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All the City … Doth Know That Thou Art a Virtuous Woman

For the last several months, I have been posting the transcription of my lessons every other Sunday.  I plan on continuing to do this, but I also plan on posting a more personal perspective of the scriptures studied in the Old Testament.  I am following the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual and the schedule of the scriptures laid out there.  Although this is from LDS material, I hope that Non-Mormons and Mormons will be able to share their opinions and beliefs of these scriptures each week.

And with that, here is my lesson for this week…

image found on the LDS Church Website

Lesson 20: “All the City … Doth Know That Thou Art a Virtuous Woman”, Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 92

Ruth1 Samuel 1


Women in the Old Testament… there were quite a few mentioned in the Old Testament.  Let’s see how many we can come up with and maybe a little snippet about their lives….


Sarah and Hagar

Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Dinah and Tamar

Miriam Zipporah, Rahab, Deborah Jael, Jephthal, Deborah

Ruth, Naomi, Orpah, Hannah, Peninnah

Michal, Bethsheba, Jezibel

Queen Esther

Just to name the ones that were listed by name.

Which one’s story has impressed you the most?  Why?

Today’s discussion will focus on 3 of these women.  Ruth, Naomi and Hannah.  Orpah is part of the story but she does not play a large role.


Naomi was a faithful wife and mother.  She traveled with her husband and reared two sons.  But because of the famine, she lost her husband.

Men, a question for you…

Your father dies, how do you take care of your mother?

Just over 10 years later, Naomi’s two sons also die from the famine.  So here this woman is elderly and left with two daughters-in-law.

By the custom, the daughters should marry the nearest kinsman of their husbands’, but for these women, to marry the nearest kin would require them to move to another city and it would require them to give up their land and their beliefs.

I have asked three women to help me with this dialogue that happened between Naomi, Ruth and Orpah.  As we go through this, I want you to think about what this interaction shows about each one of these women….

Narrator: And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law,

Naomi: Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.  The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband.

Narrator: Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.  And they said unto her,

Ruth and Orpah: Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.

Naomi: Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?  Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;  Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.

Narrator: And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth aclave unto her. And she said,

Naomi: Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.

Ruth: Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

What does this interaction tell us about the kind of woman Naomi was? Loving, Faithful, Selfless

Ruth? Loving, loyal and willing to sacrifice

Orpah? Loving, maybe a little insecure, possibly selfish

How can we show more loyalty in our family?

How can we show a greater will to sacrifice?

Women, a question now for you…

What would you do if your husband had died and you were expected to stay in the family, and your mother-in-law gave you an out from that commitment?  Would you stick to the obligation or would you take the opportunity to walk away?

So, together the women traveled to Bethlehem.  When they arrived there, the people asked if she was Naomi.  Her answer says a lot about what she has been through.

Ruth 1:20-21

20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

21 I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

Mara means bitter or very sad.

Think for a moment, has there ever been a time in your life where you have felt like changing your name to “bitter” or “very sad”?

So back to Bethlehem, Naomi had a near relative there who was a very wealthy man.  Ruth determined that she would go down to his fields and glean ears of corn in hopes of finding grace in the eyes of Boaz.

What does it mean to glean ears of corn?

She would follow behind the men that were cutting down the corn and harvesting it.  She would gather all of the ears of corn that they dropped.

Boaz found out what she was doing and did his research to find out who she was and all that he could find out about her.

What did he learn about her by asking around?

Ponder again for a moment.  What would someone find out about you if they were to ask around?

How many of you feel you would be happy with what people say about you?

Boaz learned that she was taking care of his cousin.  So, he helped her.  He asked his men to drop extra ears of corn and told her that she could take it home to Naomi.  He also permitted her to eat with his handmaids.

Ruth was amazingly selfless.  She ate with the handmaids and saved a portion of her meal and took it and the ears of corn home to Naomi.

How have you been blessed by someone else’s selflessness?

The story continues with Ruth being loyal to Boaz and only gleaning in his field.  This showed him a respect for all that he had done to help her.  As this continued, Naomi instructed Ruth to propose marriage to Boaz.  He accepted, pending the nearest male relative did not want to marry Ruth.

One of the reasons that Boaz chose to follow through with this commitment was because of the reputation of Ruth.  In Ruth 3:11 we read “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.”

Why do you think this reputation helped her relationship with Boaz?

Do your family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances know what you believe in and your values?

Why is it important?

As a parent, I think our actions are often the very best teaching tool.  If our reputation at home or outside does not show what we believe in, how are we to expect our children to act as we believe?  IF we aren’t reading our scriptures, how can we ask our children to?  If we are watching inappropriate TV shows and movies, how can we ask our children to watch appropriate TV?  If we aren’t being honest, how can we ask them to?

As the nearest relative declined, Boaz took Ruth to wife and they had Obed.  It was through Obed’s line that we have King David and eventually Jesus Christ.

Next, let’s move onto the book of Samuel.

Hannah was childless.  Each year she went to the temple to pray and weep.  She gave the Lord a promise.

1 Samuel 1:11

And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

What does this promise say about Hannah?

In some ways, I struggle with her prayer.  It seems to me like she is bargaining with the Lord.  But, maybe the difference in her bargaining is that she is making more than a bargain, but a promise.  A promise that the Lord knew she would keep.

Eli, at the temple saw Hannah as she was in prayer.  I thought it was interesting how this conversation went as well and would like us to take a second and read what was said…

Samuel 1:12-15

12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth.

13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.

14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.

15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.

President Hugh B Brown said “If I make errors in judging people, I want them to be on the side of mercy.”

When have you made an error in your judgment of someone?  How did you feel?

Recently, I heard a semi public figure speak at a conference.  I have followed this woman’s writings for a couple of years now.  But as I’ve read her writings, I have really struggled with the tone of her writings.  I felt as if she was very high on herself and that everything was wonderful because of the work that she does while giving only lip service to the Lord’s role.  I actually considered leaving before her speech at the conference, because of how I had judged her.  Instead of rolling my eyes during her speech, I was wiping my eyes.  I had completely misjudged her tone.  She was actually very humble, caring and gave all the credit to the Lord.

Eli sent Hannah home from the temple with the promise that the Lord would bless her.  She left in peace and did indeed conceive.  Once she had weaned her son, Samuel, she took him to the temple to begin his service to the Lord.  He was probably around 3 at the time.

Do you think she ever hesitated to fulfill her part of the promise?

How have we been asked to serve?

What are some words that describe each of these 3 women?

***Next Sunday the scriptures are 1 Samuel 2–38

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