Category Archives: Boaz

Warrior Prophets 3 Epilogue – The Temple of Solomon

Warrior Prophets 3 Epilogue

The Temple of Solomon

The chair bearers loved carrying Ruth. In her old age, she was so light that one of them could have carried her alone. And she was always so friendly and chatty. The servants vied for the duty of carrying her around, but today was a special day.

The oldest, most senior servants were given the honor of carrying Ruth this day. It was a sunny spring morning in Jerusalem, the City of David. A viewing stage had been constructed for the royal guests facing the entrance to the Temple. The Temple stood in front of them with a central building four stories high. It was one of the largest, most beautiful buildings the world had ever seen. Two tall gold-covered pillars framed the entrance to the Sanctuary. A massive altar of stone dominated the Temple courtyard. A gigantic copper basin resting on twelve copper oxen stood in front of the stone altar. Priests in white robes darted to and fro in the courtyard with flocks of sheep, goats and cattle ready to be sacrificed, the fat to be burnt and offered to God, the meat to be distributed to the masses of people.

King Solomon son of David was seated on his throne in the center of the stage. On either side of the stage sat the assembled princes of Israel with their own families and escorts. Together, they all watched the throngs of Israelites that had traveled from all over the land of Canaan to witness the consecration of the Temple. Foreign delegations had also arrived to give honor to the son of David on finishing the mesmerizing structure the Israelites had built to their God. Phoenicians, Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites all sat amongst the visitors from abroad. Egyptians with their shaved heads and white robes, Philistines in leather tunics and elaborate sandals, even black-skinned Shebans in multi-colored robes graced the royal stage. Trumpets blew, announcing the arrival of each distinguished visitor. Colorful garments flapped in the blustery gusts of the western wind which carried a hint of salt from the Great Sea.

Bathsheba, the Queen Mother, sat on one side of Solomon. Ruth’s sedan chair was carried onto the stage and placed on the other side of Solomon’s throne.

“Grandmamma,” Solomon greeted Ruth. “I have two gifts for you on this day.”

“Oh, you didn’t have to,” Ruth replied. “Living to see this day is more than sufficient for me.”

“Nonetheless, you are deserving of it, Grandmamma.”

“You are sweet to call me that, though I am not nearly young enough to be your grandmother.”

“Do you recall your age?”

“No. Just the generations. I was there for your father, David’s birth. I was there for his father, Jesse’s birth, my grandson. And of course I gave birth to Oved, your great-grandfather. Though Boaz missed it. Poor Boaz. Our time together was so short. How he would have loved to have been present for his son’s birth. I don’t know why God has blessed me with such an extraordinarily long life. But I’m enjoying it. What are these gifts that you speak of?”

“The first is the compass of Amitai that you lent to us.” Solomon presented a small box to Ruth. “It was instrumental in our construction. It has some unique properties that my own engineers have not been able to replicate until this day. It’s as if it has a mind of its own. It directed us where to place each of the altars and the other sacred utensils.”

“Oh!” Ruth let a tear of joy stream down her wrinkled face as she took the box lovingly with both hands. “Amitai would have been so pleased. I only knew him briefly when he was already an old man, but he was so knowledgeable of how the world and everything in it worked. And brave. He gave his life that I might live.”

“His descendants were instrumental in the construction and design of the Temple. His spirit surely lives on in them.” Solomon said.

“Good. Then give the compass to one of them. What will I do with this contraption at my age? My adventures were completed long ago.” Ruth handed the box gingerly back to Solomon. Solomon bowed as he accepted it.

“Now before my next gift, grandmamma, I’d like you to tell me a bit about your husband, my great-great grandfather.”

“Boaz? What can I say about Boaz?” Ruth tilted her head back, summoning memories from generations before. “He was tall. He was handsome, even in his old age. He was brave. I think he was the bravest man I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve known many in my day. It wasn’t just physical bravery, mind you. It was the courage to do what he felt was right no matter what the rest of the world thought. He reminded me of stories about Abraham. One man against an entire culture of belief. Boaz was that strong. And he was a leader. A natural leader. When he spoke, people couldn’t help but listen and follow. And he was kind. So kind. Imagine me – a destitute Moabite woman coming to Bethlehem – and he was the only friendly hand. He withstood the famine and kept Bethlehem together and safe. He had been a mighty warrior, but that was before I knew him, though even as a child I had heard stories of his accomplishments, of his unnatural speed, of his incredible instinct as a fighter, of how he founded the militia that fought Israel’s enemies, and so much more. Oh, Solomon. He was so much. He was a man of the utmost integrity, of such character, of faith, of self-control. He was a pillar of Judah and served as an example to all of Israel. It was my deepest privilege to be his wife and to bear his child.”

“Thank you, grandmamma,” Solomon said as his eyes moistened. “I’ve never heard you speak so passionately about him.”

“You never asked before. But why now?”

“That is the second gift. You see those two pillars?” Solomon pointed at the massive golden pillars at the entrance to the Temple. “We needed to name them. The one on the left is named Yachin, meaning ready. It symbolizes that we must always be ready to fulfill God’s commands, to serve Him as a servant before ones master.”

“And what is the name of the right pillar?” Ruth asked.

“We wanted to choose a name that symbolized all the traits you just mentioned. Of humility and nobility. Of justice and mercy. Of courage and discipline. Of faith and tradition. Of honor and beauty. We have named the right pillar after your husband, after our esteemed ancestor. We have named the pillar Boaz.”

Ruth wept joyfully. She looked at the pillar and imagined a giant version of Boaz guarding the entrance to the Temple. And she imagined him smiling back at her.

The End

End of Warrior Prophets 3: Ancestress and The Boaz Trilogy

* * * * * *

Secondary Sources:

Ruth the Moabite lived to see the kingdom of Solomon, her great-great grandson. Tractate Bava Batra 91b.

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 29 – Lion of Judah

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 29

Lion of Judah

Ruth completed her third circle around Boaz. She found herself out of breath and disoriented as her vision fluctuated between the battle around her wedding ceremony and her presence in the future, as her descendant David faced the Philistine giant, Goliath son of Orpa.

The first group of Philistine mercenaries that Alron the Danite had brought into Bethlehem lay dead or unconscious on the floor of the alcove where Boaz and Ruth had meant to marry. Four elders held the poles of the wedding canopy over the couple. Ehud, Ploni, Garto and the rest of the residents of Bethlehem fought a pitched battle against the new infusion of Philistine mercenaries in front of the city gate. Judean pitchforks, axes and walking sticks were wielded against the iron swords of professional soldiers.

It seemed that the more numerous Judeans would stem the tide pouring through the city gate, until a flurry of arrows killed half a dozen defenders.

Ehud identified the man-child Beor as the deadly archer standing next to the sorcerer Sumahtrid. Ehud grabbed a spear from a dead Philistine and threw it with all his might at Beor. The archer moved his body, but not before the blacksmith’s spear clove his bow in half.

“You’ll have to get your hands dirty now, Beor,” Sumahtrid instructed his disciple. “I know how much you love it.”

Beor drew his sword and approached the thick of battle as Sumahtrid continued weaving spells with his hands and voice.

*

David stood frozen for a moment as Goliath’s footsteps shook the earth. David felt the tremors of the wounded land through the soft soles of his leather sandals. He held his staff in one hand and his sling in the other and feared that even his vaunted faith would not be enough to sustain him against the unnatural menace barreling towards him.

“Now,” Boaz yelled to the ghost of his bride-to-be. “He needs us now.” Both he and Ruth floated to David and each took hold of one of his shoulders.

David felt the strength of their spirits pour into him. He stood tall and did not flinch as the giant suddenly halted his march.

Goliath looked at David in shock, not believing his size, age, or lack of armor or weaponry.

“Am I a dog,” Goliath barked harshly at David, “that you come to me with a stick, boy? This is the hero the Israelites send to fight me? By all the gods, I have never been so offended. I swear to you by the old gods and the new gods, by Zeus and Hera, by Baal and Ashtarte, come to me boy, and I will feed your carcass to the vultures and your rotting corpse to the jackals.”

David took a step back from Goliath’s threat. Ruth and Boaz held David’s shoulders firmly, and soon found other hands joining them.

Moses, with his flowing white beard stood right behind David and whispered.

“I smote a giant much larger than this one.”

Abraham stood next to Moses and whispered, “Do not fear, my son. You must kill him to set the course.”

Samuel the Prophet joined their hands and said, “It is for this that I anointed you. You are the chosen of God. You can defeat this heathen.”

More and more hands rested on David’s shoulders; the ancestors, warriors and prophets of countless generations. They whispered to him. They encouraged him. They gave him of their essence. David felt their spirit. He felt their strength flowing into his soul, into his blood. He felt his muscles burn with power.

“You are our child,” Ruth said above the chorus of the generations. “We are with you. You are a Lion of Judah. This is your destiny. Show this monster, show these heathens, how a son of the living God, how a prince of Israel, has no fear.”

David took a step forward and looked at Goliath in the eye. He felt a kinship in the eyes, a certain ferocity – but nothing else.

“You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin,” David called out in a voice that bounced off the mountains on either side. The Philistine and Israelite armies hushed to hear David’s words. “But I, I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted this day. And it is He that will deliver you into my hand. I will kill you. I will cut your head off and I will give the carcasses of your Philistines to the vultures of the sky and to the jackals of the field, that all will know that there is a God in Israel.”

A cheer arose from the army of Israel as the Philistines looked on in confusion and the beginning of fear.

“And all will know,” David continued in a louder voice over the cheering Israelites, “that God doesn’t save with the sword or the spear, for battle is God’s domain and he will give you into our hands.”

“Enough! Enough, you filthy little dog.” Goliath raised his spear. The spear was as thick as a tree with an iron point the size of a man’s head. “I have never heard such a loud blabbering Israelite before. Enough!”

Goliath threw his spear with blinding speed, but David had already moved and was no longer where he had stood when the spear penetrated the earth as if suddenly giving birth to a new tree. Goliath raised his sword and with a piercing battle-cry slashed at David. David ducked under the heavy sword and rolled to his feet. He grabbed a stone from his satchel and placed it into the mouth of his sling. Goliath slashed at the running David. David somersaulted into the air, flipping over the flashing sword and landing on his feet.

