Jim LePage Art & Design
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Art and design by Jim LePage

Word: Ruth

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According to my count Ruth is not only the first, but one of only two books in the Bible named after a woman (the other being Esther). I have to say that after all the violence and bloodshed in Joshua and Judges, Ruth is a breath of fresh air. The book begins just after Ruth's husband dies. She goes with her mother-in-law back to their hometown, Bethlehem (we'll hear more about that town when we hit the New Testament). There's a famine, so Ruth goes out to the fields to "glean." I'd heard about gleaning before, but wasn't exactly sure what it was so I did a little research...

Basically, anyone who farms land is required by Jewish law (see Deuteronomy) leave the corners of their field unharvested. Also, after harvesting, farmers are not allowed to go back and get leftovers that may have fallen on the ground. Instead, other people (strangers, widows, orphans or the poor) can go in and glean — harvesting the corners and collecting the leftovers in the field. So basically it was a law that helped ensure that no one goes hungry. It sorta reminds me of the Year of Jubilee from Deuteronomy, in the sense that they are both laws that help ensure that no one is completely forgotten or destitute.

The other cool thing about Ruth is that it introduces the line of Jesus. Ruth is the great grandmother of David (we'll see more of him over the next 2 books). Jesus is a descendant of David and is even referred to as the "Son of David" in the gospels.

OK, I gotta be honest here, design-wise this is not one of my favorites. Not sure why, but it just feels incomplete or something. Oh well, I've got 58 more books to redeem myself, right?

Back at ya next week for 1 Samuel....