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An Argument of the Book of Ruth

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MESSAGE STATEMENT:

The resolution of the tensions of individuals (Naomi and Ruth) and of the nation Israel is accomplished by YHWH through his faithful people as he is loyal to his covenants

I. Introduction--Setting the Scene:

(Tragedy or Fall): In the days when the judges were judging1 there was a famine in the land of Israel, therefore, a man from Bethlehem in Judah named Elimelech left for Moab with his wife and two sons, remained in Moab and died, and his children married Moabite women (Orpah and Ruth), and also remained in Moab and thus died leaving Naomi in mourning over her lost husband and sons 1:1-5

A. In the days when the judges were judging there was a famine2 in the land of Israel 1:1a

B. A certain man of Bethlehem in Judah named Elimelech3 went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites4 of Bethlehem in Judah 1:1b-2a

C. After they entered Moab and remained there ( <v-Wyhw ), Elimelech died and left Naomi with her two sons ( hynb ) 1:2b-3

D. After the sons took for themselves Moabite wives (Orpah and Ruth), they lived in Moab for ten years and also died leaving Naomi5 bereft of her two children ( hydly ) and her husband 1:4-5

II. The Return to Bethlehem (Anti-Romance or Winter):

As Naomi returns to the land of Bethlehem because she has heard that YHWH is visiting his people, she displays her bitterness toward the Lord by trying to discourage her daughters-in-law from returning with her because there will be no husbands for them in the land, and by having those in the land call her Mara because of the Lord’s affliction of her, but there are glimmers of hope in Ruth’s loyal return with Naomi, and in the announcement of fertility through the beginning of the barley harvest 1:6--22

A. On the Road to Bethlehem: After the death of Naomi’s two sons, she decided to return to Jerusalem because she had heard that YHWH had visited his people, but she urged her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab so that they might find future husbands, whereupon, Orpah agreed, but Ruth loyally clung to Naomi and returned with her under loyal commitment to her, her people, and her God, YHWH 1:6-18

1. Naomi’s Decision of Faith: After the death of Naomi’s two sons she rose up with her daughters-in-law to return to Jerusalem from the Land of Moab because she heard that YHWH had visited ( dqp, cf. Gen. 21:1; 50:24,25) his people 1:6-7

2. Naomi’s Counsel of Despair: Although resistant to Naomi’s discouraging council for her daughters-in-law to return to their homes in order to receive future husbands because she could offer none to them in Israel, Orpah did agree to return to her home, but Ruth insisted upon loyally returning with Naomi out of commitment to her, her people and her God 1:8-18

a. Naomi’s Mixed Advice to Ruth and Orpah: Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab so that they might marry there, and prayed that YHWH would provide rest for them in his loyal love, whereupon, they all kissed and wept severely 1:8-9

1) Naomi urged each daughter-in-law to return to their mother’s house in Moab (so that they might marry there, cf. Gen. 24:28) rather than returning with her to Israel 1:8a

2) Naomi then prayed6 that YHWH would deal in his loyal love ( dsj ) with her daughters-in-law by providing relief from their sorrow and security with new husbands 1:8b-9a

a) Naomi prayed that YHWH would deal with her daughters-in-law in loyal love ( dsj) just as they have dealt with their husbands (the dead) and with her 1:8b

b) Naomi prayed that YHWH would grant them rest7 with their new husbands 1:9a

3) Naomi then kissed her daughters-in-law and they all wept severely 1:9b

b. The Reluctance of Ruth and Orpah: Naomi’s daughters-in-law did not wish to leave her but insisted upon returning with her to Israel and to her people 1:10

c. Naomi’s Insistent Discouragement to Ruth and Orpah: Naomi insisted that her daughters-in-law return to their mothers’ house for a husband rather than with her to her people because she could not offer them any children as future husbands (implying that there were none in Israel who would marry them), and because she believed that her God, YHWH, was against her 1:11-13

1) Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to return to their mother’s house for a husband because she had no children in her womb to offer to them as future husbands in Israel 1:11

2) Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to return to their mother’s house for a husband because even if she conceived sons this very night, it would be too long of a wait for her daughters-in-law to marry them 1:13a

3) Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to return to their mother’s house for a husband because YHWH was against her 1:13b-c

a) Naomi proclaimed that her experience was harder8 for her than for her daughters-in-law 1:13b

b) The reason Naomi believed that her experience was more bitter than her daughters-in-law was because her God’s hand9 was against her 1:13c

d. The Division of Ruth and Orpah: After all three of the women expressed their sorrow once again through severe weeping, Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to Naomi 1:14

1) All three of the women severely wept again 1:14a

2) Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye10 1:14b

3) Ruth loyally clung11 to her mother-in-law in commitment to her 1:14c

e. Naomi’s Advice to Ruth: Naomi specifically urged Ruth to follow the choice of her sister-in-law (Orpah) by returning to her own people and her own gods 1:15

f. Ruth’s Loyal Love for Naomi: In an expression of loyal love for Naomi Ruth urged her to stop discouraging her from following her because she vowed before YHWH that she was going to return with Naomi and loyally join her, her people, and her God until death 1:16-17

1) Ruth urged Naomi to stop urging her to leave her or to return to her mother’s house, people, and gods 1:16a

2) The reason Ruth urged Naomi to stop exhorting her to return to her home was because she was loyally committed to returning with Naomi: to go with Naomi, to stay with Naomi, for Naomi’s people to be her people, for Naomi’s God to be her God, for Naomi’s place of death and burial to be her place of death and burial 1:16b-17a

3) Ruth solemnly vowed to YHWH that he may avenge her if she does not keep her promise to Naomi for any reason but death 1:17b

g. Naomi’s Acceptance of Ruth: When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped discouraging her 1:18

B. Naomi’s Arrival in Bethlehem: When Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem all of the people were stirred over her return without her husband and sons, and she exhorted them to no longer call her “Pleasant” (Naomi), but to now call her “Bitter One” because her affliction was from the Lord 1:19-21

1. Naomi is Greeted in Bethlehem: When Naomi and Ruth left Moab and returned to Bethlehem all of the city was stirred over Naomi’s (sole) appearance 1:19

a. Naomi and Ruth both left Moab and went until they came to Bethlehem 1:19a

b. When they came to Bethlehem all of the city was stirred12 as the women quizzed over whether this was Naomi13 1:19b

2. Naomi’s Despair in Bethlehem: When Naomi returned to Bethlehem she urged the people to not call her by her name meaning “Pleasant”, but to now call her “Bitter One” (Mara) because she has lost her husband and sons under the Lord’s affliction 1:20-21

a. Naomi exhorted those in Bethlehem not to call her Naomi14, but to call her Bitter One15 1:20a

b. The reason Naomi urges the people (women) to call her Bitter One is because the Almighty ( ydv ) has treated her very bitterly ( rrm ) 1:20b

c. The reason Naomi indicted the Almighty of dealing bitterly with her was because of the loss of her husband and sons 1:21a

d. Again Naomi urged the people not to call her “Pleasant” since YHWH has witnessed against her, and since the Almighty has afflicted her16 1:21b

C. A Seasonal Hint at Hope: Naomi and Ruth returned from the land of Moab to the land of Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest 1:22

1. Summary Statement: Both Naomi and Ruth17 the Moabitist, her daughter-in-law, returned18 from the land of Moab to Bethlehem 1:22a

2. Prefigure of Hope: When Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem, they came at the beginning of the barley harvest19! 1:22b

III. The Finding of an Heir (Comedy or Spring)

After Ruth happened to meet Boaz while she was gleaning in his field, she learned from Naomi that he was her close relative and agreed in accordance with Naomi’s dangerous plan to approach him as her kinsman-redeemer, only to have to wait until the nearer redeemer gave up his right before Boaz could and did redeem the land and promise to perform the responsibility of levirate marriage, whereupon, the people prayed that Boaz and Ruth would be blessed by YHWH 2:1--4:12

A. A Close Kinsmen Is Met: When Ruth received permission to glean during the harvest, she happened upon the field of Boaz, received gracious provisions from Boaz, and learned from her mother-in-law that Boaz was her closest relative, whereupon, she remained with Boaz’ maidens during the barley and wheat harvests 2:1-23

