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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
Print version ISSN 1017-0499

Studia Hist. Ecc. vol.36  suppl.1 Pretoria Jul. 2010


Is Ruth the 'ēšet hayil for real? An exploration of womanhood from African proverbs to the threshing floor (Ruth 3:1-13)



Madipoane Masenya

Department of Old Testament & Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa




Contradictory definitions of what a worthy womanhood is, have in many contexts, including African contexts, caused divisions within religious institutions, families and communities at large.
In Christian African contexts, definitions of worthy womanhood emerging from various Bible interpretations, and shaped by different African cultures, have influenced and continue to influence views concerning women and men, boyand girl-children, even as these mould our definitions of what affirming gender relationships (should) entail.
In Ruth 3:11, Boaz, the wealthy Judahite man, informs Ruth, the poor foreign (Moabite) widow, that the assembly of Judahite men knows that she is the '
ēšet hayil, the woman of substance. Which images of womanhood are revealed when some African proverbs are read in conjunction with Boaz's words in Ruth 3:11? Do these images indeed reveal Ruth as the woman of substance? Do they resonate with those who seek affirming definitions of womanhood in our African contexts? This article will address these questions, among others.



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