Joy Returns

Text: Ruth 4

Understanding What You Read:

  1. Why do you suppose the near relative is not named?
  2. Why did the near relative change his mind about redeeming Elimelech’s property?
  3. How was the near relative’s refusal to redeem Elimelech’s property confirmed?
  4. Why wasn’t Boaz concerned that marrying Ruth would jeopardize his own inheritance?
  5. In blessing the couple, the people wished that their home would be like Rachel and Leah. In what way?
  6. They also wished their offspring would be like the house of Perez. In what way?
  7. Who is called Naomi’s redeemer?
  8. Who named Obed?

In the morning Boaz catches the nearer relative at the city gates. As Naomi had predicted, Boaz did not waste any time keeping his promise to Ruth. Boaz invites the man to join him and then invites ten elders to sit with them. The gate of a city is where the older men gather. They serve as judges in small matters, offer advice, and act as witnesses to transactions (Deuteronomy 16:18). Boaz informs the man, in the presence of ten elders, that Naomi needs to sell the family land that belonged to Elimelech. The wording in the Hebrew hints that Boaz is informing the kinsman of information that most, including the kinsman, would not know. Perhaps the man was not aware that he was the nearest relative. Boaz suggests that the man purchase the land to keep it in the family (Leviticus 25:23-28). He is first in line for redeeming the land, but if he decides not to redeem it, then Boaz plans to redeem it himself.

The proposition interested the man until he learned that Ruth was a part of the deal. If Ruth has a son by him, then that land he just purchased would go to the son. Thus, assuming he is already married, he would be spending money that could have gone to his children to purchase nothing on their behalf. Realizing this, he declines to redeem the land.

He indicates his refusal by giving one of his sandals to Boaz (Deuteronomy 25:7-10). By Ruth’s time, it had become a custom to indicate refusal of a deal and not a matter of shame. It seems that by the time of the writer of Ruth even this practice had stopped since the writer had to explain the practice to the readers.

Boaz then announces that he would redeem Elimelech’s land and that he would marry Ruth. He accepts that any children of this marriage would be considered children of Mahlon and that they would inherit Mahlon’s property. The elders not only state that they have witnessed the transaction, but they give their blessing to Boaz and Ruth. They wish the couple abundant children, wealth, and fame. Rachel was well-loved by her husband Jacob (Genesis 29:30) but Leah gave Jacob six sons and a daughter. The blessing combines the best of the two sister’s situations. They also mention Perez who was the firstborn son of a levirate marriage of Judah to a non-Israelite woman (Genesis 38:29). Likely many of them descend from Perez.

From this union comes a son named Obed (servant) by the neighboring women, perhaps in memory of what Ruth had offered to Boaz. Naomi finds her joy is restored. Since Obed was to be the heir of Mahlon’s estate, he is viewed as Naomi’s son and redeemer.

Ruth is praised as being better to Naomi than seven sons. The number seven is used for perfection; thus, Ruth is better than if Naomi had a perfect set of sons. She managed to give Naomi security and meaning to her life.

Obed is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David. Thus, we are brought up to the time of the writing of Ruth and the significance of this love story. The impact of what happened in the Book of Ruth carried on for generations.

A genealogy of David is then given. It is noted that the names listed could not cover the 430 years of slavery in Egypt and the approximately 400 years of the Judges. First, we need to understand that “son” in Hebrew means a descendant and not necessarily the immediate descendant of a person. Next, notice the number of names given: Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David. Ten is another special number in Hebrew literature that indicates a complete whole. Thus, this is a whole summary of David’s lineage. Some people were very likely skipped. Interestingly, one of the people specifically mentioned is Salmon who had married Rahab the harlot (Matthew 1:5). Thus, we learn that Boaz’s ancestors also included another strong non-Israelite woman of great faith.

The Book of Ruth provides a shining example of people who follow God’s ways and prosper as a result. These aren’t mighty men of war or famous people. They are ordinary folk, living out their lives, not realizing they occupied a significant place in history that leads to King David and ultimately to the Messiah. In addition, some find the story a foreshadowing of Israel’s own forced exile, return and restoration to life.

Final Questions

  1. How does the Book of Ruth illustrate Hebrews 6:10-12?
  2. How is God’s providence shown in the Book of Ruth?
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