Widowhood and Desperation

This week's study looks at the book of Ruth in a new way.  Dr Fulata Mbano-Moyo who is a systematic theologian and church historian and currently works as the World Council of Churches' Programme Executive for women in church and society. Originally from reformed tradition in Malawi, she received her doctorate from the University of KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa, focusing on gender and sexual ethics with grounding from Yale University's Divinity School and Department of Public Health. She is also the continental coordinator of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians also trained in contextual Bible study methodology, conflict resolution and epidemiology. 

Her study examines the ways that Naomi and Ruth's journey matches the modern day life of women who are trafficked. 

The book of Ruth in the Hebrew Testament articulates this widowhood desperation in ways that should help today’s Christian reader.

Naomi and Ruth were two desperate dispossessed widows who had to glean for food. As sonless widows, they had no means of reclaiming ‘their’ land.  They have each other but without a man, this solidarity is not enough for their survival.

Naomi, not so much unlike powerful traffickers, has to use the young beautiful exotic Ruth.  Ruth’s body is commoditized in a subtle way. She uncovers Boaz’s feet and lies down (Ruth 3:7). This action carries sexual overtones that capture the act of selling sex but Ruth hoped for a more legally-binding end that ensured repossession of land for Naomi. 

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