Sunday, December 25, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Which One Is She?
She’s a Shockingly Interesting Woman Of The Bible for the sheer number of people who willfully choose to see her in the wrong light (a nice girl who obeys her mother in law)
Who Could Be Her Celebrity Counterpart?
Well, not that this person exists in real life, but I’m going with Sleeping Beauty. I’ll explain why later.
Ruth’s got her own book in the Bible, after Joshua and Judges in the Old Testament. (Lyle Lovett once named an album that – “Joshua Judges Ruth”)
What Did You Already Know About Her Before This?
I knew that she took care of her mother-in-law Naomi and wouldn’t leave her for anything, and she married her boss Boaz. And there was gleaning in the wheat fields. And she was talked up a LOT in Sunday School classes for being such a good daughter (in law) to Naomi.
So What’s the Story?
So Mother Naomi was married to Elimelech and had two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. Then Elimelech, Mahlon and Kilion all die, leaving Naomi and her two daughter in laws Ruth and Orpah alone and childless.
Which sounds sneakingly familiar to Tamar last week. In fact, if you choose to look the Bible through the eyes of its female characters, a lot of what the majority (but not all) of the Women Of The Bible do is formed around the questions Am I Married? And Do I Have Children?
Now Naomi, Ruth and Orpah (I’m just gonna call her Oprah and be done with it) are widowers and alone. There’s a famine in the land and Naomi’s heard there’s food in the land of Judah. But Ruth and Oprah are Moabites, and would be considered on the outs in Israel. Technically, Ruth and Oprah are supposed to stay with their mother-in-law, but Naomi says never mind, go back home to your families, you don’t have to take care of me.
There’s weeping and hugging and crying and Oprah finally says, “See ya!” and takes off, but Ruth refuses to leave her momsie, because, as Ch.1 verse 16 says, “…Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Essentially, Ruth is converting from her Moabite religion to throw in with Naomi’s Israelite heritage, all because she loves her momsie-in-law that much.
So Ruth and Naomi make it to Bethlehem, Naomi’s hometown. Ruth decides to go gleaning (picking up wheat left behind by the threshers, which is how poor people got food in that day) in the wheat fields. And she providentially lands in the fields of Boaz, who’s a distant relative of Naomi’s dead husband (fun fun fact, he’s also the son of Rahab, everyone’s favorite Prostitute Who Helped The Israelites!) So Ruth’s gleaning, Boaz sees her, and she’s a looker, so he goes to talk to her. Once he realizes she’s Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, and the one who converted to her mother-in-law’s religion though she didn’t have to, Boaz tells Ruth to only glean in his fields, he’ll make sure she and Naomi will have enough to eat, and the workers won’t touch her. So Ruth does so, and brings back a ton of wheat home to Naomi, where they make a bunch of bread (I’m guessing.)
So now Naomi is upping the game, and counsels Ruth to go get gussied up for Boaz, wait until he’s sleeping and “uncover his feet.” This could either mean
A) His feet.
B) His penis. (“Feet” was a euphemism for penis in OT times.)
C) Stella points out that there might be a mistranslation of the Hewbrew pronoun, and that Naomi is telling Ruth to uncover HER feet (either her feet feet or her lower half.)
Though I think it’d be really hard for Ruth to pull Boaz’s pants down and him not notice immediately. And in CH. 3v8, it indicates that “in the middle of the night, something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.” You could argue that what startled the man was his Mr. Other Feet being uncovered, but the verses seem to indicate a passage of time between the uncovering and Boaz waking up. He could’ve been really drunk. STOP IT!
Anyhow, so off Ruth goes to get gussied up, waits until Boaz has had dinner and is asleep, goes down and uncovers whatever feet interpretation you want. Then, like any good housedog who’s allowed on the furniture, she lies at his feet and waits for him to wake up.
When he wakes up in the middle of the night, there’s a chick by his feet, or his Mister Other Foot, and he asks what’s up. Ruth then asks him to “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kindsman-redeemer.”
If you can believe it, this is apparently the OT female way of asking the guy “Will you marry me?” I KNOW! I can’t believe it, I didn’t even think chicks were allowed to ask guys to marry them in Biblical times. They can’t do anything else, really.
