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Ruth

Ruth 4

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Verses 1-4

  1. Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.

  2. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.

  3. And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:

  4. And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.

Boaz, true to his promise, went to the city gate of Bethlehem. This is where judges sat to administer justice and others gathered to do business and political agreements. As Boaz sat in the gate (a space between an outer and inner gate, with benches. We see good example of this in old British castles), the next of kin of Naomi’s dead husband passed by. Boaz called to him to sit on the bench near him. Boaz then asked ten city elders to join them, as witnesses.

Boaz spoke up and told him that Naomi was selling a plot of land that belonged to her dead husband, Elimelech. He asked the kinsman if he would buy it. That is, redeem it. this combines two concepts – that of the ‘kinsman-redeemer’, ga’al. This means acting the part of a near-family member, by marrying a brother’s widow, so she would have a child in her dead husband’s name. Here, the first question was to do with buying Naomi’s land, which was a separate issue. This is connected to God redeeming the people out of slavery in Egypt to freedom, from Babylon, etc. When Boaz said “our brother” it does not necessarily mean a blood-brother of the same close family, but simply a fellow tribal member.

Boaz asked the brother if he would buy the land, because he had the immediate right to do so. The brother agreed to buy it.

Verses 5&6

  1. Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

  2. 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.

Boaz then added that if the brother bought the land he also bought it not just from Naomi, but from her daughter-in-law, too, so that she would have a son to carry on the family name. The brother, however, rejected this part, saying he was unable to redeem the widow. He said that to do so would damage his own line of inheritance. He therefore asked Boaz to take on the redemption of Ruth, for he could not. (He gives no other reason), and so backed out of buying both the land and Ruth. In this way he made the path clear for Boaz.

Verses 7-12

  1. 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 neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.

  2. Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

  3. And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.

  4. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.

  5. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:

  6. And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.

Though the account of Ruth took place in the early days of the judges, it looks like the Book itself was written later: “this was the manner in former time”. When a deal was done in Israel, the one who agreed to the deal took off his shoe and handed it to the other person. This, witnessed by others, sealed the deal legally. The brother then asked Boaz to redeem Ruth and Boaz agreed to it, taking off his shoe as a sign of the agreement before witnesses, “a testimony in Israel”. Boaz called on the witnesses to say that he had legitimately bought the land belonging to Elimelech and his two sons, from Naomi. In this way he bought all rights to Ruth (including marriage) as well, so that she might have a child to whom would pass an inheritance in the name of her now dead husband. The people around him all agreed that they were witnesses.

The witnesses then related what had been done, to Rachel and Leah, and hoped Ruth would be just as good a mother and wife; they also helped to build up the nation of Israel by their goodness. They hoped Boaz’s house (family) would be like the “house of Pharez”. Thus, may Boaz and Ruth produce many children just as Pharez did… the people of Bethlehem were his descendants.

“… and do thou worthily in Ephratah”. This is another name for Bethlehem. Let the name of Boaz be well known in Israel.

Verses 13-17

  1. So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

  2. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.

  3. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.

  4. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.

  5. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth was waiting nervously at home, and then came the news, probably brought by Boaz himself. All we are told is they got married, and Ruth became pregnant. The other women of the city all praised Naomi for having her part in the marriage. She was now rejoined to the clan and could be known for her link to Boaz. Any child, they said, would be famous. Both she and Ruth came to Bethlehem poor and with little prospect. Now, Naomi shared in the glory of a daughter-in-law who married a prince.

In this way, and through Ruth’s pregnancy, Naomi would have her life restored by Ruth, who would help keep her from poverty in “thine old age” The city women even said that Ruth was now better to Naomi than seven sons, because she had produced a son herself.

The son was given to Naomi, who became his nurse-maid, and, as was custom, the women said that Ruth’s baby was also Naomi’s baby by association. Thus Naomi was saved from penury by Ruth’s marriage, a marriage given to her for being virtuous and godly. The baby was named Obed, which is significant, because his son was Jesse, the father of David.

Verses 18-22

  1. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,

  2. And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,

  3. And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,

  4. And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,

  5. And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

As we already know Israelites/Jews guard their genealogies with fierce loyalty. So, in Ruth, we see confirmation that she was now part of a loved and notable blood-line. Pharez (Perets – ‘breach’), whose mother was Tamar, had a son named Hezron (Chetsrown – ‘surrounded by a wall’).

Hezron had a son named Ram (‘high’ or ‘exalted’), who himself had a son named Amminadab (‘Ammiynadab – ‘my kinsman is noble’). All were princes of the Hebrews. His famous son was Nahshon (Nachshown – ‘enchanter’), already mentioned in Ruth. Nahshon had a son named Salmon (Salmown, said sal-mown – ‘garment’). This brings us up to date with Boaz, who was son to Salmon.

Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed (‘Owbed – ‘serving’), who became father of Jesse (Yishay – ‘I possess’). And his son, one of the most famed, was David (‘beloved’). The writer took pains to establish both David’s and Boaz’ genealogy, and to show that God took a woman out of a pagan tribe, allowed her to be a full proselyte, and then to be raised up by marrying a prince of Judah, Boaz, who became her kinsman-redeemer. They were grandparents to David and thus were direct ancestors of Jesus. Because princes usually beget princes, it is highly likely that Jesses was also a prince and wealthy.

It is thought that Ruth married Boaz in 1283BC, when she was about 25 years of age. The idea that she remarried at age 20 is not feasible, for she had been married previously to Naomi’s son for ten years. I doubt she married him at age 10, which would have been before the age of womanhood. The dates of her life time can be at least roughly assumed by looking at the death of Nahshon and the birth of David, and working forwards and backwards respectively. They appear to have lived in the time of Ehud, the second Judge.

(Note: More details on the Book of Ruth are contained in my publication, ‘The Book of Ruth: a Commentary’).

---oOo---

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Wales
United Kingdom

Ruth 3

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Verses 1-5

  1. Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?

  2. And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.

  3. Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.

  4. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.

  5. And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.

Naomi sees an opportunity and seizes it quickly! Like a typical mother (for that is how she was with Ruth), she wanted to guide Ruth towards a new husband – and who better than her relative, wealthy, powerful Boaz? I see no malice or deception going on here, just an older woman seeking to help her daughter-in-law to find happiness and security where otherwise there might be none. In those days a lone woman had a very hard time finding work and then trying to just live. It was even harder for a widow to find another husband.

Naomi said she wanted Ruth to rest from her work, so she could be refreshed for the next day. In reality she wanted Ruth to cease from her hard work in the fields by ‘marrying well’. So, she devised a plan… Ruth should go down to the field where Boaz would be winnowing barley through the evening. Winnowing, zarah, was a method to separate corn from the chaff. If there was a wind, that would do it: the grain would be picked up by a large shovel or basket and thrown up into the air. The wind would cause the lighter chaff to blow away, leaving the heavier grain to fall into a pile. But, when there was no wind, which was most likely at the end of a hot day, they used large fans to create a breeze.

Naomi advised Ruth to have a good wash, to remove the dust of the working day, put on fresh clothes, and use perfume, all so she would appeal to the unmarried Boaz. Probably, neither had much, but at least they could clean their clothing. She was then to go to the field and wait for Boaz to finish his work, and then eat and drink. But, Ruth should not show herself to him. Ruth agreed to the plan.

The plan was to wait until he went to lay down in the field (as they did at that time, to be ready for the next day). Then, she would quietly lay at his feet, after placing the end of his outer garment over her. This is what is meant (in this text) by ‘uncover his feet’, galah=uncover. The term can be used to describe making someone naked, but it is not the meaning in this text. The word for ‘feet’, margelah, has a specific meaning – the place of the feet, or just ‘feet’, which verifies that she merely used the lower part of the garment that covered his feet. Anything else would be improper and immoral. An apposite text is 1 Samuel 24:3, “And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.”

This occurred when Saul was chasing David and his 400 followers. He went into the cave to “cover his feet”. This has two main meanings (there are a few more) – one is to use the cave as a toilet. The other is to lay down and go to sleep. As I show in my Bible study on this chapter, it could only mean to go to sleep.

Naomi said that when he awoke, Boaz would tell Ruth what to do (revealing his true feelings for her). Ruth agreed with Naomi. I do not see this as immoral or unethical. It is how couples come together, often by indications from one or both that there was the promise of a future relationship. It was, though, still a risk. However, by only placing a part of Boaz’s cloak over her, Ruth was not denuding him, so her actions could not be called salacious or sexually provocative. Today, even Christian relationships often begin with sexuality of some kind, which is a shame and a sin.

Verses 6-9

  1. And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.

  2. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.

  3. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.

  4. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.

Ruth made her way to the fields and waited on her own until Boaz had eaten and had drink, feeling comfortable and filled (“merry”). He went to a pile of corn sheaves and lay down to sleep. Ruth quietly approached and lay at his feet, without making a sound or saying anything. At midnight, Boaz stirred a while and realised someone was close to him. His first reaction was that of fear, but he then saw it was a woman.

Boaz asked who she was, and she said ‘I am Ruth, your servant’. She added, ‘You are my family, so please cover me again with your skirt.’ The word ‘skirt’, kanaph, means the border or corner of his outer garment. There are other meanings that don’t apply in this text.

Verses 10-13

  1. And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.

  2. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.

  3. And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.

  4. Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning.

Though still alarmed, Boaz was kind to Ruth, praising her purity and for not going after men of any age. Rather, she was demure, a quality rarely seen in our modern world. Boaz blessed her for this. It appears that Boaz understood Ruth’s intention – to gain his attention. Or, she told him her desire to find an husband. This explains his words in verse 11 and 12. He said everyone in Bethlehem knew she was a righteous woman, and deserved to find someone to marry. However, he honestly told her that while he was a “near kinsman” he was not the closest; even though it appears he was interested in her himself. Someone else he knew was closer in kin. That is, to Naomi and thus, by reason of Naomi’s dead son, to Ruth.

