“All the City … Doth Know That Thou Art
a Virtuous Woman”
Ruth leaves her home to go to Bethlehem with Naomi.
- Ruth and Boaz marry and have a child.
- Hannah is blessed with a son, whom she lends to the Lord as she promised.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to emulate the righteous qualities
of Ruth, Naomi, and Hannah.
Scripture references for study: Ruth;
1 Samuel 1
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 20 Handout (PDF
Ruth & Naomi
Due to a famine Elimelech left his home in Bethlehem for Moab with his
wife, Naomi, and their two sons (Ruth 1:1-2).
The story of Ruth occurred during the period of the Judges - about 1150
According to Jewish tradition, the story was originally recorded by Samuel. It was not written in its present form until centuries later (about 500-400
Hearing that there was once again bread in the land, Naomi decided to return
to Bethlehem. Both Ruth and Orpah expressed a desire to return with
"And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was
left, and her two sons" (Ruth 1:3).
The two sons of Elimelech and Naomi married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah.
These two sons died (Ruth 1:4-5).
"So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her
daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and
they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest."
"And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law,
Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as
ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The LORD grant you that ye may
find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them;
and they lifted up their voice, and wept." (Ruth 1:8-9)
Orpah returned to her family.
RUTH 1:16-17. Ruth expresses her desire to stay
WHAT POSITIVE QUALITIES DID NAOMI AND RUTH DISPLAY?
Selfless: They each displayed more concern for the other than for
Naomi was an aging woman, who had suffered the loss of her husband and
two sons. Certainly she longed for the companionship of these two
women. However, her love for them was so great that she felt they would
be happier in the home of their families.
Ruth displayed the same compassionate attitude. She cared more for
her mother-in-law than for her own wants and desires.
Sacrifice: Naomi was willing to give up the comfort of companionship. In addition to giving up her family, Ruth was even willing to go to a strange
land and convert to the faith of Naomi.
Loyalty: Ruth displayed this attitude in her dealings with Naomi.
WHAT DIFFERENCE WOULD THE EXERCISE OF THESE QUALITIES MAKE IN OUR FAMILIES?
HOW CAN WE SHOW THESE QUALITIES IN OUR FAMILY LIFE?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "It is fashionable
to blame systems and institutions, not individuals, for our ills, but individuals
impact on our institutions—not just the other way. Whether or not we are
takers or givers, therefore, does matter, for we transmit that tilt to
the tasks that are ours. To warn of inordinate selfishness may be to strike
a simplistic theme, and yet the immediacy and the relevancy of this theme
cannot be overstated. You and I will not go to sleep tonight without having
confronted specific, if only minor, situations in which we can choose either
to be selfish or selfless. Who will get his car out of the crowded parking
lot first? Who will wait for whom at the busy doorway out of an auditorium?
Which partner in a marriage (where there may have been a few harsh words
today) will be selfless enough to take the verbal initiative necessary
for reconciliation? Who will put out the light? Who will get up with a
crying baby?" (That My Family Should Partake, pp35-36)
Elder Maxwell: "Thomas C. Schelling has
used a powerful, but simple, illustration of our society's ultimate interdependency
and its reliance on cooperation, selflessness, and sacrifice. Schelling
notes how cars can line up for miles on a busy highway because a mattress
has fallen onto the highway; in spite of the inconvenience of hundreds
of waiting motorists, each driver, once he is safely past the obstructing
mattress, does not stop to remove the mattress, because now that he is
past that point, the act of removal would not benefit him. The capacity
to act for the good of community similarly requires us to abstain from
actions that hurt others and also to inconvenience ourselves in order to
help future generations." (Ibid., p37-38)
Elder Maxwell: "Selflessness requires some
surgery in each of our lives; some willingness to do without, that others
may have; some self-denial, that our joy in other things may be more full."
Since Naomi and Ruth were poor Ruth went to the fields of Boaz to glean
the field for grain (Ruth 2:1-3).
When Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem, Naomi was greeted by her neighbors
who said, "Is this Naomi?" (Ruth 1:19). Naomi responded by saying, "Call me not Naomi,
call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me"
In Hebrew, Naomi means "sweet or pleasant" and Mara means "bitter."
This was Naomi's way of saying that she had endured much tragedy while
in Moab. (see Old Testament Student Manual, p262)
Boaz came out from Jerusalem to visit his fields and observed Ruth busily
gleaning. He learned from his servant the identity of Ruth.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GLEAN?
