Ruth: The Farmer’s Wife: Introducing Elimelech

Elimelech

Blog Tour of Clean Indie Authors

Amelia DeField, of Story Quest Academy, launched “Clean Fiction Blog Tour” which features clean indie fiction for the whole month of March. Story Quest offers writing courses for tweens and teens with a focus on clean fiction. There’s so much to chose from but much of the literature written today is not “clean”. We want our kids to read good stories (so do we) and this is a whole world of good fiction written by authors who are dedicated to making their book wholesome and worthwhile.

For a full list of authors, please scroll to the bottom of this post and cruise all the stops!

Story Quest Academy Info

To check out a great online academy of writing, you can find Story Quest Academy here.

The Farmer’s Wife: Ruth

What we know about the time frame of Ruth

“In the days when the chieftains ruled, there was a famine in the land; and a man of Bethlehem in Judah, with his wife and two sons, went to reside in the country of Moab.”.

This is the way the book of Ruth of the Bible begins in the Tanakh translation of the Hebrew Bible. 

I am a Christian, so I read my own version of the Bible. One of my favorite versions is the New King James Version. It says, “Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.”

What we don’t know about Elimelech

How many times I have read right over that first sentence or the first part about the time frame and read the next part that tells me that a man from Bethlehem went to Moab. I automatically drew some assumptions about Elimelech. Have you ever wondered who he was?

I painted a picture in my mind that this was a man only worthy of a passing mention so we could get to the heart of the story. That would mean that he is probably poor, probably seeking to survive, probably seeking the best solution to the problem that led him to move his family to another nearby country. 

But there is so much more to wonder. 

What we don’t know about the time frame

We understand that the time period is during the time of the judges of Israel. But, that’s a span of 350 years! So, at what point during that span did this happen? Can we read the book of Ruth and not wonder about those kinds of things? What if we read the book of Ruth as an isolated love story, not really connected to anything? Would it be of benefit to us? Can we read it and not know exactly when it took place.  

Yes, to all of the above. I believe that your understanding of the events and message of the story will be greater if you know the time frame, what was going on, what was the background leading up to the story and, if you want to understand even more, where does the story fit into God’s big story. 

Why is The Farmer’s Wife: Ruth a fiction story?

When the desire to write about Ruth grew, I began a long journey of finding out that we really don’t know a lot of things about who the characters were. We also don’t know exactly when the time frame is either, except by deduction based on the fact that Ruth was the great-grandmother of David.  There are too many unknowns for a fiction story to be completely, historically true. Otherwise, the fiction story would probably need to be a Bible study of the book. This book is a fiction story and that alone gives me leeway to try to take some liberties with the known facts.

Why I chose the time frame of this story, The Farmer’s Wife: Ruth

I have taken the liberty of placing the setting of my retelling of “Ruth” during a time right before the story of Judge Ehud in Judges chapter three. King Eglon had subdued at least part of the nation of Israel so that could have put Elimelech into the position to negotiate with King Eglon to strengthen an alliance. There had to be a reason that King Eglon would even agree to see a judge from Israel. The story of Ruth was during a time of peace with Moab, so if King Eglon was believing that his subjects were trying to better themselves with him, as in with negotiations and alliances, then maybe, just maybe the story of Ruth was during that time. 

Of course, there is ample evidence that my time frame is wrong. But, I could be close. Maybe. 

When I found out that the book of Judges isn’t always chronological, that opened up a lot of possibilities for my setting, and how the story plays out. 

Enjoy the story

And that is the stuff that I juggle as I write a historical fiction novel about Ruth. 

There are Hebrew scholars who believe lots of things about Elimelech. I drew on their propositions and added more fiction to their ideas that sparked my imagination. 

As always, read for enjoyment and, in this case, read critically. I hope you read for enjoyment first. Even if it challenges what you may know to be the truth. After all, stories like this can help you take a second or third look in the true source, the Bible, to see which parts, if any, of the story, “Ruth: The Farmer’s Wife” could possibly be true. 

So, I introduce to you Elimelech. 

In the days when the chieftans ruled, there was a famine in the land…..

The man from Bethlehem leaned forward, climbing the winding, rocky path that had been there for several generations. A slight man, but well enough. Not so young, but not too old. Married, but definitely the head. A father, the kids more slight than he. Above all, he was wealthy. 

And the town of Bethlehem knew it. 

He was also a keeper of the law. He knew who he was that day when he climbed the hill beyond his village for the last time.  

“Don’t I keep the holy days? Don’t I keep the Sabbath? Don’t I teach my sons every morning and every night? God’s laws are on our doorpost, yes? You would punish me for the sins of my people?” 

He stopped at the top of the ridge and could only stare with unseeing eyes. What was once his land of inheritance with rolling hills of barley and wheat fields was now only parched rocks showing through the hard earth with remnants of straw from seasons past. Fertility had given way to a land of waste. Forgotten by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The promise of blessing was no more. 

“Haven’t I honored the name my father gave me? ‘God is my King’?”

He paused, deep in thought again. “Are You my King?”

