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Catholic Dictionary




A Moabite woman who married into a family that had left Bethlehem during a famine. The heroic mother of this family, Naomi, experienced stark tragedy during the next decade. Her husband and then both her married sons died, leaving her a widow in a foreign land. She decided in desperation to return to Judah, hoping for help from her kinfolk (Ruth 1-6). Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, refused to desert her, declaring, "Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you live, I will live. Your people shall be my people, and your God my god" (Ruth 1:16). Thus, they traveled together to Bethlehem. Ruth became a gleaner in the cornfields that were owned by Boaz, a well-to-do kinsman of Naomi's dead husband. Naomi returned Ruth's loving devotion by encouraging the friendship and protection Boaz for her daughter-in-law. Eventually Ruth and Boaz were married and had a son named Obed, then Jesse, then David, and ultimately Jesus (Ruth 4:17).