Ruth and the Barley Harvest
by Rosemarie Adcock
This painting depicts the story of Ruth (c. 1140 BC) which occurs during the period of the Judges, aptly described by the writer of the Book as a time when “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The widow Ruth, a Moabitess, came with her widowed mother-in-law back to Israel after the death of their husbands. These women would have been destitute, and Ruth went out to look for fallen grain left behind by the Barley harvesters. The wealthy landowner, Boaz, took notice of her, and extended extraordinary kindness by protecting her, providing grain for her and her mother-in-law to eat, and eventually marrying her. Boaz is depicted with rich clothing and extending the ripened barley with his hand as he feeds one of his animals. Ruth wears blue, a symbol of purity used in ancient painting. She is barefoot, signifying her poverty and humility. Remarkably, this woman of Gentile birth who was received into the community of faith was to become the grandmother of David the King, in the direct lineage of Jesus Christ.