1. Setting: The narrator introduces the reader to a man named Boaz who is a friend ( udym ) of Naomi’s husband, a man of great virtue ( luj ), and from the family of Elimelech 2:1

2. Scene I--Ruth and Naomi: When Naomi granted Ruth permission to glean in the field of one who would show favor to her, Ruth went out to glean and happened upon the field which belonged to Boaz 2:2-3

a. Ruth requested permission of Naomi (in accordance with Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19) to go to the field and glean among the ears of grain as she found favor with the land’s owner, and Naomi encouraged her to go 2:2

b. In accordance with her mother-in-law’s permission, Ruth gleaned in the field after the reapers and by chance20 entered the field belonging to Boaz21 of the family of Elimelech 2:3

3. Scene II--Ruth and Boaz: When Boaz saw Ruth gleaning in his field and learned from his servant who she was, he showed loyal love towards her by kindly offering protection for her as she gleaned, supplying an abundance of dinner for her among his servants, and by making her work easy and more prosperous, whereupon Ruth humbly received his grace and gathered about two thirds of a bushel of grain before returning to the city 2:4-17

a. Enter Boaz: At the point at which Ruth was gleaning in the field of Boaz22 he appeared greeting his workers with a prayer that YHWH would be with them, and being greeted in return with a blessing 2:4

b. Boaz and His Servant: When Boaz inquired of his servant in charge about the identity of the young woman he learned that she was the one who had returned with Naomi from Moab, and that she had been gleaning with permission since early morning and was now resting in the shelter 2:5-7

1) Boaz inquired from the servant in charge to know about to whom the young woman23 belonged 2:5

2) The servant in charge of the repears told Boaz that the woman was the Moabite who returned with Naomi, and that she had requested permission to glean after the reapers, and that she had been doing so since morning and was now resting in the shelter 2:6-7

a) The servant in charge of the repears told Boaz that the woman was the Moabite who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab24 2:6

b) The servant also told Boaz that the woman had requested permission to glean among the sheaves after the reapers had finished, that she has been working since morning, and that she was now in the shelter for a while 2:7

c. Boaz and Ruth in the Field: When Boaz offered Ruth protection and provisions in her gleaning, she humbly inquired as to why he was showing such favor to her, and learned that he was providing for her out of a faithful response to her loyal commitment to Naomi, whereupon, Ruth received his provisions as comforting grace towards her 2:8-13

1) Boaz urged Ruth, as he would his daughter ( yTB ), to stay among his people for safety, and to partake of the provisions for his servants 2:8-10

a) Boaz urged Ruth to not glean in another field 2:8a

b) Boaz urged Ruth to not leave his field but to stay there with his maids 2:8b

c) Boaz urged Ruth to go after the reaping of his maids25 2:9a

d) Boaz comforted Ruth with the fact that he had warned his male servants26 not to touch her 2:9a

e) Boaz urged Ruth to drink from the servants water jars when she is thirsty 2:9b

2) Ruth responded to Boaz’ kindness by humbly asking why it was that she had found favor ( /j )27 before him since she was a foreigner 2:10

3) Boaz responded to Ruth’s concern by explaining that he was showing favor to her because of the loyal love that she had shown toward Naomi, and then he prayed that YHWH the God of Israel, under whose protection she had fled, would reward her labor 2:11-12

a) Boaz responded to Ruth’s concern by explaining that he was showing favor to her because of the loyal love which she had shown to Naomi by returning with her to Bethlehem from her people and her birth-land 2:11

(1) Boaz explained that he was showing favor to Ruth because he had heard of all that she had done for her mother-in-law after the death of Ruth’s husband 2:11a

(2) Boaz explained that he was showing favor to Ruth because she had left her people (father and mother), and her birth-land to come to a people that she did not previously know 2:11b

b) Boaz then prayed that YHWH might reward her work, and that her wages might be full from YHWH the God of Israel under whose protection she had come to seek refuge in her affliction 2:12

