It is a small lapel pin in the shape of the bottom of a blue slipper. In the bottom half of the slipper is the Square and Compass. On the heal portion is the all Seeing Eye. Over the years the wives, mothers and daughters of grown to war them when traveling alone away from home. But many people, like me until recently, do not know of them or their meaning.
Now for little history lesson. Let us visit the Book of Ruth. Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilon fled to the land of Moab to escape the famine in their homeland of Bethlehem-judah. Things were going good, but as usual things turn bad and Elimelech died. The two sons married Moabite girls – Orpha and Ruth. Again, things turned bad and Mahlon and Chilon died. Now all that was left was Naomi in a strange foreign land with two widowed daughters-in-law from the land of Moab.
Like most people, alone in a strange land, Naomi thought of home, and found the famine had subsided and there was food again. So she confided with Orpha and Ruth that she would journey back home and be among her kinsmen.
Now in this time, there were laws, rules and customs. Usually the daughter-in-laws would marry another male from the family. But Naomi was too old to bear a son, let alone have them wait until the sons would be old enough for them to marry. So the girls would traditionaly stay among their people. At first both girls resisted and started to go with Naomi. Orpha was convinced to stay in Moab, but Ruth remained steadfast and went with Naomi to her homeland.
They arrived back in Bethlehem-judah at harvest time. The Bible states a well-known passage: “And Ruth said, In treat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodges, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”
Another law was when Elimelech died, his next of kin was duty bound to redeem his possessions and take care of his widow and her family. Since Naomi was getting old, Ruth tried to earn a livelihood. While gleaning the fields she was seen by Boaz. When he found out about her, and her story, he arranged special treatment for her. She could work with his girls in the field and the young men were warned not to bother her. Since Boaz was not married and was kin to Naomi, Naomi decided that she should make Boaz understand his duty to Elimelech’s family. Naomi advised Ruth to bathe and anoint herself and go to the threshing floor after dark and lay at the feet of Boaz. Boaz awoke at midnight and discovered her there. Not wanting a scandal he gave her some barley and asked her to leave before watching eyes would not recognize her.
Business of Bethlehem-judah took place at the gate of the city. Boaz sat down at the gate the next day because he knew there was a kinsman more closely related to Elimelech then he was. So when the kinsman came by, Boaz called him ad asked 10 men of the elders to sit with them. Boaz bargained with his kinsman. The kinsman said he would redeem Elimelech’s property. But when he found out that he would be responsible for Naomi and Ruth he backed out and told Boaz he would not redeem or protect Elimelech’s interest. The passage reads as: “And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it., Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel.”
The kinsmen drew off his shoe and gave it to Boaz. Boaz held it up for all in the gate to see. He asked them to be witnesses that he became Naomi’s protector, Ruth’s husband and a redeemer of Elimelech’s property.
Thus the slipper has become an emblem to identify loved ones of Masons to other members of the Craft.