He sighed. “Ah, then if You are my King, I will accept that You take your blessing from me too.”

The dry, cool air was a reminder that winter was almost over. Yet, there had been no rain to water the fields they had sown last Fall with the hope that blessings of grain would end the famine.  

The plan was growing in his mind. If he left now, he could come back in a few years. Surely, Yahweh will tell him when to come back. The land would still be his, that was not his worry. If he stayed, they would starve. If he left, he would be shunned. Wasn’t he the village elder, after all? He could hear them now, “You would leave and abandon your friends and relatives? What will the rest of the tribe think?”  

What was he to do, let his family starve? 

Yet, somehow, he knew there was something more to this urge to go to Moab than being disloyal to his people. He tried to reason it out in his mind but he could only find blame to replace the urgency he felt. 

“I knew this was going to happen,” he murmured, “They are a stubborn people, Yahweh. They do what they want and say it is right. They don’t believe me when I remind them that when they forget your laws, this happens. The last time the tribes were hungry, they began observing your laws again. They learned. But, this generation! They only want to do what is right in their own eyes. Now see! You punish us all. Do you see this parched ground?” 

He had learned years ago. He remembered what it was like when his father had nothing but this land left. Now he was going to lose everything too. He thought about the hidden coins. He didn’t want to lose the last bit of everything he had worked so hard to gain. But if he stayed…..

“They don’t believe me when I try to warn them. They won’t believe me if I spend everything I have for them. They laugh when I tell them there is only one God. No. I will not barter with those merchants who wait until we give them everything for the bit of grain already molding from last year. They will eat for a little while and then, their bellies will be empty again. I could tell them to throw away the images on the hills, but they will not listen. Even if they knew what I did for them. No. I will not give them any money.”

But, then there was his cousin, Boaz. He could not tell if Boaz believed him, but at least he listened and watched. Boaz will be the elder while he is gone. He must speak to Boaz before he leaves. He will tell him to teach the Torah and keep the laws and Holy Days. Maybe Boaz will convince them to burn the images.

“Yahweh! They will blame me for the famine when I tell them I’m going to Moab. They will say that I am the reason that You have dried up the heavens because I am going to Moab. I am the reason that their gods are punishing them.

You would tell me to go to Moab? Yes, Moab is now the land flowing with milk and honey. Not us. Moab. That king who keeps an iron fist over my brothers. Yet, when I tell you I cannot barter with a king who rules with an iron fist, I am miserable.”  

Moab? 

Yes, Moab. 

His eyes narrowed as he looked beyond the hills. King Eglon will want what I have to offer. 

Elimelech turned around. There was Bethlehem, the city of Judah. Even though the surrounding hills and valleys were dry and dusty, Bethlehem was still a sight that drew tears to his eyes as he gazed at the peaceful homes surrounded by walls and beautiful gates that his own kinsmen had carved on before he was born. 

Some of the houses and rooftops could be seen at the level of the walls. It was quiet. Too quiet. With so little food, movements had come to a crawl. 

Why would he even wonder if they will understand why he is going to Moab? They will hate him for it.

Yes, wasn’t he the elder of Bethlehem? A marriage alliance would be just what Bethlehem needed. He will come back with so much food that there will be singing in the courts again. There will be grain to sow and, soon, they will thank him for saving them.  

We will be blessed again. Soon.  

He picked up the corners of his tunic and quickly picked his way back down the stony path. This time, there was purpose in his hurried steps. 

Here’s your blog tour of cool authors!

March 1st Story Quest Academy

March 2nd Ellie Naomi

March 3rd Julie Gilbert

March 4th Jasmine Natasha

March 5th Liz Delton

March 6th Mark Hansen

March 7th Ian Vroon

March 8th Story Quest Academy

March 9th Nicholas Kotar

March 10th J.M. Hackman

March 11th Mark Hansen

March 12th Courtenay Kasper

March 13th Debbie Schreffler

March 14th Story Quest Academy

March 15th Steven Guglich

March 16th Laurie Lucking

March 17th Julie Gilbert

March 18th Meg Dendler

March 19th Nicholas Kotar

March 20th Courtenay Kasper

March 21st Story Quest Academy

March 22nd Molly Casperson

March 23rd D.J. Edwardson

March 24th Marty C Lee

March 25th Molly Casperson

March 26th Mark Hansen

March 27th Allison Tebo

March 28th Story Quest Academy

March 29th Debbie Schreffler

March 30th Nicholas Kotar

March 31st Molly Casperson

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A photo of the author, Deborah Schreffler

Debbie Schreffler

Veteran Homeschooler, avid gardener, and proud grandma

I believe that you can design a peaceful lifestyle while you homeschool, complete with a garden if you want, and meals that will make the best memories you ever could imagine!

I homeschooled seven kids through high school, starting them all with a lot of planned, hands-on activities. Then, I centered subjects around the activities. That gave them lots of room for their natural curiosity to be satisfied as they learned about God’s world.

Let me help you teach kids, grow food, and stay calm!

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.Mat 6:33 CSB

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