Category Archives: Book of Ruth

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 20 – Mad Widow

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 20

Mad Widow

Boaz thought of the young woman riding with him, her head at times leaning against his back when she became drowsy. He was uncomfortable with the close physical proximity of such an attractive woman. She was still wearing the elegant dress in which the Philistines had clothed her, in place of the rags in which she had arrived from Bethlehem. It was a light blue gown that offset her lustrous red hair. Boaz could sense Ruth’s comfort and feeling of security riding with him, so he did nothing to disturb her. But it made his pain at the recent loss of Vered sharper. He should not be riding with Ruth, he concluded. What will people say if they see us? Boaz thought. They approached the town of Socheh, Amitai’s hometown, yet his thoughts remained focused on Ruth.

Ruth the Moabite was an enigma to Boaz. He had felt an irrational compulsion to rescue her from King Perath of Ashkelon. He had recruited his dearest friend, Amitai, that canny, resourceful old soldier to accompany them. Together with Ehud they had managed to retrieve Ruth, but in the end, Amitai gave up his life to save Ruth from a barrage of arrows. Now Boaz needed to return the arrow-riddled corpse to Zelda. He did not look forward to that encounter, but at least it would be a reprieve from riding with Ruth. Ruth. Why couldn’t he stop thinking about her?




“You killed him!” Zelda shrieked as she pounded feebly on Boaz’s chest. “You took my Amitai away from me!”

Zelda was surrounded by her children, grandchildren and neighbors as the large stone to Amitai’s tomb was rolled shut. The assembly stood by the side of a hewed limestone mountain, now the site of an ancestral burial place. A hot wind stirred the tall oaks that guarded the remains of their ancestors. Zelda’s friends and relatives shifted restlessly, confused as to how to deal with the angry widow.

“Zelda, there is nothing I can say to console you,” Boaz answered gently. “I am deeply grieved by the loss of Amitai. He was my oldest, dearest friend. But know this. He died happy. He was more alive in Ashkelon than he had been in years. He single-handedly destroyed half of the Philistine fortifications. He used that brilliant intellect of his to fight our enemies. He did things most mortals could never dream of.”

“What do I care if he died happy,” Zelda retorted angrily. “He left me. He knew he wasn’t coming back, that scoundrel. He wanted to die and you gave him the opportunity. Oldest friend! Pfah! What good has that ever done for me?”

“Zelda, please believe me that Amitai loved you and loved life. But our mission was important.”

“Important? You are telling me what’s important? You go prancing around the country to reclaim some pretty Moabite heathen! You should be ashamed of yourself, Boaz. At your age? Your own Vered is not dead more than a few days and you’re already cavorting with this young thing? An elder of the tribe no less? Don’t lecture me about important missions, Boaz. You’re nothing but a dirty old man and my husband paid with his life for your wild escapade.”

Boaz stood flabbergasted at Zelda’s accusations. He looked guiltily at Ruth and at the attentive assembly, not knowing how to respond to Amitai’s grieving, irrational widow.

Ruth stepped forward and took Zelda’s hand in her two own hands. Zelda took a surprised step back as the crowd murmured at the impudent approach.

“Zelda, wife of Amitai the Maverick, of the Tribe of Judah,” Ruth intoned loud enough for the entire assembly to hear. “I too lost my husband not long ago. He was cut down in the prime of his years by a burning arrow to his heart. He was Mahlon son of Elimelech, Prince of Judah. I am, like you, a widow of Judah. But I am forever in your debt. In your debt and that of your heirs for all generations for the kindness and the sacrifice and the bravery Amitai showed me. I don’t know if we can ever be consoled for our losses. We can only strive to keep the memory of our beloveds alive, to pass it on to future generations, that they should know that such men existed. All of my offspring, should God bless me with any, shall know and honor the memory of Amitai the Maverick. That is all I can offer you. That and my friendship and the allegiance of one as lowly and humble as myself, should you choose to accept it.”

Ruth knelt at Zelda’s feet and kissed the older woman’s hand in the ancient ritual of submission and allegiance. Zelda looked in shock at the young Moabite at her feet. She looked at her family, the large family they had been blessed with. She looked at their friends and neighbors. She looked at Boaz, Amitai’s lifelong friend, and knew that Amitai had been ever happy during their adventures, even during their battles and important missions. Yes, she told herself, they had been important and he had surely relished this last one. Tears streamed down Zelda’s eyes, but they were no longer tears of anger or blame.

“Rise, my daughter.” Zelda put out both her hands to raise the younger woman. “Rise, Ruth of Moab, for now I see why Amitai gave his life for you. You are of noble spirit, like my beloved Amitai, and we need more of such spirit in Israel. Welcome, my child. Kneel in front of no person, for you are of noble descent.”

Ruth rose, and Zelda kissed her tenderly on both cheeks.

“I accept your friendship, Ruth. You have consoled me. May God, the God of our forefathers, bless you indeed with children, and as you say, may they carry the memory of my beloved for future generations. I will now sit in my home, as a mourner, and allow friends and family to comfort me.” Zelda looked meaningfully at Boaz and walked without looking back towards her home.




Dozens of people squeezed into Zelda’s small house. She sat on the floor together with her children, their garments ripped above the heart. Strange metallic and wooden contraptions hung from the ceilings and walls, clearly works of Amitai. One was a wheel that was perpetually in motion, but with no obvious source of power. Ehud scratched his head as he gazed at Amitai’s inventions.

Boaz was happy to see that although Zelda was sad she was no longer furious. Her children and neighbors were busy recounting tales of Amitai’s exploits. Boaz himself described in great detail how Amitai’s smoke bombs had saved one of the militia’s greatest confrontations with the Ammonites. Ehud recounted how Amitai had led the militia during the battle of Bethlehem and turned back the attack of the Philistines.

Ehud handed Amitai’s bag to the youngest son, Kewtai.

“He would have wanted you to have this,” Ehud explained. “You showed the most interest in his inventions. Be careful with that one!” Ehud blurted as Kewtai handled a heavy parcel. “Amitai destroyed an entire length of city wall with that device.”

“It really worked?” Kewtai asked excitedly.

“Yes,” Ehud confirmed. “But I think it was a combination of the power of the explosion and knowing the most effective spot to place it.”

“He must have been so happy.” Kewtai grinned. “He explained his theories of mechanical convulsions and wave propagation to me, but obviously never had a chance to test it.”

“Amitai did expound on what he was doing and was clearly delighted with the results, but we frankly didn’t understand him. I hope you will continue his important work, Kewtai.”

Boaz, Ehud and Ruth excused themselves from Zelda and her children as other neighbors came to comfort the family.

They walked to the two tethered horses. Ruth automatically walked towards Boaz’s horse. Boaz cleared his throat.

“Ehud, will you be returning with us to Bethlehem?” Boaz made it sound more like a request than a question.

“Yes, that is my plan. That sorcerer is still at large and he may yet try some further mischief.”

“Good. Perhaps it would be better if Ruth rode with you.”

“Of course.” Ehud nodded.

Ruth stiffened involuntarily and shivered slightly at the casual suggestion. Boaz mounted his horse quickly and started trotting ahead. Ehud mounted his own horse and helped Ruth up to sit behind him. She held on to the sides of the grizzled blacksmith, feeling the hard muscles underneath his robe, but missing the warmth of the older Judean.




“I will part with you here,” Boaz announced as they reached the gates of Bethlehem with the setting sun. “Ehud, would you be so kind as to take Ruth to Naomi’s house?”

“Of course,” Ehud said.

“Won’t you come to see Naomi?” Ruth suggested to Boaz. “You are her kinsman, are you not? She would be so pleased to see you, if not for some assistance.”

“No, Ruth. Not yet. I have known Naomi since we were children. She is very special, but she is also proud. A granddaughter of Nachshon, wife of a Prince, a beauty of Judah, she will not wish for me to see her humbled, me least of all. When she can lift her face again, then I will see her. It is painful for me, Ruth. Don’t think otherwise. But it is a greater kindness to forego charity than to foist it upon someone who will take it bitterly. But please return to my field, so that at least I can ensure you and Naomi will have sustenance. Have hope, Ruth, for yourself and for Naomi. With Naomi back in her house, God’s blessing is sure to return to her. Will I see you tomorrow, Ruth?”

“Yes, Boaz. I will come to your field. Thank you.”

Boaz trotted away, leaving a confused Ruth with Ehud. Ehud rode to Naomi’s house.

Ruth was surprised to find a new roof on the house and a solid door at the entrance. On the morning of her kidnapping the house had been nothing more than an empty shell. Ruth dismounted from Ehud’s horse, called a quick ‘thank you’ without looking back and ran to Naomi’s house. She knocked rapidly on the door. The door opened hesitantly revealing a sad Naomi holding a new broom.

“Ruth!” Naomi dropped the broom and hugged Ruth tightly. “I thought I had lost you! I heard wild reports of your being kidnapped. Are you well? What happened? Who would want to kidnap you? How did you get back? And what are you wearing? Let me look at you. Beautiful fabric.” Naomi expertly felt the smooth fabric of the dress as Ruth came into the house.

Ruth told her mother-in-law the entire story, except for God’s revelation to her. Ruth had yet to understand the implications of those visions and God’s word to her. Ruth complemented Naomi on the condition of the house. They sat on new chairs next to a solid oak table under a thick roof of thatch. Naomi listened attentively to Ruth’s story, amazed by the rescue and feeling a certain pride at Boaz’s involvement. She cried when Ruth told her of Amitai’s death.

“Oh, that dear Amitai,” Naomi said. “He was such a loyal friend. And poor Zelda. How will she manage without Amitai? But she is blessed with many children. They will take care of her.”

“She does have a large family, with many children and grandchildren surrounding her,” Ruth commented wistfully. “She was initially furious, especially with Boaz, but I think she has accepted Amitai’s death.”

“Good, but now we need to take care of ourselves. Will you return to Boaz’s field tomorrow?” Naomi asked.

“Yes.” Ruth answered, looking downward. “He requested that I return.”

“He has gone to inordinate lengths to save you and for that alone I am eternally grateful. It would be well that you continue gleaning in his field, at least until the end of the harvest. But we’ll need to make you another dress. It would be criminal to wear this to the fields. I bought some simple fabrics and will make something for you tonight. Don’t worry, Ruth. I’ve ordered a consignment of quality fabrics that should arrive by the end of the harvest and will allow us to support ourselves beyond the meager gleanings of the field. Just a few weeks more and our fortunes will change for the better, with God’s help.”

“Yes, with God’s help,” Ruth agreed, but she was more concerned as to how Boaz would greet her the following morning. Did he care for her? Would he push her away again?

* * * * * *


Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 19 – Visions of Goliath

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 19

Visions of Goliath

Ruth, Boaz and Ehud are on their way home, after their escape from Ashkelon, but are sidetracked by prophetic visions of the future.

“We’re lost,” Ruth declared to the moonless night as she fiddled with the compass. “Amitai’s compass was working perfectly, but it doesn’t make any sense now.”

“What’s the problem?” Boaz asked gently. He sat in front of Ruth on the stallion, following her directions as they trotted slowly on the barely visible road. They had reached an unfamiliar crossroad. Ehud rode quietly behind them on his own horse. He pulled the reins of Amitai’s stallion, still carrying Amitai’s punctured body. In their rush to escape the Philistines of Ashkelon, they hadn’t even stopped to remove the arrows protruding from Amitai’s back.

“It seemed to be pointing north,” Ruth explained, “but now it’s shifted suddenly and points in a completely different direction. I think it’s pointing southeast.”

“Interesting,” Boaz noted. “Amitai’s inventions often led to unintended consequences. Perhaps we should rest. I think we’ve put enough distance between us and any Philistine pursuit and dawn cannot be far off. We’ll be wiser when day breaks. What do you think, Ehud?”

“I’m curious as to where Amitai’s compass is pointing,” Ehud responded after some thought. “That is not normal behavior. If you have the strength, I would investigate further.”

“Fine. Onwards then,” Boaz said in the middle of the crossroad. “Where to, Ruth?”


Boaz led them slowly on the dark road. They crossed a stream, the horses’ hooves sloshing in the shallow water and making pleasant crunching sounds on the river rocks.

“Left,” Ruth announced. They followed the path of the stream eastward.

“Stop!” Ruth blurted. “The compass has gone mad! It is spinning wildly!”

“Let’s see what we can find.” Ehud dismounted and tied his and Amitai’s horses to a nearby willow. Boaz helped Ruth down from the stallion, dismounted and tied his horse next to Amitai’s, looking unhappily at the body of his beloved friend.

“Right here,” Ruth said by the side of the river. “The compass has gone berserk. I’ve never seen anything move so quickly!”

“Do you feel it?” Ehud asked Boaz and spread out his arms.

“Yes, the energy,” Boaz agreed, spreading out his arms as well.

“This location is of great spiritual force,” Ehud explained. “I have not felt anything this strong except for the Tabernacle at Shilo.”

“The Cave of the Patriarchs also,” Boaz added. Ehud nodded his agreement and sat cross-legged on the ground, beside the meandering stream. Boaz and Ruth sat facing him on either side.

Ehud closed his eyes and breathed slowly. After a few moments Ehud was in a trance.

Ehud, God said.

I am here, Lord, Ehud responded with his thoughts. What is this place?

It is a Defining Place. The history of the Children of Israel will be shaped here.

What are we to do?

Touch their minds and I will show you.

