Chapter 1 – Bethlehem in Judah was once a rich city then struck with a famine. Naomi, her husband Elimeleck, and their two sons (Mahlon and Kilian), went to live among the Moabites, pagans, to survive. Each of Naomi’s sons marries Moabite women (Ruth and Orpah.) Elimelech and his two sons die. Mahlon was married to Ruth and Orpah married to Kilian (see 4:9)
Naomi and her family spent about 10 years in Moab. After her husband and sons died, the famine had improved in Bethlehem, and Naomi decided to return to her home. She gave both daughters-in-law permission to remain with “their people” so they would be able to remarry and have children. Naomi tells them she will have no more sons to become their husbands. Naomi was so kind in encouraging her daughters-in-law to return to their homeland to find husbands and have families.
Orpah returns to her family.
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
Once again, I am showing my ignorance, but until last year (and I had read the book of Ruth before) I always thought this statement was said from a wife about or to her husband!! I had heard this phrase used in wedding ceremonieS (NO wonder I thought it was between a husband and wife right?!!!) <<<smile>>> OH the things we learn when we REALLY read the Bible and ASK God to reveal His truth to us.
Ruth was quite persistent and determined to go with Naomi. Naomi realized Ruth’s determination so the two of them went to Bethlehem together. Naomi’s return with Ruth caused quite a “stir”. Naomi means “my delight” or “pleasant”. However, once she arrived in Bethlehem she wanted everyone to call her Mara which means “bitterness.” Naomi had been hit hard by her circumstances and almost seems a little negative. However, look at the love Ruth had for Naomi. Naomi must have taught Ruth about the ONE TRUE GOD, their laws, and all about being an Israelite while in MOAB!! Ruth saw something that she did not want to let go of. She saw the one true God and KNEW this was the way for her. We are reminded… throughout the OT that although God selected HIS chosen people, HE wanted the world to know about HIM through HIS chosen people. We have witnessed over and over how God has included the foreigners, aliens, prostitutes, and MORE in HIS plan. God meant for ALL people to come to know HIM…from the VERY beginning. HIS Chosen people were to lead the way in spreading the Word. Although there are some great leaders who do God’s will … including Naomi in sharing her faith with her entire family…God KNEW HE would have to sacrifice HIS ONLY begotten son so ALL would have a CHOICE to ASK Jesus into their hearts. Ruth is a perfect example of this inclusion in the OT.
Ruth, a Moabite, became a follower of the MOST HIGH GOD!!! I would say Naomi must have been an awesome mother-in-law …loving…and living her life in such a way that made Ruth want the GOD she had.
Their return to Bethlehem was certainly part of God’s plan because it was in this very town that David would be born (1 Sam 16:1), and, as prophesied by the prophet Micah (Micah 5:2), Jesus Christ would also be born there. Naomi and Ruth’s return to Bethlehem was NO COINCIDENCE … it led to the fulfillment of Scripture. The arrived at the beginning of the barley harvest which was in the spring (probably during the Mar-April time frame placing it in the Jewish month of Nisan/Abib … remember discussing the many other things that happened during this month … the exodus, the first Passover, The Last Supper, and Jesus’ Crucifixion.) … NO COINCIDENCES!!
Chapter 2 – Boaz: Who was Boaz? Boaz was the son of Rahab and Salmon. He was successful and well respected in his community. Remember Rahab (Joshua 2-6)? When Joshua sent the 2 spies to look over Jericho, she hid them on the roof. Her career as a prostitute was most useful … she had heard about the ONE TRUE GOD from her customers… it was not strange for men to seek her out…and her “house” was located on the outer wall of Jericho so the RED cloth/scarf/rope could be plainly seen when the Israelites attacked Jericho. Rahab is another example of how God included ALL people who CHOSE to BELIEVE in HIM and brought them into the “family of God.” Are you as amazed as I am that this was God’s plan from the beginning!!!???
Gleaning: Go back to Leviticus. When God was setting down all the Various Laws they had a reason. Look at this one:
” ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.”
