The unfortunate news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death was received not long ago throughout the world. The lives of the royal family had always received a lot of attention, and the popular TV series, “The Crown”, is evidence for this. After the death of the Queen, her life, which had symbolized a whole era, has awakened more interest than ever. This special woman had been queen for seventy years – more than any other! But her ascent to the throne was not expected. Her father was not designated for the crown but since his oldest brother rejected the crown and Elizabeth’s father had no sons, this weighty responsibility fell to her share. She was the more serious and reasonable princess, although less beautiful than her sister Margaret, and her father tended to say: “Lilibet is my pride. Margaret is my joy…”
Neither close associates nor Lilibet (her childhood nickname) herself, had ever imagined that this girl was destined to be queen. Her life was not always on peaceful waters. World War 2, the bombings, recruitment to the war effort with service as a truck driver and mechanic in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, assassination attempts, and much more. Although she was not a perfect person, like all of us, this woman remained faithful and dedicated to the crown without fault (even when she had to pay the price for this dedication). She was a diligent woman (who wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to get the work done), as well as brave and steadfast (against all the opposition she insisted on marrying Phillip), very humble, and always optimistic. Even at the age of 14 in 1940, Elizabeth gave her first radio broadcast, which she closed by saying these words to the children of the nation who were forced to leave their homes: “We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well; for God will care for us and give us victory and peace…” The Queen inspired her subjects with hope and optimism until her final days (among the rest with the colorful clothing associated with her…).
Doesn’t she remind you of someone? In my eyes, there are many interesting parallels between the Queen and the heroine of the Book of Ruth, whom we started to follow after in the previous article: Ruth the Moabitess (by the way, according to rabbinic tradition, she was also of royal blood as the daughter of Eglon, king of Moab). Besides the shared characteristics that we have already seen such as faithfulness to her mother-in-law, her determination of accompanying her even ‘til death separate them, her diligence in working in the field and her bravery to go out to a new and strange environment. Also worth noting are the humility and thankfulness that were seen in all things she did and spoke. When Boaz, the owner of the field in which she picked grain, took note of the grace that Ruth had for her mother-in-law and offered that she stays to work in his field with a promise of protection and provision, Ruth did not accept it as a matter of fact, but fell on her face and called Boaz “my lord” and herself as “your slave”. She was amazed at this gracious treatment, unexpected to receive as a foreigner: “Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, ‘Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?’” (Ruth 2:10), “Then she said, ‘I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.’” (2:13).
Not expecting special treatment from people but paying attention to, and being thankful for, every indication of kindness towards you is definitely an important tip for living a positive life. It is recommended to adopt this habit as a way of life – each day remembering positive things that happened to you and creating a sort of “Giving Thanks List” and in this way training our minds to see the positive things in our lives. It is worthwhile every day to write down a list of things that happened that we could give thanks for. It won’t be easy at the beginning since it is easier for us to pay attention to the negative things in our lives, rather than the positive ones, but we should persevere – positivity is important for a healthy life. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
It’s worthwhile to briefly mention Boaz’s outstanding behavior. His treatment of the foreigner went above and beyond the social laws and norms in place at that time. And more, this was a man who knew how to speak to the heart of the woman, how to praise her, as he doesn’t see her as just another poor woman who is looking for handouts, or as a sexual object, but rather as a person with value who is worthy of recognition and respect.
Both Boaz and Ruth are heroes who make a correction to the ways of their ancestors. Boaz, a descendant of Judah, is sensitive to the needs of the woman and fulfills the levirate marriage from his own free will. This contrasts with the story told about Judah and Tamar, where Judah wanted to prevent his third son from consummating the levirate marriage with his daughter-in-law Tamar. In addition, Ruth corrected the ways of her maternal ancestor, the daughter of Lot. Ruth does not use her body to achieve her goals, in contrast to Lot’s daughter who manipulatively tricked her father and had forbidden relations with him. Boaz and Ruth are like a beacon of light during the dark period of the judges, which was characterized with a lack of mutually respectful conduct, and they show us how “in a place where there are no men, strive to be a man” (Pirkei Avot 2:5).