Ehud sent his thoughts to his two companions. Boaz and Ruth felt suddenly drowsy, closed their eyes and entered into a light trance. Boaz had felt God’s presence before, but Ruth shuddered at the new sensation. Her entire body tingled as she felt a presence at once foreign and familiar.

The three of them saw a vision of a massive army arrayed on a mountain range. Across the valley, on an opposing mountain range, with just a thin gurgling stream dividing them, stood a smaller, rag-tag army of the tribes of Israel.

Many years in the future, the Philistines will dominate the tribes of Israel, God’s voice echoed in their heads.

God? Ruth asked in her mind, petrified. Boaz and Ehud could hear her thoughts as well as God’s response.

Yes, my child. Do not fear. You have come under My wings and I shall safeguard you. My servants Ehud and Boaz have done well. And you, Ruth, are just beginning.

I am here, God.

Behold, your sister’s son.

A vision of a giant emerged from the ranks of the Philistine army. He had the looks and build of King Perath, but was at least twelve feet tall. He wore a heavy armor of copper that covered his entire body. Only his clean-shaven face could be seen under his helmet – his face and his eyes. Ruth recognized the eyes of Orpa in the gargantuan face. They were her own eyes. They were the eyes of their father, the cunning, vicious Eglon of Moab. Ruth shuddered and knew that no mortal force could destroy this monster. This was one of the warriors Sumahtrid had promised the Philistines and she understood immediately how the Israelites would cower before this giant.

But a savior shall rise up from Israel, God continued.

The vision moved to the Israelite camp. They saw the pavilion of the Israelite king, a tall man in armor with a long beard holding a sword in his left hand.

A Benjaminite! Ehud thought with some excitement.

Yes. A Wolf of Benjamin. He will perform mighty deeds, but for this giant only a Lion of Judah has a chance to defeat him.

They saw a young shepherd enter the pavilion. He was a handsome redhead in a simple tunic. He reminded Ruth of Mahlon. Then she saw the young man’s eyes and recognized her own eyes staring back. They contained the intelligence, the cunning, the controlled ferocity that was her bloodline. But they were mixed with a humility and faith that made Ruth think of Boaz.

This boy will overcome the giant? Ruth thought.

Only with the help of all of you, and others that I will call on at the Defining Place.

How, Lord? How will you do this? Boaz asked in his mind. How can we help someone that roams the world years after we are no longer here? These events are surely decades from now.

Time and space are the fabric of my creation. Just as I can carry a man from one edge of the sea to the other, so too, I can take him from the beginning of time until its end. I have done this with your forefathers and I shall call on them once again. Boaz, you shall be in the company of your ancestors.

What are we to do? Boaz asked.

You will each give of your particular strengths, your unique attributes at the time of need. You will infuse your spirit into that of my beloved, of my young lion, and give him the strength he needs to defeat his foe. Only with your combined efforts might he succeed and set the course of Israel’s destiny.

When will this be? Ruth asked.

You will know when the time comes. God’s presence left them. The contact between the three broke and they fell to the ground, unconscious.

Ehud was the first to reawaken with the coming of dawn. Boaz stirred, followed by Ruth. She looked around in a daze and saw the opposing mountain ranges from their vision.

“Where are we?” she asked.

“We are in the Valley of Ela, and this is the road to Bethlehem,” Ehud answered.

The blacksmith walked to the stream and absently started picking out rocks from the water. His experienced hands found the deadliest rocks for a sling-thrower. He thought of what God had said and of his own skills. Ehud was one of the best sling-throwers there ever was. He could knock a fruit out of a tree from inordinate distances, or kill a man with a single small stone. Ehud found five perfect stones and placed a small pile of them by the side of the stream together with a prayer.

Boaz looked at Ruth with newfound respect.

“God spoke to you,” he said.

“Yes, I’m still shaking. Has he spoken to you before?”

“In the past, but not so clearly, not so urgently.”

“But this is to occur years in the future? Why now? Why us?”

“It must be because of you, Ruth. Ehud and I have been in the area all along. What strength does God want from me in the twilight of my life? In my youth I could run like a gazelle. My instincts are still sharp, but you Ruth, you are the new factor in our lives.”

“We should go and attend to Amitai,” Ehud addressed Boaz and Ruth.

“Yes. Zelda will be distraught, but I think Amitai was truly happy,” Boaz replied.

The three mounted their horses with the rising sun and rode eastward to Amitai’s town. Ruth looked at the mountains of the Ela Valley on either side and recalled the vision God had shown her. She could remember the sound of the armies facing each other; the threat of destruction that the Israelites faced; the look of innocence yet determination in the redheaded shepherd, in the eyes so much like her own.

A gust of wind filled the valley as the sun rose higher in the sky. Sound reverberated off the mountain walls. Ruth thought her ears might be playing games with her, but she swore she heard the echo of a roar. She shuddered and said a silent prayer. God, may I be worthy, may I have the strength to do what you require, though I don’t know what that is.

I will be with you, was the silent answer.

* * * * * *

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 18 – Storming the Castle

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 18

Storming the Castle

Boaz, Ehud and Amitai enter Ashkelon to rescue Ruth from King Perath.

“Greetings Eglon’s Eldest. Welcome to my city. I am Perath, son of Akavish, son of Larus who came from the sea,” King Perath acknowledged Ruth as she entered the royal dining hall, followed by Orpa. Perath sat at the head of a long table with a feast laid out in front of him. A dozen guards and an equal number of servants filled the wide room. Small balconies adorned each side of the hall, providing a breathtaking view of the sea to the west and the mountains to the east, resplendent in the summer sunset.

“Sumahtrid did not lie.” Perath looked Ruth up and down. “You are as beautiful as your glorious sister. Tell me, do you have any other sisters that I should know about. It would please me to have the entire collection. The sorcerer gave me a good price for two daughters of Eglon. Perhaps I can get a bulk discount for any others?” Perath laughed at his own joke and tore hungrily into a roasted shankbone. Ruth shuddered at the mention of mad Akavish. She had heard stories of young Boaz’s nemesis, the metal-clad giant with a claw for an arm that had attacked Bethlehem decades before.

“Come, do sit down,” the large monarch requested in between mouthfuls of meat. He was one of the tallest men Ruth had ever met. Muscles bulged through his leather garments. He was clean shaven, with dark blond hair overtaken by grey. King Perath smiled at Ruth, displaying two fresh scars that ran from below his right eye down to his mouth. Ruth wondered how he got them.

“Yes, you see my battle wounds?” Perath replied to Ruth’s unspoken question. “It is a gift from your sister. She is a fighter, that one. She is sure to provide me with mighty progeny. You’ll understand if I take greater precautions with you tonight. We’ll make sure the chains are tighter this time.” Perath nodded knowingly to his chamberlain.

“I will not sleep with you,” Ruth said icily.

“Is there an echo in here?” Perath asked. “I could have sworn a daughter of Eglon said the same exact thing just a few days ago. But look at her now. Subdued. The wild woman has been tamed and has accepted her place in the order of things. You are my possession, daughter of Eglon. You will do as I please, whether you like it or not. You will bear my children and produce mighty warriors as the sorcerer has promised. There is no escape. This can be enjoyable or it can be unpleasant. It is up to you.”

Ruth said nothing in response.

“I am being quite civilized about this whole business,” Perath explained. “You see how I invite you to dine with me, treat you courteously, give you time to adjust to your new surroundings. Soon you will accept your fate as your sister has, and in time you will even appreciate it.”

Perath stared at Ruth impassively.

“What? No response? In the name of Dagon, say something, do something!”

A loud explosion rocked the palace. “Boaz,” Ruth whispered.

“What is it? Are we under attack?” Perath rose from the table and ran to the northern balcony. His guards followed him.

A large cloud of smoke and dust filled the marketplace. People screamed in pain and confusion. They could spot people through the cloud escaping the market in all directions.

“Captain! Take a unit to the marketplace!” Perath commanded. “Report to me at once any information about what happened.”

Ruth smiled as the captain and a handful of guards ran out of the hall.

“What is so humorous, daughter of Eglon?” Perath asked sharply. “You find my discomfiture amusing?”

“I am amused when arrogant men discover that all does not go as they planned.”

“Do you know the source of this attack?”

“I can speculate, but I’m sure powerful men like you do not need me to tell them who their enemies are, or who is capable of such an attack.”

“Curious how you are so talkative all of a sudden. I wonder if this is why Sumahtrid was in such a rush to leave. Did he know something I didn’t?”

“Your Majesty!” The captain returned with Boaz, Ehud and Amitai, surrounded by spear-wielding guards. Boaz smiled reassuringly at Ruth. Ruth felt her heart soar at the sight of the Judean. “The city wall by the market has collapsed,” the captain reported. “We have dead, injured and the population is in a panic. The people are yelling of invasion. It is complete chaos. I found these old Israelites at the entrance to the palace. They claim to know who is responsible, but demanded that they would only inform you personally. Only the grey-beard carried a sword.” The captain handed Ehud’s sword to the King.

“Well done, captain. Return to the market. Restore order. Kill anyone hysterical. The people must fear us more than any possible invasion, or all is lost. Send troops up and down the coast. There is no one threatening us from the sea. Has Ashdod lost its mind? Would they contemplate attacking us after we’ve just reestablished our alliance? Or is it Egypt? We would have had some prior warning if it was Pharaoh. I will interrogate these Hebrews and get to the root of it. Dismissed!”

The captain ran out of the hall, leaving half a dozen soldiers with their spears pointed at the older men.

“Speak!” Perath barked at Boaz. “What do you know of this attack?”

Boaz stepped forward and cleared his throat. He held his walking stick in front of him.

“King of Ashkelon, we know who perpetrated this attack upon your city, and furthermore we know the reason for the attack. It was not the Egyptians nor is it one of your fellow Philistine cities.”

“Is it the Phoenicians? I knew it. Those cheating money-grubbers. Their commissions are not enough. They want the whole pot.”

“It is not the Phoenicians either,” Boaz stated calmly as Amitai fiddled with a package in the large bag hanging from his shoulder.

“Whenever you’re ready,” Amitai whispered to Boaz.

“Then who did it? Spit it out already, man!” Perath yelled.

“We did it,” Boaz said.

Perath looked at Boaz in confusion. The Philistine’s face contorted to shock followed by anger.

“You and what army?” Perath raised Ehud’s sword to Boaz’s neck. “Did you use some Hebrew sorcery to bring down the wall? Your Joshua died long ago and he only did that trick once. Why? Why are you attacking me? Is it some revenge for my father’s attack of Bethlehem?”

Boaz’s eyebrows rose when he understood that Perath was Akavish’s son.

“Revenge was not our intent, though many good people died when your father attacked my hometown on my wedding day,” Boaz stated.

“Your hometown? Wedding day?” Perath stepped back. “It cannot be! Boaz? You are Boaz? The one who destroyed my father and drove him to madness?”

“Um, I had a part in killing him too,” Ehud raised his hand.

“Why are you here!?” Perath bellowed.

“You kidnapped a woman under my protection. I have come to retrieve her.”

“And do you have some magic that will spirit you and her out of Ashkelon and past my entire army?”

“Yes. Amitai!” Boaz ordered.

Amitai dropped one of his smoke bombs and threw two more to either end of the hall. Smoke quickly filled the entire room. Boaz twirled around, and with the edge of his walking stick smashed Perath and the spears surrounding the three companions.

“I’ll take my sword back if you don’t mind.” Ehud grabbed the handle of the sword from the much taller Perath.

“You’ll have to kill me first, Israelite.” Perath punched at Ehud through the smoke, grazing the blacksmith’s shoulder. Ehud smashed Perath squarely on the nose and retrieved his sword from the stunned king.

“You are not destined to die yet, Perath son of Akavish, and not by my hand, unless you bring my wrath upon yourself. Do not make the mistakes of your father, or your end shall surely be as ignoble as his.”

“Guards! Stop them! Kill the Israelites!” Perath shrieked. Ehud smashed Perath in the head with the side of his sword, knocking the big Philistine unconscious.

“Boaz! Where are you?” Ruth called into the thick mist.

“By your side,” Boaz whispered. “Were I blind, I would still find you, Ruth.” Boaz grabbed Ruth’s arm. “Amitai, get us out of here.”

“Wait, Boaz.” Ruth held tightly to his arm. “My sister is here. Orpa! Where are you? We can leave this place.”

“I’m here,” Orpa said from a few paces away. “I’m not leaving. I now belong to this place and will give birth to a Philistine prince. I’ll be somebody. Out there, even back in Kir Moav, I’m nobody. Go Ruth. Go and be blessed.”

“We’d better move fast,” Amitai said as Ehud took hold of the older man’s robe. “The smoke will dissipate very quickly and we’re running out of time.”

“Lead the way,” Boaz urged. He sensed Ruth nodding silently.

“Okay, seven paces to the right,” Amitai whispered.

Boaz closed his eyes and followed his old friend’s bright aura. Amitai threw another smoke bomb into the corridor as more soldiers approached. Boaz, sensing their dull brown auras tinged with a yellow fear, knocked them on their heads with his staff.

“Watch your step,” he warned as they walked over the fallen soldiers.

“Twenty paces to the right,” Amitai said in the smoke. He had memorized the way out of the palace.

“Fifteen paces to the left and then we hit the staircase,” Amitai announced with yet another smoke bomb. Boaz, with his eyes closed, knocked out more confused soldiers.

