When famine visits Bethlehem, Boaz holds out hope for rain while his relative Elimelech moves his wife Naomi and their sons to Moab. For a while, it appears the Lord is blessing Elimelech’s family, and his sons marry two lovely Moabite women. But calamities strike, one after another, leaving Naomi alone in a foreign land with only her childless daughters-in-law for comfort. When news reaches Naomi that the famine in Bethlehem has lifted, only Ruth will hazard the journey to her mother-in-law’s homeland. Destitute and downhearted, Naomi resigns herself to a life of bitter poverty, but Ruth holds out hope for a better future. And Boaz may be the one God has chosen to provide it.
Combining meticulous research with her endless imagination, Jill Eileen Smith gorgeously renders one of the most beautiful stories in Scripture. Readers will adore this third installment of the inspiring Daughters of the Promised Land series.
~ Excerpt ~
“The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz. Is he the same man you spoke about with Neta, the one whose wife recently passed on?” Ruth flushed at the question, for to mention him reminded her of the strength of his presence.
“Yes, yes. There is only one Boaz in Bethlehem. It is the same man. And may he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi said, taking Ruth’s hand. “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.”
Ruth tilted her head, not fully understanding. “Redeemer? You mean like the kind of buying back of the chosen ones in Moab so they would not suffer the fate of sacrifice?”
Naomi looked at her with lifted brow, but a moment later she shook her head as though a light had dawned. “No, no. Our kinsman redeemer is nothing at all like Moab’s ‘redeemer’ of the chosen sacrifices. Your redeemers pay corrupt priests in order to save their own lives or the lives of their children. Our kinsman redeemer marries the widow of a childless man in order to raise up offspring for the man, so that his heritage is not lost in Israel.”
Ruth stared at Naomi, her cheeks heating again. “Boaz is a man who could raise up a son for Mahlon? I still don’t quite understand.” How would the child not be Boaz’s son? And wouldn’t that mean Boaz would have to marry her to accomplish such a thing? She shivered at the thought.
“Our law allows protection for our people in many ways, my daughter. But it is too soon to think about such things. The fact that Boaz took notice of you and offered you his protection is enough.”
“He did say to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.'” Ruth felt again the awe and embarrassment of that moment when he had spoken to her. “Of course, he did tell me to follow after his young women as we follow his reapers,” she added. The men would not harm the women, and it was fitting that she would stay with women rather than men.
“It is good, my daughter,” Naomi said, intruding on her thoughts, “that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” Her look matched the concern Ruth had seen in Boaz’s eyes.
“I will do as you say,” she said. But suddenly her heart wondered if her desire to obey was strictly for her safety.
~ Review ~
The story of Ruth is a beautiful one—for a number of reasons—but it’s sometimes easy to gloss over what life had been like for Ruth prior to meeting Boaz, and the humility of spirit she had to possess in order to make the choices that brought her to his attention. Not so in Jill Eileen Smith’s retelling—although it is as much Naomi’s and Boaz’s stories as it is Ruth’s.
The novel opens in the years immediately prior to Naomi’s husband moving their family to Moab, thus encompassing a period of some twelve or more years over the course of the story. The Biblical narrative is largely silent on the years leading up to Ruth and Naomi returning to Bethlehem, but Jill Eileen Smith has filled in those years with some well-chosen events that not only drive the story forward, but create a contrast that deepens the beauty of Boaz’s actions as kinsman redeemer.
It was also fascinating to watch Ruth on her journey towards learning about the God of Israel, in spite of the adversity she witnessed and encountered, while Naomi and Boaz both struggle in different ways to hold on to their belief in God’s goodness in the midst of their trials. Ruth’s character shines even more brightly when she reaches Bethlehem, where she humbly takes on the role of gleaning each day in order to provide for herself and Naomi in their poverty. And while romantic displays of affection between Ruth and Boaz were restrained on the page, there was an obvious depth to their love that was beautiful to behold—the more so because it was a picture of God’s love and acceptance.
In short, Redeeming Grace is a satisfying read for any lover of Biblical fiction.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review.
Release date: 14 February 2016
Series: #3 Daughters of the Promised Land (stand alone)
~ Previous Books in Series ~
Read my review for The Prophetess.
~ About the Author ~
Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the Daughters of the Promised Land series, the Loves of King Solomon series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and the bestselling author of the Wives of King David series. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found reading, biking, traveling, spending time with friends, or snuggling her feline writing buddy, Tiger. She especially enjoys spending time with her family.