Reading Ruth is a piece developed by LL Krooze DuBreuil. Her first telling of this story was to 50 women of all ages.
One can read the story of Ruth –
a story of long ago and far away.
But to read onto the story takes some imagination.
Here is just one other way of “Reading Ruth.”
Note: I wrote this to share with a women’s group in Union County,
New Jersey. As you use it with your circles, you may want to change the locations as much of the humor comes when people recognize
local names and places.
Once upon a time, not tooo long ago . . .
A man (Eli), his wife (Naomi) and 2 sons
lived in Elizabeth NJ.
Work was scarce.
Eli heard there were opportunities in Awka, Nigeria
and so relocated his family in Nigeria.
Soon after, Eli died leaving Naomi and her sons
to fend for themselves.
Sons grew, married Nigerian wives Oprah and Ruth.
10 years later, the 2 sons died
leaving Naomi, Oprah, and Ruth.
Times were difficult for the women.
Naomi returns to Elizabeth NJ:
Hearing that the Elizabeth economy improved
and knowing her husband’s family
were doing quite well, Naomi decided
to return to Elizabeth
At the airport, Naomi told her daughters-in-law to
go home to their mothers
As she was giving them her blessings,
both began to weep, wanting to go with Naomi
Naomi explained to them that she had nothing to give
them and that they should return home and
perhaps find new husbands
Oprah kissed Naomi goodbye and left the terminal,
but Ruth hugged Naomi even more tightly,
“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 LORD do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”
Naomi saw Ruth’s resolve and together
they boarded the plane.
After arriving at Newark Airport, the 2 women took a taxi
to the neighborhood where Eli’s family lived
and moved into a small apartment in the building
that actually was owned by Eli!
The neighbor women gathered around them and
marveled at how Naomi aged.
In fact, Naomi, thoroughly disheartened and
doubting if Jesus even loved her anymore,
Told them to call her Mara, or “the bitter one.”
II.Ruth Meets Boaz:
Having few resources, Ruth decided to go
to the local food pantry.
Being a humble yet proud woman,
she offered to work at the food pantry
in return for the food they would give her.
She returned daily and helped unload and organize
the goods as they arrived from Hillside.
Each evening she would go home
with a few items of food
and prepare them for herself and Naomi/Mara.
As it turns out, the food pantry was located in
a larger building owned by Boaz,
a wealthy relative of Naomi’s husband Eli.
Having donated the space for the food pantry,
Boaz enjoyed stopping by from time to time
to see how the pantry was running.
The volunteers and Boaz always greeted each other
with blessings and shared a sign of peace.
Boaz soon noticed the beautiful,
hard-working, humble Ruth
and asked one of the volunteers who she was.
The volunteer told him that she was the Nigerian woman
who came back to NJ with Naomi.
He also told Boaz that she had volunteered to work
and thereby pay them back for the small
provisions she received.
In fact, she was now one of the hardest
Boaz approached Ruth and thanked her.
He even offered to have one of his paid staff
walk her home each evening to carry her bags.
“Why have I found favor in your sight,
that you should take notice of me,
when I am a foreigner?”
But Boaz answered her:
“All that you have done for your mother-in-law
since the death of your husband
has been fully told me, and how you left
your father and mother and your native land
and came to a people that you did not know before.
May the LORD reward you for your deeds,
and may you have a full reward from the LORD, under whose wings you have come for refuge!”
Then she said:
“May I continue to find favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I am not one of your servants.”
Each day, Boaz spent a little more time out of his office
and at the pantry.
He would bring lunch from the local diner
and share it with her.
He would tell one of his staff to
take some better quality food to the pantry
and make sure she received it.
(No one should try to live on Ramen Noodles!)
Naomi noticed that the quality of food Ruth
was bringing home was improving.
When she asked Ruth, Ruth told her about Boaz.
Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law:
“Blessed be he by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead! The man is a relative of my husband, one of our nearest kin.”
So the routine continued.
Ruth worked at the food pantry, Boaz bought her lunch,
and Ruth took care of Naomi.
Ruth and Boaz in the stockroom:
Naomi began to play matchmaker.
One evening, when she learned that Boaz
and the accountants would be working late,
she urged Ruth to put on a lovely outfit
and some sweet perfume.
She told Ruth to go to the office area
where Boaz would be working late into the night
And wait until the accountants left.
