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hath testified against me, and the Almighty . hath afflicted me?'
And they came to Bethlehem about the passover tide, at the beginning of barley harvest, and Ruth went out into the fields to glean, and she lighted on a part of the field which belonged to Boaz, who was of her husband's kindred.
And Boaz was a mighty man of wealth, according to the simple fashions of that old land and old time. Not like one of our great modern noblemen, or merchants, but rather like one of our wealthy yeomen: a man who would not disdain to work in his field with his own slaves, after the wholesome fashion of those old times, when a royal prince and mighty warrior would sow the corn with his own hands, while his man opened the furrow with the plough before him. There Boaz dwelt, with other yeomen, up among the limestone hills, in the little walled village of Bethlehem, which was afterwards to become so famous and so holy; and had, we may suppose, his vineyard and his olive-garden on the rocky slopes, and his cornfields in the vale below, and his flock of sheep
and goats feeding on the downs; while all his wealth besides lay, probably, after the Eastern fashion, in one great chest-full of rich dresses, and gold and silver ornaments, and coins, all foreign, got in exchange for his corn, and wine, and oil, from Assyrian, or Egyptian, or Phænician traders; for the Jews then had no money, and very little manufacture, of their own.
And he would have had hired servants, too, and slaves, in his house; treated kindly enough, as members of the family, eating and drinking at his table, and faring nearly as well as he fared himself.
A stately, God-fearing man he plainly was; respectable, courteous, and upright, and altogether worthy of his wealth ; and he went out into the field, looking after his reapers in the barley harvest—about our Easter-tide.
And he said to his reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered, The Lord bless thee.
Then he saw Ruth, who had happened to light upon his field, gleaning after the reapers, and found out who she was, and bid her glean without fear, and abide by his maidens, for he had charged the young men that they shall not touch her.
"And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come 'thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers : and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz "commanded his young men, saying, Let her
glean even among the sheaves, and reproach 'her not: and let fall also some of the hand"fuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that
she may glean them, and rebuke her not. ..So she gleaned in the field until even, and "beat out that she had gleaned: and it was * about an ephah of barley.'
Then follows the simple story, after the simple fashion of those days. How Naomi bids Ruth wash and anoint herself, and put on her best garments, and go down to Boaz’ floor—his barn as we should call it now—where he is going to eat, and drink, and sleep, and there claim his protection as a near kinsman.
And how Ruth comes in softly and lies down
at his feet, and how he treats her honourably and courteously, and promises to protect her. But there is a nearer kinsman than he, and he must be asked first if he will do the kinsman's part, and buy his cousin's plot of land, and marry his cousin's widow with it.
And how Boaz goes to the town gate next day, and sits down in the gate (for the porch of the gate was a sort of town-hall or vestryroom in the East, wherein all sorts of business was done), and there he challenges the kinsman,
– Will he buy the ground and marry Ruth ? And he will not: he cannot afford it. Then Boaz calls all the town to witness that day, that he has bought all that was Elimelech's, and Ruth the Moabitess to be his wife.
And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The · Lord make the woman that is come into • thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which "two did build the house of Israel: and do · thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in * Bethlehem.'.
And in due time Ruth had a son. “And the 'women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, · which hath not left thee this day without a ' kinsman, that his name may be famous in ' Israel.
And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy * life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy
daughter-in-law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him..
* And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
And the women her neighbours gave it a 'name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; • and they called his name Obed: he is the · father of Jesse, the father of David.'
And so ends the Book of Ruth.
Now, my friends, can you not answer for yourselves the question which I asked at first,
—why is the story of Ruth in the Bible, and what may we learn from it, which is necessary for our salvation ?
I think, at least, that you will be able to answer it—if not in words, still in your hearts, if you will read the book for yourselves.
For does it not consecrate to God that simple