Misha along with Ikuzu and Zanaki
translators studying Ruth
realized that I had misunderstood the book when we were looking at possible
pictures to use in Ruth. One of the
Zanaki translators said, "We must have one of Grandma Naomi with the baby on
her lap, because that is the climax of the story!"
I have always thought of the climax of the book being when Boaz and Ruth are
married, because I'm used stories that have a goal of the guy and girl getting
married and living happily ever after.
However, the way the story was intended is that the great moment of the
story is when Ruth gives birth to a son.
Boaz and Ruth getting married merits about a third of a verse (Ruth
4:13a) and the son's birth and the joy surrounding that event takes up about
nine and two-thirds verses (Ruth 4:13b-22).
Boaz was a wealthy man and could provide for Ruth and Naomi while he was
alive, but he was probably old and likely to die before Ruth would, which would
have left her a penniless widow once again.
The inheritance goes to sons, not wives!
In this instance of levirate marriage (inheriting the wife of your dead
brother/relative and having children that would be considered his), Ruth's son
would inherit her first husband's property.
So the true great moment of the story is the son's birth, because only
then did Naomi and Ruth have a provider.
though this idea is not in my worldview, it is how Naomi and Ruth thought about
things, and it's how Ikizu and Zanaki people think, too. In most Tanzanian cultures, women who do not
have sons are desperate for one, because without one, they have nobody to
provide a home for them if their husband dies or leaves them. So even though I've studied the Bible and am
supposed to be advising the translators, they definitely understood the story
of Ruth much better than I did!