“Stay still you little monkey!” Goliath spat and slashed again at the place where David had been. “Fight like a man! I didn’t come here to hunt rabbits!”

David spun his sling. Goliath paused and laughed. He sheathed his sword and drew his javelin from behind his back.

“You think your little pebbles will hurt me? I’m indestructible!”

David continued spinning until he felt the speed was right. Goliath launched the javelin at David. David jumped out of the way of the javelin, the force of the wind almost knocking him over. He kept hold of the sling and continued his relentless spinning.

God! Let my aim be true! David prayed. He felt the presence of Ehud again, guiding his hand. “I told you I would be with you,” Ehud whispered. “A Wolf of Benjamin assists the Lion of Judah.”

The stone left the sling with a rush of sound. The armies of two nations watched as the small stone, no larger than a man’s fist, flew towards the giant’s head. Goliath’s eyes lost focus as they tried to follow the speeding path of the riverstone.

Then it struck. It struck right beneath the gleaming bronze helmet, upon the bridge of the nose between the giant’s eyes. The helmet with the bright red plume flew off the giant’s head as he reeled backwards. The stone embedded itself deep into his thick skin. The towering giant took a step back from the force of the blow.

And then the impossible happened. The giant stopped breathing. A universal gasp echoed from both sides of the valley. The Philistines on one mountain and the Israelites on the opposing mountain held their collective breaths as Goliath ceased to live. They knew it when his eyes rolled backwards. They had seen it in countless enemies, but never in a being so large. His life was snuffed out. It was as if a towering cedar, one of the famed majestic trees from the forests of Lebanon, had been felled. Goliath wobbled for a moment, his legs no longer wielding the power to sustain him. He fell to his knees. His arms went slack at his sides and his massive body fell forward.

The entire world moved in slow motion and only had eyes for the falling giant. It was as if the rules of nature had been overturned. A small, young, unarmed boy had killed the mightiest; the most invincible warrior the world had ever created. The tiniest details of Goliath came into sharp focus. His burnished breastplate displayed the fortress by the sea with the characteristic gate of Ashkelon, the city of his birth. The greaves on his legs with the engraved soldiers were smiling with glee in the burning sun.

There must have been sound when the enormous body hit the ground, but nobody heard it. The shock was so overwhelming, the deed so impossible, that the visual senses were overloaded and did not allow any other sense to function. It was impossible. The large body bounced, his face splattering into the muddy riverbank, and then he moved no more.

*

Ruth finished the sixth circle, panting and sweating profusely. She could barely focus on the scene in Bethlehem. Boaz remained in a light trance, not able or willing to break Ruth’s circles, yet frustrated that he could do nothing to fight their immediate danger. They were surrounded by an army. The four elders holding up the wedding canopy were using their staffs to fend off the Philistine mercenaries that got through the guard of the Bethlehemites that had made a circle around Boaz and Ruth. There were perhaps two dozen Bethlehemites standing against a force of three dozen professional soldiers. Ehud was in single sword combat with the dexterous Beor, neither of them gaining an advantage. Ploni stayed close to Ruth, watching for any Philistines that made it past the guard of the four elders.

Then Ploni saw it from the corner of his eye; an arrow flashing through the thick air towards Ruth’s heart. Instinctively he jumped in its way as Ruth continued her dream walk. The arrow punctured Ploni’s lung and he knew he would not last long as he collapsed outside Ruth’s path.

Alron, standing on the parapet, reloaded another arrow to shoot at Ruth. He pulled on the bow and aimed at the Moabite princess, until a sword erupted from his belly, sending the arrow awry.

“You dirty traitor,” Garto exhaled as he pulled the sword out of Alron’s body, kicking him over the parapet. “You deserve much worse than that for bringing enemies into our city.”

Garto spotted the sorcerer Sumatrid on a further parapet and ran towards him.

*

Ehud cried for every Israelite that died defending Boaz and Ruth. He wept openly when Ploni fell. He could have saved them, but the sorcery was stopping him. He didn’t understand it. It hadn’t incapacitated him. It had just taken away his extra edge, his extra speed, strength and stamina that had always accompanied him in battle. Now he was just an old blacksmith, an experienced warrior, fighting a fresher, younger assassin.

He saw Sumahtrid in the distance waving his hands in strange patterns, but he could not reach him. If he disengaged from Beor, the assassin would kill Boaz and Ruth in short order.

Then he saw Garto running towards Sumahtrid and prayed that the unskilled overseer would be a match for the sorcerer.

*

Sumahtrid had mixed feelings about the death of Alron. On one hand, he would no longer have to pay him the exorbitant fees he had demanded, but on the other hand, the Danite had almost accomplished the task of killing the princess. He would just need to redouble his efforts. He didn’t understand why Boaz, the ancient warrior, remained frozen in his wedding ceremony, but that left Ehud as the only threat, and he needed to weaken Ehud until Beor could overcome the old blacksmith.

He saw the overseer running towards him with the sword. Perhaps it was time to change tactics. Sumahtrid whistled shrilly. All stopped and looked at Sumahtrid for a moment.

“To me, my pet!” Sumahtrid called to Beor.

Beor immediately backed away from Ehud and ran back to Sumahtrid.

Sumahtrid gestured at Garto who continued running towards him. A stone that Garto stepped on dislodged from the floor, sending Garto flying over the parapet, landing onto a pile of corpses below. The stone continued flying and knocked into an Israelite defender, sending him crumbling to the floor.

Sumahtrid sent another stone flying towards Ruth. Ehud sheathed his sword in his scabbard, jumped to intercept the flying stone and redirected it at a Philistine soldier.

“Guard me from any attackers,” Sumahtrid instructed Beor as he met him on the parapet. “I will let the stones of the ancestors kill the progeny. There will only be so many stones the blacksmith can catch.”

Sumahtrid lobbed stones at a more rapid pace. Ehud struggled to catch each one and divert them. Some started to get through and hit other Israelites. One stone hit an elder holding the wedding canopy, throwing him against the wall of the alcove. Another elder grabbed the canopy pole before it fell, his staff in his other hand, wary of another stone and the Philistines, who had backed away from the magical stone attack.

Within minutes, Ehud was bruised and bloodied by the attack of the flying stones. One of his arms hung limply at his side. All of the Israelites were dead, unconscious or dispersed, except for four wounded elders holding up the canopy around Boaz and Ruth.

“Now to finish the job,” Sumahtrid purred, rubbing his hands for a final assault.

*

David looked in awe at the fallen Goliath.

There was a roar of victory from the Israelite army and a roar of anger from the Philistines. Even without Goliath, the Philistines outnumbered and outmatched the Israelites. The Philistines would have to engage the Israelites, but it would be a massacre nonetheless.

The remaining Philistine generals ordered their army to form into lines. They would attack the Israelites.

“No!” Ruth’s specter said. “We must press the advantage. David, my child, you are not done yet.” Ruth thought of her role, she thought of her purpose, she wondered what she contributed that the other mighty ancestors didn’t. Why did God need her in the supreme mix of souls? And then she knew it. She knew what the blood of Eglon carried. She knew what a descendant of Lot could do. She knew what the Israelites were lacking and she knew why she was chosen. She knew why it was her and no one else from Moab. She was the kind one from Moab, in a time when Israel desperately needed kindness. It was compassion, it was humility, it was faith, but there was something underlying all these traits.

For a moment she had a vision of a memory she had not thought of since her childhood. It had been in the Judean desert, when her father, Emperor Eglon, controlled the land of Canaan. On one of the many days that she would sneak out of the City of Palms and explore the land, she climbed the stark rocky hills that hid the lush wadis. In one of the wadis she spotted a lioness. The lioness was wounded and trapped by a sudden rockfall. One leg lay broken under a pile of stones. A pack of hyenas, smelling blood, exited their lair. They approached the wounded lioness, only to cower back at her angry roar. The hyenas circled around the trapped lioness and headed towards her den, where her newborn cubs lay.

The trapped lioness roared again and with supreme effort extricated herself from the rocks. With three healthy legs she pounced on half a dozen hyenas. The hyenas counterattacked and nipped at the lioness’ broken leg. The lioness roared in pain, but never gave up. She roared and attacked as the hyenas jumped onto her, biting into her back, her neck, her healthy legs. With the fury only a mother can show for her young, the lioness slashed and bit at the hyenas. She finally killed one, biting through its neck and battering the other hyenas with the body of their dead brother. The other hyenas scattered, whimpering, and never approached the lioness’ den again.

Young Ruth, from her safe haven above the wadi, cried as she witnessed the power and fury of the lioness. She had never been the same again.

Ruth of Moab awoke from her daydream, and still in her spirit state looked at the body of Goliath with his face in the mud. Her specter grabbed hold of David and she felt Boaz by her side, and Ehud, and Abraham, Moses, Nachshon, Joshua, Samson, Samuel and many more. She felt the spirits of generations channeling through her into the body of the young redhead. And she knew what she contributed, what was uniquely hers and what was needed now. Ferocity. She had the capacity for ferocity that was unrivaled. She now poured all of her ferocity into David.

David gritted his teeth and ran as if his body were on fire. David ran to Goliath’s corpse and removed his gigantic sword from its sheath. With supernatural strength he raised the iron sword and brought it crashing down over Goliath’s neck. The sword clove straight through the tough skin, separating the head from the body. David raised Goliath’s head by the hair, faced the combined troops of the Philistines and roared.

It was a roar that was heard from one end of the valley to the other. It rebounded off of the hills and into the sky. The clouds shook from the power of the roar. It was a roar that contained the voices of all the ancestors of David, of Judah, of Israel. Those that stood in the Valley of Ella that day swore that they saw a gigantic vision of a lion standing over David.

“Lion of Judah!” an Israelite warrior cried.

“Lion of Judah!” his fellow warriors repeated.

“LION OF JUDAH!!” the entire Israelite army screamed.

As one man, the Israelites raised their swords and ran towards the Philistines. No orders, no plan, no strategy. A sea of bodies and swords flowed down the mountain and filled the valley. It was as if a gigantic anthill had been kicked and now a ferocious assault was unleashed. The Israelites ran at the astonished Philistines fearlessly. David dropped Goliath’s head, yet retained the massive sword. He ran to the head of the oncoming Israelite army and was the first to engage the awestruck Philistines. With one swipe of Goliath’s sword David killed six Philistines.

