The story of Ruth might seem a minor plot in the grand scheme of the Biblical narrative since it bears relatively little effect on the further events in it. However, as Samjung Kang-Hamilton explains in the story of her personal journey, the character of Ruth represents the embodiment of Christian values such as faithfulness, love, compassion, and loyalty. Therefore, the character of Ruth should be seen as one of the principal role models that represent the ideas of charity, empathy, and fidelity.
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Ruth’s personality might seem nearly nonexistent at first due to her humility and the lack of need to place herself in the limelight. However, as Kang-Hamilton continues to weave her narrative about Ruth, it becomes evident that Ruth’s actions define her as an extraordinarily loyal, strong-willed, and brave person. Ruth’s decision not to abandon her mother-in-law after the death of her husband but, instead, to support her was unprecedented for the time period, which implies that she was astonishingly loyal and committed. The described character trait harkens back to Kang-Hamilton’s own personal journey since the author mentions at some point that she used to be quite indecisive about her stance on faith and Christianity. Namely, Kang-Hamilton recalls the following: “My practice went off and on for a while until my father told me that I should either commit or not and not be lukewarm” (Kang-Hamilton 48). Therefore, by emphasizing the commitment and faith of Ruth, Kang-Hamilton also addresses her own development.
Due to her humility, the role of Ruth in the story might seem minor at first. However, after further considerations of the effects that Ruth’s decision to stay with her mother-in-law entailed, one will have to recognize the importance of Ruth’s character in the Biblical narrative. Ruth embodies the Christian qualities and values that inspire believers and encourage them to improve and follow the word of God. Thus, the influence that Ruth produces on other characters in the story also becomes more apparent with the described considerations in mind. Namely, she turns into the role model for other characters to follow to become faithful and loyal Christians. As the author explains, “Ruth the Moabite becomes the ideal Israelite. It is not where you are born, but how you act that counts” (Kang-Hamilton 48). Ruth affects others by turning into an implicit leader, serving as a role model and a guide.
However, apart from representing a strong personality, Ruth also shows a rather peculiar character arc of her own. The humble nature that she used to show at the beginning of her life journey gradually transforms into a much more assertive and decisive personality while retaining her initial humility. Ruth’s character arc culminates with her famous words: “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die – there will I be buried” (New International Version, Ruth 1:16-1:17). This decision marks the development of devotion and compassion in Ruth, allowing her to gain agency and giving her an opportunity to become a leader.
Although the role of Ruth in the larger context of the Biblical narrative might seem minor, the qualities that she represents, including mercy, empathy, and loyalty, place her among some of the crucial role models in the Bible. Exploring the character of Ruth, Kang-Hamilton emphasizes the resilience that Ruth shows and the emotional support that she offers to her mother-in-law. Thus, the character of Ruth is shown as a combination of humility, fidelity, and empathy, which can be regarded as central Christian qualities. Consequently, Ruth, while playing a relatively minor role in the Biblical context, becomes an essential figure in it due to the ideas that she promotes and the values to which she introduces the reader.
Kang-Hamilton, Samjung. “A Stranger’s Journey: Lessons from Ruth.” Restoration Quarterly, vol. 62, no. 1, 2020, pp. 47-53.
The Bible. New International Version, Zondervan Publishing, 2011.