Anyhow, so Boaz says “yes, I’d love to, but you’ve got a closer kinsman-redeemer who’s got first right, let me go see what he thinks.”
Then there’s a subplot about the kinsman redeemer (kinda like James Cann In Godfather type, a relative you were supposed to turn to for help.) and Naomi selling land which also had Ruth’s hand in marriage attached, and the kinsman saying thanks, but no thanks, so Boaz steps in, buys Naomi’s land to give it back to her, and marries Ruth. Ruth has a son by Boaz, and the name him Obed, who’s the father of Jesse, who’s the father of King David, and on down the line we go until we get to Jesus. A lot of people like to mention the metaphor of Boaz as kinsmen redeemer to Ruth and Jesus as kinsmen redeemer to us, the human race. That’s all true, but not the focus of this particular entry.
What did you learn?
A few things:
NAOMI – THE MOTHER IN LAW THAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO MEDDLE IN YOUR LIFE AND RUTH – DISNEY PRINCESS ON THE OUTSIDE, SHOCKINGLY FORWARD ON THE INSIDE.
Naomi is quite the schemer. Naomi’s doing some furious matchmaking behind the scenes for Ruth and Boaz to meet (as opposed to the closer kinsmen redeemer that
At first glance, I thought the Book of Ruth should’ve been called the Book of Naomi. At first glance, it seems like all Ruth does is obey. Which is an important lesson, sure, we all need to be more obedient.
So how do you go from that mentality – the Lord has brought misfortune upon me – to plotting and scheming to get her daughter in law married to Boaz? I guess that even in your own pit of despair and depression, you don’t give up. The Book Of Ruth doesn’t tell us what Naomi was thinking, if she was praying to God, or if she picked herself up and dusted herself off and said enough, I’m getting us out of this mess.
BUT WAIT! THAT WAS FIRST GLANCE! WHAT DOES SECOND GLANCE REVEAL!
- Chapter 1 – Naomi tells Ruth to return to her homeland. Ruth refuses, saying she won’t leave Naomi.
- Chapter 2 – It’s Ruth’s initial idea to go glean in the fields.
- Chapter 3 - Naomi tells Ruth to go to Boaz’s threshing floor, wait until he’s asleep, uncover his feet, and Ch.3v4 “He will tell you what to do.” Ruth goes to the threshing floor, waits until Boaz is asleep, uncovers his feet, AND THEN SAYS “Spread the corner of your garment over me,” i.e. the marriage proposal. So Ruth wasn’t waiting for Boaz to tell her what to do, Ruth’s not waiting for a ring, she proposed HERSELF. HER IDEA. SHE PROPOSED TO A DUDE IN BIBLICAL TIMES! No wonder when she gets back to Naomi and tells her what happens, Naomi says Ch.3v18 “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens.” In other words, PUT ON THE BRAKES, KID!
That’s pretty shocking for someone I first thought was a do nothing Disney princess.
Also of note – Boaz is actually a gentleman. A gentleman in Biblical times. My theory is that he didn’t sleep with Ruth on the threshing floor, simply because there were other people there who would’ve probably heard them. And he insists on waiting until he straightens out the whole kinsman redeemer thing.
Yes, Virginia, there are gentlemen in the Bible. Maybe I’ll do a series on them later.
FInally, one of the smartest things you can do in life is make friends with people who are smarter than you. So I must give a shout out to Stella, who is again the Smartest Gal I Know When It Comes To The Bible, and gave me a huge assist on the research of this. Hi Stella! I hope that Mirabella is letting you sleep at night!!!
Monday, December 12, 2011
Disclaimer: I am doing this as a way to share what I learn about these gals. I’m not saying what I discover and write about here is the absolute truth about them. I’m not thinking I’m going to discover some revolutionary truth that nobody’s heard before, nor am I looking to start legalistic fights. This is more about me being curious and wanting to learn more about these gals, and saying “Here’s what I learned in my Bible readings today!”
Where Is She In The Bible?
Monday, December 05, 2011
So the blog series I did for the month of January -- “Sarcasm In The Bible” went over like gangbusters, if my counter stats are to be believed.
