Dates and times are vague
in the story of Ruth;
in the days that the judges ruled
there was a famine in the land.
That is all we are told, but it is enough.
How old were Mahlon and Chilion
when they took local Moabite girls,
Orpah and Ruth, to be their brides?
Old enough to take on the responsibilities
of wife and family. And how old
were the girls? The usual age;
pubescent, most likely.
And how old would they have been
when they were widowed?
Ten years older, we are told,
but that may be an exaggeration
since neither of them had yet produced a child.
So it is, at least according to the story,
that thrice-bereft Naomi packs up her tragedy
and returns with her young daughter-in-law
to her home town and country.
There she must trust; both in God
and in the generosity of her wider family.
Ruth, a young woman who is presumably
not yet past her mid-twenties,
will, for all time, become the standard
for loyalty and devotion;
not bad for a foreign widow.