Ruth and Boaz: Strangers in the Land

Ruth and Boaz was my second book, and my working title was "Ruth and Boaz: The Story of Yahweh's Harvest." It was the hardest book to write so far, and literally came together like a jigsaw puzzle. The scene with Ruth mourning for Mahlon was the first one I wrote. Entire sections shifted while I was working on the manuscript, and one character changed age and plot-line at least three times!

While I was doing the research for this story, I realized I needed to know a great deal more about Biblical Hebrew, since fully half of the story is lost in the translation. For instance, when Ruth first speaks with Boaz in his field, the word she uses to describe herself means an unattached foreign widow, the lowest possible status in society. This word is translated into English as "handmaid." Only eight weeks later, when Ruth is describing herself to Boaz on the threshing floor, the word she uses means an unattached female of the family who is eligible for marriage, the highest possible status. Boaz directly validates her claim. This word is also translated into English as "handmaid." Thus, readers of the English text miss the incredible social change Ruth managed in just two months. And she did this under the shadow of her Moabite blood which, by definition, branded her as a trouble-maker and temptress.

The question I hear most often is: "How did you get an entire story out of just 85 verses?" Answer: You work backwards. Once I had a better understanding of the meaning of the original words, I realized that both Ruth and Boaz made decisions which were outside of their cultural ideas. They both pushed into new cultural territory. I tried to imagine what kind of previous experiences would lead them to make the decisions reported in the biblical account, and the story grew from there.

The next question I hear often is: "Why do you have a warning to parents? There doesn't seem to be much in the book to justify it." As it is printed now, there isn't. However . . . a set of circumstances at the publishers caught several books in its train, and took everyone by surprise, my editors most of all. As a result, Ruth and Boaz had to be taken off the press, edited, and put back on the press in about two hours. Otherwise the book wouldn't have been printed.

Ruth and Boaz was released in 2004. I had chosen to write on Ruth (from a list of characters the publisher suggested) because I already had plans to write a three-book series on David, and I though Ruth would fit right in. Little did I know where that would lead!

(If you are interested, access the "Cut Scenes" option from the drop down menu under "Ruth and Boaz" for the full text for the scenes: Boaz's Dream, and At the Threshing Floor. The e-book version of Ruth and Boaz has these scenes in their entirely.)

A river ford like those Ruth might have used.