“We better hurry,” Amitai said as they exited the palace. Ruth let go of Boaz’s arm tentatively in the clear evening sky. Just a handful of stars peeked out of thick clouds. Soldiers were running to and fro, as people continued to yell and scream of invasion. Amitai insisted: “We have to be by the marketplace before –”

“Stop the Israelites!” a guard yelled from the balcony of the palace.

“Run!” Ehud commanded.

“You’re kidding, right?” Amitai asked, clacking his walking stick on the cobblestones.

Ehud looked around wildly and saw the fat merchant with the sedan chair and the four slaves chained to the chair. Ehud ran to the chair and knocked the merchant out of the chair. He then raised his sword towards the slaves.

“Transport my friends and then I will release you of bondage – or else you shall die where you stand!”

The slaves nodded mutely and followed Ehud.

Amitai and Boaz climbed onto the sedan. The slaves lifted them easily and followed Ehud and Ruth who ran ahead.

“Hurry up!” Ehud ordered the slaves. “Hurry up! Run as if your lives depended on it!”

They reached the marketplace and entered a realm of chaos. Stones were strewn all over the square. Homes and stalls were destroyed. People were still trapped under boulders. City residents ran to the gate to escape the destruction while people from outside ran inside for protection from the feared assault. The western side of the north city wall, beside the gate, lay in ruins. Soldiers assembled on the eastern side of the north wall, awaiting a non-existent enemy and orders from their superiors. Some of them had the presence of mind to light torches as night finally fell.

“It worked better than I expected,” Amitai grinned at the destruction he had wrought on the western side, “and we’re in time.”

“There they are!” a soldier pointed at the sedan chair as it approached the gate. “Kill the Israelites! Spare the Moabite!”

“Ehud, buy us a few more moments,” Amitai said. “The timing has to be perfect or we’ll never get out of here.”

Ehud grabbed a handful of stone fragments and slung them at the soldiers by the eastern side. He felled soldiers with deadly accuracy. The soldiers sought cover by the exposed wall to no avail. Some of them shot arrows back at Ehud, but were off the mark.

“Three, two, one. Now!” Amitai exclaimed. Nothing happened. Ehud and the Philistine soldiers stopped their volleys and looked around wondering what Amitai was counting.

Then a large explosion shook the entire city. A red blast from the western corner of the north wall sent pieces of stone into the air. The wall undulated as if the stones had turned to water and then stone fragments exploded into smaller pieces, killing half of the soldiers instantly and burying the rest.

“Perfect,” Amitai cheered as he threw another smoke bomb. The slaves followed Ehud and Ruth into the gate tunnel and exited from the other side.

“One more,” Amitai said to himself as another explosion reverberated in the tunnel. Stones came crashing down and a cloud of dust blocked up the tunnel. Just the guard tower above the tunnel remained intact, its torches shedding some meager light on the escaping Israelites.

“Shoot to kill!” a Philistine soldier commanded. A volley of arrows flew towards the Israelites. Amitai saw the starting point of the arrows, felt the speed of the wind on his cheek, knew the composition of the arrowhead and the geometry of the feathers, knew their range and in his mind’s eye saw that the trajectory would hit Ruth’s back where it would be in three seconds. Amitai was struck by a sudden vision and without thinking he jumped off of the sedan chair and intercepted the arrows with his body.

“Amitai!” Boaz yelled and jumped off the sedan chair, as Amitai rolled over on the path.

“Go, Boaz.” Amitai coughed blood. “My lung is punctured. I’m finished. It was a great way to go. I was tired of sitting on my porch being useless. Don’t mourn, my oldest friend. Tell Zelda I say goodbye and that I died happy.”

“I’m not leaving you here.” Boaz held back his tears.

“Get out of here and take care of that girl. I had a vision. Ruth,” Amitai motioned for her. “Come here, child.”

“You saved me,” Ruth said through her tears. “You don’t even know me, but you saved me.”

“Stop talking and listen.” Amitai rummaged through his bag and took out a small cup with a suspended lodestone. “This is a compass. It will show you the way when it is dark and starless like tonight. The tip points north. It will get you out of here safely. This is a gift for your line. You will have a descendant that will be the wisest man Israel has ever known. He will treasure this gift. He will use it to build God’s sanctuary. I have seen this and he will come from you, Ruth of Moab, daughter of Eglon the Tyrant. I am honored to have given up my life for you. Now get out of here.”

Amitai closed his eyes and died.

More arrows descended around the Israelites. The slaves kept the sedan chair between themselves and the city.

“We cannot leave his body to these heathens,” Boaz stated.

“We won’t.” Ehud lifted Amitai’s body and carried it to their jittery horses still tied outside the city walls. Ehud placed Amitai’s body on his grey stallion. The horse neighed uncomfortably under his master’s dead weight. Ehud then approached the slaves by the sedan chair. They cowered as Ehud raised his sword. Ehud hacked at the base of the chain against the chair, and one by one, freed the slaves.

“You are free to go,” Ehud said.

“Where?” one of the slaves asked in confusion.

“Wherever you want. You are free now.”

The slaves looked at each other in confusion and then nodded to each other.

“We will go back to our master. He fed us,” the slave said simply. The four slaves lifted the sedan chair and climbed back to the blocked gate of Ashkelon.

“We have to get out of here,” Boaz said. “The Philistines will open up that tunnel and come after us.”

“It will be easy to get lost on this moonless, starless night,” Boaz said.

“If you tell me which direction we need to go, I can tell you where it is,” Ruth declared as she studied Amitai’s compass.

“You’ve figured out how to use Amitai’s device?” Boaz asked, impressed.

“Yes, it’s simple. Let’s go.”

Ehud and Boaz climbed unto their respective horses. Ehud took the reins of Amitai’s horse in his hands. There was a moment of hesitation as Ruth wondered on whose horse to ride. She then turned to Boaz. Boaz offered his hand and lifted Ruth onto his horse, sitting her behind him.

“Hold on Ruth,” Boaz said. “We’ll get you home.”

“Home,” Ruth said as she held on to Boaz and leaned against his back, her loose red tresses flowing behind her. “That sounds nice.”

* * * * * *

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 17 – Old Warriors

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 17

 Old Warriors

Ruth finds herself in the clutches of the Philistine King of Ashkelon while Boaz and Ehud pursue her trail and get some help.

Amitai sat on the bench of his porch, the summer sun feeling good on his old bones. He reminisced about old battles and old comrades. He lived in the town of Socheh, at the western edge of the tribal portion of Judah, on the low hills between the mountain and the plain. He looked up to the Judean Mountains to his east and thought of his cousin Boaz, and the news that Vered had died. We’re getting old, Amitai thought. We’re dying. I will console Boaz after our own celebration today.

“Amitai!” his wife Zelda screamed, interrupting his thoughts. “Come here and take these rinds out of my house.”

“I’m coming woman, I’m coming. You don’t have to yell.” Old Amitai hobbled out of his chair, his gnarled hand holding a sturdy walking stick.

“A warrior, Captain of the Militia, and now I’m relegated to taking out garbage,” Amitai mumbled to himself. He entered his house, ignored his wife’s bustling activity and gathered the tough rinds of the melons Zelda had cut for their grandson’s wedding feast. Amitai took the rinds to the compost heap outside their stone house.

Two men on horseback galloped right up to Amitai, kicking up dust as they stopped abruptly and dismounted.

“Ehud? Boaz!?” Amitai gasped. “What are you doing here? I was just thinking of you. I’m sorry about Vered. But shouldn’t you be sitting in mourning? What’s the matter?”

“There’s no time to explain,” Boaz answered rapidly. “We are in pursuit of a kidnapper. He has taken a woman that is under my protection. They are heading into a Philistine city. I need your help. Get your equipment and come with us.”

“What is the meaning of this?” Zelda bellowed from the porch of the house. “My husband is not going anywhere. We have our twelfth grandson’s wedding celebration today and Amitai is too old for any more adventures. For that matter, so are you, Boaz. Leave the rescuing to younger men. Ehud here can probably still play at these games. Come, Amitai. I have more rinds for you.”

“Amitai, I need you,” Boaz pleaded. “It is a matter of life or death, and time is of the essence. Their auras are getting fainter and soon I won’t be able to track them. Please, old friend.”

“I’m coming,” Amitai answered with a smile. “One last mission. Give me a minute to get my equipment. I have some new devices I’ve been working on. Even the Philistines won’t know what hit them.”

“Where do you think you are going?” Zelda stood upright, blocking Amitai from entering their house.

“Out of my way, woman!” Amitai shoved Zelda with his free hand. “Didn’t you hear the man? We’re in a hurry. I have more important things to do than to throw out melon rinds.”

“Amitai!? What about the wedding?” Zelda cried.

“Enough of weddings. There’s a woman’s life at stake and all you can think about is yet another wedding?” Loud noises escaped from inside the house as Amitai organized his devices. He exited the house with a heavy satchel behind his back. “I’m ready. I’ll get my horse from the shed and we can be on our way.”

“Amitai?” Zelda asked as her husband mounted his grey stallion. “When will you be back?”

“Who knows? Tonight? Tomorrow? Next year? Never? A soldier never knows where his orders will take him. Goodbye, my love. Give a kiss to the bride and groom for me. Let’s go!”

The three old warriors rode west, into Philistine territory.

“Come back soon, my love,” Zelda whispered to her husband’s back.


“Orpa!” Ruth jumped out of the bed and hugged her sister. “I thought I’d never see you again! What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in Kir Moav.”

“Sumahtrid kidnapped me a few moments after I left you.” Orpa let go of Ruth. “He brought me here to Ashkelon and sold me to King Perath. Sumahtrid promised the King that I would produce the mightiest warriors to ever walk the earth. They see us as little more than breeding animals. And tonight will be your turn. But I will make the most of this. I will ingratiate myself to him as Mother did to Jalet and to our father before that. I will be Perath’s Queen and not merely a concubine.”

“I don’t understand.” Ruth looked at Orpa, not recognizing her sister’s determination. “We haven’t been able to have children for ten years. What makes them think we will all of a sudden become fertile?”

“It was Sumahtrid.” Orpa laughed harshly. “He gave our husbands potions to keep them impotent, lest the daughters of Eglon have progeny from the descendants of Nachshon the Brave. Apparently, that would be the end of his world. But I am already with child. I can feel it.”

“How do you know? Ruth asked, shocked. “It couldn’t have been more than a few days ago.”

“I feel it.” Orpa grabbed her flat stomach. “I feel the power, the beginning of a life, a very strong life. I fear what this child will become. But I will make the most of it. If I am to be the mother of a grand warrior, then I will play the part. There is no sense resisting, Ruth. Together, you and I might wield greater control over Perath.”

“I have no intention to be used as some common wench,” Ruth stated.

“That’s what I thought as well, and I resisted with all my might.” Orpa showed Ruth her scarred wrists, caked over with dried blood where manacles had cut into her skin. “But for me it is too late. I don’t know how you can escape this fate.”

“Boaz.” Ruth somehow sensed his thoughts, searching for her. “He will come for me. He’s with Ehud and some other warrior.”

“Ehud? Our father’s murderer? And who is this Boaz? How do you know this?”

“I too can feel things, sister.” Ruth placed her palm over her heart. “I have met Ehud. He is a holy and somber man. I do not blame him for killing father, for father was indeed evil and Ehud acted on the commands of God. And Boaz, Boaz is Elimelech’s nephew, also a grandson of Nachshon, as Mahlon and Kilyon were. But Boaz is more. He is kind yet strong; wise and generous. He is what Mahlon might have been had he lived and left Kir Moav.”

“You like this Boaz.” Orpa smirked.

“Boaz? I admire him. But he is much older and just recently widowed. No, I am just grateful for his kindness, protection and concern. He saw me kidnapped. Sumahtrid attacked them. He probably wants Boaz dead as well if he’s a descendant of Nachshon. But he will come. I know it.”

“How will three men release you from a fortified castle in the middle of the Philistine’s strongest city?”

“They are not ordinary men. They are men of the Hebrew God.”


“She is there.” Boaz pointed at the palace on the eastern edge of the walls of Ashkelon. He sensed Ruth’s aura as a beacon on a distant shore. The palace was the tallest structure within the strong city walls and gave the King a commanding view of the city and for miles around. The King could see the walls of Ashdod to his north and Gaza to his south. Boaz, Ehud and Amitai rode towards the city of Ashkelon and its massive northern gate.

“The sea!” Amitai exclaimed as they glimpsed the water less than a mile beyond the city walls. The setting sun reflected upon the waves with shades of orange and purple. “It has been so long since I’ve seen the sea. God, how wondrous are your creations! Blessed be the Lord who created the Great Sea!”

“Amen,” Boaz and Ehud answered. The threesome tied their horses outside the walls and approached the gate together with a steady stream of merchants and visitors. Phoenician sailors unloaded cargo from the port and carried heavy baskets, jugs and sacks. They brought spices from Sidon, Egyptian grain from Zoan and precious iron from the Aegean. A fat merchant sat on a crimson sedan chair, on the shoulders of four black slaves chained to the chair who were struggling to carry the corpulent man up the ramp into the city. The merchant stuffed grapes into his mouth and spat the seeds at unwary passersby, giggling at their annoyed reactions.

The convoy of people entered the large tunnel within the wall of the city. The three Israelites entered unmolested, though their long beards and fringed garments received curious glances, as such traditional Israelites were not frequent visitors of the Philistine cities.

“Oh! I can get such good supplies here!” Amitai gushed as they exited the tunnel and entered the lively marketplace. “Will we have time to shop?” Amitai asked as he pointed at the stalls selling rare metals.

