The story of Biblical Ruth told in five paintings
The Book of Ruth is read on Shavuot, the holiday when Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
These are some of the reasons to explain the custom:
- Ruth, a Moabite Princess, was the model of Torah acceptance
- Without Ruth Jewish history could not continue. Ruth and her husband Boaz were King David’s great-grand parents
- Shavuot is the birthday and yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) of King David
- The scenes of harvesting described in the book of Ruth are appropriate to the Festival of Harvest
It describes the acceptance of the Torah by a single individual, Ruth, through an act of conversion.
Since all Jews were converts at Mt. Sinai, Ruth’s conversion is a reminder to Jews that they are Jews only thanks to their own act of Torah acceptance.
All paintings are in coloured inks and acrylics.
Naomi and Ruth
Ruth was so dedicated to her mother in law, Naomi, and to G-d, that she did not want to go back to Moab, rather to go with Naomi to Bethlehem, as shown in this famous passage (which is the inspiration for my painting)
I have depicted Ruth clinging to Naomi, her Mother-in-law, in the desert, on the way to Bethlehem. Ruth says to Naomi, ‘Do not urge me to leave you. Wherever you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your God is my God’. (Ruth 1:16)
In the painting Ruth is gleaning (collecting left over barley) in order to provide for herself and Naomi.
I have painted Ruth collecting left-over barley at harvest time in order to provide for herself and Naomi, her Mother-in-law, with whom she lived in Bethlehem.
Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been harvested.
According to the of the Torah farmers should leave the corners of their fields unharvested, and they should not attempt to pick up that which was dropped or harvest any left-overs that had been forgotten when they had harvested the majority of a field. These things should be left for the poor, for strangers, widows and orphans.
Ruth and Boaz
‘Boaz ate and drank and his heart was merry. He went to lie down at the end of the grain pile, and she (Ruth) came stealthily, uncovered his feet, and lay down’. (Ruth 3:7)
The Sandal Ceremony
‘So when the redeemer said to Boaz, ‘Buy it for yourself,’ he (Boaz) drew off his shoe’. (Ruth 4:8) And Boaz said to the elders, and to all the people, ‘You are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s ….. (Ruth 4:9)
Boaz is holding up his sandal for the minyan (the ten men) at the gates of Bethlehem to see is the focus of the painting. The Redeemer is preparing to accept Boaz’s sandal. There are other onlookers, too. I have tried to capture the heat at the time of the barley harvest, some of which has been harvested and tied into bundles in the field behind.