How to read a long story – a little at a time

Gleaning by Arthur Hughes Pose this question at the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.) True or false: Dumpster-diving was practiced during Bible times.

Want to find out? Read our scripture together as a family. Since it’s a long story, use the following plan to read and talk about our story in stages, over the course of several days. Read a passage and then discuss the question(s) or do the activities. (Scroll down for suggestions on reviewing this story with preschoolers.)


Read in Ruth Readers notes Talk about or do…
Chp 1, verses 1-2 written as 1:1-2 Elimelek (or spelled, Elimeleck) is
pronounced: ee-LIM-eh-lek. Mahlon => MAH-luhn. Ephrathite => EF-ruh-tight.
What is a famine? Where have we heard of Bethlehem before? Find Bethlehem and Moab on a map (look here). How long do you suppose it took to travel there?
1:1-5 Orpah => OR-puh.
The Moabites and the Israelites were enemies! In fact the Israelites had strict laws forbidding these foreigners from participating in the Israelite community (Deuteronomy 23:3).
What is an “unusual” place you’d like to visit? Why does Moab seem like a strange choice as a place for an Israelite to go?

Naomi has bad news! What do you suppose life was like for women back in Bible times?

1:6-18 In a patriarchal society, where women did not have access to jobs, widows were completely dependent upon men – either a grown son, or another husband (if they were able to remarry).
Choices, choices! Which choice would you make: Go with Naomi or go back to “safety?” What could have made Ruth decide to follow Naomi’s God? Why do you suppose Ruth was so devoted to Naomi? Where do you suppose this loyalty come from? Who is someone to whom you are loyal?
1:16-18 Verse 16b, c is our key Bible verse for this Rotation. The “b, c” means the second and third portions of verse 16. Why does this seem like such an extreme promise for Ruth to make? What promises have you made lately? Any this radical?
1:19-21 Mara is pronounced: MAY-ruh.
The meaning of names was important in Bible times. Naomi meant “pleasant;” Mara meant “bitter.”
How is Naomi feeling? She is hurting! She is moaning about her situation! She is doing what is called “lamenting!” Read together the classic Psalm of lament: Psalm 13:1-2. When have you lamented? Do you suppose that a little bit of lamenting is okay every now and then?
1:22-2:13 Elimelek => ee-LIM-eh-lek. Boaz => BO-az.
For the laws which set up gleaning, read: Leviticus 19:10; 23:22
What does “gleaning” mean? (It was like welfare for the poor.) What sorts of programs do we have today to help people get food? Make a plan to attend FiSH Fri Service Night.
2:14-23 Israelite law required all farmers to leave dropped grain (or other crops) in the fields for the disadvantaged to glean, however it was the landowner who determined the generosity of the gleanings! In verse 20, what word is used to describe Boaz’s relationship to Naomi’s family? A close relative? Nearest kin? Guardian-redeemer? Who do you have in your family who takes care of you?
Is Naomi still lamenting? What has caused her attitude to change? Count all the ways Boaz showed kindness to Ruth.
3:1-18 According to Israelite laws, the nearest blood relative (a “kinsman redeemer”) was to marry a widow to continue the family line. Naomi is setting up a plan to implement this process. Which verses tell you that Boaz is an honorable man? How are things looking for Ruth and Naomi? Why do these demonstrations of loyalty seem counter to the Israelite-Moabite prejudice?
4:1-10 Is this a coincidence that Ruth finds her way to Boaz’s fields, or is it God’s grand plan to bless the life of Ruth and Naomi through Boaz? (Methodists say that God works inside of people, to transform them, and others around them.) What did you think of the handing over of the sandal? In what way do you seal promises?
Remember Ruth’s lavish pledge to Naomi? (1:16b, c) What do you suppose Ruth thinks of her promise now that Boaz is going to take care of her? Do you suppose that Ruth gave thanks to God? From this story, what does God teach us about caring for others?
4:13-22 You may wish to take care in how you read verse 13. What is the significance of the family tree? (King David was their descendant!) David had a great great great… (many greats)… grandson whom we talk about a lot, and who was born in Bethlehem just like Obed; who was it? (Jesus!) What would have happened with Jesus if Ruth hadn’t gone with Naomi?

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Reading and talking about the story for younger children:

Here are several versions of the story:

The cover of The Little One's Bible The Little One’s Bible

This Bible storybook has appropriate questions on each page.

The cover of The Beginner's Bible The Beginner’s Bible

Show a map and point out Judah. Identify Moab as the place where Ruth and Naomi were.
At the end of this story, add in the part about Obed being the grandfather of King David and about David being the ancestor of Jesus. Draw your family tree.

From a Jelly Telly video on Ruth A video by Jelly Telly (What’s in the Bible?): Ruth

What’s in the Bible: popsicle stick puppets – Ruth (If reading this in an email, you can watch this video on YouTube.)

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Photo credits:
Gleaning, a painting by Arthur Hughes is in the Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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