4) Ruth responded to Boaz by proclaiming that she had found favor ( /h ) in his sight (cf. 2:2) because he had comforted her and spoken kindly to her28 as his maidservant even though she was a Moabite (not like one of his maidservants) 2:13

d. Ruth and Boaz at Dinner: At dinner Boaz abundantly supplied for her dinner among his own maidens, and then made her work easier as he instructed his servants to allow her to glean among the sheaves, and to throw grain down for her to glean 2:14-16

1) At mealtime Boaz invited Ruth to dine among his reapers whereupon he served her so much roasted grain that she ate until she was full and had some left over 2:14

2) When Ruth rose to continue her gleaning, Boaz ordered his servants to make her work easier and more prosperous by allowing her to glean among the sheaves, and by throwing down grain for her to glean 2:15-16

a) Ruth rose again in order to glean 2:15a

b) When Ruth rose to glean, Boaz ordered his servants to allow her to glean among the sheaves 2:15b

c) Boaz ordered his servants to not humiliate29 Ruth as she gleaned among the sheaves 2:15c

d) Boaz order his servants to purposely pull grain from the bundles and leave it so that she may glean it, and not to yell at her when she does so 2:16

e. Exit Ruth: When Ruth beat out her day’s work of gleaning she had acquired two thirds of a bushel, whereupon, she left the field and went into the city with the grain 2:17-18a

1) Ruth’s Blessing: Ruth gleaned in the field until evening, then she beat out what she had gleaned and it was about an ephah30 of barley 2:17

2) Ruth then took up her grain and went into the city 2:18a

4. Scene III--Ruth and Naomi: When Naomi saw the abundant grain from Ruth, and learned that the one who had provided for her was Boaz, she recognized that YHWH had not forgotten them, prayed that YHWH would bless Boaz, informed Ruth that Boaz was their closest relative, and encouraged Ruth to remain among his maids for safety as Boaz had suggested 2:18b-23

a. Setting: When Ruth returned to the city, her mother-in-law saw all that Ruth had gleaned and that which she had left over after she had eaten (cf. 2:14) 2:18b

b. Naomi: Ruth’s mother-in-law asked her about where she gleaned that day and then pronounced a blessing upon the one who took notice of her 2:19a

c. Ruth: Then Ruth told her mother-in-law that the name of the man with whom she worked was Boaz 2:19b

d. Naomi: Then Naomi prayed that YHWH, who had not forgotten them nor the line of Elimelech, would bless Boaz and informed Ruth that Boaz was one of their closest relatives 2:20

1) Naomi prayed that Boaz would be blessed by YHWH 2:20a

2) Naomi proclaimed that the YHWH was one who has not withdrawn his loyal love31 from the living32 or from the dead33 2:20b

3) Naomi told Ruth that the man (Boaz) was their relative--one of their closest relatives34 2:20b

e. Ruth: Then Ruth the Moabitess told Naomi of Boaz’ protective provisions for her (to stay close to his servants until the had have finished all of his harvest) 2:21

f. Naomi: Then Naomi agreed that Ruth should go out with Boaz’ maids lest others hurt her in another field 2:22

5. A Seasonal Hint of Hope: Ruth followed her mother-in-law’s advice and remained near to the maids of Boaz through the barley harvest and the wheat harvest 2:23

a. Summary: Ruth stayed close by the maids of Boaz as she gleaned until the end of the barley harvest 2:23a

b. Prefigure of Hope: Ruth stayed close by the maids of Boaz as she gleaned until the end of the wheat harvest35 2:23b

c. Ruth lived with her mother-in-law 2:23c

B. The Close Relative Is Approached: Even though the close relative was approached under a desperate plan by Naomi designed to procure a husband for Ruth, Ruth took the posture of one seeking a kinsman-redeemer, and Boaz agreed to help her virtuous pursuit insisting that he must first approach the nearer-kinsman before agreeing to perform the role himself, whereupon, Naomi, when she heard, urged Ruth to wait for how the matter would work itself out that day under Boaz’ direction 3:1-18

