תמונות בעמוד

triumphs and rejoicings, and Deborah and Barak extolled the power and goodness of the Lord in a beay-tiful song*.

After this the Israelites had rest from their enemies forty years.


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THE HISTORY OF NAOMI AND RUTN. DURING the forty years peace which succeeded the defeat of the Canaanites, the Israelites again rebelled against the LORD, and He punished them with a grievous famine. Elimelech, a man of Bethlehem, rather than submit to the affliction which God was pleased to bring on his people for their sins, resolved to leave his native country, and go with his wife Naomi and his , two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, into the land of Moab. Elimelech's endeavours to preserve his life proved ineffectual; for though he escaped the famine, he died amongst strangers, and left his family exposed to a variety of inconveniences.

His sons, who probably looked upon Moab as their country, and who had been educated in a very different manner from what the law of God required, had no thoughts of returning to Bethlehem, but married two Moabitish women, named Orpah and Ruth ; in a few years these young men also died.

It is very likely that Naomi might at first be willing to leave her country; but the loss of her husband and sons brought her to a sense of the crime she had.committed in forsaking Judea, and going to live amongst idolaters ; she therefore resolved to seek for pardon and peace, by returning to that society in which alone she could expect to enjoy them. She accordingly * Judges, Chap. v.



communicated this intention to her two daughters-inlaw, and, expressing the most fervent wishes for their happiness, bade them farewell. Both Orpah and Ruth were so affectionately attached to her, that they pro. posed to return with her to the land of Judah ; but as Naomi was sensible that this would expose them to many distresses, she generously declined the offer, and would not consent that they should go merely on her account, 'fearing that they were too much inclined to idolatrous worship to conform to the law of Moses.

Orpah finding from Naomi's discourse that she had little chance of obtaining a settlement in Judah, remained in Moab, paying however the tribute of many. a tender tear for the kindness which she had received from her dear mother-in-law, and then took a last adieu.

Ruth was not to be hindered by any dissuasives from accompanying Naomi ; she expressed a fixed resolution -to be a partaker of all her sorrows, to forsake idols, and become a true worshipper of the God of Israel. Naomi no longer resisted, she rejoiced to find that Ruch was converted, and now thought it her duty to endeavour to obtain a settlement for her amongst the Israelites. They immediately proceeded on their journey, and arrived at Bethlehem.

Those who had known Naomi in a state of affluence, spai were surprised at the change in her appearance ; but

she acknowledged the justice of God, in bringing such distresses upon the family of Elimelech, on account of their joining themselves to an idolatrous nation from a distrust of Providence.

As Naomi had no son to claim the inheritance of his father, she was utterly destitute of the means of subsistence: Ruth therefore determined to exert her utmost industry, in order to porcure a livelihood for them both ;


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and as it was harvest time, she went into the fields in order to pick up the ears of corn that fell from the reapers' hands, which were the destined portion of the poor and needy: and the providence of God directed . her to a part which belonged to Boaz, a man of considerable property, who was a near relation of Elimelech's, and a person of excellent character. He soon distinguished Ruth, and, making enquiries after her, was .. told the history of her exemplary conduct ; upon which he addressed her with the utmost kirdness, encouraging : her to hope, that her dutiful behaviour to her motherin-law, and her piety to God, would be rewarded.

He then gave orders that she should be treated with all possible respect, and allowed to refresh herself with his provisions ; he also desired that the reapers would let fall handfuls on purpose for her; so that by the evening Ruth had gleaned three pecks of barley, with which she returned to her mother, who expected her with the utmost iinpatience; and when she heard how kindly Ruth had been treated by Boaz, the joy of her heart brake forth in thankful acknowledgments of the goodness of God! Naomi then formed hopes that Boaz might be induced to marry Ruth (notwithstanding the disparity of fortune), as she had a right to require him to do so, if he was, as she supposed him to be, the next of kin to her deceased husband ; she therefore gave Ruth directions how to proceed according to the Jews ish cụstoms in such cases. Ruth punctually obeyed, and obtained a promise of the farther protection of Boaz, if another person, who he told her was a nearer relation than himself, should 'refuse to marry her, as he was very desirous to have a wife who had distinguished herself, as she had done, by her virtue and affection to her former husband. The other kinsman declined pur. chasing the inheritance of Elimelech by marrying his


widow, as it was not agreeable to his interest to do so, he therefore resigned her to Boaz; and Naomi had the felicity of rejoicing, not only in the marriage of Ruth, but in the additional comfort of a son which Boaz and Ruth were afterwards blessed with, who was named Obed.' This child Naomi regarded as a blessing to herself, as he was entitled to the inheritance of Elimelech, according to the Jewish law. '. ::

Thus we find, that though it had pleased Gov to sem parate the Jews as a peculiar people ; yet the Gentiles or Heathens were not excluded from His grace, if they repented and were converted to His holy law. Worshipping idols was the cause of the Lord's forsaking them, but He was ready at all times to accept their rer ' pentance, of which Ruth is a remarkable instance ; for she was not only admitted into the society of God's people, but was honoured amongst those who are reck. oned in the genealogy of the promised Saviour. Her son Obed was the father of Jesse, who was the father. of king David.


: From Judges, Chap. vi.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of
the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the
hand of Midian seven years.

And the hand of Midian preyailed against Israel : and because of the Midianites the children - of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and Caves, and strong hoids. {And so it was when Israel had sowo, that the Midian

ites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them; and they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.

For they came up with their cattle, and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude : for both they and their camels were without number : and they entered into the land to destroy it.

And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites ; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD.'

And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage,

And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land.

And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God, fear not the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell : but ye have not obeyed my voice.

And there came the angel of the Lord and sat under an oak, which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abi-ezrite : and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the wine.press, to hide it from the Midian


And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thout mighty man of valour.

And Gideon said unto him, Oh, my lord ! if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and



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