Ruth didn’t have it easy.  Whenever her name was mentioned her ethnic background was attached.  She was frequently referred to as Ruth the Moabitess.

Ruth 1 and 2 repeat this identity several times.  Reading it over and over creates a mental itch that screams for a scratch.  I am not satisfied until I track down this curiosity.

Joshua 22 adds some light to this mystery.  War in the Promised Land comes to an end.  After seven years of fighting Israel now enters into a time of peace. 

The two and a half Eastern tribes say farewell.  Joshua commends them for their valor and faithfulness in helping their brothers secure their lands in the West.  It is a touching parting.

But, soon the Eastern tribes build an imposing altar at the Jordan River.  The Western tribes misunderstand and assume that their brothers have broken faith to the one and only true God.  Phinehas confronts their apparently wayward brothers asking if the sin at Peor wasn’t enough to prevent spiritual apostasy.

Peor was where Moab had seduced Israel (Num 25).  The Israelites had taken the Moabite god and embraced their penchant for sexual immorality.  God’s holiness was violated and many Israelites died.

The Moabites had an unseemly beginning.  Lot was ordered out of Sodom and Gomorrah by God’s angel.  He took refuge in a cave with his two daughters (Gen 19).  His oldest daughter got her father drunk, had sex with him and gave birth to a child.  She named that baby Moab.

While the language does not suggest a pejorative use of Ruth the Moabitess, history certainly does.  Ruth lived above this.  That’s the kind of impact Naomi had on her. 

It is not clear when Ruth put her faith in Jehovah but  it is apparent that Naomi was influential in that choice.  It attracted Ruth even to the point of being willing to face whispers, slander and gossip when she came to a foreign land.  This amazing woman followed her faith and her devotion for her mother-in-law.

Then, Ruth impresses everyone around her.  She does not cower in anonymity but takes the initiative to glean for her and Naomi.  With no pride she does the work of the impoverished poor and picks up the leftovers.

Her diligence, selflessness and courage capture the attention of a kinsman redeemer.  Boaz takes notice.  God does His remarkable work of providence with a woman who breaks out of the horrid past of her people.

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