1. A Desperate Plan by Naomi: In a dangerous and desperate plan by Naomi to procure a husband for Ruth, Naomi advised her daughter-in-law to cease her mourning for the dead, and to go to Boaz at night at the threshing floor where she was to await his direction, and Ruth agreed 3:1-5

a. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, desired to seek security36 for Ruth that life may be well for her 3:1

b. Naomi developed a desperate, romantic plan for Ruth by encouraging her to end her mourning and to acquire Boaz as a husband by coming to him at night after he had eaten and his heart was glad, and by laying at his feet so that he might respond to her, whereupon, Ruth agreed to do all that her mother-in-law requested of her 3:1-5

1) Naomi again reminded Ruth that Boaz, whose maids she worked with, was their friend37 3:2a

2) Naomi informed Ruth that Boaz was winnowing barley at the threshing floor on this night38 3:2b

3) Naomi urged Ruth to end her mourning39, and to secretly go to the threshing floor where she was only to make herself known to Boaz after he had eaten and drunk40 3:3

4) Naomi specifically advised Ruth to go to Boaz after he had laid down, to uncover his feet and to lie down, whereupon, he will tell Ruth what to do 3:4

5) Ruth agreed to do all that her mother-in-law advised her to do 3:5

2. The Realized Plan by Ruth: When Ruth presented herself to Boaz at the threshing floor in accordance with Naomi’s directions, Boaz was at first startled, but then upon Ruth’s request that he be her kinsmen-redeemer, he prayed that she might receive YHWH’s blessing for her loyal concerns, and agreed to do all that he could since she was known for being a virtuous woman 3:6-11

a. Ruth went down to the threshing floor and did according to all41 that Naomi commanded her in that she laid down at Boaz’ feet after he had eaten and drank and when his heart was merry 3:6-7

b. In the middle of the night the man was startled, bent forward and found a woman42 lying at his feet 3:8

c. When the man asked who the woman was, she answered that she was Ruth, his maid, and invited him to marry43 her as a kinsman-redeemer44 3:9

d. Boaz prayed that YHWH would bless Ruth since she had loyally sought him out as a kinsman-redeemer, and promised to do all that he could to help her because she was known as a woman of virtue 3:10-11

1) Boaz prayed that YHWH might bless Ruth because she had shown an even greater loyal love ( dsj ) than when she remained with Naomi by pursuing Boaz as a kinsman-redeemer rather than simply trying to find an appropriate husband for herself 3:10

2) Boaz then urged Ruth, as his daughter ( yTB ) to not be afraid since he will pursue being a kinsman-redeemer for her because she is known by all of those of the city to be a woman of virtue ( lyj, cf. 2:1) 3:11

3. A Problem in the Plan with Boaz: After Boaz revealed to Ruth that there was a nearer kinsman-redeemer than he, he promised to pursue the man and allow him the opportunity to perform his rights, but then promised to be Ruth’s redeemer if the nearer one would not, sending her off in the safety of the early morning with much grain as a pledge of his intentions 3:12-15

a. Boaz then explained that although it is true that he was a close relative ( lag ), a closer relative ( lag ) existed than he45 3:12

b. Boaz then urged Ruth to remain with him until morning promising in accordance with the living YHWH that he will speak to the nearer redeemer, affirming that if he will redeem Ruth that is good, and if he is unwilling, then he, Boaz, will redeem Ruth 3:13

c. Ruth remained at Boaz’ feet until early morning,46 and Boaz prayed that the Lord might not let her visit to him at the threshing floor be known47 3:14

d. Boaz then gave Ruth the equivalent of eighty pounds of barley to take back to Naomi (as a pledge of his good intentions) 3:15

4. A Proper Plan by All: When Ruth returned to Naomi with word about all that Boaz did including the pledge of fullness for Naomi through the grain, Naomi advised Ruth to now wait for how things would turn out since Boaz would surely resolve the matter that day 3:16-18

a. When Ruth came to Naomi, her mother-in-law asked her how things went48 3:16a

b. Ruth then told Naomi all that the man had done for her including the amount of barley which he gave to her with a message to not go to her mother-in-law empty handed49 3:16b-17

c. Then Naomi urged Ruth to wait until she knew how the matter would turn out50 with confidence that Boaz would vigorously resolve the matter that day 3:18