“I don’t think so,” Boaz responded, his gaze focused on the palace towering over the rest of the city, its walls red from the evening sun.

“Oh, Boaz, please! I’ll be quick. Look! A lodestone! Do you know how hard it is to get one of those? Please!”

“Okay, okay.” Boaz smiled at his old friend. “But be quick about it. We have a rescue to plan. We can come for serious shopping another time.”

Amitai shuffled loudly, walking stick clattering on the cobblestones, until he reached the vendor. They haggled excitedly until Amitai, grinning broadly, walked back with the prized lodestone in his hand.

“This is from Anatol!” Amitai waved the lodestone. “It has the most unusual properties. It was worth the trip just for this!”

“Um, Amitai, are you forgetting something?” Boaz asked gently.

“Yes, yes, of course. Princess to rescue, castle to storm. I’ve figured out how we can do it, though I still don’t understand why you want to save Eglon’s daughter. And what about that sorcerer you mentioned? He sounds like a particularly dangerous character.”

“The sorcerer is gone,” Boaz confirmed after closing his eyes and opening them quickly. “I can no longer detect his aura nor that of his companion. They left Ruth here and have departed.”

“That makes it easier then,” Ehud said, rubbing his neck as he remembered Sumahtrid’s men of barley who had attempted to suffocate him. “What’s your plan, Amitai?”

“First we’ll want a distraction, a big distraction.” Amitai pointed to the far end of the marketplace. “That wall is perfectly positioned and that balustrade is ideally cantilevered to give a balanced seismic reverberation at the exact sympathetic harmonic to engender a multi-dimensional contortion in the fabric of the rampart continuum so as to provide a cacophony of material distortions, audiological disturbances, visual conundrums and an overall sensory assault that should serve the purpose of frightening the population and which will confuse the armed forces, and give our rescue the chance of ultimate success!”

Ehud and Boaz looked at each other in utter incomprehension.

“Now I understand why you wanted to stop for him,” Ehud said to Boaz.

“He is very handy in a tight spot. Go on, Amitai. What else do you have in mind?”

“We get ourselves captured, of course.”

* * * * * *

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 16 – Straw Men

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 16

Straw Men

 The evil sorcerer Sumahtrid attempts to kill Boaz and recapture Princess Ruth.

Ruth awoke at the first hint of dawn, not believing the dizzying events of the previous day: the unwelcome reception by the people of Bethlehem, the grueling and unfamiliar work of gleaning in the fields, Boaz’s kindness, her capture by Sumahtrid and, most surprisingly, her rescue by Ehud – her father’s murderer. Ehud was a mystery to her. Boaz, however, was a different story. Him she looked forward to seeing.

She grabbed her walking stick and her sack and set out into the main street of Bethlehem, leaving a still-sleeping Naomi behind. Other residents joined the stream of people heading towards the gate of Bethlehem and to the fields beyond. They left the protective walls of the city and walked on the road amongst the harvested fields. Ruth felt a hand touch her buttock. Instinctively, she slapped the hand with her walking stick.

“Ow!” a young man yelped, accompanied by the giggling of others. Ruth kept on walking. Another hand reached for her buttock. Ruth slammed the hand hard with her stick.

“Hey! That hurt!” the owner of the hand cried, and faded into the threatening crowd of men around Ruth. The giggling got louder. Women in the crowd walked as if nothing was occurring. Older men smirked at the younger men’s antics. Ruth sensed a third hand approaching. She smashed her stick onto the hand with all her might. The faceless hand went limp as a cry of pain stopped the procession. People moved away from the injured man, revealing a muscular youth seething in anger.

“Moabite,” the youth spat as he held his broken hand.

“Moabite,” the crowd agreed, mirroring his disdain and anger.

“I will make you regret the day you came to Bethlehem, heathen woman – and I will enjoy it.” The youth stepped closer to Ruth. Ruth slammed her stick between the youth’s legs. He doubled over in pain. Ruth smashed her stick on his head, knocking him to the floor. She pivoted with her outstretched stick, forming a complete circle, eyeing every man that looked at her.

“The next man that touches me will get the same treatment,” Ruth promised. “I am not some helpless waif, waiting to be molested by your sick appetites. I am a daughter of warriors and kings and you would do well to fear my wrath. Does anyone else require a lesson?” Ruth waved her stick.

In response, the men looked down and continued walking. The entire crowd moved forward, the old men looking aghast and the women smiling.


“Carpenter,” Naomi addressed the young man sawing a plank. “I need a door and furnishings for my house.”

“And how are you paying for it, old woman? I heard you were broke and fallen from your riches.” The young carpenter did not look up from his work.

“Listen to me, Avtzan son of Behli son of Trudem of the Shelah clan!”

The carpenter looked up at Naomi apprehensively.

“My father is the one who got your grandfather Trudem started with carpentry, before your own father was born! You will show much more respect, young man, or I will spank you as the spoiled child you are.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Better. Now let us start again. Avtzan, I would like a door and furnishings for my home. Can you help me?”

“Yes, Naomi widow of Elimelech, Prince of Judah. But there is still the matter of payment.”

“Will the wood of this wagon and the tools in it suffice?” Naomi pointed at the Moabite wagon.

Avtzan put down his plank, walked to the wagon, inspected its contents and nodded.

“I’ll work on it right away,” Avtzan said as he took the tools, weapons and chains out of the wagon.

“Very good,” Naomi smiled. “Now be a dear, and unhitch the horses for me. I have to see a thatcher about a roof.”


“There are dangerous men about.” Ehud intercepted Boaz at the gate of Bethlehem. They walked side by side to fields with the rising sun; Boaz with his walking stick and Ehud with his sword.

“More dangerous than usual?” Boaz asked.

“Yes. There is a heathen sorcerer together with his henchman. They tried to abduct the daughter of Eglon.”

“Ruth? What do they want with her?”

“I’m not sure. But perhaps I should have let them take her. She is a dangerous woman.”

“Dangerous? Are we talking about the same woman? She is a good and noble soul who has come under our protection. She is intelligent, but not dangerous.”

“She is the daughter of The Tyrant! Do you forget his evil? The subjugation?”

“I do not forget, but I do not judge the child by the parent.”

“In any case, I will stay close and keep an eye on you, both from Eglon’s daughter and from that sorcerer.”

“She is not a threat, I tell you. Spend the day in my field and see her actions. She is hardworking, modest, soft-spoken and thrifty. She saved her food for her mother-in-law. She is kind, generous and thoughtful. She was a princess who has been brought low: her husband recently murdered, exiled by her brother, living as a pauper. Yet she adjusts and adapts without complaint. Her strength of character and composure is enviable. She is neither a danger nor an enemy.”

“Now I am confused.” Ehud scratched his grey beard. “Can she be what God meant?”

“God spoke to you about her?”

“Of course!” Ehud slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand. “He mentioned a Moabite. My hatred of Eglon has blinded me. God must have meant for me to protect Ruth as well as you. I owe her an apology.”

“I see her in the field gleaning already.” Boaz pointed as they approached his land. “At lunchtime it would be best to make your apology. God be with you!” Boaz greeted his laborers.

“May God bless you!” the workers chanted in unison. The sun sparkled and the grain shone for a moment at the mention of God’s name.


“Here they are,” Sumahtrid whispered to Beor as they lay amidst the stalks of barley in Boaz’s field. “This way they cannot surprise us. Ehud is powerful, but you will kill Boaz first. He is the old man with the white beard and the grandson of Nachshon the Brave. The blood of Nachshon cannot be allowed to mate with the daughter of Eglon. I will grab the princess and keep Ehud busy. Do not engage Ehud. I have a surprise for him. As soon as you’ve killed Boaz, join me and we will escape with the princess. Do you understand? You will join me when I call you or after you’ve killed Boaz.”

“Boaz.” Beor pointed his sword at the old man standing with Ehud by the watchman’s house.

“Good. Now to work.” Sumahtrid stood up amongst the waist-high stalks surrounding him on all sides. He stretched out his arms, closed his eyes and chanted:

“Yaalu shibboleth, yaalu. Ish hasadeh, tehiye. Tochal lechem bayit ve’kzirchah kzor. Yaalu shibboleth!”

The stalks all around Sumahtrid rustled violently. The barley clumped together and took on form. They grew to a man’s height and width. Two arms grew out of the clump, followed by a faceless head, and then two legs differentiated themselves below the torso of grain. Two dozen men of barley stood above their shorter cousins in their field of birth, around the chanting sorcerer.

Beor looked in wonder at the men of straw and ran with sword extended towards an aghast Boaz. The army of straw men followed Beor towards Boaz and Ehud.

“We’re under attack!” Ehud yelled, unsheathing his sword. “To your master!” Ehud commanded Boaz’s workers. “Rally around your master!”

Boaz’s young men, sickles in hand, ran to intercept the walking stalks. Ehud stood in front of Boaz and prepared for Beor’s attack. Beor feigned a thrust towards Ehud, but then somersaulted over the blacksmith’s head, landing in front of Boaz. A dozen stalks surrounded Ehud with more approaching quickly. Ehud beheaded one of the stalks, but the stalk kept moving. Boaz’s men attacked the other stalks, cutting their heads and arms with their sickles, but to no avail. The stalks pressed themselves against Ehud, locking him in a cage of barley.

Meanwhile, Beor attacked Boaz. Beor stabbed, but Boaz merely stepped out of the way, rapping Beor on his head with the walking stick.

“Who are you?” Boaz asked. “Why are you attacking me?”

Beor responded with another slash that Boaz turned aside with his stick.

“Young man, that is quite rude,” Boaz said.

“Rude,” Beor repeated.

“We can agree to that.” Boaz danced nimbly around Beor’s attack. “But you haven’t answered my question. Who is the sorcerer? Why do you want me dead?”

“Dead!” Beor repeated with glee and attacked Boaz with wild abandon.

Most of the women fled the field. Ruth followed the men to assist Boaz and Ehud.

“Not so fast, princess.” Sumahtrid grabbed Ruth from behind. “Yaalu shibboleth, yaalu,” he said under his breath. “We were interrupted from our planned excursion last night. “Yaalu shibboleth, yaalu.” He repeated, not taking his eyes off the walking stalks.

“Oh, God! Help!” Ruth yelled as she struggled against the strong sorcerer.

The sorcerer visibly weakened when she said ‘God’ and the walking stalks froze for a moment.

“Their legs!” Ehud yelled as the stalks crushed the blacksmith, taking his breath away. “Try the legs!”

Boaz’s men hacked at the straw legs. The men of barley fell, giving Ehud a short respite, but the legs quickly regenerated and the straw men were up again, suffocating the life out of Ehud.

“Yaalu shibboleth, yaalu.” Sumahtrid chanted as he backed away from the field with the resisting princess.

“God!” Ruth yelled, testing her theory.

Sumahtrid doubled over as if he had been punched. The stalks froze for a moment.

“Yaalu shibboleth, yaalu.” Sumahtrid repeated forcefully, giving new life to the stalks.

Boaz weaved and twisted away from Beor’s sword. He closed his eyes to call on his old power, on Isaac’s Sight. He saw the red aura of the swordsman in front of him. The swordsman was a child in a man’s body: a simpleton who had been trained to kill from a young age, a slave who knew no other life other than to obey the commands of his evil master. Boaz saw the aura of Ehud a few feet in front of him. Ehud’s aura glowed like the sun, yet he was now struggling for his life. Boaz’s men had a spectrum of auras. Blue bravery mixed with yellow fear. Some even had a red bloodlust excited by the fighting. Then he perceived the auras of Ruth and the sorcerer. The sorcerer had a black aura. A deep dark hole that sucked in any good it touched. The man was the most evil person Boaz remembered seeing in many years. But Ruth! Ruth shone: a white light of purity, of strength, of nobility that he rarely encountered. She reminded Boaz of his beloved Vered – such a strong and good spirit.

“Boaz!” Ruth called out as Sumahtrid dragged her further away. “Declare your greeting to your workers!”

“What?” Boaz asked, tiring under Beor’s attacks. “Now is not the time for niceties!”

“Call out in the name of God!” Ruth cried. “It weakens them!”

Boaz nodded in comprehension.

“Men!” Boaz addressed his workers, slashing at the legs of the stalks. “Answer me. God be with you!”

“May God bless you!” the men answered automatically. The stalks all froze. Ehud gasped for air. A moment later, the stalks resumed crushing the blacksmith.

“God be with you!” Boaz cried again.

“May God bless you!!” the men shouted, having seen the effect. Several of the stalks disintegrated. Ehud’s sword arm was free and he was able to breathe again. He sliced a stalk in half. A dozen stalks remained, closing in on Ehud again.

“God be with you!” Boaz yelled.

“MAY GOD BLESS YOU!!! The men screamed with all their might. All the remaining men of barley exploded into simple individual stalks, spraying harvested barley into the air.

“That’s enough out of you, woman,” Sumahtrid said angrily and smashed Ruth on the head, rendering her unconscious. “Beor!” Sumahtrid called urgently. “To me!”

Beor disengaged from Boaz and ran towards Sumahtrid, stabbing two surprised workers on the way. Sumahtrid handed a limp Ruth to Beor. Beor hoisted her over his shoulder and together with Sumahtrid ran to the road. A merchant approached them on a wagon filled with cabbage. Sumahtrid and Beor stood in the middle of the road, stopping the merchant. Sumahtrid pulled the merchant out of the wagon and threw him roughly unto the road. Beor dumped Ruth onto the bed of cabbage and took the reins. Sumahtrid and Beor were quickly out of sight, with the Moabite princess sleeping on heads of cabbage.

