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RUTH, THE MOABITES.
BOOK OF RUTH II. 17.
" So they gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned : and it was about an ephah of barley."
THE The person of whom this is said was Ruth-Ruth the Moabitess, the good dutiful daughter-in-law of Naomi. Her story is told in full in the book of the Bible that bears her name: and which, it is supposed, was written by the prophet Samuel, or, as others maintain, by Ezra. It comes, as you know, next in order to the Book of Judges : and it connects the history of Israel under the Judges with the history of Israel under Kings. It contains the touching life of Israel's great King David's ancestress, Ruth, who
was the mother of Obed, the father of Jesse, and the grandfather of David-and it is not only of great interest on that account, but further, for the story of Ruth herself, in which it has been remarked we have a beautiful witness of God's mercy towards the afflicted, the fatherless, and the widow, and also an example good for all time of the reward that awaits filial piety.
One other use there is for us in this history, and that is why I speak of her to-day : Ruth was a gleaner, she got her bread by gleaning, "she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned : and it was about an ephah of barley." You will easily see why, at this moment, I choose her story for the subject of a few remarks, why it is appropriate at this particular season when on a week day we see in our own fields young and old, women and children, occupied as Ruth once was, gathering up ear by ear the yet remaining fragments of the harvest.
There is, as I shall hope to make plain, much useful instruction for us in the history of this early gleaner, Ruth, in the circumstances under which she was a gleaner, and in the use she made of her gleaning
And, first, let me give you a short sketch of Ruth's history, gathered out of the book called by her name in the Bible.
In the days of the Judges, a certain man named Elimelech, with his wife Naomi, and his two sons, went from Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, on account of famine, into the country of Moab, and continued there. Elimelech died, and Naomi was left a widow with her two sons. These men when grown up married two women of the land: the name of the one was Orpah, the name of the other Ruth. After a while both the husbands died, and Naomi was left without husband or sons, with her two daughters-in-law. She had heard in that strange land that God had visited His people in giving them bread. And she determined to return to her old home in Bethlehem-to return herself alone. She thought it unreasonable that her daughters-in-law should go with her, and bade them an affectionate farewell, besought them both to remain in Moab, where they were known, and where they had friends, and not accompany her, now forlorn and desolate, back into the land of the Jews. Orpah yielded to Naomi's advice, kissed her mother-in-law, and parted from her, and went back to Moab; but Ruth clave unto her and, though Naomi still urged her to go back, persisted in following her fortunes to the end. * Intreat me not to leave thee," she said, “or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go : and where thou lodgest I will lodge : thy people shall be my people; and thy God
my God : where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me and more also, if aught but death part thee and me." Well, Ruth came back with Naomi into the land of Judah, and when they got there it was harvest time. They were penniless and friendless, and had to look out for a means of earning their daily bread. Ruth therefore proposed that she should go and glean, “Let me now go to the field,” she said, “and glean ears of corn, after him in whose sight I shall find grace;" and Naomi said, “Go, my daughter." Now Ruth's hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech, the late husband of Naomi, and therefore a kinsman of Ruth's husband, Mahlon, Boaz is described as «а mighty man of wealth," descended from the Patriarch Judah. He was not only rich, but he was liberal and courteous in his dealings with his own servants, witness his salutation to the reapers, The Lord be with you,” and kind and pitiful in his dealings with the stranger, Ruth, who had gone to glean in his field. He first asked who she was ? and finding it was Ruth, the Moabitess, who had come back with Naomi, he addressed her like a father. “Hearest thou not, my daughter, go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens ;. . . have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art
athirst go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.” “ It hath fully been shewed me all that thou hast done unto thy motherin-law, since the death of thy husband, and how thou hast left thy father, and thy mother, and the land of thy Nativity, and art come unto a people that thou knewest not heretofore. The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel ; under whose wings thou art come to trust." And God did abundantly reward Ruth, as we shall see. Moreover, Boaz commanded his young men to let Ruth glean among the sheaves unrebuked, and even to let fall some handfuls of purpose, and leave them for her to glean, by which means she soon filled her bag ; and when she went home at evenfall to her motherin-law, and measured out the corn, lo ! it was about an ephah, that is a stone of barley. So that Naomi, in glad surprise, exclaimed, “Where hast thou gleaned to-day, and where wroughtest thou ? Blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee."
The end of it was that Boaz married Ruth. By the law of Israel, the nearest unmarried kinsman was bound to marry the widow of any one who died childless, in order that the family might not quite die out, and cease to be in Israel. In the present instance there was an inheritance of land in the family that was to be bought by the same person who married the widow-the widow and the land went