“Lion of Judah!” the Israelites repeated and dove into the ranks of the retreating Philistines. That day thousands of Philistines were killed. Not one Israelite fell. David and the Israelite army pursued the Philistines all the way back to their cities of Gath and Ekron. David did not stop until the Israelites tired of massacring the fearful Philistines. Vultures of the sky and jackals of the field feasted on the Philistine bodies. That day David became a legend for all time. That was the day the tribes of Israel got their first glimpse of their future king, the one that would unite the tribes and establish the eternal monarchy of Israel.

*

Ruth finished her seventh circle as a stone block flew towards her head. Ehud lay gasping in pain on the floor. A large stone had broken three of his ribs. At that exact moment, generations into the future, a young redhead roared a roar that shook the earth. That roar escaped the lips of Ruth. It came out of the mouth of Boaz whose eyes opened widely. It came out of the lungs of Ehud that rasped with pain. Their roar shook the city. The flying stone stopped in midair and dropped harmlessly to the ground. Unconscious Bethlehemites woke up with vigor. The injured were healed. The fatally wounded were revived. Sumahtrid tried to cast a new spell, but found he could no longer speak. Ruth awoke from her trance, left the wedding canopy and marched towards Sumahtrid on the rampart. She climbed the stairs quickly, as a lioness pouncing on its prey.

Sumahtrid backed away from the woman with the fire in her eyes. Beor stood in front of him with his sword ready.

Ruth stopped a few feet away and planted her feet firmly on the stone.

“GOD!” she roared, raising her fists to the sky.

A blast of power emanated from Ruth, knocking Beor off the rampart. The effect on Sumahtrid was different. Sumahtrid’s form froze. His skin and clothing took on a grey color, like ashes from a dead hearth. Cracks formed all over his body and little flecks of dust were carried by the wind. The process accelerated, as Sumahtrid’s body decomposed and finally disappeared altogether in the Judean wind. Beor, watching his master’s fate from below, ran out of the city, never to look back.

Ruth walked regally down the stairs in her white wedding gown. The population of Bethlehem stood at attention and formed a passageway for Ruth to return to Boaz under the wedding canopy. Ehud stood by his side, dirty but healthy-looking. Garto was there as well, and even Ploni had been resuscitated, grinning more widely than he had in many decades with an arrow shaft still protruding from his chest.

“Shall we finish the ceremony?” Boaz asked.

“By all means,” Ruth responded. “I just had an uninvited guest to get rid of.”

Boaz and Ruth were married that day in Bethlehem, and everyone who was there swore that they saw a giant silhouette of a lion overlooking the wedding canopy.

* * * * * *

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 28 – Battle of the Spirits

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 28

Battle of the Spirits

Boaz stood under the wedding canopy next to Ruth. He was pleased that she had donned her white wedding dress. He was disturbed by Alron’s sudden appearance with Philistine troops. He caught Ehud’s eye. Ehud moved quickly to intercept the Danite. Boaz closed his eyes for a moment. He drew on his inner vision, on Isaac’s Sight, to understand what was going on around him.

He sensed Ruth’s blinding white spirit, most likely ecstatic about the upcoming ceremony with a tinge of yellow apprehension over Alron’s intrusion. He sensed the darker, browner fear and confusion amongst the Bethlehemites. He could see Ploni’s red anger and shame cooling down as he returned to the alcove to investigate this latest development. Boaz looked at the auras of Alron and the Philistines and saw a putrid green of greed. Mercenaries, Boaz understood. There is some financial gain for them in disrupting our marriage. Boaz let his senses float farther afield, beyond the walls of Bethlehem and then he saw the black hole that he knew to be the life-force of Sumahtrid the sorcerer. Next to him was the malevolent dull grey presence of the man-child, Beor. Behind them were several dozen greedy souls, more Philistine mercenaries.

“Ehud!” Boaz opened his eyes wide. “We are under attack! The sorcerer is here with more troops!”

Ehud jumped in front of Alron, whose extended sword still pointed at the Elder.

“I warned you, Danite, that the next time you appeared in Bethlehem, I would kill you.” Ehud drew his own sword.

“I remember, blacksmith. But I will not sully myself by dealing with you.” Alron backed away as his Philistine escort moved in on Ehud.

*

“Perhaps we should wait until after this attack,” Boaz suggested to Ruth under the canopy.

“Boaz son of Salmoon son of Nachshon the Brave,” Ruth said. “I shall not wait one more moment. The world may be coming to an end, but I will see this through now. We cannot delay any further. Ehud and the other residents of Bethlehem will have to fight without us.”

“I too feel a sense of urgency. You must circle me seven times. That is the first part of the ritual. It binds our spirits together. Forever. Do not stop or slow your pace. It must be seven complete circles.”

Ruth nodded and walked around Boaz, as four Elders nervously held the canopy. The assembly looked on in fear between the wedding ceremony and Philistines fighting Ehud.

*

Ehud moved with blinding speed. Three Philstines lay dead, as four others surrounded him and the remaining five spread out to reach Boaz and Ruth. Alron had disappeared into the now-panicked crowd.

Elders raised their walking staffs and expertly hit the Philistines approaching the wedding canopy. Ehud attacked and furiously parried the swords and spears of the Philistines around him.

One Philistine got through the Elders and launched his spear at Ruth. A stick crashed down on the spear in midair, sending it harmlessly into the ground. Ploni wielded the stick and attacked the lone Philistine.

“Get out of my way, old man,” the Philistine barked, raising his sword at Ploni.

“I am Ploni son of Nachshon, and though I may be old, I am not dead yet. I will not allow anyone to harm my family. Not my nephew and not his bride. I have accepted the judgment of the Elders, and Ruth is now one of us. Begone, Philistine!”

Ploni struck the Philistine with a rapid series of blows until the soldier fell to the ground, unconscious.

“Now to the gate,” Ploni said to himself, painfully remembering the last time he tried stopping Philistines at the gate of Bethlehem.

*

Ruth completed one circle around Boaz. Suddenly her vision blurred and she found herself in the Valley of Ella, with the specter of Boaz by her side. They looked across the valley at the massed army of Philistines. Rows upon rows of brass-clad soldiers pointed a forest of spears to the sky. The mountain range was filled with a confident army waiting to attack. The giant, Goliath, stood at the head of the army and bellowed, “I have disgraced the army of Israel this day! Give me a man that will fight me, or is there no man of courage amongst all the Children of Israel?” Goliath laughed long and hard. He radiated strength. He uprooted a young tree from out of the ground and then crushed it in his enormous hands. He was invincible.

The Israelites trembled in fear. The dread was palpable.

“The vision!” Ruth said to Boaz. “I feel myself still walking around you in Bethlehem, but we are also here in the Valley of Ella.”

“Don’t stop!” Boaz said. “This is the prophecy! This is the Defining Place that God spoke to us about. It is now!”

“What do we do?” Ruth asked.

“I think it will become apparent.”

A young redhead entered the tent of King Saul of Israel. The young David son of Jesse bowed before the king and then stood upright. Nobody noticed the spirits of Ruth and Boaz enter the tent.

Ruth and Boaz felt another presence beside them. A large redhead with a flaming beard and a cocky smile. Nachshon the Brave. His spirit touched young David on the shoulder. Nachshon’s spirit then smiled at Boaz and Ruth, said “congratulations” and disappeared.

“Do not let fear weigh your hearts,” David said to King Saul, “I, your servant, will fight this Philistine!”

“You cannot fight him,” King Saul responded. “You are but just a lad and the Philistine has been a warrior all his days.”

Another spirit appeared next to Boaz and Ruth. A handsome man with long hair.

“Who are you?” Boaz asked the spirit.

“A failure,” the spirit answered. “I am from after your time, noble Boaz, but before his. I am Samson son of Manoah. God allows me to give from my strength, from my flashes of purity to the anointed one.”

Samson’s spirit touched David on the shoulder and disappeared.

“I have killed the lion and the bear,” David said, “and this uncircumcised Philistine will die like one of them, for he has shamed the army of the living God!”

Saul took a step back from David’s ferocity and looked at the handsome redhead closely. David continued speaking.

“God, who saved me from the lion and the bear, will save me from this Philistine!” David raised his fist into the air.

“Go then,” Saul agreed, “and may God be with you.”

*

As soon as Garto heard Bethlehem was under attack, he ran towards the gate. He rallied Boaz’s workers to follow him. Other farmers and farmhands joined Garto’s group and he suddenly found himself the leader of a small army. They were perhaps fifty farmers. A dozen Israelite soldiers manned the ramparts and notched their arrows as the Philistines approached.

“Close the gate!” Garto commanded as he saw five dozen Philistines on horseback approaching the gate.

Farmers pushed on the gate. The sorcerer, Sumahtrid, in his black robe, raised his hand and chanted an incantation. The hinges of the gate buckled and could not be moved.

“Push it closed!” Garto yelled. The farmers pushed mightily, only to drive the bottom of the door into the ground. It would not budge further.

Philistines rode through the gate, hacking at the Israelite farmers. Guards on the ramparts managed to shoot some of the invaders. But before long they themselves were shot dead by Philistine archers and by the expert archery of Beor. Farmers defended themselves with axes and pitchforks. Only a handful had swords. Shepherds managed to knock Philistines off their horses and soon there was a pitched battle within the walls of Bethlehem, just a few feet away from Ruth walking in a trance around Boaz under the wedding canopy.

*

Ruth finished her second circle, sweating heavily. Her spirit and Boaz’s stayed with David as King Saul placed his armor on the redheaded youth and gave him the royal sword. They saw the spirit of Joshua touch David on the shoulder. “You won’t need it,” Joshua whispered. Joshua then turned, smiled at Boaz, bowed to Ruth and disappeared. David returned Saul his sword, took the armor off and walked down to the valley, wearing his simple tunic with a shepherd’s staff in one hand and a slingshot in the other. The army of Israel turned from the fearful giant and watched the brazen youth walk through the camp unafraid. “That is a son of Jesse,” men whispered.

“He’s just a lad.”

“He’s going to his death.”

“Our fate is in his hands?”

David trotted lightly through the awestruck soldiers of Israel until he reached the brook at the bottom of the valley. It bubbled happily, unaware of the two armies ready to overflow the stream with blood.

“He’s going to fight that giant with just a sling and a stick?” Ruth asked Boaz.