Boaz and Ehud watched in frustration as they escaped, but stopped to deal with the wounded men.

“We need to get them to the healer, now!” Boaz said as he ripped part of his tunic. He placed the fabric on the men’s wounds, stemming the flow of blood.

“What about the princess?” Ehud asked, helping Boaz bandage the men.

“I will find her, but my men will die if I don’t take care of them now.”

“How will you find her? They will be long gone by the time we take care of your men.”

“I have seen her aura. There is no wall strong enough, no tower high enough, no cave deep enough, that can hide her from me. You were right, Ehud. She needs to be protected. We will find her.”


Ruth felt a soft but firm bed underneath her. A smooth blanket covered her. A pleasant breeze entered the room. The wind tasted of salt. She heard the lap of waves in the distance. She hadn’t been this comfortable since the days in her father’s palace in the City of Palms. Was it all some evil dream? Was she still the innocent and pampered princess, daughter of Eglon the Tyrant?

Ruth feared opening her eyes, feared returning to reality. Her head throbbed where Sumahtrid had hit her. It was true, she thought. Tears came unbidden to her eyes. It’s all true. It all really happened. This nightmare. But where am I?

Curiosity overtook her fears and she opened her eyes.

“Good morning, sister.” Orpa, dressed regally, greeted Ruth with her characteristic aplomb. “Welcome, to Ashkelon, Philistine city. Tonight you sleep with the King, my lover.”

* * * * * *

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 15 – My Father’s Killer

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 15

My Father’s Killer

Ehud, atop the ramparts of Bethlehem, peered impassively into the darkness. He had seen Boaz return from the field with his workers. He overheard the workers discussing Ruth’s gleaning in the field, but she had yet to return. Ehud twirled his sword absently and recalled killing her father. Ehud had worked exhaustively on that special sword. He was sorry it had remained in the belly of the fat monarch all those years ago. He still didn’t know how word of the assassination had spread. Had one of the princes figured out how Ehud had killed Eglon? Had there been a secret observer that Ehud hadn’t noticed?

Ehud heard screaming in the distance. He climbed down from the rampart and ran out of the gate, past the guards and into the night. He saw a wagon in the distance. He ran faster than the casually trotting horses.

“Is there a problem?” Ehud appeared in front of Sumahtrid’s wagon. Ehud’s stocky outline, grey beard and sword glimmered in the pale light of the moon. Beor stopped the horses abruptly, their hoofs pawing the night air as they neighed in protest.

“Get out of our way,” Sumahtrid said. “We have important business and don’t have time for petty disturbances.”

“Help me!” Ruth cried, pulling noisily against her chains.

Ehud ran between the two horses and jumped into the wagon, launching himself behind Sumahtrid and Beor. He slashed at the side of the wagon where Ruth’s chains were set. Both her arms were freed, with the loose long chains still manacled to her wrists. Beor spun and slashed at Ehud before he had a chance to cut Ruth’s leg chains from their housing. Ehud parried and counter-attacked.

“The girl is mine!” Sumahtrid stood on the wagon and raised his arms. “You will not take her from me, meddler. I shall strike you down. By Horus and Shapsu, Anu and Enlil,” Sumahtrid chanted and waved his arms, “freeze this man’s blood until he is st-”

A metal chain slammed into Sumahtrid’s face, knocking him over the wagon. A second chain wrapped itself around Beor’s neck. Ruth pulled hard on the chain, putting space between Beor and Ehud. Ehud kicked Beor in the chest, sending him over the side of the wagon. Ruth pulled on the chain again, releasing it from Beor’s neck.

“Quick!” she told Ehud. “Grab the reins and take us back to Bethlehem.”

“Good thinking.” Ehud sat in the driver’s seat, took the reins and drove the wagon towards Bethlehem. Ruth sat inside the wagon, as close to the front as her ankle chains would allow. They were quickly on their way back to the walled city, leaving Sumahtrid and Beor moaning in the dust of the dark road.

“You saved me,” Ruth turned to Ehud. “You are Ehud, aren’t you? It has been many years.”

“Yes, Princess. And I may have to kill you.”

“So why did you save me?”

“I try not to be impulsive when killing.”

“That’s a consolation,” Ruth said with uncharacteristic sharpness. “I take it your murder of my father was well planned. I may have been better off with Sumahtrid after all.”

“Your father was ready to kill every firstborn of Israel – as your wedding dowry. It was God’s will that Eglon be killed and his army destroyed. What does that sorcerer want with you?”

“I don’t know. He said something about needing the blood of the daughter of Eglon.”

“Sorcerers.” Ehud spat. “And why are you gleaning in the field of Boaz?”

“Boaz? I just happened upon his field.” Ruth patted the grain-filled bag, still on her back. “Is it a crime to glean in the field of a good man?”

“It is no crime, unless you are the daughter of the murderous Moabite Tyrant and it is the field of an important man like Boaz. I am tasked to safeguard Boaz and you are a threat.”

“A threat? I have never been a threat to anyone in my life! I am destitute, homeless, friendless, and you consider me a threat? You are the underhanded assassin! You are the one who took advantage of my father’s friendship, of his trust, and stabbed him as he stood unarmed and unaware. Everyone has now heard of the assassination. His servants originally thought he had died of natural causes, while in the ensuing confusion you routed the army. I also heard from Mahlon how you killed Pharaoh. No, Ehud. You are the dangerous one. You are likely the most dangerous man I’ve ever met.”

“My people and my God need me to be dangerous. Our enemies are strong, powerful and many. I kill them as a necessity. But that is not the point, Princess. I saw you wield that chain against the sorcerer and his driver. You are a perilous woman and I shall keep a close eye on you. If I see you approach Boaz in a threatening fashion, I will assume the worst. I will be watching.”

“Did you enjoy killing my father?”

“No. He was evil. He was treacherous. He was heartless. He was cruel. But he was charismatic. He did show friendship in his warped way. That’s why I will keep a close eye on you, Princess. You are sweet and needy and likeable, but you are still Eglon’s daughter and that makes you potentially hazardous. But come, it will not do for a princess to enter the city in chains.” Ehud stopped the wagon outside the city. He found the keys to the manacles and removed them from her wrists and ankles.

“Shoddy workmanship,” the blacksmith in him commented as he threw the chains to the back of the wagon. Ruth sat next to Ehud at the front of the wagon as he drove on.

“Do you live here?” Ruth asked as they entered the gate of Bethlehem. The guards recognized Ehud and raised their eyebrows at the Moabite riding with him.

“No. I live further north in the tribe of Benjamin.” Ehud stopped the wagon in front of Naomi’s house and jumped out of the driver’s seat, landing easily on the ground. “You can keep the wagon, Princess. You need it more than I do. Farewell.” Ehud disappeared into the night.

Ruth looked with incredulity where Ehud had stood. She got off the wagon and tied the horses to the side of Naomi’s house. A door had not yet appeared since she had left in the morning. She walked into the roofless house and found Naomi sleeping on the floor on a pile of straw. Naomi stirred at the sound of Ruth’s footsteps.

“Elimelech? Is that you?” Naomi asked groggily.

“No, mother. It is I, Ruth,” she answered, holding back tears at the mention of her decade-dead father-in-law.

“Oh, Ruth. Yes. I remember. I’m so weak.” Naomi rolled over on the straw.

“Come, mother. I have food for you. Sit up and eat.” Ruth gently lifted Naomi off the floor. “Here, have this.” Ruth pulled a half-eaten pita from out of her pocket. The remains of her lunch by the field of Boaz. It seemed like ages ago. She handed it to Naomi, the bread still warm from having been next to her body.

Naomi held the pita in her hands, unsure what to do with it.

“Slowly,” Ruth suggested. “Chew slowly.”

Naomi bit suddenly into the bread. She ate half the bread ravenously and then, just as suddenly, stopped. She closed her eyes, still holding the bread and whispered: “thank you.”

Ruth took the bag of grain off her back and showed it to Naomi.

“You gleaned all of this today?” Naomi’s eyes opened wide. “Where? Who’s field? He should be blessed!”

“The man’s name is Boaz. He was very kind.”

“Boaz! Boaz!” Naomi cried. “Oh, Vered! How I miss you. Boaz is my nephew. His wife, Vered, was my dear friend. She just died. He was always so strong, so good. God has not forgotten me. God has shown kindness to the living and the dead. Boaz is Mahlon’s cousin.”

“But Mahlon was so much younger.”

“Yes. Boaz’s father, Salmoon, was the oldest of the children of Nachshon, older than my own father, and much older than Elimelech or their youngest sibling, Ploni. Boaz is closer in age to his uncles.”

“He told me to glean from his field until his men have finished the harvest.”

“Good. That is very good. Stay with his maidens and glean in his field. Don’t go to anyone else’s field. Remain under his protection.”

“If he is your nephew and is obviously wealthy, why don’t you ask him directly for help?”

“I can’t. I can’t.”


“It is too embarrassing. I was a princess. I was the princess of Judah. Here. At one point I was feeding most of the families of Bethlehem. I can’t ask. I can’t beg here – I would die of embarrassment. But you have done well, my daughter, very well. Just on this grain we can live for a few days. We can start buying other things that we need.” Naomi looked up at the missing roof.

“I have a solution for that!” Ruth announced. “I’ve received a gift. A wagon with two horses. We can sell them and get a new door, a roof, some furniture, some supplies – the house will be livable once again.”

“A wagon with horses? Who would give such a gift?” Naomi looked at Ruth, wondering if she had been in the sun too long.

“It was given to me by my father’s killer, Ehud son of Gera of the tribe of Benjamin.”

Naomi froze at the mention of Ehud’s name. She remembered all the times Ehud had fought with Elimelech. Every time, Elimelech had been on the wrong side – disastrously so. The civil war, the rebellion against Eglon. She shuddered when she thought of the famous assassin and all she could answer was: “dangerous man.”


“Get up you buffoon!” Sumahtrid kicked the prone Beor. Beor stirred and growled. “Get up! We can’t stay here. That Israelite has found us out. We need to find more information and recapture Ruth.” Sumahtrid grabbed Beor roughly and dragged him to his feet. Beor was conscious enough to pick up his sword.

“Ruth,” Beor grumbled.

“Yes, Ruth, the princess. There are still descendants of Nachshon in this city. If she should mate with one of them it would be disastrous. Our work of the last ten years would be destroyed. A savior would come from Israel. We must stop that at all costs.”

“Costs,” Beor stood up straighter as the two of them walked away from Bethlehem.

“There will be a cost. It may be safer just to kill the remaining descendants. Ploni, youngest son of Nachshon, and Boaz, the old warrior.”

“Warrior?” Beor asked nervously.

“Do not worry. Boaz is ancient and his fighting days are long over. I’m more concerned about the warrior who stole Ruth. It must have been Ehud of Benjamin. But how did he find us? He will be a greater challenge.”

“Challenge.” Beor raised his sword.

“In due time. Ruth is likely to return to the field to glean. We shall wait for her there and then strike.”

“Strike!” Beor stabbed the air.

“Not her, you dunce!” Sumahtrid smacked Beor on the back of the head. “Her we want alive. Ehud is the enemy.”

“Enemy,” Beor said quietly.

Sumahtrid did not notice Beor looking straight at him.

* * * * * *

Biblical Source:

Book of Ruth, Chapter 2

18 And she took it up, and went into the city; and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned; and she brought forth and gave to her that which she had left after she was satisfied. 19 And her mother-in-law said unto her: ‘Where hast thou gleaned to-day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee.’ And she told her mother-in-law with whom she had wrought, and said: ‘The man’s name with whom I wrought to-day is Boaz.’ 20 And Naomi said unto her daughter-in-law: ‘Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off His kindness to the living and to the dead.’ And Naomi said unto her: ‘The man is nigh of kin unto us, one of our near kinsmen.’ 21 And Ruth the Moabitess said: ‘Yea, he said unto me: Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.’ 22 And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter-in-law: ‘It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, and that thou be not met in any other field.’


Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 14 – Harvest of Hope

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 14

Harvest of Hope

Pangs of hunger awoke Ruth on the cold stone floor. She felt the rhythmic breathing of Naomi still sleeping with her head on Ruth’s shoulder. Dawn had not yet arrived. Ruth heard a few sparrows chirping in anticipation. She closed her eyes again as she tried to blot out the memory of the past two days: Mahlon murdered, the still burning arrow in his chest; escaping Kir Moav and the wrath of her mad brother, King Zipor; trekking in the desert after her sad and broken mother-in-law to her hometown in Judea, only to receive a cold and friendless welcome; finding Naomi’s old home a dilapidated wreck. She remembered the comfort of her old bed in the palace, of the sumptuous breakfast served to her in the royal dinning room. It seemed like a lifetime ago.

Ruth’s hunger forced her to open her eyes. The sky barely brightened as the dawn announced the new day. Doves, warblers and even crows joined the sparrows in a chorus of song as the last stars faded from overhead. Ruth tried to move without waking Naomi. Naomi stirred, opening her eyes slightly.

“Where are we?” Naomi asked groggily.

“We are in your home in Bethlehem,” Ruth answered quietly.

“Mahlon! Kilyon!” Naomi sat up suddenly. “They are dead!” Naomi held her face. “I thought it was some evil dream, but now I remember. They were killed. We fled. You followed me. No one greeted us. My house – a disaster.” Naomi looked at the roofless rafters of her house and the brightening sky. “Oy!” Naomi wailed and wobbled from side to side.