However, I would like to return to the point of similarity that I mentioned earlier in the comparison of the two women that became those who founded a royal dynasty when they didn’t expect it. Similar to Elizabeth II’s story, Ruth the Moabitess did not expect that her great-grandson would become king and found an eternal dynasty, the House of David. Apparently, the God of the Bible loves to surprise, and this is not the first time! This motif of upheavals is emphasized strongly in Hannah’s song:
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
(1 Sam. 2:4,5,8)
The biblical stories create an impression that God purposefully chooses the people with the most inferior qualifications, and purposefully moves forward those with the smallest chances of success, in order to emphasize the fact that “not by might shall a man prevail” (1 Sam. 2:9) and that He alone is the one that rules the world: “For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He set the world on them” (2:8).
Let’s look at a few examples of upheavals like these which God brought about:
- The forefathers were not born in the land of Canaan – Abraham came from Mesopotamia but received a promise that the land of Canaan would be his, even though he was not a native of the land, instead a stranger and foreigner.
- The younger sons took the place of the eldest sons, in disregard to what was regarded as customary. Abel’s offering, being the younger son, was accepted but not that of Cain the elder son; Isaac, the younger son, was chosen to continue Abraham’s legacy, and not the elder, Ishmael; Jacob, the younger twin, also continued Abraham’s legacy and not the elder, Esau; Jacob’s fourth son, Judah, became the family leader and not Reuben the eldest; Ephraim, Joseph’s younger son, and not the elder Manasseh; Moses and not Aaron; David and not Eliab; Solomon and not Amnon, etc.
- The heroes of the Bible that started their position were either too young (Gideon the judge, Josiah king of Judah, King David, the prophet Jeremiah, etc.) or too old (Abraham and Sarah, Moses, etc.).
- Barren women that gave birth to heroes – the mothers of the Jewish nation: Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel were all barren (seemingly also Leah since it is mentioned that God opened her womb), as well as Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel, Samson’s mother, Ruth the Moabitess, and more (there is a claim that Ruth was also barren since she did not have any children for the ten years of her first marriage).
- Foreign women who joined the famous dynasties – Tamar the daughter-in-law of Judah, Ruth the Moabitess, Naamah the Ammonitess (the mother of Rehoboam from the tribe Judah), Rahab who according to the midrash married Joshua, and more.
- People with obstacles – Moses seemed to not speak well (perhaps he stuttered) but became the greatest leader of the Israelite people, an inspiring speaker, and a poet; Jeremiah the prophet who said “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” (Jer. 1:6) became a powerful prophet who warned the people of the impending destruction; Joshua son of Nun – a coward; Gideon – the reluctant and doubting; the apostle Paul with the thorn in his flesh; the apostle Simeon Peter with his fiery temper, and more.
- People with an inferior social position – David went from being a rejected shepherd boy to being the king of all Israel; Joseph went from being slave to Pharoah’s second-in-command; Daniel went from being a foreign youth to the king’s counselor; Esther went from being an unassuming young woman to the queen of an empire; Ruth the Moabitess went from being a foreigner and widow to the mother of the Davidic dynasty; Jephthah the Gileadite was the son of a prostitute and hated and rejected by his brothers, but became the leader of the Gileadites who brought victory against the Ammonites, etc. In addition, many believers from simple backgrounds became sons and daughters of God and were saved (1 Corinthians 1:26).
If you have many challenges or obstacles of any kind – you still have every chance to succeed!
Despite it all, you are in good company with those that changed history. “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). But we should not be mistaken, this change in destiny does not always happen immediately. Each one of these heroes went through a long process of change and growth, which led eventually to outstanding results that were worth the wait.
Believing in the God of Israel and in His Word, is believing that all things can change for good!
 Levirate marriage: the marriage of a man to his deceased brother’s childless widow, as commanded in Deut. 25:5-6, and as was the custom in much of the ancient near east. The goal of this rule was the preservation of the family line of the deceased and the security of his widow.
 Translation by Joshua Kulp, Mishnah Yomit, accessed on sefaria.org.il