Ruth 4 (part 2)

Ruth 4 (part2)

CALL ME MYRA

A BITTER TIME

The Book of Ruth begins with an introduction to Namoi and her family, a husband and two sons, and their journey to Moab to escape a famine in Israel (Ruth 1:1-2).  They spent 10 years in Moab, and during that time, Naomi’s husband died, her two sons married women of Moab, and then her sons also died (Ruth 1:3-5).  But being driven from her home by famine, spending a decade in a strange land full of idolatry, and then returning home as a poor and childless widow challenged Namoi’s faith and her understanding.  When she tried to send her two daughters-in-law away before journeying back to Israel, Naomi said, “It grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me” (Ruth 1:13).  Namoi then returned home, and her daughter-in-law Ruth insisted on returning with her.  Ruth 1:19-21 says, “And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?”  In Hebrew, the word “Mara” means bitter.  This was the name the Israelites gave to the place in the wilderness where the water was bitter (Heb. 15:23).  In his own great trial of affliction, Job said he was speaking in the bitterness of his soul (Job 7:11 and 10:1).

GOD’S GOOD PURPOSE

Naomi did not fully understand God’s purpose for her trials while she was in the midst of them.  But that should not be difficult for any of us to relate to.  She also did not have the plain words that we have in the New Testament about God working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).  Suffering for righteousness’ sake is the pathway by which we grow spiritually to be in the image of Christ (2 Cor. 1:3‑6; 2 Cor. 4:16-17; 12:9‑10; Gal. 3:3-4, Php. 3:10‑15; Heb. 2:10; 5:8‑9; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6‑9).  That is why it is necessary for all Christians to suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake (Matt. 13:21; Php. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:14; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 2:21; 3:9).  But God was forming His faithful children in the Old Testament too.  And they also grew spiritually by suffering affliction (Psa. 66:10-12; Prov. 17:3; 25:4).  In Psalm 119:67, the psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”  The affliction taught him to keep God’s word and not go astray.  “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psa. 119:71).  He learned God’s statutes by what he suffered.  “I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Psa. 119:75).  God was good and faithful to give him this affliction to help him grow.  Job was being tried that he might come forth as gold (Job 23:10).  The Old Testament prophets also foretold that suffering for righteousness’ sake would be the pathway of spiritual growth under the New Covenant (Zech. 13:8-9; Mal 3:1-4).  Suffering for righteousness’ sake is how Jesus grew to be perfect (Heb. 2:10; 5:8‑9).  Christ’s sufferings are our example to follow (2 Cor. 13‑7; 1 Pet. 2:19‑25) so that we can also grow to be spiritually complete like Christ (James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6‑9).  Therefore, we should rejoice when we suffer for doing well (Matt. 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23; Rom. 5:3; 2 Cor. 12:9-10; James 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:6; 3:14; 4:12-16).  That is the way that Christ’s strength is made perfect in us (2 Cor. 12:9-10).  That is how our faith is purified, and how we grow in patience (1 Pet. 1:6-7; 5:10; Rom. 5:3-4; Jas 1:2‑3).

A HAPPY ENDING

Once again, that is why we have that great “cloud of witnesses” that we need to follow in running our race to perfection and overcoming sin (Heb. 12:1-4).  James 5:10‑11 says, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.  Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”  Naomi is another example of enduring affliction.  Even when she thought God had dealt bitterly with her, she did not stop serving Him.  And, like Job, she too came to see the pity and tender mercy of God in the end.  God provided a husband for Ruth from among Naomi’s kinfolk, and Naomi then had a new family that God used to provide for her.  And this is the very family that God made to be the ancestors of David, the royal line of the tribe of Judah, and ultimately of Jesus Christ the Son of God.  What happened with Naomi reminds us of what our Lord says in Romans 8:18: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  And 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Jon Macon

AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY…

“And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David” (Ruth 4:21-22).  We see by this passage that Jesus is descended through this union.

Did you notice what it said about Naomi having a son too? Not only was Ruth a beneficiary, but Naomi also received a blessing from this union.

“And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. 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 4:16-17).

Ruth 4 (part 1)

Following the Law

Before Witnesses

Two different laws of Israel were involved in the events that took place in Ruth 4:1-10.

Boaz called the nearer kinsman and explained that their relative Naomi had returned from Moab and that she “sells a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s” (Ruth 4:3).

The other man, being a closer relative, was given the first opportunity to “redeem” the land, but if he refused, then Boaz was next in line (Ruth 4:4).

1). This action was based in Leviticus 25:25, which says, “If thy brother be waxen poor, and has sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.”