“We need food, mother,” Ruth said softly. “I will go to the fields and glean what I might from whoever will let me. I learned yesterday that the poor are allowed to glean from the leavings of the harvesters.”

“Yes, yes, you are right, my daughter.” Naomi patted Ruth’s hand, not sure who was consoling whom. “Go. See what you can get. I no longer have the strength nor the courage to go all the way out to the fields. I will stay here and tidy up. The well is not far. I will wait for you here. Thank you, my daughter. May God be with you.”

Ruth left the house and stopped at the well. She washed up and drank and then headed to the gate of Bethlehem. Residents of Bethlehem were up and about. The more pious men were returning home from their morning prayer. They were wrapped in prayer shawls with leather phylacteries tied upon their arms and upon their heads. One of them reminded Ruth of Elimelech, with the same strong features and a beard of solid white that once might have been red. The man looked away from Ruth.

The rest of the population walked past the gate and onto the road outside the walls of Bethlehem. No one looked at Ruth. No one smiled at Ruth. No one acknowledged her existence. She walked as a ghost in a stream of humanity. She could have been walking alone in the cold desert night for the amount of warmth she felt in the crowd. Ruth noticed that they weren’t particularly friendly to each other either. There was none of the banter of a crowded marketplace. There was none of the gossip that neighbors greet each other with. It was a solemn cheerless procession. Men and women of all ages walked grudgingly to eek their sustenance from the land.

Ruth spotted Noni. The little girl smiled shyly at Ruth and then quickly looked away and mimicked the glum expression of the crowd. Ruth kept a polite distance from Noni and decided to follow the young girl to whichever field she would lead her.

People left the road and branched out to the different fields. Most of the barley closest to the road had been harvested. Some old women foraged amongst the remains, picking up trampled and crushed grains. Families harvested small fields, the father cutting wide swaths of barley with his scythe, bending over to cut the short stalks. The mother or older son would assemble the fallen stalks into bundles. The younger children would gather the remaining stalks and make their own bundles.

Ruth passed some large fields with teams of young sun-bronzed muscled men attacking the stalks industriously. In the privacy of their fields there seemed to be the coarse bantering that Ruth knew young men engaged in. Some of them eyed Ruth with animalistic grins, gazing at more than her foreign red hair and ragged clothing.

Ruth was surprised to pass a fallow field, wild with weeds and thorns. Instinctively she knew it must be Elimelech’s.

Noni turned down a small path that led to a large field. Half-a-dozen young men seemed to grow out of the waist-high barley. They diligently harvested the golden rows of grain. A man grabbed several heads of barley in his left hand and with his sickle cut them off, leaving tall headless stalks in his wake. He would hand the precious barley heads to his partner who placed it into a growing sheaf which he then tied into a large heavy bundle. The men’s light tunics were already soaked with sweat, rivulets of perspiration flowing from under their headscarves. Old men and women gleaned the leavings from the already harvested parts of the field. Ruth followed Noni. The young men stopped slicing the stalks and gazed instead at Ruth’s gait. Ruth hurried her pace.

Ruth saw a small guard house on the border of the field. Next to the house was the short circular stone wall of a well. Jugs of freshly drawn water adorned the sides of the well. A heavyset tanned man with sparse whiskers sat on a stool in the shade of the house. He got off the stool and walked closer to the workers.

“Why are you lazy bums stopping?” the heavy man shouted. “Tired already?”

“Garto, are you blind?” one of the workers yelled back.

Garto the overseer followed the gaze of his workers and was surprised to see Ruth approaching him behind little Noni.

“Well what have we here?” Garto whistled. “The foreign beauty that came with Naomi. Imagine, right here in my field. What is your name, pretty thing?”

“I am Ruth.” Ruth looked down.

“Ruth the Moabite,” Garto said. “I like the sound of that. How would you like to be my concubine? We can get to know each other right here in the guard house. I can assure you the best pickings, my little Moabite delight.”

“Is that the custom here? Is that what it takes for a poor woman to glean the leavings of the field?”

“That is my custom, Ruth the Moabite, though other overseers are not much different. Many are worse.”

“So you are not the owner of this field?” Ruth asked.

“I am the agent of the owner, and my owner, as it happens, will not be here for many days. You see, his beloved wife has just died, so we will not see him until next week.”

“I will glean in a different field then.” Ruth turned to leave.

“Wait, Ruth,” Garto said hurriedly. “I am the new overseer here. I know that my master would be upset if one of the poor left empty-handed, for he is known as a pious man. Stay and glean freely. I will bother you no further. I, I was testing you. Though keep out of reach of the boys – they don’t always keep their hands to themselves.”

“Thank you.” Ruth bowed and walked into the harvested field.

Noni was already there nimbly picking up the fallen heads of barley that had fallen between the tall remains of the cut stalks. The older men and women slowly fished out the barley. It was hard, tiring work. After five minutes Ruth was cut and scratched from the sharp ends of the stalks puncturing her skin. She was often frustrated. What she thought was a barley head turned out to be merely a grainless stalk. She paid the price of stalk punctures on her arms and face as she waded through the thick growth to hunt for what might or might not be the life-sustaining grain.

Ruth thought of Naomi and pressed on. She needed food for two people. They had not eaten in days. Her ragged garment was completely soaked by sweat. In her entire life she had never worked this hard or under such conditions. She kept her distance from the men, though it did not stop them from gazing at her intermittently. Instead of bending down as the other reapers did, she would sit on the hot ground to reach for low-lying barley. At times she was lucky and discovered a head of barley at waist height resting on the top of the cut stalks.

The sun rose higher and the ground grew hotter. Ruth thought she was in an oven. Her throat was parched and her lips were cracked.  She heard a firm but gentle voice call out to the harvesters: “God be with you!”

“May God bless you!” the harvesters chanted in unison.

Ruth saw a tall elderly man. He was the second man to remind her of Elimelech. Beneath the thick white beard was a face that was softer, calmer, and kinder, but had the same strength of character and purpose that her dead father-in-law wore. That’s what Mahlon might have looked like had he lived to old age, Ruth thought. He looks pained, she realized. He is in grief, but a greater purpose drives him.

The old man went to the overseer. They pointed at Ruth. The old man waved his arms passionately. The overseer whistled, calling the harvesters to the guard house. The old man waved his arms again, pointing repeatedly at Ruth. He is warning them, she understood. Then the man motioned for Ruth to approach. Ruth held the barley tightly in a bundle of cloth and approached the old man.

“Give her something to drink,” the old man commanded the overseer. Garto ran to the well and ladled a cup of water from one of the jugs, spilling some as he gave it to Ruth. Ruth drank greedily. He has saved my life, she thought.

“Thank you,” Ruth whispered after she had finished the cup. “Who are you?” she asked the old man. “I would know the identity of my savior.”

“I am Boaz son of Salmoon.” Boaz smiled. “Listen to me, my daughter. Do not glean in another field. Do not leave my field. On the other side of these rows I have maidens that are harvesting. Stay close to them. I have commanded my men not to bother you. Whenever you are thirsty, take water from the jugs.”

It took Ruth a few moments to understand everything Boaz had said. She had trouble comprehending the kindness, the concern, the generosity the old man had demonstrated in this hellish loveless place.

Ruth fell to her knees, tears welling in her eyes. She bowed to Boaz with more feeling than any servant who had ever bowed to a master before.

“Why?” Ruth croaked from the ground. “Why have I found favor in your eyes? Why should you take such special care of me? I am a foreigner. I am not even of your people.”

“I have heard your story, Ruth of Moab.” Boaz gestured for Ruth to rise. Ruth stood, wiping the unshed tears from her eyes. “I have heard how you have cared for your mother-in-law even after the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your family, your birthplace, and came to a place you never knew before. You are compassionate and courageous and those are traits to be revered no matter who possesses them. May God reward your actions in full. It is God, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have now sought refuge.”

“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me,” Ruth replied. “I had lost faith in human kindness, but you have shown me that it still exists. You have spoken to my heart.”

“I am glad, Ruth. Let us both return to work and I will see you again at the meal. You will come back and we shall eat together.”

“Yes, my lord.” Ruth walked back to the field, searching for Boaz’s maidens. She felt a lightness she had not felt since she had met Mahlon in the marketplace of Kir Moav all those years ago. She gleaned with hope and energy, feeling comfortable near the women and safe under Boaz’s protection.

At mealtime she returned with the women to the guardhouse. The men sat in a semicircle with Boaz at one end and Garto the overseer at the other end.

“Come, Ruth,” Boaz called to her when she approached. “Sit and eat. Dip your bread in the vinegar.” Boaz handed her a freshly baked pita.

Ruth’s hands trembled slightly as she held the fresh bread. Her mouth watered uncontrollably in anticipation of food entering her famished body. Her heart beat faster. She calmed herself as she raised the delicious smelling pita to her mouth. Her lips almost cried in joy at the feel of the soft warm bread. She sunk her teeth into the solid pita and chewed slowly. She savored the texture of the bread in her mouth and smiled a pure smile of joy as the first morsel went down her throat. She consciously breathed for the first time since she had seen her Mahlon dead – it had seemed like ages ago.

She ate very little, her shrunken stomach satisfied, and always thinking to save her food for Naomi. She placed the remaining pita in the pocket of her dress. After the meal she returned to the field. Boaz called his maidens aside and spoke to them briefly. Afterwards they became friendlier with Ruth, smiling at her, chatting with her, and, she wasn’t sure, but it seemed they purposely dropped heads of barley for her to pick up. By evening she had a respectable collection of barley. Boaz nodded approvingly as Ruth returned to the guardhouse.

“You may use our threshing floor,” Boaz said. “That way you won’t have to carry so much back to the city. Do you know how to thresh?”

“Of course.” Ruth blushed. She remembered the palace servants threshing and had paid attention to Boaz’s servants doing the same. A well-fed ox stood amicably on the threshing floor, a threshing sledge tied to his back. Ruth raised the wooden sledge and placed her barley heads under the basalt teeth of the sledge. Ruth balanced herself on the smooth top of the sledge and pulled on the ox’s rope. The well-trained ox knew what to do and walked slowly around the threshing floor. After a few rounds Ruth got off the sledge. The ox stopped moving. Ruth gathered the broken sheaves of barley and threw them into the air. She felt a thrill as the gentle evening breeze from the west carried the chaff away, leaving the heavier seeds to fall to the ground.

“Here is a sack to carry your grain.” Boaz gave her a large freshly-woven sack. “You are a quick study,” he said softly. “Tomorrow will be even easier. Take this.” Boaz handed Ruth his walking stick. “It is always good to have a walking stick in these parts. There are occasionally predators, both animal and human, though we have gotten rid of most of them. I need to return now, but you should be safe on the road. Good night, my daughter. I hope to see you on the field tomorrow.” Boaz smiled warmly and left together with most of his workers.

Ruth continued to winnow the barley, a large mound of seed growing at her feet. She scooped up the seeds, placed them in her new sack and then walked to the main road with Boaz’s walking stick in one hand and the grain-filled sack tied to her back. She felt happier and more accomplished than she could ever remember. She thought of whistling, but refrained.

There were few people on the road as the sky darkened quickly. Her exhaustion hit her like an avalanche as she walked slowly towards the gate of Bethlehem. She blessed Boaz for the walking stick.

She heard a wagon with a team of horses approaching from behind her. The wagon slowed down and stopped next to Ruth.

“Princess Ruth?” Sumahtrid exclaimed from the wagon. “I almost didn’t recognize you. Come in here, child. You look terrible. What has happened to you? Come here.” Sumahtrid extended his hand.

“Sumahtrid?” Ruth stepped back, perplexed. “What are you doing here? How did you find me? Did my brother send you? My mother? Where is Orpa? How is she?”

“Come. Come, Princess. We will take you home and I will explain all.”

“I do not want to go home.” Ruth took another step back. “This is my home now.”

Sumahtrid laughed.

“Come now, Princess. You would have me believe that you wish to live as a pauper? As a beggar? Scratching out a measly sustenance from the leavings of the field? Look at you. How many more days do you think you can survive like this? But I know. You are as stubborn as every other member of your family. Come. Come into the wagon. Let us at least take you into Bethlehem and let us discuss this as civilized people and not by the side of a dark road.

“I am tired,” Ruth admitted. Her entire body was in pain. Her back and legs ached, her arms and face were scratched and her head and stomach felt queasy. She accepted Sumahtrid’s help into the wagon and immediately knew she had made a mistake. She noticed for the first time the disturbing look of the boyish man driving the wagon, like an animal patiently awaiting its prey. She noticed the chains and weapons in the back of the wagon.

“On second thought, Princess,” Sumahtrid declared, “there is someplace else we need to take you first.”

The driver turned the horses around and drove them quickly away from Bethlehem.

“Stop! Stop this wagon right now!” Ruth commanded with more authority than she ever knew she possessed. Beor the driver halted the horses and Sumahtrid looked around in confusion. Ruth started to climb out of the wagon.

“Oh no you don’t, Princess.” Sumahtrid grabbed Ruth’s arm roughly. “I cannot allow you to escape. Beor, the chains.”

Ruth smacked Sumahtrid across the head with the walking stick with all her might. Sumahtrid yelped and let go of Ruth. Ruth fell out of the wagon, picked herself up and ran towards the gate of Bethlehem where she could see torches in the distance.

