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Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsBennion, Francine
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
KeywordsRuth (Old Testament)
Citation Key9437

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Author: Bennion, Francine R.

The heroine of the biblical book of Ruth has been both a formal and an informal model of ideal womanhood for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: loyal, hard-working, converted, courageous, she makes the best of what is available and, not incidentally, is pleasing and desirable.

Individual Latter-day Saints and Church instructional manuals frequently cite as exemplary Ruth's departure from her Moabite customs, gods, and people in order to accompany her mother-in-law, Naomi, worshiping Jehovah in his land and adopting the ways of his people. While members have not traditionally emphasized cultural details of the story, they have considered important Ruth's obedience to Naomi and the resulting marriage to Boaz by which she-the foreigner and Moabite convert-becomes a great-grandmother of David, and therefore an ancestress of Jesus Christ.

From 1928 to 1972, Ruth and her gleaning were official models for Church women eighteen years and older in Gleaner classes of the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association and its successor, the young women organization. By achieving spiritual, cultural, homemaking, and service goals, a woman could earn the Golden Gleaner award, counterpart of the Master M Man award for men. The names of these honors express historical conceptions of admirable female and male roles in the Church. Sheaves of wheat, the Gleaners' emblem, were represented on instructional manuals and cards, and on metal pins.