"Harvesting was difficult work and demanded long
hours. Young men moved through the fields grasping handfuls of the grain
and cutting through the stalks with sickles. These small bunches of grain
were then bound into bundles called sheaves. As the men worked rapidly,
a number of stalks fell to the ground. If the men were careful and took
the time, these too could be gathered up. However, any stalks that dropped
were allowed to remain where they fell. Poor people, following the reapers,
were permitted to 'glean,' or gather, the random stalks--possibly all that
stood between them and starvation. In addition, the edges of the field,
where the sickle was not as easily wielded, were left unharvested. The
poor were welcome to that portion, as well." (Old Testament
Student Manual, pp262-263)
Once again we see how the selfless acts of Ruth bless the life of Naomi. Ruth could have remained with her kindred in Moab and would not have been
subjected to the tedious labor of gleaning for grain in order for her and
Naomi to survive. We observe no complaint from Ruth. She was absolutely
dedicated to Naomi and her care.
Boaz approaches Ruth and invites her to remain in his fields to glean.
"Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself
to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes,
that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?"
WHY DID BOAZ SHOW THIS KINDNESS TO RUTH?
It seems that Boaz was a good hearted man with a desire to reward generous
acts, for he said to Ruth, "It hath fully been
shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death
of thine husband: and [how] thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and
the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest
not heretofore" (Ruth 2:11).
Boaz instructed the field hands to leave Ruth alone and even to let extra
handfuls of the sheaves to fall to the ground for her benefit.
Ruth continued to glean with the maidens of Boaz until the end of the harvest.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED BY OTHER PEOPLE'S SELFLESS ACTS?
Ruth & Boaz Marry
Ruth did as Naomi instructed.
WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?
By lying at the feet of Boaz, Ruth would be, in effect, proposing marriage
Again we see the devotion Naomi and Ruth have for each other. Although
Naomi was an older woman, somewhat dependent on Ruth, she remained concerned
about Ruth's life and happiness.
HOW DID BOAZ RESPOND?
When Ruth said, "spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid"
she meant "guard me, protect me, care for me".
President Thomas S. Monson stated: "In our
selection of heroes, let us nominate also heroines. First, that noble example
of fidelity--even Ruth. Sensing the grief-stricken heart of her mother-in-law,
who suffered the loss of each of her two fine sons, and feeling perhaps
the pangs of despair and loneliness which plagued the very soul of Naomi,
Ruth uttered what has became that classic statement of loyalty: 'Intreat
me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither
thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people
shall be my people, and thy God my God.' Ruth's actions demonstrated the
sincerity of her words. There is place for her name in the Hall of Fame."
(Ensign, Nov 1974, p108)
Under the custom of that time, when Ruth's husband died, his nearest male
relative was supposed to marry Ruth. Boaz was not the nearest male
relative, but he agreed to marry Ruth if the nearest male relative did
not wish to do so.
Consider Boaz's opinion of Ruth: "I will do to
thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that
thou art a virtuous woman" (Ruth 3:11).
DID THIS REPUTATION BENEFIT HER RELATIONSHIP WITH BOAZ?
Boaz knew of the high esteem that the people had for Ruth. Obviously,
it influenced his desire to have such a woman as his wife.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT OUR FAMILY MEMBERS, FRIENDS, AND NEIGHBORS KNOW
WHAT WE BELIEVE IN AND WHAT VALUES WE STRIVE TO UPHOLD?
Such an example can influence lives for good. Boaz might not have
had the interest in Ruth had it not been for her selfless and upright character. Consider the long term effects of this noble relationship: King David and
Jesus Christ were born through their lineage.
We do not know the long term affects our example may have. By living
a Christ like life, we may influence a friend or neighbor to investigate
the Church. Our example may become the catalyst for a conversion. That one conversion may affect the eternal destiny of generations. Do we dare take our role lightly?
Elder George F. Richards: "Are we fainting
by the way? Or are we living our religion, and by so doing setting an example
to the world worthy of their emulation, such as will cause them to glorify
our Father in heaven by an investigation of that which has made us what
we are, that is commendable, and perchance, by their embracing the Gospel
and engaging with us in the furtherance of the Lord's work?"
(CR, Oct 1930)
Hannah Is Blessed With A Son - 1 Samuel 1
Hannah was one of the wives of Elkanah. Hannah had been childless
1 SAMUEL 1:9-15. Hannah prays and makes a covenant
with the Lord.
When Elkanah went up to make sacrifice, he gave Hannah a choice portion
because of his great love for her (1
Part of the sacrificial animal was returned to the offerer to be eaten
in a special feast.
Hannah either received a larger or more choice portion than the others.
Peninnah, Elkanah's other wife gave Hannah a difficult time because Hannah
was without child (1 Samuel 1:6-7).
"Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and
the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him"
(1 Samuel 1:17).
WHAT PROMISE DID HANNAH MAKE TO THE LORD?
She dedicated her son to the work of the Lord (v11).
The promise that "no razor come upon his head" was Hannah's promise
to raise her son as a Nazarite.
