Tate Gallery, London/Art Resource, NY

A triptych by the English painter Thomas Matthew Rooke (1842–1942) illustrates three key events in the Book of Ruth: In the panel at left, Ruth pleads with Naomi, her mother-in-law, to be allowed to accompany her to Judah after both of their husbands have died. At center, Ruth asks Boaz, one of Naomi’s relatives, for permission to glean in his barley field in Bethlehem so that she and Naomi may have something to eat. In the panel at right, Naomi tenderly cradles Obed, son of Ruth and Boaz and ancestor of the future King David.

Although the Book of Ruth is thousands of years old, author Denise Dick Herr finds the dialogue in it very up-to-date. The bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus reports that men tend to view the world in terms of achievement and that, in their conversations, they seek to gain and maintain power, while women tend to view the world in terms of communities, and to speak in ways that encourage and maintain relationships. In closely examining the dialogues in the Book of Ruth, Herr finds these same insights apply to biblical times. Back then, however, it would be more appropriate, according to Herr, to say that men were from Judah, signifying their interest in power, prestige and wealth within their tribe, and that women were from Bethlehem, the town in Judah whose name means “House of Bread,” an image of nurture.