Although they were using Leviticus 25:25 as the basis for their conduct (and there was nothing at all wrong or foolish for them to do so), that particular law did not completely fit the circumstances involved in Ruth 4, because in this case, Naomi had not yet sold the land, whereas Leviticus 25:25 technically applied only after the sale.

In truth, Naomi’s kinsman was not actually being given the opportunity to “redeem” the land, but to purchase it outright. It became the Jews’ custom to apply this law both before and after the actual sale of the land (see also Jer. 32:6-12). The nearer kinsman agreed to buy it (Ruth 4:4), but changed his mind when another law was added to the equation.

2). After the nearer kinsman expressed his intention of buying Naomi’s land, Boaz said to him, “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” (Ruth 4:5). The nearer kinsman declined to buy the field on the grounds that it would “mar” his own inheritance (Ruth 4:6).

Whatever money he invested in purchasing Naomi’s land would ultimately be lost to this man, because that land would eventually go to a son that would be born to Ruth by him. Thus, he would not gain any extra land in the long run, and he would be taking money out of his own inheritance to buy it.  Therefore, he forfeited his right to Boaz, saying, “Redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it” (Ruth 4:6).

“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.  Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee.  So he drew off his shoe.  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.  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” (Ruth 4:7-10).

All of these events were based in the law that is found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10: “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.  And it shall be, that the firstborn which she bears shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.  And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuses to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.  Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.  And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.”

The Sadducees wrongly extended this law to the afterlife in their mistaken belief that it disproved the resurrection (Matt. 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40.)

As before, there was nothing wrong with the people using Deuteronomy 25:5-10 as the basis for their actions in this case, but that law did not actually apply to this situation.

First, unlike the property law in Leviticus 25:25 which applied to “any of his kin,” this “levirate marriage” law applied only to a brother of the childless deceased, and Boaz was definitely not the brother of Elimelech (or else the other man could not have been a nearer kinsman), and it appears that the nearer kinsman was not that near either.

Second, this law applied only when brothers dwelt together (Deut. 25:5), and Elimelech had dwelt in Moab until the time of his death (Ruth 1:1-3), not “together” with any of these relatives.

Third, the nearer kinsman gave up his shoe not to adhere to the law in Deuteronomy 25:9-10 (which was a great reproach upon the man who lost his shoe), but in accordance with the “manner” that was followed in Israel at that time (Ruth 4:7-8), and there is no indication that this custom was in any way a reproach upon whoever gave up his shoe. The text also implies that this custom was not even permanently followed in Israel, which could not be the case with a law of God.

Fourth, Ruth did not spit in the nearer kinsman’s face as the law required (Deut. 25:9) when a brother refused to take his deceased brother’s wife.

Finally, if Deuteronomy 25:5-10 indeed applied strictly to this case, and if Boaz was therefore obligated to marry Ruth on this basis, then Obed, the child of Boaz and Ruth, would have been counted as Mahlon’s son and heir (Ruth 4:10). In that case, Obed would not have been included in the genealogical records as the son of Boaz.

But the fact that Obed is counted as the son of Boaz (Ruth 4:21; 1 Chr. 2:12; Matt. 1:5; Luke 3:32), the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:17,22; 1 Chr. 2:12-15; Matt. 1:5-6; Luke 3:31-32), and forefather of Christ (Matt. 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38), is further proof that Deuteronomy 25:5-10 did not obligate Boaz to marry Ruth.

RUTH 3

Ruth 3

RUTH 3: The Proposal

No immorality occurred between Boaz and Ruth, as some falsely allege.

Andre Resner, faculty member of Abilene Christian University, in his article ‘Christmas at Matthew’s House’ (Wineskins, Nov. 1992), accused Ruth and Boaz of committing fornication on this occasion.

Concerning “dear, sweet Ruth,” Resner asked, “Well, just what was she doing out there at the threshing floor at Boaz’s feet?  And why did he want her to stay there all night, yet leave before daylight, and not let anybody see her?  Hmmm.”

This wicked and false accusation is easily refuted from the text of the book of Ruth.

From the time that Naomi lost her sons, she had hope that her daughters-in-law would be able to find husbands (Ruth 1:8-9).

Naomi’s plan in Ruth 3:1-4 was designed to bring about an honorable marriage between Ruth and Boaz.

Naomi and Ruth did not pursue a scheme by which Boaz would be enticed into immorality and then become entrapped so that he would have to marry Ruth.

Naomi, Ruth and Boaz were all faithful servants of God and would not do evil that good may come (Rom. 3:8).

Naomi instructed Ruth to uncover Boaz’s feet and to lie down there at his feet, not beside him (Ruth 3:4).

The purpose was for Ruth to engage in a verbal conversation with Boaz, not for her to engage in immoral behavior with him.

