The Story of Ruth in Living Pictures

Ruth 1,22, The barley harvest was beginning, mat10138adjzzz

 Ruth 1:22 tells us that when Ruth and Naomi arrived back in Bethlehem, the barley harvest was just beginning.  The barley harvest came first, in April, followed by the wheat harvest, usually in May.  This beautiful scene shows a field of ripe barley and a couple of people harvesting with a sickle.

Ruth 2,3, She began to glean in the fields behind the harvesters, mat10135adjzzz

This staged scene shows Ruth, in the dark colored clothing, second from the left, gleaning after the workers in the field as she was told to do by Naomi.  (Ruth 2: 1-3)  Boaz is the man on the left, the wealthy owner of the field.

Ruth 2,14, At mealtime Boaz said, Come, have some bread, mat10148adjzzz

When it was time for lunch, Boaz invited Ruth to eat with him along with his workers. This was unusually kind treatment for a gleaner, and Ruth was impressed.  Boaz shared his bread and wine vinegar with Ruth.  (Ruth 2: 14)  The tableau is photographed in a field near Bethlehem, with some city buildings visible in the distance.

Ruth 2,15, Even if she gathers among the sheaves, mat10178adjzzz 

Then Boaz instructed his men to leave extra for her to glean as they went on with the harvest. (Ruth 2: 15-16)

Ruth 3,1, My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, mat10145adjzzz

This photo depicts Ruth returning home to Naomi with her gleanings at the end of the day.  (Ruth 2:18-20)  The exact location of the photograph is not known.

Ruth 3,15c, Six measures of barley, mat10167adjzzz

Ruth and Naomi devised a plan for Ruth to seek Boaz as a kinsman-redeemer.  Ruth would ask Boaz to marry her, since he was a relative of her deceased husband. When she asked him, Boaz was pleased and poured out 6 measures of grain for her to take back to Naomi.  (Ruth 3:9-15) The threshing floor in the picture shows several mounds of threshed grain, each mound perhaps owned by a different landowner

.Ruth 3,18, Wait, my daughter, until you find out, mat10187adjzzz

This photograph shows the two women, acting as Naomi and Ruth, together in a simple kitchen. Ruth is hand-threshing her sheaves. Naomi is cooking in a dutch oven over a small fire, anachronistic though it is.

Ruth 4,16, Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap, mat12950adjzzz

Eventually, Ruth and Boaz marry and have a son.  Ruth 4:13-17 tells us that Naomi takes the son and cares for him.  His name is Obed, who one day becomes the father of Jesse, who later fathers David, who becomes king.

Many of these photographs are included in my Bible study for teens: Ruth and Boaz: Woman of Excellence, Man of Honor.  

The photos are in the public domain, but I encourage you to view these as part of Todd Bolen’s wonderful set Life in the Holy Land, available on his website,

The costuming in the Ruth story reenactments is curious. I have had people ask me why they are dressed as muslims. I don’t believe the outfits are “muslim” but I admit they look a little strange. It could be that this was the customary attire at the time the photos were taken. Perhaps the colony itself wore distinctive garb. The international derivation of the colony may have contributed to its unusual manner of dress. In any case, the depiction of scenes from the story of Ruth is accurate. The photos, taken in Bethlehem, near the site of the original Biblical events, depict the reality of the 1920s landscape, now much changed.

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