Ruth is not afraid to work and goes to the fields to glean the barley so she and Naomi can eat. She “just happened” to end up in the field of BOAZ!! Go back and read how many different times Boaz showed FAVOR to Ruth along the way (in chapters 2-4.)
Chapter 3 Kinsman:Ga’al or Goel in Hebrew, to redeem, act as kinsman-redeemer, avenge, revenge, ransom, do the part of a kinsman. Redemption is the key and theme to the book of Ruth. A Redeemer is responsible for protecting us in a time of need. Keep the parallel in mind when reading this story. A kinsman-redeemer was a relative who VOLUNTEERED to take responsibility for the extended family. In Deut 25:5-10, the law provided that a widow would marry a brother of her dead husband. But Naomi had no other sons. In such a case the nearest relative to the deceased husband could become a kinsman-redeemer and marry the widow …. But he did not have to marry the widow. If he chose not to marry the widow, then the next nearest relative could take his place. There are 3 characters here.
- Naomi (Jew),
- Ruth (Gentile),
- Boaz (Kinsman-Redeemer).
We see Ruth following Naomi’s exact instructions in approaching Boaz. Ruth had a strong hunger and desire to do things the “right” way, according to Hebrew customs that she would have not known.
We today are never left without a Redeemer. This story is a portrait of Christ.
Chapter 4 I found it interesting that the name of the “closer relative” is never given. I also found it interesting the way that Boaz presented the situation regarding Naomi and Ruth to the “closer relative.” He does things with integrity and properly in front of town gate (place of gathering of the prominent people of the city). Boaz brought 10 elders with him as witnesses.
Boaz first tells him that “Naomi who has come back from Moab is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.” Boaz brought this to his attention in front of the elders because no one has the right to do it except him and then Boaz was next in line. The unnamed kinsman-redeemer responds with … sure I’ll redeem it… no problem.
Boaz then carefully presents the rest of the story….. and by the way… on the day you buy the land from Naomi and Ruth the Moabite … you acquire the dead man’s widow. Ummmmmmm…. Maybe more responsibility for the unnamed kinsman-redeemer. We don’t know exactly why the unnamed kinsman stepped back except he said: “I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself.” Maybe he was married, or maybe he knew according to law that his own estate would then be divided if he and Ruth had children…giving less to a wife and children he may have had or wanted to have. Whatever the reason, he stepped back.
What I see that is so beautiful in this is Boaz cared for Ruth. (I KNOW>>>DUH!!) I believe he KNEW the closer kinsman would not want it if it came with Naomi and Ruth, but Boaz saved this information for last. It showed not only his integrity of explaining the entire situation but also where his heart was. PLUS… GOD had planned for Boaz and Ruth to be together!!
Now let’s look at the Genealogy. God used these oppressed times, with this unusual circumstance, to SHOW us that NO MATTER HOW BAD THINGS APPEAR…. HE WILL WORK THINGS OUT FOR THE GOOD FOR HIS CHILDREN!!!
Through these unbelievable genealogies (not ones we have put together) we see where Jesus came from … prophesy unfolding through our very eyes as we read!! Ruth, a Moabite, Boaz a descendant of a prostitute, Naomi, a bitter Jew, come together tobring to life the beginning of the line of David.
Let’s look a little closer. I have already mentioned Rahab (a gentile prostitute being saved because of the promise of the two Israelite spies in Jericho) who married Salmon. Keep the name Salmon in mind too… it will show up in the last verses of this chapter!!
