Week 1: Ruth’s World – Introduction: Who was Ruth and where was she from?
Introduction: Who was Ruth and where was she from?
Ruth “the Moabite”. As discussed in the video, Ruth was not a native Israelite – she was a Moabite. Who were the Moabites, and how would Moabites have been perceived by many Israelites living in the time of Ruth?
Read Genesis 19: 30-38, a story about Abraham’s nephew Lot who escapes the destruction of the city of Sodom with his two daughters. Imagine an ancient Israelite hearing this story. How might this story have influenced this Israelite’s attitudes toward Moabites?
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is recounting Israel’s journey to the Promised Land. They must pass through Moab on their way there. Read Deuteronomy 2: 8-9. Unfortunately, Moab does not let the people of Israel pass unhindered on their journey. Now read Numbers 22: 1-6. How does the king of Moab react to Israel’s presence? Although the curse ultimately fails, this event sets the tone for a troubled history between Israel and Moab.
Read Numbers 25: 1-9. Now read Deuteronomy 7: 1-4. Although the Deuteronomy passage does not list Moab among the nations with whom intermarriage is strictly prohibited, what impression does the story of Phinehas from Numbers leave regarding the relationships of Israelite men with women of foreign nations?
Read Deuteronomy 23: 3-6. Do you think an ancient Israelite hearing this passage might misunderstand it to mean that Moabites within Israel were second-class citizens? Keep this in mind as we read the story of Ruth over the coming weeks and think of how her story would challenge this notion.
Now we will look at a background story about a conflict between Israel and Moab from closer to the time of Ruth, during the era of the judges. Read Judges 3: 12-30. This story sounds like it was told by the ancient Israelite equivalent to Guy Ritchie! What elements in the story portray Moab and its king in an insulting and undignified manner? If you were a Moabite hearing this story, how might you feel?
Think of some of the stories told in our culture today, and how they portray certain groups of people. How do the attitudes and perspectives of these stories influence us?