C. The Heir Is Determined: Through an official court case before the elders and people of Bethlehem Boaz received the legal right to redeem the land because of the unwillingness of the nearer redeemer, then Boaz redeemed it and vowed to enter into levirate marriage with Ruth in order to raise up the name of Mahlon on his inheritance, whereupon the people agreed and blessed them and their future son 4:1-12

1. Setting: When Boaz went up to the gate51, the closer relative52 happened to be passing by, so Boaz invited him to step aside for a moment and he did 4:1

2. Order in the Court: Boaz then set up a judging-jury in order to make his discussion with the nearer redeemer a legal transaction by having ten men of the elders of the city sit down to hear the case 4:2

3. The Legal Case Is Presented: Although the nearer redeemer agreed to purchase the land from Naomi and Ruth when Boaz first presented the situation, he later refused to buy it and gave his right over to Boaz because raising up seed to the deceased of Ruth would have threatened his own inheritance 4:3-6

a. First Presentation and Response--the Land: When Boaz legally informed the nearer redeemer of the need to purchase the land which Naomi was going to sell, he agreed to redeem it 4:3-4

1) Boaz informed the nearer redeemer that Naomi needed to sell the piece of land which belonged to their brother Elimelech53 4:3

2) Boaz then publicly urged the nearer redeemer to buy it 4:4a

3) Turning to the people54 (judges), Boaz then said that if the nearer redeemer would redeem it, then he should do so, but if he would not, then he should tell Boaz and he will redeem it as the next kinsman 4:4b

4) The nearer redeemer then said that he would redeem the land 4:4b

b. Second Presentation and Response-the Posterity: When Boaz informed the nearer redeemer that he should redeem the land in order to raise up the seed of Ruth’s deceased husband upon the land, the nearer redeemer declined to redeem the land because doing so would threaten his own inheritance, therefore, he gave the right to Boaz 4:5-6

1) Boaz then informed the nearer redeemer that on the day that he bought the field from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess--the widow of the deceased, that he must also buy the land55 in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance56 4:5

2) The nearer redeemer declined to raise up the seed of Ruth’s husband on the land which he was formerly willing to buy because it would ruin his own inheritance 4:6a

3) The nearer redeemer gave Boaz his right to redeem the land (with the implied raising up of the seed) since he could not redeem it himself without risking his own inheritance 4:6b

4. The Legal Case is Decided: When the nearer redeemer officially gave Boaz his rights to the land by giving him his sandal, Boaz proclaimed to the elders and all of the people present that they were witnesses that he had redeemed the land from Naomi, and that he was taking Ruth in levirate marriage in order to raise up a descendant to Mahlon so that his name would not perish from the land, whereupon, the people proclaimed themselves as witnesses 4:7-11a

a. The Papers Are Signed: The transfer of rights to redeem the land was expressed through the nearer redeemer taking off his sandal57 and giving it to Boaz 4:7-8

b. The Fine Print is Read: Boaz specifically proclaimed before the people and the elders that he had redeemed the land of the deceased from Naomi and that he was going to perform levirate marriage with Ruth in order to continue the name of Mahlon on his inheritance 4:9-10

1) Boaz Has Acted as a Kinsman Redeemer: Boaz proclaimed before the elders and the people that on this day he has redeemed the land from Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon 4:9

2) Boaz Intends to Act as a Levirate: Boaz then confirmed before the people as witnesses that he was going to marry Ruth the Moabitist, the widow of Mahlon, as his wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance so that his name would not be blotted out58 (cf. Deut. 25:6) 4:10

c. The People Are Witnesses: The people who were in the court and all of the elders confirmed to Boaz that they were witnesses of these things 4:11a