Also do you remember Judah? He had 3 sons (Genesis 38.) The first son married Tamar then died because he was so evil (that is all we were told about him.) Judah’s second son was to take Tamar as his wife. However he KNEW if he had children with her then his inheritance would have to split between his sons with her as well as with any other wife he chose and those children. So Judah’s second son rebels, spills his seed on the ground so Tamar cannot get pregnant then God killed him for spilling his seed. Judah has one son left, Shelah. Judah encourages Tamar return to her home and when Shelah is of age he will come get her so they can be married. Time passes and Tamar sees Judah and Shelah in her home town. She “covers up” as a prostitute, and has sex with Judah since he did not keep his promise. BUT Tamar is smart and asks for his signet ring, staff, and his bracelets. Three months pass. She is accused of being a prostitute and is brought before Judah … she pulls out the “goodies of his” to prove he is the father of her children. Judah and Tamar have two sons Perez and Zarah. Keep Perez in mind!!
So… here we are with Ruth and Boaz who have a son Obed, named by the women of the community who said Naomi had a son!!! Naomi “got her groove back!” You know she was thrilled to have a grandson (see the Lord did return the years the locusts had eaten away—Joel 2:25)!! Obed (means serving) was the father of Jesse (means “I possess”) and Jesse the father of David (means beloved)!!!
If you read/reread the last verses in Chapter 4 you will see the name PEREZ (son of Judah and Tamar). From the lineage of PEREZ came SALMON who married RAHAB and had BOAZ … and ultimately JESUS is of this lineage… just as prophesy foretold!!
Why is David so important? The Messiah MUST be a King from the line of David. This book will be a huge part of the book of Matthew’s beginning. Each of the Gospels’ serve a purpose to fulfill prophecy. Matthew is written for the Jew, the Messiah comes from the line for David. Mark is written to depict Jesus as a Servant, written for the Romans, Luke will set forth Jesus as a Man, going all the way back to Adam, written to the Greeks. John will portray Jesus as the son of God and his divine relationship for all believers. Jesus is our Redeemer!! He is Prophesied, Promised, Powerful, Perfect and Personal!
Sharing HIS love
Tomorrow we will read the book of Ruth. It is only four chapters and is a wonderful read.
The author of the book is unknown. There are scholars who believe the Prophet Samuel wrote it, and others who believe there was no way he could have.
The book of Ruth was written to the Israelites during a very dark time in their history. As I write this, we have just finished reading the book of Judges and saw how the Israelite Nation had all turned to idolatry, wickedness, self-centeredness, rebellion, and basically no relationship with God. “Everyone did as he saw fit.”
Now we are about to begin the book of Ruth, which took place “In the days when the judges ruled” (1:1.) This book shows us there were still some people living for the Lord. It was a book of HOPE for the Israelites. Its main theme is REDEMPTION (and a foreshadow of Jesus.)
If you are like me, in my past readings of Ruth I saw it as a tender love story and one of deep respect for her mother-in-law. OH BOY… was I ever in for a huge glorious surprise.
Without giving away all the secrets for our read tomorrow, I thought I would go ahead and remind you who the Moabites were. In chapter 1:1 we are told that: “a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.”
Remember Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who CHOSE to live right next to Sodom and Gomorrah? Well, after the angels rescued him (more like JERKED him out of there) with his family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, they were all told not to look back. BUT, his wife did not want to leave all the things she had, turned around, looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Anyway, Lot and his 2 daughters ended up living in a cave. The daughters feeling desperate and seeing NO way for them to find husbands and have children schemed to get their father drunk and have sex with him. And each of them became pregnant. One of the sons from this little episode was Moab. The Moabites worshiped MANY gods, worshiped idols, believed strongly in child sacrifice and prostitution as a way to worship their gods, and were into all of the things from which God wanted Israel to remain separate and apart. When you stop and think about their history… starting with an unwed, drunken, incestuous night…. Well that might explain a LOT (pun intended!!)
WHY did this man and his family leave Bethlehem? It was because there was a famine in the land. These times of the Judges (spanned over a period of 325 years) were very oppressive for the Israelites in all ways. The famine must have been extremely severe for this man to move his family to Moab. Desperate times call for desperate measures so this Israelite family went to live with the Moabites in search of food.
I pray God will open the eyes of your heart with the book of Ruth so you will come to understand it in a way you never have known.
Sharing HIS love,