Boaz suggested Ruth should remain asleep on the corn until morning. He would then go to the city gate and talk with the next of kin. If the next of kin did not wish to marry, then he, Boaz, would offer himself as husband. This was not as quick a decision as you might think – he had information on her from the start, had watched her working, and mused on her as a person; we need not doubt he was attracted to her. His main concern, we should note, was not her beauty (assumed), but her character and devotion to God. This should always be the first concern when looking for a marriage mate. For now, he advised, just go to sleep. Note how there was nothing sensual going on! Everything was above board and pure.

Verses 14-18

  1. And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.

  2. Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.

  3. And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her.

  4. And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.

  5. Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.

The two went back to sleep. Ruth awoke early and left the field before anyone could see her, to avoid rumours. Her early departure was agreeable to Boaz. Before Ruth left, Boaz told her to hold out her veil. He then put six measures of barley grain into it and tied it to her back, to carry home. The actual measure size is unknown but probably equalled the usual-sized scoops.

Back home Naomi asked how the evening went and Ruth gave her the details. Both must have been very excited, that Ruth may at last gain a husband. Naomi at least hoped it would be Boaz.

Naomi advised Ruth to just sit and wait in the house, to see how Boaz would bring the matter to an end. He had promised an answer that day, so Ruth waited, pensive and full of hope. We cannot doubt that God had planned what would happen, so that Ruth and Boaz became the legitimate ancestors to David – and not just him, but Jesus Christ, too.

---oOo---

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Wales
United Kingdom

Ruth 2

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Verses 1-3

  1. And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.

  2. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.

  3. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.

Naomi was related by marriage to a local businessman named Boaz, who was a ‘kinsman’ of her late husband (same tribe). He is described as a “mighty man of wealth”, which tells us he had great power and was very rich. His main business was in “the city”, Bethlehem, which tells us that the place was at that time prosperous. Later, in the time of Christ, it was a poor village. The Chaldean translation calls him “mighty in law”, which meant he had excellent knowledge of God’s laws. A businessman who was also a strong believer. Unusual! If only modern businessmen were as faithful to God. (Some are, but it is rare).

Boaz (‘fleetness’) was an ancestor of David, and a major employer in the area. Ruth told Naomi she would go to the fields below, to “glean ears of corn”, and hopes the owners would allow her to do so. As a widow she had no means of support, and the idea was to enter the fields after the reapers had cut the corn, to pick up grain left on the floor of the field. It was either that or starve, and it was allowed by Israelite law. Naomi agreed. So, Ruth made her way to the fields and waited until the reapers had done their work. Then, she followed behind and began to pick up corn heads fallen to the ground. She began by picking up corn owned by someone else, and slowly moved on to the field owned by Boaz (as she later discovered).

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Ruth 1

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General Background

Many theories are found concerning the time of the writing of this Book, ranging from the earliest of Judges to after David became king. From the tone of this Book and the lack of reference to great problems in Israel, it would suggest that the book was written in the earliest times of the Judges. This means it was not written chronologically later than the main Book of Judges, but during it.

Another clue is the mention of Boaz, a name found only once in scripture with a link to a person (the other mention is to pillars in Solomon’s Temple, named ‘Boaz’ for reasons unknown), and the additional mention of a famine. Taking both together we can assume the clues refer to a specific time in the history of Israel, which will give us an approximate date for the writing of the Book. The Book is part of the group of writings called the Ketuvim (the final part of the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible).

(Note: Boaz was the grandson of an Hebrew prince, Nahshon, who was born during the wanderings in the wilderness. Boaz could not, then, have lived in the later period of the Judges).

The only time a famine is mentioned in connection with the Judges is at the time of Gideon, after enemies burnt the fields. This information is also spoken of by Jewish rabbis and has been discovered by archaeologists. The background tells of an Israelite woman (Naomi) and her husband who went outside Israel to live in Moab, at a time of famine. Though the couple should not have done so, the story of Ruth, their daughter-in-law, is celebrated every year, to this day, at the time of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks, 50 days after Passover).

The Book of Ruth is different, because it is not filled with lust, war and sin! Rather, it speaks of love and loyalty. Ruth is the Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi. She remained in company with Naomi after she moved back to Bethlehem, especially after Naomi’s two sons died, leaving Ruth and her fellow daughter-in-law, Orpah, widows. Orpah decided to stay, but Ruth remained loyal to Ruth.

Importantly, this move back to Bethlehem forms part of the genealogy of Christ. God brought together several strands of human existence – the earlier famine, the death of Naomi’s husband, her decision (or was it God’s?) to return to Bethlehem to find a way of living, the inclusion of Boaz, and the bringing of a Moabite woman into the ancestry of Christ. Ruth was the great-grandmother of David. Thus, a Moabite became part of the royal line, showing that even one who was outside of God’s chosen people became a part of them by her faith and adoption of Israel’s God.

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