Naomi said to Ruth, “And it shall be, when he lies 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” (Ruth 3:4).

Ruth agreed to do exactly what Naomi said (Ruth 3:5), and then she “did according to all that her mother-in-law bade her” (Ruth 3:6).

Ruth did nothing more than what Naomi suggested.

The wording of Ruth 3:6 does not allow for the possibility that any fornication took place between Ruth and Boaz that night.

“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” (Ruth 3:7).

Ruth uncovered Boaz’s feet, nothing else.

And she lay down at his feet, nowhere else.

It should also be noted that Boaz had a “merry heart” from his evening meal in Ruth 3:7, not due to drunkenness as some others falsely allege.  (See also Gen. 43:34; Judges 19:21-22; 1 Kings 21:7).

This lying down at a person’s feet was undoubtedly an accepted custom of that day.

The fact that nothing immoral occurred is plainly revealed by the fact that Boaz did not even know that anyone was there, let alone that it was Ruth.

“And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet” (Ruth 3:8).

Ruth obviously had not even touched Boaz to wake him.

Boaz was awakened by something other than Ruth’s presence, and it was only when he awoke that he discovered that a woman was there, and he had to ask her who she was (Ruth 3:9).

Ruth replied, “I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:9).

Ruth’s request here was absolutely not for Boaz to do something immoral.

This word “skirt” (Strong’s #3671, kanaph) literally means “an edge or extremity” and can refer to the border of a garment (Num. 15:38; 1 Sam. 24:4, 5, 11; Hag. 2:12), but is also the word commonly used for a bird’s wing (See Gen. 1:21; Lev. 1:17; Deut. 32:11; Job 39:13; Psa. 78:27; 148:10; Pro. 23:5; Eccl. 10:20).

This word is frequently used as a figure for protective care (See Exod. 19:4; Psa. 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4; Mal. 4:2; and Jesus used the same analogy though in a different language in Matt. 23:37 and Luke 13:34).

In fact, this is the precise context in which Boaz had used this very same word in speaking with Ruth in Ruth 2:12: “The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.”

Ruth was now using the same analogy to request Boaz to bring her under his protective wing as her husband, making her meaning unmistakable as she pointed out his rights and duties as a “near kinsman.”

Boaz clearly understood this to be the meaning of Ruth’s words, because his response was to promise her to do everything legally and morally possible to make Ruth his wife (Ruth 3:10-13).

Boaz was delighted that Ruth wanted him for a husband instead of a younger man (Ruth 3:10), and he further emphasized his appreciation for her honorable conduct by stating that “all the city of my people does know that thou art a virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11).

This description leaves no room whatsoever for any hint of impropriety in Ruth’s behavior that night with Boaz.

The fact that Boaz told Ruth to lie down where she was until the morning (Ruth 3:13) was not an invitation for her to do something evil, but was for Ruth’s physical protection.

It was the middle of the night and she did not need to attempt to walk home alone at that hour.

That nothing improper took place between Ruth and Boaz is revealed in the fact that Ruth “lay at his feet until the morning” (Ruth 3:14).

She did not budge from Boaz’s feet, so nothing immoral occurred.

The fact that Boaz told Ruth in the morning not to make it known that she had been there (Ruth 3:14) was simply the wise way to prevent any unnecessary and false rumors from getting started (Pro. 29:11; Eph. 4:27).

It should also be noted that if Boaz and Ruth had been involved in an illicit relationship, Boaz would have been obligated to marry Ruth on those grounds (Deut. 22:28-29), and the “nearer kinsman” would not have been given the opportunity to marry Ruth as he was given in Ruth 4:1-10.

Finally, God blessed Boaz, Ruth and Naomi for what was done and all the people recognized that God looked favorably upon all of them for this marriage (Ruth 4:11-17).

God looked upon this matter so favorably that he brought David and ultimately His Son Jesus Christ through the lineage of Obed, the child that was born to Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:17-22; Matt. 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38).

It is preposterous and totally unreasonable to suggest that God would look so favorably upon this relationship if it were the product of willful transgression of His law (See Heb. 10:26-27).

The manner in which God views intentionally planned wickedness is clearly portrayed in Acts 5:1-11 when He struck Ananias and Sapphira dead (See also His treatment of Balaam and Barak, Num. 22-25; 31:1-8; Rev. 2:14).