“He will need some stones,” Boaz noted. “They better be good ones.”

Then they saw the spirit of Ehud fly to David and touch him on the shoulder.

“There,” Ehud said to David. “Take those five. I reserved them for you with prophecy. My spirit will be with you.”

David found a pile of five smooth stones with sharp edges. They lay next to the stream covered with mud. David took the stones, rinsed them in the stream and placed them in the satchel slung across his shoulder.

The youth ran parallel to the stream towards the looming giant who was staring at him in confusion. Goliath stomped to meet David, each footstep shaking the shrubs and trees around him. As Goliath approached, David got his first good look of the Philistine. His body was covered in thick brass armor. The breastplate had an intricate engraving of a fortress by the sea. His greaves had a design of soldiers wielding spears, arrows and swords. His polished helmet reflected the afternoon sun, with a bright red plume rising from the crest of the helmet. Goliath’s shieldbearer, a large man, yet small compared to Goliath, ran by the Philistine’s side, struggling to keep up with the giant’s footsteps.

David felt the thunderous force of Goliath’s approach and stopped. What was I thinking? This is no mere mortal, David realized. He is imbued with great evil and bred for a monstrous purpose. I cannot do this alone.

The Philistine army cheered wildly as their champion bore down on young David.

* * * * * *

Biblical Source:

I Samuel Chapter 17

31 And when the words were heard which David spoke, they rehearsed them before Saul; and he was taken to him. 32 And David said to Saul: ‘Let no man’s heart fail within him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’ 33 And Saul said to David: ‘Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.’ 34 And David said unto Saul: ‘Thy servant kept his father’s sheep; and when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth; and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant smote both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath taunted the armies of the living God.’ 37 And David said: ‘The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said unto David: ‘Go, and the Lord shall be with thee.’ 38 And Saul clad David with his apparel, and he put a helmet of brass upon his head, and he clad him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword upon his apparel, and he essayed to go[, but could not]; for he had not tried it. And David said unto Saul: ‘I cannot go with these; for I have not tried them.’ And David put them off him. 40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his scrip; and his sling was in his hand; and he drew near to the Philistine. 41 And the Philistine came nearer and nearer unto David; and the man that bore the shield went before him. 42 And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and withal of a fair countenance. 43 And the Philistine said unto David: ‘Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his god. 44 And the Philistine said to David: ‘Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.’ 45 Then said David to the Philistine: ‘Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast taunted. 46 This day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand; and I will smite thee, and take thy head from off thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel; 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hand.’ 48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slung it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead; and the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell upon his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 And David ran, and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw that their mighty man was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou comest to Gai, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron. 53 And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their camp. 54 And David took the head of the philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent.

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 27 – House of the Removed Shoe

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 27

House of the Removed Shoe

Boaz sat calmly on the stone bench beside the gate, inside the large open alcove. Benches lined each of the three walls of the enclosure, within view of the main thoroughfare of Bethlehem. It was the place of judgment. The streets of Bethlehem were quieter than usual at the early hour. The residents of Bethlehem were slow to rise on the morning after the harvest feast. For a few moments Boaz enjoyed the warm summer sun rising above the mountains of Moab. Then he saw Ploni walking slowly towards the gate.

“Uncle,” Boaz called.

“Good morning, Boaz. Thank you again for an enjoyable feast. What is the matter? Why do you sit here?”

“I call for judgment,” Boaz answered. “Please sit here and we will assemble the elders.”

“For what matter?”

“In regard to the family and the property of Elimelech.”

“Very well.” Ploni sat down on an opposing bench.

The elders walked from their homes, one by one, to the gate of Bethlehem. “We sit in judgment today,” Boaz announced to each one.

Within a number of minutes a quorum of ten Elders had taken their seats on the stone benches. Other passersby stood by the entrance of the alcove, awaiting the proceedings. Children sat cross-legged on the top of the walls, sensing that it would be a judgment worth watching. Word of the judgment spread quickly throughout the city as the crowd swelled around the enclosure.

Naomi and Ruth, not able to restrain themselves, joined the crowd. Ruth wore the new white dress Naomi had made for her. Ehud was there, as was Garto. Garto smiled gently at Ruth, raised his shoulders and whispered: “They’ll be no work in the fields today, that’s for sure.”

Boaz stood up and faced Ploni.

“The land of Elimelech is being sold by his wife Naomi who has returned from the fields of Moab,” Boaz said to Ploni in a strong voice that the entire assembly could hear. “And I have decided to formally announce this to you. You may buy the land in front of all of this assembly and in front of the Elders. This would be your redemption of the land. If you are willing, then redeem it. But if not, you must let me know, for you have the first right as Elimelech’s brother. I come after you, for I am only his nephew.”

“I am willing to redeem the land of Elimelech, my brother, and acquire it.” Ploni stood up solemnly and declared.

“The day you buy the land from Naomi,” Boaz replied, “you also must buy it from Ruth the Moabite, widow of Mahlon and inheritor of Elimelech. Furthermore, as a redeemer, it will become your obligation to take Mahlon’s widow as your wife to carry on the name of the dead on his inheritance.”

“Absolutely not!” Ploni yelled. “She is a Moabite. She is not of Israel. I do not recognize her marriage to Mahlon nor her eligibility to join the Children of Israel. This is nonsense, Boaz, and you know it.”

“Let us examine your claims,” Boaz said, unruffled. “A woman of another nation has taken upon herself the laws and traditions of Israel. She was married to one of our family for many years. She has returned with her mother-in-law to our land to live and work amongst us. She is of noble character, of humble bearing and possesses a modesty that all the daughters of Israel can learn from. She identifies completely with the people of Israel and has taken on the Law of Moses. What else does she require to be recognized as one of us?”

“Don’t bandy words with me, Boaz. She is a Moabite. Moses himself wrote ‘a Moabite shall not enter into the covenant of Israel.’

“True,” Boaz answered. “But it has been argued in front of us that Moses may have easily meant that only male Moabites are prohibited from marrying Israelites. More than that, we have the evidence of our very own eyes. Ruth the Moabite has lived amongst us for these last few months. The people of Bethlehem,” Boaz turned to the crowd, his arms open to them, “have come to know her kindness, her bravery, her piety. I ask you, my brothers, is Ruth not a woman of valor?”

“Yes!” A chorus resonated from the crowd. “Ruth is one of us!”

“My fellow Elders,” Boaz continued, “I submit to you. Let us resolve this question once and for all. Moses did not mean to exclude Moabite women from marrying into Israel – only the men. He could not have meant to prevent such beauty of spirit from joining our nation. What say you? Shall we allow such purity within our people or shall we reject it? You must decide now, for a life, a family, the very future of a line of Israel hangs in the balance. Please give us your judgment.”

The Elders huddled and argued with each other. They pointed at Ploni, at Boaz, at Ruth and Naomi in the crowd and then they nodded at each other.

One of the Elders stepped away from the huddle to the center of the enclosure and faced the crowd.

“We hereby decree,” the Elder stated, “that the prohibition against marrying Moabites is in force exclusively against the men from that nation. Israelite men are permitted to marry Moabite women provided they have renounced their idol-worshipping ways and have embraced the Laws of Moses and the traditions of Israel. The Moabite woman will then be considered a convert and will be subject to all the laws, commandments and prohibitions as any daughter of Israel. We recognize both the conversion of Ruth the Moabite and her lawful marriage to Mahlon son of Elimelech. Ruth is a legal childless inheritor and all our traditions of Redemption and Levirate marriage apply to her fully. Ploni is tasked with the redemption of the Elimelech’s land and taking Ruth as his wife in order to continue the name of the dead. This is our decree.”

“No!” Ploni exclaimed. “I cannot, I will not, bring myself to redeem her. I will not risk my name, my soul, my identity, by marrying this Moabite, even on your say-so. You redeem her, Boaz. I transfer the responsibility to you. You can acquire Elimelech’s land and marry Mahlon’s widow. I cannot bring myself to do this thing.”

“Then you must perform the Halitzah ritual,” the Elder advised Ploni. “This court calls upon Ruth the Moabite, widow of Mahlon, to fulfill the ceremony.”

The crowd by the entrance parted to let Ruth walk into the middle of the alcove. She walked slowly in her new gown, looking from side to side at the residents of Bethlehem watching the proceedings.

“Welcome, our daughter,” the Elder nodded at Ruth. “We shall now instruct you as to how the ceremony shall be conducted. Do not fear. It shall free you from Ploni’s obligation and transfer it to Boaz, allowing him to marry you.”

The Elder spoke quietly with Ruth, pointing at Ploni, at his shoe, and had her repeat a number of phrases. Satisfied that Ruth understood the procedure, the Elder directed her to start.

“My relative refuses to establish for his brother a name in Israel,” Ruth announced in a strong clear voice. “He does not consent to perform the Levirate marriage.”

“I do not wish to marry her,” Ploni responded formally.

Ruth sat on the floor and untied the sandal off of Ploni’s right foot. She took the sandal off his foot and threw it on the packed earth. She then stood up and spat on the ground in front of Ploni.

“So is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house,” Ruth announced. “His name will be proclaimed in Israel as ‘the House of the one whose shoe was removed!’”

Red-faced, Ploni picked up his shoe and left the assembly. The crowd parted to let him out.

“Ruth is free from the bond of obligation to Ploni,” the Elder announced. “She may marry Boaz. We may now perform the Levirate marriage,” the Elder announced.

A wedding canopy was brought out. Four poles with a white fabric on the top. Four Elders grabbed each corner and directed Boaz and Ruth to stand under the canopy.

“I object!” a voice from the crowd called out.

The crowd parted once again, as Alron the Danite strode into the court area, followed by a dozen Philistine soldiers. They wore sturdy leather breastplates, carrying long spears in their hands and swords at their sides. They marched in two orderly rows behind Alron.

“What is the meaning of this!” the Elder berated Alron. “Who are you and why are these Philistines here?”

“I am Alron of Dan and I call for the end of this travesty. These men are my guards, for the last time I was in your inhospitable city I was threatened with death. A man is allowed to protect himself, is he not?”

“What is your connection to this matter?” the Elder asked.

“Princess Ruth, daughter of Eglon the Moabite, is meant to be my wife. And I will kill any man that thinks otherwise,” said Alron, as he pointed his sword at the Elder.

