“Lesson 79: Ruth 1–2,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 79,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Naomi, her husband, and their two sons moved from Bethlehem to the land of Moab because of a famine. There Naomi’s husband died and each of her sons married a Moabite woman. After the deaths of both of her sons, Naomi encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to live with their families so they could be cared for. One daughter-in-law, Ruth, chose to stay with Naomi. The two returned to Bethlehem, where a man named Boaz, who was related to Naomi’s husband, married Ruth and provided for their needs.
Invite a student to read aloud the following scenario:
A young woman has had a close group of friends for a long time, and she cares about each of them. Recently she has noticed her friends begin to change. They have begun to use inappropriate language. Some of them are experimenting with alcohol and participating in activities that are against the law of chastity. The young woman has felt the Holy Ghost prompt her not to go with these friends to parties and other activities, but she has hesitated to obey these promptings.
Invite students to consider whether they have ever been in a situation similar to this.
In what ways might this situation test a person’s courage, faith, and trust in the Lord?
Invite students to look for truths as they study Ruth 1–2 that can help them in situations when they must decide whether they will have faith and trust in the Lord.
Write the following words on the board: Famine, Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon, Chilion, Bethlehem, Moab, Orpah, Ruth
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Ruth 1:1–5. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how each of the words on the board relates to the account of Ruth. After the students have finished reading, point to each word on the board and ask the class to briefly explain how it relates to the story.
Point out that in ancient Israel a widow’s sons were typically responsible for providing her with protection, food, and care. If a widow had no living sons or male relatives, she had to provide for herself. This could be very difficult if she did not own land or have other resources. It appears that Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth were in this situation.
What concerns might you have had if you had been in the position of Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth?
Invite students to turn to Bible Maps, no. 1, “Physical Map of the Holy Land,” in the appendix of the Bible. Ask students to locate the city of Bethlehem and the land of Moab. Explain that Naomi had relatives living in Bethlehem, and Orpah and Ruth had family members living in Moab.
Invite a student to read Ruth 1:6–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Naomi decided to do and what she told her daughters-in-law to do.
Why did Naomi decide to return to Bethlehem? (She heard that food was again available there.)
What did Naomi instruct her daughters-in-law to do?
To help students consider the possible advantages and disadvantages of the decision Orpah and Ruth faced, copy the following chart on the board, and invite students to copy it in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:
Stay in Moab
Go to Bethlehem
What might have been some of the advantages of staying in Moab for Orpah and Ruth?
Write students’ answers in the “Advantages” section under “Stay in Moab.” (Possible answers include returning to live with their families and marrying new husbands who would provide for them.)
Invite a student to read Ruth 1:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Orpah and Ruth said they would do.
What did Orpah and Ruth say they would do?
Based on Orpah and Ruth’s response, what type of feelings do you suppose they had for Naomi?
Point out the phrase “thy people” in verse 10. Explain that the Israelites’ religion and culture differed significantly from those of the people who lived in Moab, who worshipped idols. Although Orpah and Ruth were Moabites, it appears that they had forsaken the worship of idols and instead worshipped the Lord with their husbands and Naomi (see Ruth 1:15).
What might have been some of the advantages of choosing to go with Naomi to Bethlehem?
Write students’ answers in the “Advantages” section under “Go to Bethlehem.” (Possible answers include caring for Naomi and worshipping the Lord with others who believed in Him.)
Invite a student to read Ruth 1:11–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Naomi’s response to Orpah and Ruth.
Why did Naomi discourage Orpah and Ruth from going to Bethlehem with her?
Write students’ answers in the “Disadvantages” section under “Go to Bethlehem.”
What other disadvantages might Orpah and Ruth have experienced as a result of going to Bethlehem?
Add students’ answers to the “Disadvantages” section under “Go to Bethlehem.” (Possible answers include needing to provide for themselves and being strangers in a land distant from their homes and families.)
What disadvantages would Orpah and Ruth have experienced as a result of staying in Moab?
Add students’ answers to the “Disadvantages” section under “Stay in Moab.” (They would not be with Naomi, whom they loved, and they may not be able to worship the Lord with others who shared their faith.)
What would you have done if you had been in Orpah and Ruth’s position? Why?
Invite a student to read Ruth 1:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Orpah decided to do. Ask students to report what they find.
What could the words “gone back unto her people, and unto her gods” (Ruth 1:15) suggest about Orpah’s relationship with the Lord? (Orpah may have chosen to return to her old gods and ways.)
Invite a student to read Ruth 1:16–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Ruth decided to do.
What do you think about Ruth’s response?
How do Ruth’s words show that she trusted in the Lord?
After students respond, write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we choose to trust in the Lord, then …
Invite students to look for what happened as a result of Ruth’s decision to trust in the Lord as they continue to study the book of Ruth.
Summarize Ruth 1:18–22 by explaining that Naomi and Ruth traveled to Bethlehem. Since they were extremely poor, they desperately needed to find a way to support themselves.
Invite a student to read Ruth 2:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Ruth and Naomi obtained food in Bethlehem.
How did Ruth and Naomi obtain food? (You may need to explain that to glean means to pick up grain that remains in the field after the crop has been harvested.)
Explain that the law of Moses instructed those who owned fields not to harvest the crops in the edges of their fields. The law allowed the poor to harvest these crops, ensuring that they would have something to eat. After the harvest was gathered in, the poor were also allowed to go into the field and glean the crops that had been missed by the harvesters (see Deuteronomy 24:19–22).
Invite a student to read Ruth 2:5–7. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Boaz did when he saw Ruth gleaning in his field.
What did Boaz want to know?
Invite a student to read Ruth 2:8–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Boaz decided to do for Ruth.
How did Boaz show kindness to Ruth?
Invite a student to read Ruth 2:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for two reasons why Ruth had been blessed.
According to the first part of verse 11, why did Boaz show such great kindness to Ruth? (Because of the love and kindness she had shown to Naomi.)
What principle can we learn from Ruth’s experience about what can happen as we show love and kindness to others? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: When we show love and kindness to others, we invite the Lord’s blessings into our lives.)
When have you or someone you know received the Lord’s blessings after showing love and kindness for others?
Consider inviting students to ponder ways in which they can show love and kindness to others. Encourage them to find ways to do so during the next few days.
According to verse 12, what was another reason why Ruth had been blessed? (Because she trusted in the Lord.)
How would you use Boaz’s words in verse 12 to complete the statement on the board? (Complete the statement on the board so it conveys the following truth: If we choose to trust in the Lord, then He will reward us for our faith.)
To help students understand how this principle further applied in Ruth’s life, summarize Ruth 2:13–23 by explaining that Boaz showed additional kindness to Ruth by inviting her to eat with him and the reapers, the people he hired to harvest his fields. Boaz also told the reapers to leave extra portions of grain for Ruth to harvest. Ruth returned to Naomi and told her what had happened. Together they rejoiced in the Lord’s blessings and kindness to them.
Invite a student to read again the scenario discussed at the beginning of class.
How could the principle we identified about choosing to trust in the Lord help the young woman in this scenario?
After students respond, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“At times you may feel lonely and misunderstood … because you don’t fit in with the crowd. Be grateful that your righteous life molds you so that you don’t fit where you don’t belong. This is a temporary period of personal testing and growth. It will be replaced in time with true friends and greater happiness” (“The Power of Righteousness,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 70).
When have you felt that the Lord rewarded your faith because you chose to trust in Him?
Conclude by testifying of the truths you have discussed. Invite students to act on these truths by trusting in the Lord and showing love and kindness to others.