In the Bible, the book of Ruth is a lesbian love story.
Ruth’s husband has died. Naomi is Ruth’s mother in law, who prays The Lord grant that you may find security. But where? The only place is in the house of your husband. Then Ruth makes her famous declaration of Love, often read at weddings:
Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
At Bethlehem, Ruth meets Boaz. He does not speak to her at first: he asks the foreman, ‘To whom does this young woman belong? But Ruth does not belong to any man. So Boaz has to order the young men not to bother her. They might sexually assault a lone woman like that.
How are these two women to survive? Naomi tells Ruth to find where Boaz sleeps, and lie down by his feet. That is, she offers herself to him, and he accepts. But after the declaration of love between the two women, there are no words of love between Boaz and Ruth, only gratitude. After she has lain at his feet, he gives her a gift of barley.
A woman cannot own property. Only a man can. So who shall redeem Elimelech’s land, which his widow Naomi holds? Boaz is the only kinsman who will do so, and with the land he acquires Ruth as his wife. The purpose of this law is that the name of the man Elimelech will not die, for Boaz effectively will give him sons to inherit his land, through Ruth.
The only place where these two women will not starve is the house of a man, and it is better to have one man to protect them or any man may sexually assault them. (Marital rape was legal in England until the 1990s). The final proof of their love: the women say to Naomi your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons. Naomi took Ruth’s son and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse.
This post is for deorl, who boasts of being “a degreed student of the Bible” and accuses me of eisigesis, which by etymology means “reading [my] own biases into the text” but is more often used to mean interpreting a passage in a way the speaker does not like. The text is clear, and only his homophobia prevents him from seeing the love of two women celebrated in the Old Testament. That is, his is a cultural interpretation from conservative evangelicalism, not an open-minded interpretation seeking the meaning of the text.
Ruth is the Bible at its best, challenging the extreme oppression of women. In the Torah, we see women as chattels, so that if a woman is raped the solution is to marry her to her rapist, on the principle of “You break it, you buy it”. The Bible supports the rule-based oppressive religion that deorl still craves. However it also continually subverts it, as with this story.