“Quickly, Beor,” Sumahtrid ordered. “We have to catch her before she reaches the gate.”

Beor turned the horses around yet again and drove them hard after Ruth. Ruth ran to the city in a panic. She could hear the hooves coming closer. The rapid breathing of the horses became louder then her own. The city gate was still several lengths away. Workers from the fields were still entering as guards stood impassively, not seeing Ruth in the dark. Ruth waved her stick in the air and started screaming the first thing that came to mind: “Boaz! Boaz!”

“Too late,” Sumahtrid whispered in Ruth’s ear as his strong arms lifted her into the wagon. Ruth swung her stick at the sorcerer again, but this time he was prepared and intercepted her. Beor grabbed Ruth, carried her to the back of the wagon and quickly clamped manacles on her wrists and ankles. Ruth struggled against the chains to no avail. She collapsed to the floor of the wagon, weeping.

“Why do they want me so badly in Kir Moav?” Ruth moaned from the floor. “Zipor exiled me.”

“We are not going to Kir Moav, Princess,” Sumahtrid answered. “The blood of the daughters of Eglon is required elsewhere.”

Ruth’s skin instantly turned cold, despite the summer heat.

* * * * * *

Secondary Sources:

Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 113b, Rashi: Boaz saw modesty in Ruth. She would stand when gathering standing sheaves and sit on the ground when gathering fallen sheaves.

Biblical Source:

Book of Ruth, Chapter 2:

2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi: ‘Let me now go to the field, and glean among the ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find favor.’ And she said unto her: ‘Go, my daughter.’ 3 And she went, and came and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and her hap was to light on the portion of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. 4 And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers: ‘The Lord be with you.’ And they answered him: ‘The Lord bless thee.’ 5 Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers: ‘Whose damsel is this?’ 6 And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said: ‘It is a Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the field of Moab; 7 and she said: Let me glean, I pray you, and gather after the reapers among the sheaves; so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, save that she tarried a little in the house.’ 8 Then said Boaz unto Ruth: ‘Hear thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither pass from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens. 9 Let your eyes remain on the field that they do reap, and go after them; have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch you? and when you are thirsty, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.’ 10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed down to the ground, and said unto him: ‘Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take cognizance of me, seeing I am a foreigner?’ 11 And Boaz answered and said unto her: ‘It has fully been told me, all that you have done unto your mother-in-law since the death of your husband; and how you have left your father and your mother, and the land of your nativity, and are come unto a people that you knew not heretofore. 12 The Lord recompense your work, and be your reward complete from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you are come to take refuge.’ 13 Then she said: ‘Let me find favor in your sight, my Lord; for that you have comforted me, and for that you have spoken to the heart of your handmaid, though I am not as one of your handmaidens.’ 14 And Boaz said unto her at meal-time: ‘Come hither, and eat of the bread, and dip your morsel in the vinegar.’ And she sat beside the reapers; and they reached her parched corn, and she did eat and was satisfied, and left thereof. 15 And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying: ‘Let her glean even among the sheaves, and put her not to shame. 16 And also pull out some for her of purpose from the bundles, and leave it, and let her glean, and rebuke her not.’ 17 So she gleaned in the field until even; and she beat out that which she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 13 – Vacant Housewarming

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 13

Vacant Housewarming

Naomi walked somberly towards her old house, not knowing what to expect. Ruth followed her from a distance. Naomi slowed down as she approached the house. The roof had crumbled, leaving a skeleton of broken rafters. There was no door. Entering the house, she was assaulted by the smell of stale urine. Her footsteps kicked up a thick layer of dust that floated in an eerie mixture of sunlight and cobwebs. Rotting leaves and dead branches coated the floor.

Naomi leaned on the bare wall and then slid to the floor, weeping. She had survived Elimelech’s death. She had survived the brutal murder of her sons. She had survived expulsion from Kir Moav. She did not know if she could survive seeing her home in ruins. Her last refuge was nothing but a mudhole, not fit for human occupation. She coughed on the pervasive dust and crawled out of the house to catch her breath. She rested against the outside of her house and looked blankly at the sky – dead to the world around her.

Ruth walked into the house. Her mouth gaped at the remains of the home of Prince Elimelech. In her entire royal experience she had never seen such decay. Even the hovel of the poorest citizen of Kir Moav was more luxurious than what remained of Naomi’s house. Ruth grabbed a dead branch and swept the dust and dead leaves out of the house. She spent hours sweeping ten years worth of natural detritus out of the home of her dead husband. By the afternoon she was covered in dust from head to toe. Naomi remained in a catatonic state, oblivious to Ruth’s efforts.

Ruth found the city well, drew water and washed her face, arms and legs and then drank.

“Who are you?” a young girl asked Ruth.

“Me?” Ruth was startled by the unexpected attention. “I’m nobody.”

“You must have a name,” the girl insisted. “My name is Noni. I’m from here. Where are you from? You don’t look like anyone I know. And you’re so beautiful.”

“Hello, Noni.” Ruth warmed up to the happy girl. “My name is Ruth. I am from Moab. I’ve come to Bethlehem with Naomi.”

“Naomi?” Noni jumped excitedly. “I heard so many stories about her. She was a good friend of Vered’s. Oh, I miss Vered so. She was so kind. But why is Naomi back here? What happened to her?”

“Well, it’s a long story, Noni. I guess my part of it starts with my being a princess…”

Ruth told a wide-eyed Noni her foreign and violence-filled history. Noni told Ruth about the dire famine and how Bethlehem had just recently seen some prosperity. Noni and her mother were still dependent on the generosity of others. Her father had been killed by marauders years ago. Her mother spent her days gathering fallen sheaves in the fields of others.

As the sun traversed the sky, Noni excused herself.

“I hope I will see you again,” the young girl said.

“That would be nice, Noni. Yes.” Ruth held Noni’s hand before the little girl skipped away from the well.

With Noni gone, Ruth looked around the well area and found a discarded cracked bucket and then some pieces of string. She tightened the string around the bucket and poured well-water into it. Rivulets of water leaked from her bucket, but she had enough for her purposes.

She brought the bucket back to the house. Cupping her palms, she gave water to Naomi. Naomi drank absently, still unaware of her surroundings. Ruth used the remaining water to wash the floor of the house. Ruth then pulled Naomi up and walked her into the house. Naomi’s eyes widened as they entered the bare but clean house. They were exposed to the darkening evening sky, but at least the walls gave a sense of protection and privacy.

“How will we sleep?” Naomi asked wearily, coming back to life. “We have nothing.”

“We have each other,” Ruth answered. She found a corner of the house and sat Naomi down. Ruth sat next to her mother-in-law and gently pulled the tired woman against her. “Rest on me, mother. I am here. Rest and tomorrow we will find new hope.”

Naomi laid her head on Ruth’s shoulder and closed her eyes.

“Thank you, my daughter,” Naomi said softly as the evening star twinkled above them. “You are a blessing.”


“Naomi has returned from Moab,” Ploni told Boaz on his mourner’s cot.

“Just Naomi?” Boaz asked. “What about Elimelech, Mahlon, Kilyon?”

“They are dead. Murdered by the Moabites.”

“When did she arrive? By whom is she staying?”

“They came yesterday, as we were burying Vered. No one has taken them in. They have gone to Naomi’s old house.”

“They? Old house? I don’t understand. Who is “they”? How can they stay in that house? It is a ruin!”

“Naomi has brought Mahlon’s widow with her, a heathen Moabite and an enemy. I for one will have nothing to do with that traitor Naomi. She left Bethlehem at its time of need and now returns with the spawn of Eglon himself.”

“How do you know all of this?”

“Young Noni spoke to the Moabite at the well. Her mother has since instructed the girl to avoid the intruder. Some saw the Moabite leave the city early in the morning. It is too much to hope she left. I presume she went to the fields.”

“When did the city of Bethlehem become of city of cowards?” Boaz stood up from his cot. “Are you all so frightened from a single woman? Instead of extending welcome we isolate her? When did we forget the manners of our forefathers?”

“It would be inappropriate for me, as a widower, to host them,” Ploni said defensively, “and you are now in the same situation. Who else would bring them in? Most families are still struggling. They cannot feed more mouths. Besides, you know Naomi. She will be too proud to accept charity. She fed the entire city. The irony is too cruel – her having to beg in the town, in the tribe her husband ruled. No, I think she would rather die of starvation than of shame.”

“That is unkind, uncle,” Boaz sat back down. “It is your own brother’s wife. But you are correct that we must not embarrass Naomi by direct charity. It is enough she has suffered the death of her husband and children and the humiliation to date. Will you help me, uncle?”

“I will have nothing to do with them, Boaz. God has brought his wrath upon the family of Elimelech. I will not risk my own soul by associating with those who have been cursed, even if it is my brother’s family.”

“Your piety is conveniently narrow. No matter. I will do what needs to be done.” Boaz got up and walked out of his house.

“But Boaz, you have not completed the week of mourning. How can you leave your house?”

“I have no desire to participate in another funeral,” Boaz said without looking back, as he walked to the gates of Bethlehem.


Ehud sat on the ramparts above the gate of Bethlehem. He had a good view of the comings and going in the city. He had been shocked at Naomi’s appearance. He had remembered the beautiful wife of Elimelech and was saddened to see her aged so heavily. But he was more concerned by Ruth. Ruth had left the city and gone to the fields early in the morning. He remembered the princess. He remembered Eglon’s daughter who sat so often at the fat monarch’s side. The last he had heard she was to marry the next Pharaoh, with a bridal dowry of the massacre of all the firstborns of Israel. After Ehud had assassinated her father, that arrangement had fallen apart. How strange for her to be in Bethlehem of all places – and at Naomi’s side. He would have to watch her carefully. He would consider her a dangerous viper until proven otherwise. Eglon had been a conniving and perilous enemy and he would consider Eglon’s daughter no different.

Ehud was further surprised to see Boaz leave his house. Boaz had mourned for his wife less than a day and already he was striding purposely to his fields outside the city. With his focus on Boaz, Ehud did not notice the two merchants on a wagon riding into town. He did not hear the boyish-looking driver repeat after his master, “Moabite.”

* * * * * *

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 12 – Judean Homecoming

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 12

Judean Homecoming

Naomi was lost in thought as she trudged slowly over the Judean Mountains. Ruth walked a few steps behind, respecting her mother-in-law’s silence. Naomi had remembered the old wells and had been pleased to discover them full. Though their thirst had been quenched, they were still hungry. They had picked some wild berries and chewed on some raw kernels of oats, but otherwise they had not eaten a proper meal since their hasty departure from Kir Moav.

Naomi wondered what her hometown would look like. It had been ten long painful years. She had been embarrassed to leave Bethlehem in its time of need and she was even more embarrassed to return a destitute widow who outlived her children. She had briefly considered returning to a different city where she was not known, but that would be even worse. In Bethlehem she still had their house, their land and their relatives. There was dour Ploni, and gracious Boaz, and most beloved of all, warm Vered. Vered was her closest, truest friend in Bethlehem and she longed to see her again.

Her heart skipped a beat as she saw the walls of Bethlehem. Its mighty stone ramparts touched the blue sky. A new gate welcomed weary travelers. Fields of barley surrounded her. As she picked up her pace, a certain urgency told her she was too late, though she knew not for what.

Two armored guards with spears watched impassively as residents and travelers traversed the gates. As Naomi hurried to the gate, they lowered their spears, blocking her way.

“Where to, grandmother?” One of the guards asked.

“I am no longer a mother, let alone a grandmother,” Naomi responded bitterly. “I go to my home.”

“What home?” The guard did not raise his spear. “You are not from here. If you’ve come to collect, you may go to the fields like everyone else.”

Naomi looked carefully at the guard. Passersby stopped to see who the newcomer was.

“You have grown to the likeness of your father,” Naomi commented. “You may not remember me, but I recognize you, Banfus son of Lurie. I am Naomi, wife of Elimelech, who left ten years ago to the fields of Moab. You used to play with my son, Kilyon. But now I return empty. Will you not allow a broken widow to rest her weary bones in her old house?”

“Naomi?” Banfus looked at her in surprise. “You are not at all as I remember you, though now I see some resemblance. God must have been unkind to you. I am sorry for your loss.” Banfus and the other guard raised their spears.

“Is this Naomi?” one of the older women asked.

“Call me not Naomi, the pleasant one,” she responded. “Call me Marah, bitter, for God has dealt bitterly with me. I left here full and God has brought me back empty. Why should you call me Naomi? God has gone against me and afflicted me.”

By now, a sizable crowd had gathered in front of the gate, gawking at Naomi. Like a summer fire through parched grass, the word of Naomi’s return spread through Bethlehem. Naomi recognized her old neighbors, the people she had fed before her sudden departure. A gaggle of voices spoke at once. Everyone ignored Ruth, and Ruth was just as happy to be ignored.

“Can it be?” one woman asked.

“It doesn’t look like Naomi. Remember how beautiful, how wealthy she was?”

“She’s aged terribly.”

“She deserves it. She left us at the darkest hour.”

“If it weren’t for Boaz and Vered, we would have starved to death.”

A woman ran toward the crowd and announced: “Vered has died!”

“What!?” the mob responded.

“Yes. She passed away just now. Boaz informed the elders.”

“He will need our help.”

And as a crowd flees from a leper, the people of Bethlehem departed from Naomi, leaving her suddenly alone and friendless in the square of her hometown.