* * * * * *

Biblical Sources:

Book of Ruth, Chapter 4:

1 Now Boaz went up to the gate, and sat him down there; and, behold, the near kinsman of whom Boaz spoke came by; unto whom he said: ‘Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here.’ And he turned aside, and sat down. 2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said: ‘Sit ye down here.’ And they sat down. 3 And he said unto the near kinsman: ‘Naomi, that is come back out of the field of Moab, selleth the parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s; 4 and I thought to disclose it unto thee, saying: Buy it before them that sit here, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it; but if it will not be redeemed, then tell me, that I may know; for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee.’ And he said: ‘I will redeem it.’ 5 Then said Boaz: ‘What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi–hast thou also bought of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance?’ 6 And the near kinsman said: ‘I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance; take thou my right of redemption on thee; for I cannot redeem it.’– 7 Now this was the custom in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning exchanging, to confirm all things: a man drew off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour; and this was the attestation in Israel.– 8 So the near kinsman said unto Boaz: ‘Buy it for thyself.’ And he drew off his shoe.

 

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 26 – Seducing a Saint

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 26

Seducing a Saint

Boaz officiated at the wedding of Ruth and Garto. Ruth looked stunning in her new white gown. Garto was grinning from cheek to cheek. Naomi looked on in mourning, whispering to Boaz: “failure.” Vered joined Naomi’s chant and then Elimelech, Mahlon and Kilyon joined in proclaiming: “failure.” Boaz’s father, Salmoon appeared and stated: “You have failed me, son. All I ever wanted was continuity. Such a simple thing. But you have broken the chain. Our line ends with you.”

Finally, Nachshon the Brave appeared in Boaz’s dream. Boaz had never met his legendary grandfather, but there was no mistake who it was. The bright red hair and beard, the cocky confidence mixed with supreme faith.

“Such promise,” Nachshon said to Boaz. “You were the key, Boaz. You had the gifts, the training, the spirit, but you lacked that final bit of courage. Were you asked to jump into the sea? Were you asked to risk your life? No! Merely to take in this most worthy, most honorable woman and make her your wife. But you worried too much about the superficial. What people would think. What people would say. Blood of my blood! What a disgrace! Joshua prophesied to you; Ehud confirmed it; Vered returned from the dead to push you, but still you dragged your feet, and now it is too late, too late. You were my last anchor to this world. The King will not be born, the Tribes of Israel will never be united, the Temple will not be built, God’s hope has gone awry, the light will be extinguished, the world will return to chaos, another failed trial, so close this time.”

“No! Wait! What do you mean?” Boaz cried out. “How can one poor decision lead to such a catastrophe?”

“The balance of free will is always on the edge of a blade,” Nachshon explained, “it must ever be so, but this was a moment, this was a confluence of time, a pivot, and you failed, you in whose hands all our hopes rested. It is a shame. Such a shame. God will find another path, another vehicle, another history. He never tires. What is another world to Him? Infinity is His playground, though I truly thought our world, our history, our time would be the one. Too bad, Boaz. Farewell, son of my son. Use your remaining time well.”

The wind over his uncovered legs awoke Boaz with a start. His head spun, still heavy from the wine. The night was pitch black, thick clouds blocking any moonlight or stars. It was as if a thick blanket had snuffed out all the light of the world. Boaz could sense the large pile of grain to one side. He was shocked to discover a woman lying next to him though not touching him. He trembled in fear and apprehension. Am I still dreaming? Boaz wondered through the haze of the wine. He could feel the warmth radiating from her body and unconsciously he was aroused. It is dark, was his first thought. No one will know.

By God, no! Boaz swore to himself. I will overcome this urge. Did I not just admonish all my people against this very thing? Whoever she is, she is a person, not a thing! I cannot ignore that. I cannot give in to the anonymity of the dark or the effects of the wine. Am I as drunk as Lot who could not recognize his own daughters?

“Who are you?” Boaz whispered to the dark.

The woman froze, not expecting conversation, not expecting to identify herself.

“I am Ruth, your maidservant,” the dark whispered back.

Ruth!? Boaz gasped. She is the last person I expected here. What does this mean? What about Garto? Why is this most modest of women by my side after the harvest festival?

“Spread your wings over your maidservant, for you are a Redeemer,” Ruth answered Boaz’s unspoken question.

A Redeemer! She asks for the Levirate marriage! How can I deny her? Boaz’s heart was filled with joy. She maintains her purity. I have been remiss. I have delayed. God has given me a second chance!

“Blessed are you to God, my daughter,” Boaz whispered back, not moving a muscle towards Ruth. “Your kindness to me tonight surpasses all your previous kindnesses. You did not go with the younger men. Not with the wealthy Danite nor with hard-working Garto.”

“I request this for the line of Nachshon,” Ruth said more comfortably, feeling the invisible barrier Boaz had created between them, not touching her. For that alone she loved him even more. “I do this to restore the name of Mahlon, your cousin. I do this for you, and most of all I do it for Naomi.”

Can there be a more righteous woman than this? Boaz asked himself.

“My daughter, do not be afraid. All that you say I will do for you. All of our people, all the people of the gate of Bethlehem, know that you are a woman of valor. And yes, I am a Redeemer, but there is one who is closer. Lie here tonight and in the morning we will settle the matter. If the other Redeemer will redeem you, fine. But if not, I will redeem you. I swear by God. Stay here until the morning.”

Boaz did not say another word.

Ruth respected his silence, though she thought her heart would leap for joy.

He said yes! Ruth thought. He swore he would redeem me. There is no way Ploni would. But how will I break the news to Garto? I must tell him first thing in the morning, before he is further shamed. Poor Garto. But this is the right thing. I feel it in every fiber of my body! He is the one. Naomi was right, but not the way she thought. What a man! I did not need to foist myself upon him. How many men such as he can exist in the world?

Ruth eventually calmed down and fell asleep, never touching Boaz’s body.

She arose before dawn. Boaz was awake. In the dim light of the beginning of the world, she could tell he had not slept the rest of the night.

“It should not be known that a woman came to the threshing floor,” Boaz whispered.

Ruth nodded her understanding. Boaz smiled at her intelligence.

“Give me the scarf that is on you and grasp hold of it,” Boaz ordered gently.

Ruth unbound her scarf from her hair and held it in front of her. He dropped six kernels of barley into the scarf, one for each working day of the week.

“You should not return to your mother-in-law empty-handed,” Boaz whispered. “She will understand the symbolism. Return now to Bethlehem. I shall be right behind you to ensure that you come to no harm. Go, my daughter. I will send word as soon as the matter of the redemption is concluded.”

Ruth nodded one last time and returned to Bethlehem. Boaz waited a few moments and followed her, keeping her always within eyesight until she reached the gate of the city.

*

Ruth opened the door to Naomi’s house silently, not wanting to disturb her mother-in-law at the early hour. The first rays of sun peeked into the house before Ruth closed them out.

“What happened?” Naomi asked urgently, sitting upright at the table. Her face was puffy from tears. She had not slept the entire night. “Who are you, my daughter? Are you still single, or have you bonded with Boaz?”

“Neither,” Ruth responded with a smile. “Boaz is a man of the greatest honor. He did not touch me at all. He will redeem me this morning. He gave me these six kernels,” Ruth handed them to Naomi. “He said do not return empty-handed to your mother-in-law.”

Naomi looked at the kernels of barley tenderly. She held them as she would a newborn child. She stroked each one gently as tears of joy ran down her face.

“This is more than I hoped for,” Naomi spoke to the kernels. “He signals that our work is over. We have worked the six days of the week and now we can rest. He will redeem you. He will. Once he has said so, he will not stop until it is done. You must wait here now, until the matter is decided. He will most likely be in fierce debate with Ploni and the other Elders. But he will succeed. Boaz is masterful in debate and they all respect him. Wait here, daughter, for today it will be decided.”

“There is one thing I must do first.” Ruth looked downward. “I must inform Garto. He will be devastated. But I would rather tell him myself than have him find out from someone else.”

“Go then, my daughter. But then come right back. I am hopeful for good news.”

*

Garto had borrowed a fresh tunic from one of his wealthier neighbors. He had taken a significant portion of his savings and had the blacksmith fashion a simple, unadorned gold ring for Ruth. He was on his way to another neighbor to ask if they could help with the preparation of the wedding feast. He had never felt so happy, so excited in his life. Ruth is mine! Garto thought, still incredulous.

Suddenly, he saw Ruth, in a beautiful blue gown walking rapidly to intercept him. The look on her face was filled with anguish.

“Ruth, what is the matter?” Garto asked with growing concern.

“We must talk,” Ruth said simply.

“Of course. Have I done something wrong? I have just started to tell people the news. I told Boaz last night and he agreed to officiate at the wedding.”

“We cannot marry,” Ruth said.

“What? Why not? Don’t tell me you are suddenly concerned about the Elders. We can leave here if they make an issue of it. There are plenty of cities in Israel that are not so particular about the laws and I can make a good living in any of them. The most important thing is you and me, Ruth. Do not let the so-called righteous intimidate you.”

“It is not that. I have called on Boaz to redeem me, to perform the Levirate marriage.”

“What? When? How is this possible?”

“Last night. After the feast. You are a good man, Garto, and I have deep affection and eternal gratitude to you. But I am meant to be joined with Boaz. There is much more at stake than just the happiness of two people. There is a family line to be resuscitated. There is the memory of my dead husband that needs to be restored. I can only do that through the Levirate marriage. I can only do that with a relative of Mahlon, and Boaz is the best, the most honorable candidate. I know what you will say. Our time may be short. Be that as it may, I must do this thing; for myself, for the Nachshon clan and most importantly, for Naomi. Anything else will break her heart. Do you understand, Garto? Can you forgive me for leading you astray?”

“I don’t believe it! Do you know how much money I just spent? I’m not a rich landowner like Boaz whom you can toy around with. What sort of woman are you? You agree to marry one night and the very next morning you change your mind? Do I understand? Of course I understand. I’m just a plaything to you. A tool in your feminine manipulations. Who else are you using? Are you marrying Boaz for his money? Will you count the days until he dies and then seek some other victim of your Moabite wiles? Will you come back to me after you’re done with Boaz? I understand. I understand very well!”

Garto turned around and stomped back to his house.

“No, Garto, please.” Ruth ran after him. “Please listen to me. It’s not like that at all. I promise you. Please.”