The neighboring women had told Naomi that
when Boaz worked very late, he often slept
The night on a cot in the back stockroom
of his office.
Plotting it all out in her mind, Naomi told Ruth
to go to the office and
wait until the accountants left
and Boaz was asleep.
Then Ruth was to enter the stockroom,
make sure that Boaz had a pillow under his head
and warm blanket over him, and sit by his side.
Ruth did as Naomi instructed.
What happened next?
When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and he was in a contented mood, he went to lie down.
Then she came stealthily and uncovered his feet,
and lay down.
(from the scripture directly)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 the LORD, my daughter;
this last instance of your loyalty is better than the first;
you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.
And now, my daughter, do not be afraid,
I will do for you all that you ask,
for all the assembly of my people know that
you are a worthy woman.
But now, though it is true that I am a near kinsman,
there is another kinsman more closely related than I.
Remain this night, and in the morning,
if he will act as next-of-kin for you, good;
let him do it.
If he is not willing to act as next-of-kin for you,
then, as the LORD lives,
I will act as next-of-kin for you.
Lie down until the morning.”
In the morning, Boaz
(after making sure no one would see them)
sent Ruth home to Naomi with a full bag of
Naomi asked what had happened.
Ruth told her that Boaz was happy sponsor her
and to take care of her as family,
but that this responsibility of taking care
of the permanent status paperwork was
the responsibility of another man, a cousin,
more closely related to Naomi’s dead husband.
Ruth told Naomi that Boaz would go to the cousin
and ask him to take care of Ruth.
If the man did not want to, then Boaz would sponsor her as family and care for her.
Naomi assured Ruth that Boaz would settle the matter that very day.
IV. The Marriage of Boaz and Ruth:
Boaz walked to the courthouse to begin the paperwork,
and there sat the very cousin
who should be sponsoring Ruth
for permanent resident status.
As they sat and talked together,
Boaz explained that Naomi had returned
and was living with her daughter-in-law
in the small building that Eli’s family owned.
Boaz also told him that Naomi was thinking of
selling the building, but that this cousin
Had first right of refusal to buy it.
He also told the cousin that living in the building
were Naomi and Ruth.
If the cousin claimed the building,
then he would also be responsible
for taking care of the 2 women.
And, the cousin would also be responsible
for living with them as family!
The cousin thought it over carefully.
While he would like to own the building,
he did not want the responsibility of 2 widowed
women – even if they were relatives!
So Boaz and the cousin went into the courthouse
to do the paperwork.
Boaz bought the building, sponsored Ruth for citizenship,
renamed the building for Ruth’s
dead husband (so that his legacy would live on),
and applied for a marriage certificate!
The neighbors cheered the good news and
the marriage of Boaz and Ruth
turned into a block party!
A local youth who had aspirations of becoming
a hip-hop artist began to compose a piece
which reminded the listeners that God ‘s love
remains faithful over the generations,
and the lyrics included the names of all the people
who had lived and raised families
and had been blessed by the Lord.
After a time, the Lord blessed Boaz and Ruth with a son.
The neighborhood women surrounded Naomi
as she cradled her grandson,
The child her own son would never have.
The women said to Naomi:
“Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day
and may his name be renowned!
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.”
Together the women gave the child a name: Obed.
Imagine a Beat box . . . the song:
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife.
When they came together,
the LORD made her conceive,
and she bore a son.
A son has been born to Naomi.
They named him Obed;
he became the father of Jesse,
the father of David.
Now these are the descendants of Perez:
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron of Ram,
Ram of Amminadab,
Amminadab of Nahshon,
Nahshon of Salmon,
Salmon of Boaz,
Boaz of Obed,
Obed of Jesse,
and Jesse of David.
Ruth, born of another tribe and in another place
Ruth, drawn to her husband’s mother’s faith and home
Ruth, humble and faithful to family and to herself
Ruth, a risk taker and woman of action
Ruth, mother of Obed
Ruth, great-grandmother of a king!
Naomi image from Wikipedia; Ruth image from Women in the Bible
I had fun doing this as a language event and social commentary on community support, immigration, food pantries, and marriage! LL Kroouze DuBreuil
And it certainly succeeds — and you touch several other points as well, and you invite people to laugh while being touched by scripture which is an amazing way to connect our real lives with it.
Nothing opens our minds to absorb the message of scripture more than placing the story in a contemporary setting. DuBreuil has done this well. Thank you, Maren, for sharing.