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Archive for the ‘Book of Ruth’ Category

Ruth’s Story

Before moving on to study another book of the Bible, I’d like to pause and look again at the main characters in this story – Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi. Are they good examples to follow? They certainly are.

However, today I’m just going to give you a link to another website. It contains a fictional account of the story of Ruth as if you met Ruth in heaven and she were telling her story to you. It portrays the story of Ruth as both a true story and an allegory showing relationships between Israel, the Church, and the Messiah.

Here’s the link: GracethruFaith: Ruth’s Story

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Ruth 4:13-22

A Blessed Marriage

Observations

  • Although Jewish law and tradition (Ruth 4:5) states that Obed would be credited to Mahlon as Mahlon’s heir and maintaining the line of Elimelech, when Matthew and  Luke give the geneology of Jesus (Matthew 1:5, Luke 3:23) both of them list Boaz, not Mahlon as Obed’s father.
  • Obed will become the grandfather of King David. Obed is the father of Jesse and the grandfather of King David
  • Jesus is born of the family of David.
  • Boaz himself has a Canaanite mother – Rahab (Matthew 1:5)
  • Jesus has both Canaanite and Moabite heritage.
  • Obed was well accepted by the community. (Ruth 4:14-15)
  • Obviously, since the Lord chose David to be king, the rule that no Moabite should enter the assembly of the Lord for 10 generations does not apply here.

Questions

  • Why do you think that the women were so ready and quick with their praise of Obed?
  • Why do you think that both Luke and Matthew list Boaz in the geneology and not Mahlon?
  • Why do you think God blessed this marriage so richly?

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Ruth 4: 1-12

Boaz marries Ruth!

There are many reasons not to do so.

  • There’s a large age difference.
  • She’s a Moabite.
  • A son born from this union would be considered Elimelech’s and not his own.
  • It appears that he is not obligated to do so. He’s a relative, but not the closest relative – and definitely not Mahlon’s brother.

However, he is a relative. He seems to care for Ruth. He definitely thinks highly of her. He is flattered that she would ask him.

I think it’s easy to understand why the other man did not want to marry Ruth. It’s no slight to Ruth, but he probably already had a wife and children. He was thinking about them. It’s a little harder to understand Boaz marrying Ruth. Was it simply that he fell in love with her? It could be. He didn’t wait long to go talk to the other relative. Naomi knew that he wouldn’t let the sun set without speaking to him. What were the signals that she picked up, I wonder.

Did a sense of duty enter into it? He was a kinsman-redeemer, after all.

Observations

  • Boaz had a relative who was born as a result of the kinsman-redeemer law. His name was Perez. The story is in Genesis 38.
  • His mother was Rahab – a Canaanite of Jericho who helped the Hebrew spies.

No wonder he had a tender heart for the foreigner! He must have understood something of the sacrifices that Ruth made in leaving her country for that of Naomi. He knew that where one’s heart is, is more important than the country of one’s birth.

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“That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20, NIV)

Kinsman-Redeemer is a translation of the Hebrew word go’el which can mean kinsman or redeemer. Let’s see how it is translated here in other versions.

  • family redeemers – (New Living Translation & Holman Christian Standard Bible)
  • our closest relatives – (New American Standard Bible)
  • our redeemers – (English Standard Version)
  • one of those who is supposed to look after us – (Contemporary English Version)
  • one of our close relatives – (NKJV)

The go’el is a kinsman who has the the right and obligation to help a poor relative in his time of need, particularly if he has had to sell some property. The Hebrews an interesting system which you can read about in Leviticus 25. When they sold property, it wasn’t a real sale. It was more of an extended lease, the right to use the property until the year of Jubilee. There was a year of Jubilee every 50 years. The value of the land would depend on how long it was until the next year of Jubilee.

Naomi apparently could sell her property to anyone, and it would come back to her heirs at the Jubilee. But what, if she had no heirs to inherit it? She needed an heir. She needed someone to both buy her property and provide her with an heir.

Boaz could meet that need. He could marry Ruth and buy her field. He was a close relative. However, apparently he was not the closest relative. There was another man who is closer. We are not given his name. He’s a John Doe.

However, Boaz is willing to serve as kinsman-redeemer if the John Doe does not want to do it. Boaz is a relative. He has the money. He is willing to pay the price. He is willing to take Ruth the Moabite as his bride.

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Ruth 3

This is perhaps the most difficult chapter to understand and yet a crucial part of the story. Earlier when Naomi insisted that Ruth stay behind in Moab, Ruth did not follow Naomi’s advice but  insisted that she was going to Bethlehem with Naomi.

Here she is following Naomi’s advice, although to me at least, it seems rather strange advice. I understand that Hebrew law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) provided for women with  Leverite marriage – marriage to a dead husband’s brother. However, Ruth’s husband Mahlon had no living brothers. Boaz was not obligated to marry Ruth, nor she him. That she would ask him to be kinsman-redeemer in the absence of closer relatives does make sense. But…

Why go to Boaz at night? Why not approach him about performing the role of kinsman-redeemer in daytime?

Observations

  • Boaz doesn’t seem to find it as strange as I do. (Ruth 3:10)
  • Boaz blesses her.
  • He complements her on her good, noble character.
  • He considers her actions to be kind.
  • He acknowledges that she could have sought marriage with a younger man.
  • Ruth is completely honest about who she is and what her desire is. (Unlike Tamar in Genesis 38)

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Ruth 2

Chapter one concluded with Ruth and Naomi moving to Bethlehem. Ruth shows wonderful loyalty to both Naomi and her God. Naomi is feeling down, possibly bitter, but seems to have at least a bit of hope. She is returning to Bethlehem because “the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them.” (NIV)

What do we see in chapter 2?

  • That Naomi has a rich, well respected relative in town
  • That Ruth just “happens” to end up gleaning in his field
  • That Boaz has heard of Ruth and her kindness to Naomi
  • That Boaz takes a protective role over Ruth
  • That Ruth is surprised by his kindness
  • That Boaz’s kindness is obvious to Naomi even before she finds out where Ruth was
  • That Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer.

Questions

  • Ruth asks Naomi for permission to glean. Why might this be?
  • In what ways is Boaz kind to Ruth? How many can we list?
  • How does Boaz value Ruth? How does she value herself?
  • How does Ruth “happen” to end up in Boaz’s field? What do we know? What can we guess?
  • Have Naomi’s thoughts and feelings toward God changed? If so, how?

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Looking for studies of Ruth on the Internet I have found:

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