Garto stopped and faced Ruth, his face red with anger.

“I don’t have time for games anymore, Princess. Say what you have to say and let me be on my way.”

“Garto, when I agreed to marry you, I truly meant it. What I didn’t realize, what I didn’t remember was how much my marriage meant to Naomi. She is a mother to me. She is the reason I am here. She is the reason I have joined the Children of Israel. The marriage is not about me alone. It affects my wider family. It affects the memory of my dear Mahlon. It gives continuity to the families of Elimelech, of Boaz, of Nachshon the Brave. It has to be me and Boaz, and it has to be now. I don’t know what the future holds. But I know I must do this. I hope you can forgive me, Garto. I never meant to hurt you. I can understand if you never want to see me again, but know that no matter what, I will always treasure the memory of your friendship and kindness.”

“How can you do this?” Garto responded. “How can you lift a man’s heart to the heavens and then dash it to pieces? How can you promise someone a life of commitment, of loyalty, of love and then just walk away? Are the ghosts of the dead that important? What makes you think Boaz will give you a child at his advanced age? You would walk away from a good thing for a memory? Together we can make as many children as you’d like and we can name them after the entire Nachshon clan. Would that satisfy you?”

“It’s not that.” Ruth shook her head. “It has to be Boaz. We are destined for each other. I know it. I feel it with every part of my body. Please, Garto. Just accept it. I’m sorry. I was wrong. I was confused. I should not have agreed to marry you. I don’t know what else to say in my defense. I just ask for forgiveness.”

Ruth got on her knees and cried.

“Get up, Princess. I get it. He’s the one for you. I forgive you, though it may take me time to forget.”

“Thank you, Garto.” Ruth stood up. “It means a lot to me.”

Garto felt the gold ring in his pocket. How much can I get for it? he wondered. It’s a good thing I didn’t tell the whole city yet.

“I did think it was too good to be true,” Garto finally said. “You are special, Ruth. Truly special. And I’m not sure that I deserved you. Well, good luck then. I expect I will still see you around. If anything should change, I am still here and won’t mind being considered again. Perhaps I should hold on to the ring.

“You are a prince, Garto. Now the rest is up to Boaz.”

* * * * * *

Secondary Sources:

“Nor is this world inhabited by man the first of things earthly created by God. He made several worlds before ours, but He destroyed them all, because He was pleased with none until He created ours.” Ginsburg, The Legends of the Jews, based on Bereshit Rabba 3.7 and 9.2, Midrash Koheleth 3.11 and Midrash Tehillim 34, 245, mentions there were 974 generations before creation of our world.

Biblical Sources:

Book of Ruth, Chapter 3:

1 And Naomi her mother-in-law said unto her: ‘My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? 2 And now is there not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to-night in the threshing-floor. 3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the threshing-floor; but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. 4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.’ 5 And she said unto her: ‘All that thou sayest unto me I will do.’ 6 And she went down unto the threshing-floor, and did according to all that her mother-in-law bade her. 7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn; and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. 8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was startled, and turned himself; and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. 9 And he said: ‘Who art thou?’ And she answered: ‘I am Ruth thine handmaid; spread therefore thy skirt over thy handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.’ 10 And he said: ‘Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter; thou hast shown more kindness in the end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou didst not follow the young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou sayest; for all the men in the gate of my people do know that thou art a virtuous woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a near kinsman; howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. 13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part; but if he be not willing to do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth; lie down until the morning.’ 14 And she lay at his feet until the morning; and she rose up before one could discern another. For he said: ‘Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing-floor.’ 15 And he said: ‘Bring the mantle that is upon thee, and hold it’; and she held it; and he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her; and he went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said: ‘Who art thou, my daughter?’ And she told her all that the man had done to her. 17 And she said: ‘These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me: Go not empty unto thy mother-in-law.’ 18 Then said she: ‘Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall; for the man will not rest, until he have finished the thing this day.’

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 25 – Plea for Seduction

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 25

 Plea for Seduction

“No,” Naomi moaned. “Not Garto. You must marry Boaz.”

“Boaz?” Ruth asked in confusion. “Last night you wanted me to marry Alron.”

“I know. That was a mistake. Forget Alron. You must marry Boaz. You must.”

“No. He is old and hesitant. Garto is here, he’s young and he’s ready. How much longer can I wait for Boaz?”

“Tonight. You must go to him tonight.”

“No. I’ve already told Garto I would marry him, with or without the approval of the Elders.”

Noami picked up the dress she had dropped on the floor, dusted it off and smoothed it out on the table.

“Ruth, my daughter. Please sit down.” Naomi motioned sharply to the opposite chair.

Ruth sat down slowly, not understanding her mother-in-law’s intensity.

“Listen to me, Ruth.” Naomi reached for Ruth’s hands across the table. “The most important thing is that the line of Nachshon must continue. You are the one who is meant to continue that line. Boaz may not realize this. He is cautious. He waits for consensus from the Elders. You must take the choice out of his hands.”

“What do you mean?”

“It will be best for you and you will finally know the peace of a noble husband and an established home. It must be Boaz, our kinsman, in whose field you gleaned together with his maidens. You must go to him tonight, after the harvest feast. Bathe, perfume yourself and put on your beautiful dress. Wait until after the festivity. Do not let him see you beforehand. He will sleep by the threshing floor, next to the grain, as is his custom. Note where he lies down. Wait until he is sleeping. He will most likely be inebriated as well. It will be dark. Uncover his legs and lay down next to him and then do as he directs.”

“What?” Ruth stood up from her chair, releasing Naomi’s hands. “Would you make me into a harlot?”

“If that is what it takes, yes. The line must not be extinguished. This is what we must do. It is what my ancestress Tamar did with Judah when she disguised herself as a harlot upon the crossroads. Your own ancestress did the same with your grandsire Lot even earlier than that. His daughters got him so drunk he did not know who he lay with. You must bind Boaz to you, even if he does not know it. He will be merry from the wine. It will be dark. He may think you one of the many maidens that seek such frivolity and may even succumb to the male impulses of the night. The night of the harvest festival is now known for such revelry. Lay with him and in the morning he will be yours.”

“Why do you ask this thing of me?” Ruth responded. “Do you know why I first set my eyes on your son? Do you know why I left my people and followed you to Bethlehem? Do you know why I’ve stayed here, a pauper, gleaning in the field with the poorest of Israel? It was in part because of your modesty. It was because Mahlon did not look upon me merely as an object. It was because of your kindness. It was because I believed the God of Israel is a compassionate God, a God that appreciates and demands modesty between men and woman. That is what I love about Boaz. Now you would have me betray that very principle? You would destroy the one area of respect between us? You would turn me back to the worst licentiousness of my Moabite ancestry? Is that what you want?”

“Yes,” Naomi answered, locking Ruth in her gaze. “The sacrifice is great, but the stakes are even greater. Sometimes we are tested on the ideals that are dearest to us. After many years of waiting, Abraham and Sarah were finally blessed with their beloved son Isaac. For years, Abraham had publicly denounced idol worship and child sacrifices. Yet what does God then ask of him? To sacrifice his own son! His entire dream and hope for the future. Abraham had to betray everything he stood for. It was his greatest test and his greatest moment.”

“Is God then asking me to do this thing?” Ruth asked.

“I don’t know. God does not speak to me. But I know this is right. And I know tonight is the night. Boaz may not choose the Levirate marriage option. He may not choose to fulfill his role as Redeemer. This is not only for you, or for Boaz. It is for Elimelech, my dear Elimelech. It is for Mahlon, my poor boy. And it is for me. Do not extinguish my last hope. Do not let me witness the utter destruction of our family. We are of proud, noble descent and tonight may be the very last opportunity to rekindle that flame. Please, Ruth. Please. This will be the ultimate kindness. For me.”

Ruth did not answer, but rather paced back and forth in the house. She stopped and looked at the new dress Naomi had been sewing. She appreciated the intricate patterns and the workmanship of the stitching. For the first time Ruth noticed the quality of the white fabric. It was a wedding gown.

“I will do what you have asked of me,” Ruth stated.

“Bless you, child. May God light your way.” Noami arose and hugged Ruth. They both cried, but for different reasons.

 

*

 

Boaz symbolically threshed the last of the barley. The freed kernels were added to the large pile of grain and there was spontaneous clapping by all of the assembled workers and their families. A plentiful harvest was good for all and Boaz was known for his generosity.

Knee-high makeshift tables forming three sides of a square occupied the threshing floor. Boaz sat on the ground beside the central table which was heavy with food. His uncle Ploni sat to his left and Ehud to his right. Four dozen others sat down as well. A servant came and poured water over Boaz’s hands. Servants washed the hands of the other guests. Boaz recited the benediction over the washing of the hands, dried them thoroughly and took one of the fresh pitas. In a loud voice he recited: “Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the world, who draws forth bread from the land.” A loud “Amen” resounded throughout the threshing floor.

Boaz dipped his pita in a bowl of olive oil and ate a morsel. The assembly did likewise. After that the food flowed freely. They were served slices of steaming roasted lamb with a sauce of pomegranate juice and pine nuts. A mash of peas and beans mixed with spicy peppers were placed in bowls next to the olive oil. Maidservants took turns bringing trays of fresh pita to the guests. Guests bit into fluffy cakes of wheat baked with honey, dates and almonds.

Fine wine flowed from jugs to goblets and from goblets to mouths. Boaz partook liberally of all the food and more of the wine, again grateful to God for the bountiful harvest. Boaz kept looking for the arrival of Ruth, but was disappointed by her absence. Garto was curiously missing as well. Naomi finally arrived to the threshing floor as torches were lit in the darkening dusk. Boaz was eager to ask her of Ruth’s whereabouts, but Naomi sat herself at the edge of one of the further tables and did not meet Boaz’s gaze.

“Oh, that our wives could see this bounty, Boaz,” Ploni said, raising his goblet. “Thank you for including me in your feast. My own would have been a paltry thing. I will of course compensate you for everything my servants and I eat. But it is better to celebrate together.”

“As you wish, Uncle,” Boaz answered distractedly.

“I notice that the Moabite is not here,” Ploni commented approvingly.

“Ruth was invited, and I am concerned by her absence,” Boaz replied.