5. Public Opinion is Recorded: The elders and the people expressed overwhelming support for Boaz and Ruth by praying for YHWH’s blessing upon Ruth, Boaz and their future son 4:11b-12

a. Prayer of Blessing for Ruth: The people prayed that Ruth would become like Rachel and Leah, the builders of the nation of Israel59 4:11b

b. Prayer of Blessing for Boaz The people prayed that Boaz might be honored60 in Ephrathah and that he might become famous in Bethlehem 4:11c

c. Prayer of Blessing for Their Child: The people prayed that Boaz’ house (or progeny, ;tyb ) might be like the house of Perez61 through the child which YHWH will give him through Ruth 4:12

IV. A Son is Born (Romance or Summer):

When Boaz took Ruth as his wife YHWH enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son who brought about the resolutions of personal tensions for Naomi and the national tensions of the nation of Israel through David 4:13-17

A. When Boaz took Ruth as his wife YHWH enabled her to conceive and she gave birth to a son 4:13

B. The women62 blessed YHWH for providing an heir for Naomi, prayed that this son would restore Naomi’s life, and prayed that the son would sustain Naomi in her old age because Ruth, her loyal, wonderful daughter-in-law has given birth to a son 4:14-15

1. Past: The women blessed YHWH because he resolved the tensions of Naomi’s past by not leaving her without a redeemer-heir ( lag ), and they prayed that the son’s name would become famous in Israel (cf. 4:11) 4:14

2. Present: The women also prayed that the son who was born may restore63 Naomi’s life 4:15a

3. Future: The women prayed that the son who was born may sustain Naomi in her old age 4:15b

4. Reason: The reason the woman made the above prayers was because Ruth, her daughter-in-law who loves her and is better to her than seven sons64, has given birth to a son 4:15b

C. The child who was born became YHWH’s resolution of the tensions for his individuals (Naomi as her “servant”) and for the nation of Israel (through David) 4:16-17

1. Naomi then became the young child’s65 nurse as she took the child and laid him in her lap 4:16

2. The neighbor women gave the child the name66 of Obed67 saying that a son has been born to Naomi68 4:17a

3. Obed is the father of Jesse, the father of David69 4:17b

V. Appendix--An Emphasis Upon YHWH’s Covenant Faithfulness70:

Through a genealogy71 from Perez to David, YHWH is demonstrated to resolve the nation’s tensions through faithful individuals in accordance with his covenant faithfulness (loyal love) 4:18-21

A. Now this is what became of Perez72 4:18a

B. Hezron was born to Perez 4:18b

C. Ram was born to Hezron 4:19a

D. Amminadab was born to Ram 4:19b

E. Nahshon was born to Amminadab 4:20a

F. Salmon was born to Nahshon 4:20b

G. Boaz was born to Salmon73 4:21a

H. Obed was born to Boaz74 4:21b

I. Jesse was born to Obed 4:22a

J. David was born to Jesse 4:22b


1 While this is certainly a contextual setting which may place Ruth as an appendix to the book of Judges, it may well also be descriptive of a time when the judges were judging well ( <yfpvh fpv ymyB ). Therefore, Ruth would be a strong contrast to the tumult of the cycles in the book of Judges. As Berlin says, the Book of Judges depicts a rough and violent period while Ruth presents a serene and pastoral picture (Poetics, p. 103).

2 bur, cf. Deut. 27--28

Sasson writes, geography acquires controlling power: the narrative is specific when it mentions Bethlehem, within Israel's orbit, and becomes diffuse when it speaks of the other world, Moab, where Judeans ought to have no business. Sandwiched between these temporal and spatial elements is an impersonal force, ra`av, famine, which in Israel could only have been God's instrument for judgment and cannot, therefore, be thwarted by human acts. Moab, where the god Chemosh reigns, may not be experiencing famine when a Judean family seeks shelter there; but its fields will eventually kill a father and his sons and render their wives sterile (Ruth In The Literary Guide to the Bible, p. 322).

3 The term in Hebrew is Elmyla.

4 Ephrathites ( mfrpa ) was an ethnic designation of people around Bethlehem; this people lived in Bethlehem ( <jl tybm).

5 Naomi alone is focused upon because she is now the only Judean to survive this calamity.

6 In the book of Ruth all prayer finds its answer in the one who prays: (1) Naomi for Ruth 1:8,9/2:20; 4:13, (2) Naomi for Boaz 2:20/4:11, (3) Boaz for Ruth 2:12/3:9.

