"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Ruth 1:1-17 Commentary
by Elna K. Solvang
The passage begins with disaster—there is a famine in the land—leading to dislocation as “a certain man ... and his wife and two sons” leave their home in Bethlehem, cross a river and a border, and seek refuge in a foreign country.
News reports and photos of contemporary villages, countries and peoples fleeing from famine—perhaps the experiences of our own families or neighbors—make clear the desperation that propels them.
This family from Bethlehem is part of a long line of biblical, historical, and contemporary households facing food insecurity. Those persons with no way and nowhere to flee witness their land turn barren (see also Jeremiah 14:2-6), and have few options in the midst of famine (e.g., 1 Kings 17:12). Some walk miles, take risks, and cross into unfamiliar lands, attempting to survive the dangerous present and daring to hope there might be a future. Abraham and Sarah and their household flee to Egypt to escape famine in Canaan (Genesis 12: 10-20). During a later famine in Canaan, Jacob, his wives, his children, and his grandchildren relocate to Egypt (Genesis 45:9-11; 17-20).
The Ruth text does not indicate how long there had been a famine, or how many other Ephrathites left their homes. ...
| Bible Text
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
2020-21 Worship Resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 376: Ruth
October 13, 2019
Podcast on the Narrative Lectionary readings for Oct. 13, 2019, (Ruth) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.