“You would be better off having nothing to do with that heathen, nephew. Though others may think well of her, I will never forget her father’s cruelty nor that our law forbids them to us.”

“That is a subject we will discuss in the full assembly of the Elders and decide once and for all. First thing in the morning.”

“Master Boaz,” Garto approached the head table breathlessly. “I am so sorry I was delayed to the feast. I have the most wonderful news.”

“It is good to see you, Garto. Have you seen Ruth?” Boaz responded.

“It is about Ruth. She has accepted my marriage proposal and we are to be married tomorrow. As you have been a father figure to both of us, we would be honored if you would perform the wedding ceremony.”

Boaz looked blankly at Garto, not comprehending his words.

“Master Boaz? Are you well?” Garto inquired.

“You are to be married to Ruth? Tomorrow?” Boaz finally uttered.

“Yes. I know it is sudden, but there is no time like the present.”

“Yes. I see. I…I will be honored to officiate at your wedding. But the matter of Ruth’s eligibility is still undecided.”

“With all due respect, Master Boaz. If Mahlon son of Prince Elimelech felt it was appropriate to marry Ruth, who am I to think otherwise? Ruth does not wish to wait or deal with the debates of the Elders. The people of Bethlehem have come to know and admire Ruth no matter what her legal technical status, meaning no disrespect, Elder Ploni.”

“This is how your people flaunt the law?” Ploni asked Boaz.

“This is a curious development,” Ehud chimed in. “And as Boaz previously stated, the law is not clear and has not been determined. Where is Ruth now?” Ehud asked Garto.

“I don’t know. I left her at Naomi’s house. Perhaps she is preparing herself for tomorrow. I do not know how women prepare for such things. I expect she has more on her mind than tonight’s feast. I shall also leave early, with your permission, Master Boaz.”

“Of course, Garto. Of course. Do what you must.”

“Thank you, Master Boaz. Thank you. I know you care deeply for Ruth and only want what’s best for her. Your blessing on our marriage is most meaningful for us.” Garto excused himself. He grabbed some slices of lamb, stuffing them into his mouth as he left the threshing floor.

“Well, better he than you,” Ploni said.

“This is not right,” Ehud added.

“What is not right, blacksmith?” Ploni asked him.

“Ruth is not meant to marry Garto,” Ehud answered.

“You are correct. She should not marry any Israelite. But I’m glad my nephew is now spared from his irrational infatuation with the Moabite.”

“Boaz, what have you to say?” Ehud asked.

Boaz drained his goblet and refilled it.

“Perhaps we thought incorrectly,” Boaz said slowly. “Everything God does is for the best. Perhaps this is why I hesitated. It is better to avoid controversy. Why should I be the talk of the town, for marrying Ruth of Moab, no matter how honorable and noble she is? Perhaps we did not interpret God’s signs correctly. Who knows? Maybe Garto has some Nachshonite blood we don’t know of? It is all for the best.” Boaz drained another goblet of wine. “It is now time for my customary speech.” Boaz stood up slowly with the help of his walking stick. He waited a moment until his head stopped spinning, took a deep breath and stood firmly. The assembly quieted down to listen to their host.

“Brothers and sisters,” Boaz addressed the group. “God has shown us great favor this year. Though we have lost loved ones to the famine, this harvest has been unlike any in memory. We are turning a new page in our history. God is answering our prayers. Where once there was poverty, we now have wealth. Where once there was little, now there is plenty. The parched earth has been watered. The trees blossom and give their fruit; the land is worked and gives its produce. But let us not forget the days of hardship, nor take our new blessings for granted. The blessings come from God and it is Him, His laws and His precepts that we must obey.”

“There is one precept in particular that I wish to stress,” Boaz continued, making sure he had everyone’s attention. “Licentiousness. I know that in other fields tonight, after their respective feasts are over, men and women will frolic. But not here!” Boaz stamped his walking stick loudly on the threshing floor. “Farmers will take from their fresh grain and pay harlots. Workers will find maidservants and cavort in the dark fields. But not here!” Boaz stamped his stick again. “I will sleep here tonight, as is my custom. My old bones would much rather prefer the comfort of my own bed. But I do this as a sign. Neither I, nor man of my employ, will take from our grain to pay a harlot’s fee. No worker, no maidservant will cavort in my field. Not here!” Boaz banged again. “I expect better of those in my employ. I treat you better. I pay you better, and now I demand better. We are children of Israel, not immoral heathens that constantly crave the pleasures of the flesh. It pains me that many of our brethren have followed the heathen ways, but we will change that. We change that by stating loud and clear. Not here!” Boaz banged his stick a final time, looked every single person in the eye amidst the flickering torches and sat down. He did not notice Naomi’s reddening face looking down intently at her empty plate.

* * * * * *

Biblical Source:

Ruth Chapter 3

1 And Naomi her mother-in-law said unto her: ‘My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? 2 And now is there not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to-night in the threshing-floor. 3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the threshing-floor; but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. 4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.’ 5 And she said unto her: ‘All that thou sayest unto me I will do.’

Secondary Sources:

Many of the themes, especially the motivations of Naomi, Boaz and Ruth are drawn from the excellent series by Dr. Yael Ziegler.

 

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 24 – Confusing Counteroffers

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 24

Confusing Counteroffers

Ruth composed herself and walked calmly to her mother-in-laws house. She needed to think clearly. Getting emotional would lead to poor decisions. Boaz had assured her that matters would work out and pleaded with her to stay. She was pained by his frail condition. Where was the valiant hero that had stormed Perath’s palace and rescued her from enslavement?

Strong, vibrant Garto approached Ruth as he spotted her exiting Boaz’s home.

“Ruth, may I speak with you?” Garto panted lightly.

“Yes, Garto. Of course. Ruth stopped, letting Garto catch his breath.

“I know that you care deeply for my master. And I likewise know that he is most fond and protective of you. He is a great man. There are none in Bethlehem and perhaps few in all of Israel like Boaz.”

“Yes. But why are you telling me this?”

“Because I care for you too.”

“I know, Garto. You have been very kind to me these past weeks. You’ve been a friend and a companion and I have very much appreciated your company and protection.”

“I know that I’m not as great, nor as distinguished as Boaz. But I do have one advantage over him.”

“And what is that?” Ruth raised her eyebrow.

“I am young. I am in the prime of my life, with many years of life and work ahead of me. Boaz is at the twilight of his life. He has had a full and glorious life and he is likely to follow the love of his life to the grave shortly. As great a man as he is, I think it better to marry a live dog than a dead lion. Do not cause yourself further heartache, Ruth. I am here. I am ready. I will treat you well. You will live in comfort and security with your mother-in-law. I will be happy to bring her as well into our home. Please, Ruth,” Garto got on his knees, “please consider me worthy of you. I do not care how the Elders will decide. I will marry you with their say-so or not. I will treasure you and protect you and make you happy and treat you like the person I have come to know. Please, Ruth. Will you marry me?”

Ruth looked at Garto with her mouth open wide.

“Garto, please stand up,” Ruth finally said. Garto stood up, awaiting Ruth’s words as if they would be a judgment on his life.

“Garto,” Ruth continued. “I like you. You are a good man. If Boaz were not part of my life, I would consider your offer most seriously. But now that you’ve made me think about it, I realize that as long as Boaz is alive I’m not ready to marry anyone else. Even if my time with Boaz would be short, I would be honored to be his wife, if he will have me. Thank you, Garto. Thank you for making me see that. I am in your debt. But I must go now. I must go home.”

Ruth walked briskly to Naomi’s house.

 

*

 

Naomi sat at the table, sewing intently, as Ruth entered the house.

“How is Boaz?” Naomi asked Ruth, without looking up.

“I think he will recover,” Ruth answered and sat down by the table.

“Most likely. The children of Nachshon are a hardy breed. Long-lived too – if they are not murdered before their time.” Naomi chuckled dryly.

“What is the matter?” Ruth asked, sensing Naomi’s unhappiness.

“Oh, nothing. I just never expected to have such a popular daughter-in-law.”

“What do you mean?”

“Ruth, what is so bad about that Danite, Alron? Perhaps it would be simplest for you to marry him. Great wealth, no hassles, no in-fighting between the Elders. We can leave Bethlehem and start anew, but not as beggars. If you were to marry Alron we could both live as royalty again.”

“What are you talking about? The man is detestable!” Ruth got up from the chair, agitated by the suggestion.

“Perhaps you should give him a chance,” Naomi pressed. “I think going with Alron may be the safest, the smartest way.”

“Give him a chance?” Ruth raised her voice. “Is a husband merely something one tries out like a dress and discards if it’s not to your taste? No, mother. I find him abhorrent and am surprised you would suggest him to me. I would prefer simple, honest Garto over that man. But not Alron, never Alron.”

“Garto? He is a peasant. You are of noble birth. You were married to the son of a Prince of Judah. You deserve much better.”

“Will I never escape the curse of my pedigree? You too will bind me to the station of my birth? I am Ruth, just Ruth, and a stranger in this land. I have no expectations of wealth or comfort, but I will not marry some arrogant lout to continue the farce of nobility.”

“Nonetheless, Garto would be a mistake. He is not worthy of you. Alron would be a better choice.”

“Enough!” Ruth banged her fist on the table, jolting Naomi upright in her chair. Naomi looked upon her daughter-in-law, and saw anger in her eyes. Naomi looked down, her face reddening. Ruth stormed out of the house, fresh tears streaming down her face.

 

*

 

Naomi pretended to be asleep as Ruth woke before dawn to glean in Boaz’s field. Naomi could not face Ruth. After Ruth departed Naomi arose and left the house, bucket in hand, and walked towards the well. She saw Alron standing casually by the well, a wolfish smile on his face. Naomi stopped in her tracks and turned back to the house. She closed the door to her house, leaned back against it and shivered, though the day was already proving to be warm.

“I am a granddaughter of Nachshon the Brave,” Naomi whispered to herself. “I will not be cowed by some fancy-threaded nitwit. This is not good for Ruth. I cannot help her like this. My dear Ruth. I cannot let you fall into Alron’s clutches. But I can’t do this alone. You need guidance, you need direction and we need clarity. I must go to Boaz. I can no longer postpone our meeting.”