A Nazarite was one who professed a life of extraordinary purity and devotion. A Nazarite was under vow to abstain from wine, from any cutting of the
hair, and any contact with the dead.
WHAT DOES THIS TELL YOU ABOUT HANNAH?
She was a woman of great faith.
She was willing to make a commitment to raise her son as a servant of the
Lord. As any parent knows, this is a commitment that requires many
years of dedication.
After watching Hannah in the temple, Eli misjudged her, thinking had been
HOW CAN WE BE SURE TO JUDGE CORRECTLY?
President Hugh B. Brown: "If I make errors
in [judging people,] I want them to be on the side of mercy."
Hannah explained that she was not drunk, but that she had "poured" out
her soul before the Lord (v15).
DO WE POUR OUT OUR SOULS TO THE LORD? HOW CAN WE MAKE OUR PRAYERS
MORE SINCERE AND MEANINGFUL?
"And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped
before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah
knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her. Wherefore it came to
pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she
bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him
of the LORD." (1 Samuel 1:19-20)
Hannah responded to Eli's words, "Let thine handmaid
find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her
countenance was no more sad" (1 Samuel 1:18).
WHERE DID HANNAH MAKE HER PROMISE TO THE LORD?
HOW CAN GOING TO THE TEMPLE HELP US WITH OUR WORRIES AND TROUBLES?
Elder John A. Widtsoe: "I believe that the
busy person...who has his worries and troubles, can solve his problems
better and more quickly in the house of the Lord than anywhere else. If
he will [do] the temple work for himself and his dead, he will confer a
mighty blessing upon those who have gone before, and...a blessing will
come to him, for at the most unexpected moments, in or out of the temple
will come to him, as a revelation, the solution of the problems that vex
his life. That is the gift that comes to those who enter the temple properly."
(quoted by David B. Haight, Ensign, Nov 1990)
Hannah was distraught over being childless. She prayerfully went
to the temple in search of answers and came away with peace. Many
of us have gone to the temple when upset over circumstances or while searching
for answers. Service in the House of the Lord brings peace to the
soul, helps one put things in proper perspective, and we often find answers
to perplexing problems in our lives.
HOW DID HANNAH KEEP HER PROMISE AFTER SAMUEL WAS BORN?
"When Samuel was old enough, Hannah took him up
to the temple and presented him to Eli, For this child I prayed; and the
LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have
lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD.
And he worshipped the LORD there." (1 Samuel 1:27-28)
Hannah took Samuel up to the temple after she weaned
him (1 Samuel 1:24). Among
of this time, weaning took place very late. The mothers were in the habit of nursing their children until age three. Samuel probably did not go up to the temple with his mother until this
HOW DO YOU THINK HANNAH FELT ABOUT GIVING SAMUEL TO THE SERVICE OF THE
It must have been difficult to part with this precious child that she had
grown to love with all her heart. Did she contemplate not presenting
Samuel to Eli? I think not. There is no evidence of that in
the scriptures. She was committed to the Lord and would fulfill her
covenant with him.
WHAT DOES THE LORD ASK US TO GIVE HIM?
WHAT SHOULD BE OUR ATTITUDE ABOUT GIVING TO HIM?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Consider this verse read by Eldred G. Smith at the 1953 October General
What are we willing to give for the kingdom? What are we willing
to do for the sake of righteousness? Naomi, Ruth, and Hannah were
not royalty. They were not prophets. They were simple women
committed to righteousness and doing the will of the Lord. They were willing to sacrifice their time, their homes, and their family
to do the right thing. Are we willing to follow their example or
are we more like the verse read by Patriarch Smith?
Record your thoughts on the stories of Naomi, Ruth, and Hannah. How can
you incorporate their examples into your life?
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord;
Real service is what I desire.
I'll say what you want me to say,
But don't ask me to join the choir.
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord,
I like to see things come to pass;
But don't ask me to teach anywhere;
I would much rather stay in my class.
I'll give what you want me to give, dear Lord
I yearn for the kingdom to thrive.
I'll give you some pennies and nickels,
But don't ask me to pay a full tithe.
I'll read what you want me to read, dear Lord,
If genealogy is not implied.
I never did like to search books
For the names of people who've died.
I'll give what you want me to give, dear Lord,
And I'm sure I'll not begrudge it,
But I haven't the money to spare
To pay on welfare or budget.
Yes, I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
I'll serve you with all my might,
But don't ask me to go to the temple
Because I'm much too busy each night.
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Hugh B. Brown: His Life and Thought by Eugene E.
Campbell and Richard D. Poll.
Old Testament Student Manual - Religion 301.
That My Family Should Partake by Neal A. Maxwell.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
29 April 2014