a spouse will or will not reproduce, will they have an inheritance, will they be blessed?

     2) Is this type of selfish thinking the reason why they have so many enemies in the Bible times?

6. Ruth 2:11-12
11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.

12 The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

     1) Sooo...are we to think that even though Ruth could have taken a different route and possibly have done better that the point is not picking what you think is the best for you, but rather is all about staying with God/the LORD no matter how bad or lonely or terrible or horrible things get?

     2) Is the reason why Boaz considers Ruth to have done great things because she chose to forsake her own ancestral traditions for those of the people of Israel?

     3) Is it okay to make bad or stupid decisions so long as the reasons why you make such decisions in the first place are that you are doing such for the LORD?

     4) Are decisions like this supposed to be impressive to non-believers?

7. Ruth 2:22
22 And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.”

     1) Why in the world would Ruth be in danger of being assaulted? Because she is a woman? Because she is a foreigner? Because her husband died?

8. Ruth 3:1-4
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you?

Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.

Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.

But 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.”

     1) This sounds suspiciously like Naomi wants Ruth to go down to where Boaz is, wait until he is delightfully drunk, and then try to seduce him in some way, doesn't it?

9. Ruth 3:5-6
And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her.

     1) What is this light dusting of conspiracy that many stories in the Bible seem to portray the women with? Why does the Bible seem to go the extra mile to make some of the women seem sneaky, conniving, and out to trick the men?

10. Ruth 3:14-15
14 So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.”

15 And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city.

     1) Sooo...were the women not allowed on the threshing floor? Why?

     2) Sooo...if Boaz is asleep on the threshing floor does he live where the threshing floor is or did he just get totally drunk and fall asleep there the night before?

     3) Was the grain that Boaz gave Ruth payment for an act of prostitution?

11. Ruth 3:16-17
16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her,

17 saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’”

     1) Sooo...surely Boaz figured out what Naomi had put Ruth up to, right? Again I ask you, was the grain Boaz gave payment for an act of prostitution?

     2) Was the grain also payment intended to keep Naomi's trap shut until Boaz figured out what to do?

12. Ruth 4:5-6
Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.”

Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”

     1) Sooo...Boaz waits to tell this other guy that if he buys the property he will also acquire a wife, Ruth. First the guy says yes and then Boaz says, "Hey, you get a wife in the deal," and the other guy totally changes his mind, right?

     2) Why did Boaz take this obviously dishonest approach?

13. Ruth 4:7-8
Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel.

So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal.

     1) Why in the hell was the matter of attesting in Israel so absurdly stupid?

     2) Was the ritual of attesting supposed to be so absurd that other cultures and people would marvel at the strangeness and think highly of the people of Israel and the LORD since, if the ritual of attesting was understandable only to the people of Israel this had to mean they were extra special, especially in the eyes of God?

14. Ruth 4:14-17
14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!

15 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 given birth to him.”

16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.

17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

     1) Why did the women say this to Naomi and not to Ruth? Ruth was the one who got married again, and Ruth was the one who had a baby boy, and Ruth was the one who chose to stay with Naomi in the first damn place, right?

     2) A daughter-in-law who is more to you than seven sons? What kind of psychopathic bitches say this kind of shit to a woman who lost both of her sons?

     3) Does Naomi live vicariously through the little baby Obed?











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