Naomi placed her bucket gently on the floor, straightened out her dress and pinched her cheeks. She exited her house, standing tall and marching purposely through the streets of Bethlehem, ignoring the courteous nods and hellos of passersby. She rapped loudly on the door to Boaz’s house, remembering with a pang of pain the last time she had visited this house, to visit her lifelong friend, Vered, more than ten years before – a lifetime ago.

“Enter,” Boaz’s strong voice called.

Naomi opened the door and entered the house.

“Naomi.” Boaz stood up from sitting at his table. She noticed some crumbs of pita on his plate and a bowl of olive oil by its side. “I am honored by your visit.”

“I see you are on your feet again, Boaz. I am glad.”

“As am I. And I am glad you are here. Please, sit down.”

Naomi sat at the table and Boaz reseated himself, moving stiffly.

“Naomi, we have not had opportunity to talk since your return to Bethlehem. You have my most heartfelt condolences on your loss of Elimelech, and Mahlon and Kilyon. A part of me died when I heard the news of your tragedy. They were great men, each of them. It is a sorrow for all of Israel to have lost a Prince and his sons. I am sorry.”

“And I am sorry for the death of Vered. I missed her so much. The memory of her friendship is what brought me back to Bethlehem. It has become a colder, harsher place without her.”

“Yes, I still grieve for my Vered. We are – both of us – bereft and diminished.”

Boaz and Naomi sat speechless for a few moments, lost in their thoughts of mourning. Naomi cleared her throat.

“I did not come here to speak of the dead, Boaz. I am much more concerned for the living.”

“As am I.”

“Good. Then please tell me plainly what are your intentions regarding my daughter-in-law, Ruth.”

“Ruth. Ruth. She is an extraordinary woman. Any man would be fortunate to have her attention.”

“Boaz, now is not the time for waxing eloquent. Tell me plainly. What are your plans and intentions towards her? I must know now. And choose your words carefully, for the fate of many rests on your answer.”

“Plainly? I don’t know. I would marry her if she would have me, though I am not convinced that she would. Also, I would only do so with the consensus and approval of the Elders. I cannot turn my back on our traditions, no matter how much I may love Ruth.”

“Men! Are all men foolish, or is it just the ones in our family? You would pass up on Ruth just because cranky old Ploni disapproves of her?”

“Now see here, Naomi. I will not be spoken to this way. Not by you and not in my own home. I will uphold our traditions and will abide by the decisions of the Elders. If I do not, what hope is there for anyone else to continue our traditions?”

“Even if they are wrong? How many times was Elimelech wrong? How many times did the Elders stand aside and watched as our men gleefully killed each other? Where were the Elders when the people of Israel worshipped false gods? No, Boaz. Do not speak to me of the righteousness of the Elders or our leadership. I have seen first-hand that disaster.  Tell me that you will do the right thing and that you will marry Ruth no matter what the Elders say.”

“I cannot. I cannot go against them. It will unravel all I have done these years to establish ourselves as the law that should be followed. If the lawmaker does not follow the law, then anarchy will be our reward.”

“If you wish to debate matters of law, there is another law you haven’t considered.”

“What law?” Boaz asked.

“Levirate marriage. Ruth is the childless widow of your cousin. You have a legal obligation to marry Mahlon’s widow in order to continue the name of the deceased. Take that to your Elders!”

“There is one who precedes me in that obligation,” Boaz answered. “Ploni.”

“And will Ploni marry my Moabite daughter-in-law?”

“Unlikely.”

“Remember this, Boaz. Whoever marries Ruth inherits all the lands of Elimelech. That may be of interest to Ploni.”

“The land will interest Ploni, but not Ruth. Let me think about these matters, Naomi. I must leave soon to my own fields. There is much work to do today, for tonight is the harvest feast. You are welcome to join us at the feast. Tomorrow I will be able to give this more serious thought and consider the best way to approach the Elders on the matter. I will do the right thing, Naomi. Have you known me to do otherwise?”

“No, Boaz. I know. Which is why I came to you. There is one last thing, however.”

“What?”

“We have been threatened.”

“By whom?”

“Alron the Danite. He intimated to me that if Ruth would not accept his marriage proposal and come with him, he would hurt both me and her. I am fearful that he is a man that carries through on his threats.”

“That is disturbing news. I will take care of the Danite. No one threatens my family in my own city. Rest assured Naomi. That is a problem that will be easier to solve. We will talk more about Ruth tomorrow. Now if you’ll please excuse me, I really should get to my field before the sun is much higher. I’m glad you visited, Naomi. And I’m even happier you came back, with the treasure you brought us from Moab. I will see you at the feast?”

“Yes, Boaz. I will see you later. Thank you for everything.” Naomi smiled at Boaz and departed.

Boaz exhaled the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding and murmured: “Family. Always so complicated.”

A rap on the door interrupted Boaz’s thoughts.

“Enter,” Boaz called.

Ehud opened the door and stepped into the house.

“Ah, Ehud. Just the man I needed to talk to. There is a problem I would appreciate if you could deal with.”

“I am at your service.”

“Good. Accompany me out. I suddenly feel that time is of the essence. There is a certain Danite that has been troubling Noami…”

Boaz and Ehud mounted their horses. Boaz told Ehud of Alron’s threats. As they reached the city well, they saw Alron lounging nearby, sitting at the front of his canopied wagon.

“I’ll take care of it,” Ehud said. “You go on to the field. I’ll meet you there when I’m done.”

Boaz trotted past Alron with a polite nod. Ehud rode his horse right up to the Danite.

“Master Alron, a word, if I may.”

“But of course, master blacksmith. It is always a treat to converse with old heroes.”

“What is your interest in Ruth?”

“I don’t see how that is any of your concern, Ehud.”

“I am making it my concern.”

“Are you her father? No, wait. You’re the one who murdered her father. I was never strong in my knowledge of the laws, but I don’t recall hearing that assassinating a woman’s father gives one parental rights. Or perhaps I was sleeping during that class.”

“I do not like your tone, young man.”

“And I do not like you, old geezer. If your interrogation is done, I will go on my way.” Alron grabbed the reins of his horses.

“Not so fast.” Ehud grabbed Alron’s arm.

“You’re hurting me!” Alron squealed. “Unhand me!”

“Not until you answer my questions.”

“Alright. Alright. I have a romantic interest in Ruth. Are there laws against that? She is an available woman. Have I committed some crime by declaring my affection for her?”

“Only when those affections are coupled with threats.”

“Threats? There must be some misunderstanding. I have not threatened anyone. I am an honest, though successful merchant from the north. It happens frequently that I’m misunderstood, or that people are jealous of me because of my success. Please, master blacksmith, unhand me and let us discuss this as civilized gentlemen.”

“Alron, you are a liar.” Ehud tightened his grip on Alron’s arm. Alron winced in pain. “And you are dangerous. You are to leave Bethlehem immediately and are not to return.”

“Or what?”

“Or I will kill you.” Ehud grabbed Alron in a chokehold with his other hand. “I have killed men for much less in my day. Make no mistake, Alron. I do not jest. You have threatened a resident of Bethlehem, a member of Boaz’s family. We do not take such threats lightly. I am of a mind to break your wiry neck right now.” Ehud tightened his grip. “But Boaz is a kindly man. This is your last and only warning. Leave now, or die.”

Ehud released Alron. Alron caught his breath and rubbed his neck.

“I will leave, Ehud. But you will regret the day you crossed paths with Alron of Dan.” Alron took the reins of his horses and rode out of Bethlehem.

 

*

 

The harvest was complete. Boaz inspected the granary and was pleased by the record crop. The pile of grain reached above his head. There hadn’t been a harvest this good in Bethlehem even before the years of draught. Boaz felt a special fulfillment by the blessing of success. Only the gleaners remained in the field, picking up the last leavings of grain for themselves. Boaz’s workers were busy preparing for the feast.

Half a dozen tender sheep were slaughtered and were roasting on spits over an open fire. Workers brought jugs of wine and oil to the threshing floor, where they would conduct the feast. Maidservants kneaded dough and placed thin layers on metal domes on the fire, turning them into fresh pita. The sweet odor of the fresh bread wafted through the air. Children carried baskets filled with fresh figs and dates. There was a festive atmosphere as Boaz’s workers and their family members prepared for the event.

Boaz sought Ruth in the field. He found her gleaning morosely the few fallen grains of wheat that she could find.

“Ruth, how are you?” Boaz called from behind. Ruth turned to him.

“Boaz? You are here? It is wonderful to see you out and about. How are you feeling?”

“Much better. Will you come to the feast this evening?”

“Am I invited?”

“Yes, please do come.”

“Thank you. But what of us? What will be our future?”

“I cannot say yet. We will discuss further tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? Another tomorrow? I don’t know how many tomorrows I can stand. I need answers today. I am confused. It is not a pleasant place to be. Please, Boaz. Give me answers today.”

“I must convene the Elders. Tomorrow.”

“The Elders. They will decide my fate?”

Our fate. Yes. We are a people of laws and traditions. I cannot merely do what my heart dictates.”

“What does your heart dictate, Boaz?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow. I see. I guess we must live for the day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Thank you for your invitation, Boaz. I will consider it.” Ruth turned around and reached for a fallen grain she hadn’t noticed before. Boaz stood awkwardly behind her and then returned to the bustle of the feast preparations.

Ruth waited until after Boaz left the field, gathered her sheaves and left the field directly to the road. She walked tearfully back to Bethlehem. Garto spotted Ruth leaving and ran after her.

“Is everything okay?” Garto asked Ruth who walked with her head down.

“Yes.”

“You seem distraught.”

“So?”

“It pains me to see you like this. They say that a burden that is shared is a burden that is lightened. Won’t you share with me, Ruth?”

“Oh, Garto,” Ruth looked at him. “You are so sweet. You have changed. You are no longer that overbearing overseer that greeted me so inappropriately on my first day. You make me happy.”

“As do you. It is a blessing to be in your presence. May I walk you home?”

“Yes. It would please me.”

 

*

 

“Mother!” Ruth opened the door to their house. “I must talk to you!”

“As do I, child,” Naomi responded as she sat sewing a dress. “I’m sorry I mentioned Alron to you yesterday. It was a mistake and I shall not make it again.”

“That is okay. It doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve decided.”

“What have you decided?” Naomi stopped her sewing.

“I’ve decided to marry Garto. We shall marry tomorrow.”

Naomi dropped the dress and stared open-mouthed at the bride-to-be.

 

* * * * * *