7 The rest was a relief from sorrow and a hope for security.

8 More bitter, yl-rm-yk.

9 YHWH's hwhy-dy.

10 Sasson writes, Wisely, Orpah understands the predicament and, after much weeping, goes home. That later legends made her an ancestress of Goliath shows, however, how reasonable decisions can nevertheless be remembered as betrayals (Ruth In The Literary Guide to the Bible, p. 323).

11 The term is hqbd, cf. Gen. 2:24.

12 Hummed, note the onomatopoetic term <Wh.

13 Who had left with husband and sons, but was now alone.

14 Pleasant, Winsome, My Lovely One.

15 Mara, arm.

16 Grant writes, Naomi interpreted God in light of the phenomena rather than interpreting the phenomena in light of what she knew to be true of God (Bib Sac 148 [1991]: 432).

17 Ruth is literarily mentioned second as a common Hebrew technique for a major character

18 Ruth returned ( hbvh ) even though she had never been to Bethlehem in that she represented a true Israelite coming home in loyal love; her commitment is desired; now she is added to Naomi from 1:5 above

19 This is more than a time indication; the barley harvest spoke of fertility in accordance with Deuteronomy 27--28; YHWH was bringing blessing to his people; this hints of blessing upon Naomi as well

The significance of the Barley harvest was also highlighted by the Hebrews in their canonization of this book in that it was placed in the Hebrew canon among the Kethubhim (Writings) [in the Meggiloth] as the work to be read at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) when the close of the grain harvest was celebrated (cf. Harrison, p. 1063, )

One Feast connected with the barley harvest was the Feast of Passover (14 Nisan [March-April] cf. Ex. 12) which celebrated the redemption and faithfulness of God in bringing Israel to the land he had promised to Abraham (Gen. 12; 15), and Ruth, of course, had come from a foreign land to the land of promise just in time for the celebration of this feast (Grant, Literary Structure, Bib. Sac. 148 [1991]: 428-429). There is a hint of hope for the individuals and for the nation.

Another Feast connected with the barley harvest was the Feast of Unleavened Bread (following Passover for seven days [Lev. 23:4-8]) which focused on Israel's willingness to cut herself off from her old life in Egypt which, of course, Ruth did with her past life in Moab when she decided to accompany Naomi; this was done by Naomi at the same time of year as Israel's exodus (Grant, Literary Structure, Bib. Sac. 148 [1991]: 429). Again this is a hint of hope for the individuals and for the nation.

20 Hap to happen upon, hrqm rqYw

21 See 2:1.

22 hnhw“, cf. Berlin, Poetics, p. 94.

23 The terms used for Ruth gradually raise her status from foreigner to one receiving special privilege (Adel Berlin, Poetics, pp. 88-89, Sasson, The Literary Guide, pp. 324-325):

Boaz' terms for Ruth show a progression in that he first refers to her as girl ( run ) 2:5, then as my daughter ( yTB ) 2:8, and finally as a worthy woman ( lyj tva ) 3:11, thereby raising her status to that of his own as in 2:1

Ruth refers to herself before Boaz as a foreigner ( hyrkn ) 2:10, maidservant ( hjpv ) 2:13, and handmaid ( hma ) moving in relationship from foreigner to servitude or dependency.

Ruth's status is also raised when the phrase, who returned from the plain of Moab, is applied to Ruth (1:22; 2:6) and Naomi (4:3) equating them; but then Ruth is described as the wife who enters your house (4:11).

24 These references to Moab raise the underlying tension for the reader (characters) between Ruth being a foreigner and family (A. Berlin, Poetics, p. 88).

25 The term them is feminine ( /hyrja )

26 The term for servants is masculine, <yruNh-ta.

27 Ruth's earlier prayer was that she might find favor ( /j) before the one in whose field she would glean (2:2)

28 Literally to the heart ( bl-lu trbd).

29 The sense of the verb is not only to not insult, but not to humiliate or shame her ( h*Wmylt ).

30 An ephah was between 3/8 and 2/3 of a bushel (ZPEB, s.v. