Original Research

Handling a crisis via a combination of human initiative and godly direction: Insights from the Book of Ruth

Robin Gallaher Branch
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 46, No 2 | a110 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v46i2.110 | © 2012 Robin Gallaher Branch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 July 2012 | Published: 11 December 2012

About the author(s)

Robin Gallaher Branch, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa Victory University, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Abstract

The biblical text introduces Ruth, a Moabite woman, at a time of personal crisis. She faces destitution. Life has handed her multiple blows, amongst them widowhood and childlessness. Her single asset? Naomi, a cranky, elderly but endearing mother-in-law. Naomi, an Israelite and also widowed, is now quite determined to go home to Bethlehem. Ruth joins Naomi’s journey, but for Ruth it is a pilgrimage, for it is at this time that she switches allegiance from the gods of Moab to the God of Israel. As an immigrant facing change on every level – a new culture, a new religion, no friends and no job – Ruth nonetheless triumphs. Within only a couple of months, not only does she marry a prominent and prosperous bachelor, Boaz, but also wins the hearts of her mother-in-law’s friends, the women of Bethlehem. This analysis of her successful pilgrimage offers contemporary guidelines for facing dramatic changes. Using literary method, this article examines one of the Bible’s accounts of how a personal crisis is resolved via a combination of God’s providence and human initiative and courage.

Die hantering van ’n krisis deur ’n kombinasie van menslike inisiatief en goddelike bestuur: Insigte uit die boek Rut. Die bybelse teks stel die leser voor aan Rut, ’n Moabitiese vrou, tydens ‘n persoonlike krisis in haar lewe. Sy is ’n weduwee, kinderloos en staar dus armoede in die gesig. Haar enigste pluspunt is Naomi, haar bejaarde, ietwat verbitterde dog innemende skoonmoeder. Naomi, ’n Israeliet en ook ’n weduwee, is vasbeslote om na haar huis in Betlehem terug te keer. Rut vergesel haar en dit word vir Rut ’n pelgrimstog na die God van Israel, weg van die afgode van Moab af. As immigrant wat ’n vreemde kultuur en godsdiens, ’n toekoms sonder vriende en werkloosheid moet verwerk, seëvier Rut uiteindelik. Sy trou binne ‘n paar maande met Boas, ’n prominente en welvarende vrygesel en wen ook die harte van haar skoonmoeder se vriendinne, die vroue van Bethlehem. Die ontleding van Rut se suksesvolle pelgrimstog bied tydgenootlike riglyne aan diegene wat voor groot veranderinge in hulle lewens te staan kom. Met behulp van die literêre metode ondersoek hierdie artikel ’n bybelse mededeling wat aantoonhoedat ’n persoonlike krisis deur middel van God se voorsienigheid en menslike inisiatief en moed opgelos kan word.

Keywords

Ruth; Naomi; Immigration; Survival; Courage; Literary method; Crises

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Crossref Citations

1. Gender balance: A new lens for reading and studying the Bible, Part 1
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