“Ehud? How did you get here so quickly? Did you fly here upon the news of Vered’s death?” Boaz stood up from his mourner’s cot to greet his old friend. Boaz’s neighbors left his house to give the two men privacy.

“I had some advance notice,” Ehud answered.

“You knew beforehand?” Boaz asked, perplexed.

“I knew you would need me at hand,” he answered simply.

“Well, it is a great comfort to see you,” Boaz sat back on the cot. “Vered had been growing weaker of late. I’m glad you are here.”

“There may be some other danger,” Ehud said as he sat facing Boaz.

“What danger?”

“I’m not sure.”

“So how do you know?”

Ehud pointed his finger heavenward. Boaz nodded his understanding.

“There is something else I’m troubled about,” Ehud said uncomfortably. “I’d like to ask you a sensitive question. Please don’t be offended.”

“What is your question?” Boaz sat up straighter and narrowed his eyes.

“I mean no offense by this and I am not judging you in any way, but did you have any children that we do not know about?”

“What sort of question is that?” Boaz stood up angrily. “On the day of my beloved’s death, the very hour that we have laid her to rest, you ask me such a thing? Her body is not yet cold, you know we have no children and now you ask me such a question?”

“I’m sorry, Boaz. I know it is painful, but it is important. Please answer me truthfully.” Ehud held his fists out. “Do you have any children that you have not told anyone about?”

“I cannot believe it! I don’t understand. Of course I have no other children. Do you think me some promiscuous heathen that lay with any woman he came across? Vered was the one and only woman I ever knew. Why was this such an important question?” Boaz sat back on his cot, staring angrily at his old friend.

“Do you remember the prophecy Joshua gave us at the convocation?” Ehud asked.

“Yes. Though I haven’t given it much thought of late.”

“Joshua said you would have a seed that would lead to the future salvation of Israel and he also said that I would kill your future father-in-law. I have killed many men, Boaz, and Vered’s father was not one of them. You understand what this means?”

Boaz sat silently, brooding. “Joshua was wrong,” he finally said.

“You don’t believe that.”

“What do you want me to say, Ehud? You want me to say that I need to marry again?” Hot tears streamed down Boaz’s eyes only to disappear into his white beard. Any trace of red was long gone from Boaz’s hair and beard. “Vered made me promise before she died that I would marry again. But I can’t talk about it now. I can’t even think about it. We spoke just a few hours ago. I held her hand…”

“I did not wish to cause you further pain, but it was important I know. It was even more important that you realize what must be done. Vered was right to push you to marry again.”

“Leave me, Ehud. I can’t deal with this now.”

“I’m leaving your house, but I will stay in Bethlehem until matters are settled.”

“Until I’m married again? Should I get up now and marry the first woman that crosses my path? Are you that eager to see a child of mine?”

“No, Boaz. Mourn Vered as she deserves. But when you rise from your mourning, do not forget the prophecy, or your promise.”

“Leave, Ehud.”

Ehud rose from his chair and walked to the door.

“I am with you, my friend. I will remain nearby. Beware of strangers. I still do not know what the danger is, but I suspect it is more than your being childless. Farewell, Boaz. May God comfort you amongst the mourners of Israel.”

Ehud departed, leaving Boaz alone, with fresh tears soaking his beard.


“Ferocious girl, that Orpa,” Sumahtrid commented, as Beor drove their wagon east, back up the mountain road from Ashkelon. “The blood of Eglon runs strong in her veins. She is sure to produce mighty warriors from the Philistines. I think their King was rather pleased.”

“Pleased,” Beor repeated.

“We do need to do something about your conversational skills. They are rather meager.”

“Meager,” Beor agreed.

“Then again, I am fairly happy with our discussions. How much do you really need to talk? You understand everything I say and follow instructions well, which brings us to our next task. We need to find and retrieve Eglon’s eldest, Princess Ruth. If she has found refuge in Bethlehem, it will not be so simple. It is a bastion of the Judean tribe. Our purpose must not be discovered. There may still be descendents of Nachshon the Brave in Bethlehem. They will be most dangerous. We must make sure she does not join with any of them, at all costs. There may need to be some discreet killing.”

“Killing,” Beor said with glee.

* * * * * *

Biblical Sources:

Book of Ruth, Chapter 1

19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was astir concerning them, and the women said: ‘Is this Naomi?’ 20 And she said unto them: ‘Call me not Naomi, call me Marah; for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me back home empty; why call me Naomi, seeing the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?’ 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned out of the field of Moab–and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

Secondary Sources:

Ruth Rabba 3:6: And they said, “Is this Naomi?!” This [is the] one whose deeds were agreeable and pleasant?! In the past, she used to travel in her litter with a canopy, and now she walks barefoot… She used to be covered in clothes of fine wool, and now she is covered in rags. She used to have a ruddy face because of the vigor [she derived from] food and drink, and now her face is sallow because of hunger.

Jerusalem Talmud, Tractacte Ketuvot 1:1: And is it possible that the entire city came out to greet this wretched woman? But on the same day, Boaz’s wife died and they all went to [bury her].

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 11 – Bitter Sorrow

Warrior Prophets 3 Chapter 11

Bitter Sorrow

Orpa looked back at the receding silhouettes of the two people she loved most in the world. She did not regret her decision. She was honest enough to admit she was not suited for a life of hardship. She loved Ruth and Naomi, but she would have to love them from the comfort of the palace. She could not trek through the desert, without as much as a copper piece or any provisions. She was not ready to settle as a foreign dispossessed widow in an enemy’s land. Orpa consoled herself that she too was taking a gamble. Zipor in his anger might still find some way to hurt her. He might yet enforce exile upon her despite any protection their mother could provide. Perhaps Ruth and Naomi were safest fleeing from his wrath.

Orpa watched the two women disappear into the haze of the dessert. She walked back tiredly to the walls of Kir Moav, exhausted from the shocks and tribulations of the day. She still grieved her husband’s murder. She would return to the city and see to their burial, despite Zipor’s hatred of them. She remembered the burial place of Elimelech and resolved to bury his sons in the same place and in the same fashion.

More tired than she had expected, she stopped by the side of the wide dirt road and rested. This was the first time she could catch her breath since the mad rush out of the palace, seeing Mahlon and Kilyon dead, standing up to Zipor, fleeing the city and finally the painful parting from Ruth and Naomi.

A wagon led by two horses approached Orpa at high speed from Kir Moav. Two men sat at the front of the wagon. Orpa stood up straight and waved her hand at the wagon. She would ask the driver to take her back to the palace where she could arrange suitable payment.

As the wagon approached she recognized Sumahtrid and was relieved to see the familiar face. Driving the wagon was a man she did not recognize with the face of a boy and vacant eyes. The wagon slowed down and stopped in front of Orpa.

“Princess Orpa,” Sumahtrid hailed and offered his hand. “Can we be of assistance?”

“You most certainly can.” Orpa accepted the proffered hand and climbed onto the wagon. “Please return me to the palace,” she commanded.

“Where is your sister?” Sumahtrid asked, looking further down the road. “And Naomi?”

“They are gone. They have gone to Judah to return to Naomi’s home and people.”

“That is too bad.” Sumahtrid held his clean chin and shook his head. “We shall have to deal with them separately. One sister shall suffice for now.”

“What nonsense are you talking about?”

“I’m afraid we are not heading to the palace, princess. Beor, if you would please handle the chains?”

“Chains,” Beor repeated as he grabbed Orpa’s arm with an iron grip, hauling her to the back of the wagon. Orpa noticed a variety of weapons on the floor of the wagon together with long chains and shackles. Beor chained Orpa’s arms and legs to the side of the wagon as she screamed and hammered her fists against Beor’s chest.

“What are you doing? Where are you taking me!?” Orpa turned to Sumahtrid as Beor took the reins of the horses.

“We are going on a journey, daughter of Eglon. You see, your bloodline is important and we now wish to combine it with another.”

“You are wasting your time,” Orpa laughed. “I have not been able to bare a child for ten years now.”

“I am to blame for that. We did not wish you or your sister to combine with the scions of Nachshon. But their time has now passed, complements of my disciple, Beor.” Beor grinned at the mention of his name. “My old master Dirthamus, whom you might remember, has given me new instructions. I am to take you to the land of the Philistines and we will test your true fertility.”

“You are mad!” Orpa lunged at Sumahtrid, only to bounce back against the wagon wall, reined in by the chains. “Dirthamus has been dead for years.”

“You do not know the powers you are reckoning with, girl. Dirthamus speaks to me from the netherworld. He sees much that is beyond mortal comprehension.”

“I don’t understand,” Orpa massaged her bruised wrists under the shackles. “Who will you mate me with? Why didn’t you just ask me?”

“Because you would refuse. We shall mate you to a selection of mighty Philistine soldiers and together with your blood, the blood of Eglon, we shall produce warriors the like of which the world has not seen since the days of Og King of Bashan.”

“No!” Orpa pulled on the chains harder until she was bleeding from her wrist.

“Yes,” Sumahtrid answered. “First we shall mate you, and then we shall fetch your sister. Ruth will not enjoy a long stay in Bethlehem.”

The wagon rode unperturbed, Orpa spoke no further, and Beor merely repeated, “Bethlehem.”


Ehud, my son.

I am here, God. Ehud answered in his dream.

I am pleased with you. You have done well. I have another mission for you.

Thank you, God. I am ready.

You must journey to Bethlehem, to Boaz. He will have need of you one last time.

For what? Ehud asked.

He will need consolation, but more importantly, he will need protection.

From what? Who?

Go to Bethlehem. Protect Boaz. And the Moabite.

Moabite? What Moabite? God, can you be a little more specific?

No further communication came to Ehud that night.

God, You know I can’t sleep when you do that.


Vered’s cough racked her entire body. She lay in bed under heavy covers, despite the summer heat. She knew the end was near. Boaz sat by her bed looking at her with anguished eyes.

“We had a good life together, my husband,” Vered said.

“Don’t talk like that,” Boaz pleaded. “Do not talk in the past tense. You may yet recover.”

“How else should I talk? I do not fear death. We have ever known its company and my tired bones do not reject its embrace.”

“I always thought I would depart before you,” Boaz said. “I was always the one running headfirst into trouble.”

“God must have other plans for you. My task is done. Our people have survived. We fed them. We saved them. They are our children, of sorts.” Vered cried fresh tears.

“Hush, my love.” Boaz took Vered’s hand. “Do not reopen that wound.”

“That is my one regret, Boaz. My one complaint. Can a woman not have one grievance towards God? Could He not have blessed us with one surviving child? Did we sin? Did you sin? Savior of Israel? Blessed of God? Bearer of His mighty gifts? Could He not spare this one precious gift? Is it so hard for Him?”

“Enough, my love,” Boaz said tenderly. “We cannot question God’s ways. We must do our part but accept his judgment. We’ve had each other and I for one am content with that.”

“I do not accept his judgment.” Vered sat up straighter in the bed. “Your line must continue. Take another wife after me. It is not too late.”

“You jest,” Boaz smiled. “I am older than you and will follow you shortly. I would not want another woman and what sane woman would want me? I do not enjoy this discussion, Vered. You are the only woman in my life.”

“Look at me, Boaz son of Salmoon.” Vered looked deeply into her husband’s eyes and grasped his hand tightly. “There is still life and strength left in you. Do not give up hope. It was not my fate, but there may be another whom God will bless. Promise me. Promise me, Boaz, that you will take another wife after me. That you will try.”

“How can I find anyone like you?”

“You can’t.” Vered smiled weakly. “Find someone younger that can bare children. It is the right thing. I feel it. Promise me.”

“I promise to try,” Boaz finally agreed.

“It is said that the undertaking of Boaz of Judah is as a done deed.” Vered leaned back against the bed and relaxed.

“I’m not ready to let you go,” Boaz said.

“It is not up to you or me, Boaz. I do wish I could see Naomi one more time. I miss her. How do you think they are faring in Moab? Do you think Mahlon and Kilyon took wives? Would they have found Israelites amongst those heathens? Perhaps they succeeded in continuing the line of Nachshon?”

“I don’t know, my love. Do not worry about them.”

“You are right. I’m not worrying about anything. Goodbye, my love. You made me happy. It was a privilege being your wife. Goodbye.” Vered closed her eyes, loosened her hold on Boaz’s hand and breathed her last breath.

“Goodbye,” Boaz answered. He laid her lifeless hand on the bed, stood up and wept. He stepped out of their house, a house that now felt strangely empty. He looked towards the gate of Bethlehem and noticed two strange women walking slowly towards the city. Their clothing looked more like rags and they carried nothing on them. They entered the gates of the city and a small crowd formed around them, blocking his view of the newcomers.

An outcry erupted from the crowd. Boaz walked in the opposite direction, his whole being consumed with the death of Vered. He thought his mind was playing tricks on him when he heard the name “Naomi” called out.

* * * * * *

Secondary sources:

Boaz’s wife died on the exact day that Ruth the Moabite came to the Land of Israel. – Tractate Bava Batra 91a

Boaz was eighty years old and never had children. – Ruth Rabba 6:2

Boaz made 120 feasts for his children but they all died during his lifetime. – Tractate Bava Batra 91a

Orpa went to the Philistines and bore six illegitimate children. – Zohar Hadash, Ruth 81b

As compensation for the four tears that Orpa wept for her mother-in-law, she gave birth to four great warriors (Goliath was one of them). – Tractate Sotah 42b

The night Orpa left her mother-in-law, she slept with one hundred heathens. – Ruth Rabba 2:20