No, there was nothing immoral or indecent at all in the behavior of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

  1. Ruth showed that she had faith in God and not in her own understanding when she was willing to marry Boaz instead of finding her own husband. Applying Proverbs 12:15, how was she wise?
  2. What was Naomi wishing for Ruth (Ruth 3:1)
  3. What did Naomi tell Ruth to do after Boaz had gone to sleep in the threshing floor (Ruth 3:2-4)?
  4. How did Ruth respond to Naomi’s instructions (Ruth 3:5?
  5. What did Ruth do after Boaz went to sleep (Ruth 3:7)?
  6. At midnight when Boaz woke up afraid, saw Ruth, and asked her what she wanted, what did she call herself (Ruth 3:9)?
  7. What did she ask him to do (Ruth 3:9)?
  8. What reason did she give for asking Boaz to do this?
  9. According to the Law of Moses, who had to marry a young widow (Deut. 25:5-10)? Why?
  10. What way did Boaz Ruth showed more kindness in the end than at the beginning (Ruth 3:10)?
  11. Why could Boaz not immediately do what Ruth asked (Ruth 3:13)?
  12. Judging from his answer to her, what kind of man do you understand Boaz to be?
  13. Ruth didn’t try to make up excuses to marry someone different, or invent her own rules. She obeyed God’s law for the Israelites, and submitted herself to Naomi.
  14. What quality of heart did this show? Philippians 2:3-13

Ruth 2

Ruth, Chapter 2

Tirelessly working to feed herself and her mother-in-law

Notice what the Law said to those Israelites who were harvesting their crops.

  • Leviticus 19:9-10–And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. 10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.
  • Leviticus 23:22–And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.
  • Deuteronomy 24:21-22–When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

Ruth was not only poor, but she was also a widow and a “stranger” (foreigner).  She worked daily in the fields to feed Naomi and herself.  We see in Ruth 2:1-2, 7 that regardless of what she did (even gleaning in the field), she was diligent and faithful.  Her faithful service to Naomi and her trust in the Lord had evidently become known to many.  Even Boaz had heard of her virtue and been shown proof of such concerning Ruth (Ruth 2:11-13).

  1. Who was she (Ruth 1:3-4)? ( Moabites, descendent of Lot—Gen. 19:36-37; Neh. 13:1-3)
  2. What do you think of her purity of life (3:10)?
  3. What do you think of her willingness to work?
  4. What does the Apostle Paul say of idle women (1 Tim. 5:13)?
  5. Show how she was ever true to her immortal saying (1:16-17).

RUTH, Chapter 1

Ruth going with Naomi to Palestine

Life Changing Decision

What if the young Hebrew wife lost her husband by war or accident? What would happen to her?  She was expected to remained within her husband’s clan and wed his brother or nearest of kin. This arrangement is the exception to the laws about incest (Lev. 20:17, 19-21) known as “Levirate Marriage” (when a brother was required to marry his brother’s widow and raise up seed for the deceased brother). The Levirate Marriage law is the basis for the account of Ruth and Boaz (Deut. 25:5-10; Ruth 3:13; 4:1-12).

After the death of her husband, Ruth deliberately chose a position as servant to her mother-in-law rather than stay with her own people and serve a false god (Ruth 1:15-17).  God rewarded her for her sacrifice and courage by sending Christ through her lineage (Ruth 4:17, 22; Luke 3:32).

We may read of another example of this practice seen in the life of Judah and his daughter-in-law, Tamar (Gen. 38:6-31).  Tamar’s husband was wicked and God slew him; therefore, another son was supposed to be given to her.  When the second son also died because of his wickedness in refusing to give Tamar seed to conceive a child, Judah refused to give her his youngest for fear he also might die.  At this point Tamar took it upon herself to force Judah to give her a husband.

Judging from the arguments the Sadducees used against Jesus’ teaching about the resurrection of the dead, one can see that the Levirate Marriage was still in force during the life of Christ (Matt. 22:23-28; Mark 12:19-23; Luke 20:27-33).  It was in force until the church was established on the day of Pentecost and the Law of Moses was done away (Heb. 7:11-12; Heb. 8:7-8, 13).

  • Naomi and her family from Bethlehem go into the land of Moab, where one of her sons marries Ruth.  Naomi’s husband and both sons then die. (Ruth 1:1-5).
  • Ruth 1:6-9  Naomi determines to return to Judah and tells Ruth and Orpah to return to their own families and gods because she has no more sons to give them.
  • Ruth 1:14-18  Ruth determines to return with Naomi and is blessed there.  But what we want to note especially is that throughout her life, Ruth proved to be one who was ever so faithful and trustworthy.
  • Ruth 1:15-18  Notice when she was encouraged to return to her gods, she said, “Entreat me not to leave you, I will go where you go, your God will be my God.  Where you die, there will I die; if not, the Lord do so and more to me…”  She was stedfastly minded (determined) to faithfully serve Naomi and the true God.