Since we’re approaching Christmas, which I’ve never been sentimental about, and the Christmas story, which I’ve already examined from several angles (check the archives), I’ve decided to bust out another series. I think I’m calling it…
“Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible.”
Because nothing says Christmas like that! :)
Now, let’s make one thing clear. I am doing this as a way to share what I learn about these gals. I’m not saying what I discover and write about here is the absolute truth about them. I’m not thinking I’m going to discover some revolutionary truth that nobody’s heard before, nor am I looking to start legalistic fights. This is more about me being curious and wanting to learn more about these gals, and saying “Here’s what I learned in my Bible readings today!” Because I’m betting there’s a lot more to them beneath the “Slut” surface.
You know how your pastor in your church will constantly exhort you to “Spend Time In The Word Every Day! It Will Change Your Life”? (Pastor Diet Slice said it for the ten thousandth time yesterday.)
This is how I’m spending time in the Word, Pastor Diet Slice. I’m praying before diving into the research. I’m asking God to meet me in the midst of my curiosity. Let’s see if anything changes.
Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #1 – The Samaritan Woman At The Well.
Which One Is She?
Since this chickie was married and divorced five times, she’d probably fall in the Slut category. That’s probably what the town gossips called her.
Who Could Be Her Celebrity Counterpart?
Let’s say she’s the late great Elizabeth Taylor (married eight times.)
Where Is She In The Bible?
Only in one Gospel book - John 4: 1 – 42
What Did You Already Know About Her Before This?
That she was a town pariah, multiple divorcee and currently living with a guy who’s not her husband.
Everyone talked about her, nobody liked her, and she’d have to get water during the hottest part of the day because that’s the only time when nobody else was at the well. I imagine the modern day equivalent would be Elizabeth Taylor having to grocery shop at Ralph’s waaaaaaaaay in the Valley at, like 4am.
She was a Samaritan, a race that most everyone else in Biblical times looked down upon (see also The Good Samaritan, the only person who stopped to help someone in need while a priest and a Levite ignored the person in need.)
Jesus talked to her by himself. You know what that means? JESUS MET WITH A WOMAN IN PRIVATE! (the disciples don’t show up until verse 27.) Why is this important? Because even today in modern times, throw a stick and you will hit a pastor who refuses to meet with a woman for lunch, for counseling, for anything one on one. Meet with a guy one on one? Sure, no problem. Meet with a woman? Nope, it’s inappropriate. People will talk. Even though Jesus did it, and we’re called to be like Jesus. Except in this particular instance. “Because people will talk.” Whatever.
What’s up with the Samaritans? Why did everyone hate them?
Oh gosh. You guys, I just lost about 45 minutes of my life trying to understand the geographical boundaries of Manasseh and Ephraim, and Jews vs. Samaritans vs Assyrians and when did the Babylonian Exile start, and I feel my enthusiasm for learning about SSSIW (Sluts, Schemers, and Shockingly Interesting women) fading away. Blarg
In short, I THINK the tensions came primarily from Samaritans claiming they had the one authentic site of worshipping God – their temple on Mount Gerizim, as opposed to the temple in Jerusalem. There could have been things like Samaritans being a mixed race resulting from foreigners marrying Israelites, and there’s a tiny possibility (via 2 Kings Ch. 17) that some Samaritans did things like worshipping idols and child sacrifices in addition to worshipping Regular God. So yeah, lots of crap going on.
Of course, there’s zippo to indicate what the Woman At The Well practiced in terms of her Samaritan religion before she bumped into Jesus. Pretty sure she didn’t have any kids, or else they would’ve been mentioned. THAT DOESN’T MEAN SHE SACRIFICED THEM!
Oh God, we’re so off track. Ahem.
Why Wouldn’t The Guy She’s Currently Shacking Up With Marry Her?
Dunno. Maybe the guy mentality of Why Buy The Cow When You Get The Milk For Free existed back then. Unless they sacrificed the cow. Along with the kids. KIDDING! GOD, I’M SO KIDDING!
Whatchoo Thinking About?
