The books of Ruth and Esther tell the stories of two very wonderful women. They represent a strong, God-driven archetype, and are great role models for women of all ages. Whether you’re looking for someone with shoes you can fill, or want to know what a lovely, Christian woman looks like, these books will give you something to enjoy, to take with you, and to ponder.
Naomi lived in Moab with her Husband Elimelek, and her children. Ruth, A Moabite, was the husband of one of Naomi’s two sons: Mahlon. Naomi also had a son named Kilion, who was wedded to another Moabite named Orpah. After a while, Naomi’s husband and sons all passed away, and only the women were left.
Having heard of a miracle taking place in Naomi’s homeland, Naomi decided to move back, although her heart was heavy. God had provided food for the people of Judah during a famine. It seemed like a sign for her to go back. Having lost most of her family, she felt broken and forsaken.
She directed her daughter-in-laws to return to their parents and seek other husbands, which they were reluctant to do. However, Orpah did leave, while Ruth persisted and stayed by her mother-in-law’s side. So together the two women made off for Bethlehem.
When they arrived, Naomi told Ruth to go and glean a field for barley. She did, and ended up in the field of Boaz. While collecting grain, she was approached by him, and he told her to stay, and collect as much grain as she wanted, even adding at one point that his servants were to leave a few sheaves out of their bundles for her to collect. He told her she would stay safe here, with the other women, and could drink from the jars his men had filled.
When she returned to Naomi, Ruth was told that Boaz was a guardian-redeemer of the family. Therefore, he was obligated to help and be a friend to them in need. Naomi directed Ruth to go into the threshing floor after Boaz was asleep, and uncover his feet. She bathed, wore good clothes, and perfumed herself. When he awoke, he knew that she needed help finding a husband, and a home. He said he would be next in line to help her, because there was another closer relative who they had to ask first.
Ruth slept beside him, and in the morning they went into town and met the closest guardian-redeemer of the family. They discussed if the closest redeemer wanted to marry Ruth and gain her late husband’s estate, but he declined, and Boaz married Ruth in his place.
Ruth had a son, and named him Obed, and Naomi was happy, because she again had a son.
Obed was the father of Jesse, who fathered King David.
The story of Ruth is the tale of a strong woman who overcame grief and sadness to triumph with gladness as the Lord had planned. From her, King David was brought into the world, and she was loved again by another husband. Although she experienced hardship, she found her strength in her faith, and was able to do as God wanted. Ruth can be looked upon as a very driven and obedient woman, who knows how to listen to her heart.
King Xerxes, the ruler of many provinces across the old world, and made his home in the city of Susa. He was wedded to Queen Vashti. During a banquet, he called her out to be admired for her beauty, but she refused to come. Drunken and angry, he decided to find another Queen to take her place. She was directed to never again enter the presence of the King, by royal nobles.
So, Xerxes went searching for another woman to be wedded to him. Virgins from all over his kingdom were summoned, and put through a year’s worth of beauty treatments. Soon, women began arriving, and he was pleased.
Mordecai, a Jewish man, had a relative called Hadassah, who was also called Esther. He had taken her in after her parents had died, and they were very close. She was very beautiful, and pleasing to the eyes.
Esther arrived at Susa, and was given to Hegai, the person in charge of the women of the place. Esther met the King, who immediately took a liking to her, and gave permission to Hegai to administer beauty treatments and food to her. She was given 7 attendants, and the best spot in the harem. However, Esther did not tell anyone that she was Jewish, as directed by her close relative, Mordecai. He went to find news about her every day.
Having gained the King’s favour, he finally made her his Queen. A banquet was held for her, and he sent gifts to all of his provinces, and all was well.
Mordecai, who was often at the gate of the King’s palace, heard that two guards were conspiring to kill King Xerxes. So, he alerted Esther, who told the King what Mordecai had heard, giving him the credit. The guards were summoned and killed, but Mordecai received no honours.
Mordecai was at the gates once more, and a man called Haman came by. He had been elevated to a high spot in nobility, and the King said to honour the man and kneel to him. But Mordecai, being Jewish, did no such thing. Haman was furious, and plotted to kill all of the Jewish people of the land.
Haman cast lots to choose a day and month to do this, and decided upon the twelfth month.
Haman came to the King and said to him that there are certain people in the kingdom that do things differently than the others, have their own culture, and do not honour Xerxes’ laws. He asked if he could kill all of these people with a decree, and offered the King a large sum of money.
The King agreed, gave him his signet ring, and told Haman to keep his money, but to do as he wanted.
The letters were sent out to the whole kingdom, and it was decreed. All of the Jewish people were to be killed.
Mordecai heard of the news and was grieved. He told Esther what had happened, and begged her to go and tell the King that she wished it to be repealed. However, Esther knew that she was putting herself in danger if she went before the King without being summoned; the King could kill her if he did not wish to see her.
She decided to help her nation even with these dangers, and told her family and the rest of the Jewish population to fast for her for three days. She would fast, and her attendants as well. She said, “I will go to the King, even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.”
Queen Esther went to the King after three days, and he was pleased! He asked her what she would like, and she asked for a royal banquet, planned for Haman. He gave it to her, and at the end, he asked if she would like something else, and she said, I will tell you if you hold another banquet for Haman.
And the King did as she asked.
Before the banquet, however, the King summoned Haman for something else. He wanted to honour Mordecai for saving his life, by exposing the two conspiring guards who had been killed previously. He read the records and saw that the man had never been given honour.
Haman walked by the gates of Susa, and saw that Mordecai still did not rise or
So, he asked Haman what he should do to honour someone that had been so helpful and good. Haman thought he was talking about himself, and said that the King should put Kingly robes on the person, parade them through the town on a horse, and say “This is what is done for the man the King delights to honour!”
The King then directed such to be done for Mordecai, further infuriating Haman.
Haman then went to the banquet then prepared for him.
Esther waited while the banquet took place, and then said to the King in front of all the plans of Haman, and exposed him.
King Xerxes was full of rage, and ordered Haman to be impaled.
Haman’s estate was given to Esther, who in turn gave it to Mordecai. King Xerxes also gave Mordecai the ability to write a new edict for the kingdom, so that their people would not be destroyed. Although nothing written and sealed by the King’s ring can be revoked, it could be challenged. So, Mordecai wrote that any enemy of the Jewish people could be fought off and killed. When the day established by Haman came, the Jewish people killed Haman’s sons, and many others who challenged them. They were safe, and all was well.
On the days of Purim, now created, were celebrated each year, and Esther’s people were safe.
Esther was a brave woman with the faith and power to do what was right. She stood firm in her resolves, and kept her family and nation safe when she was afraid. Being a very loving person, she was able to protect the people she knew were in danger. Through her faith in God, and because His people were going to be destroyed, she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Both of these books can really help us grow in our faith, and understand that all things happen for a reason. Things come to pass as God would have it, not necessarily as we want it.