Woman At The Well (has the face of Elizabeth Taylor) probably thought this was going to be the rest of her life – a life of shame. A life of people gossiping about her. A life of regret, of broken relationships and really bad choices that she’d never be able to shake. Maybe she thought her current guy would marry her, and thus maybe she’d gain maybe two percent more respect. Maybe she thought her current dude would take her away from this place and they’d go live somewhere else. It’s easy to forget that back in Biblical times, women, especially ones who got divorced a bunch of times, didn’t have a any freedom, which is why they needed to be married – because the man had the power, and the woman didn’t.
Anyhow, so WATW might have thought that this was going to be her life for the rest of her life – no escape, no way out, no forgiveness.
And I’m just guessing here, which is all anyone can do – that she probably condemned herself far more than anyone outside of her could do. Isn’t that how shame usually works? We beat ourselves up worse than anyone else could? Because you can eventually get away from other people. You can’t get away from yourself.
Why did Jesus ask the Woman At The Well for a drink? Why didn’t he get it himself?
What, is our Lord and Savior so exhausted from the heat that he can’t get the damn water himself? NO! (and he doesn’t have a jar, verse 11 says so.)
Jesus is supposed to be at the well (BY HIMSELF, I’m sorry, I’m not letting that go) to meet the Woman, to change her life, to knock her out of her life of self hatred and condemnation.
1 – Apparently Jews didn’t directly address women they didn’t know.
2 – Jews wouldn’t speak to Samarians, even if they happen to be traveling through Samaria.
3. If Jesus drank from the Samaritan Woman’s jar, he’d be considered ritually unclean, because she, by virtue of being a Samaritan, is unclean.
I can’t help but think somewhere in the back of her mind, there’s probably a gleeful voice jumping up and down saying, I’M NOT THE FREAKY ONE NOW! I’M NOT THE FREAKY ONE NOW! HEY, EVERYBODY! COME LOOK AT NUMERO UNO FREAK… and then realize that nobody’s there at the well to witness this except for her and Jesus. Heh.
Then we go through the standard verses that anyone who’s spent any significant time in a church has heard at some point or another “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst…” and she says, “Sir, give me this water….” And “You are right when you say you have no husband…. You have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband…” WATW says she knows that the Messiah is coming, Jesus says DAT’S ME!!! All the greatest hits of this story in those verses.
Then the merry band of disciples show up with lunch. I love this part, verse 27 “… But no one asked ‘What do you want’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’” There you go, modern church. If the disciples didn’t question why Jesus was alone with a woman, then a pastor should be able to meet one on one with a woman. Let it go already.
So WATW is so spooked/stoked by what Jesus has said that she leaves the water jar behind as she “went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” You gotta love how she words it. She KNOWS Jesus is the Christ, he just told her. But she’s playing dumb so that the others will come out to see for themselves. She’s super cagey, because it could’ve gone this way –
WATW runs through the neighborhood, finding any and everybody in town that she can.
WATW – “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”
TOWNSPEOPLE - “Um, yeah, EVERYONE knows what you did. We talk about you behind your back constantly.”
What did you learn?
If you’re doing a sermon on this, you usually focus on the “living water” stuff and “Sir, give me this water…” And how Jesus is extending his grace and love and forgiveness to this town outcast, that he doesn’t care what her backstory is, he’ll love and forgive her anyway. That’s basic Christian 101 stuff.
Most people would stop paying attention around verse 30, after the townspeople come out to see Jesus, because the disciples get all up in Jesus’ grill, saying he’s gotta eat something and Jesus throws out metaphors about harvests and sowers and reapers and la la laaaaaa.
But if you keep going to verse 39, you get this: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’”
I think it’s more interesting that Jesus used an outcast to bring people to faith. Not just an outcast of society, but a CHICK outcast. So in Biblical Times, that’s like an outcast time two, heh.
Once again, Jesus uses the least likely of people to draw more people to him. Not the proper people, not the powerful people. Not the people that were doing everything right. But he uses a person who had done EVERYTHING wrong. Because nobody is so wrong that God couldn’t use them if He needed to. I SO dig that about God.
It doesn’t go on to say what happened to WATW after the townspeople believed her about Jesus. I’d like to think that the guy she was living with finally made an honest woman out of her, and that they followed Jesus throughout the rest of his travels in the New Testament. Because even former sluts deserve a happy ending.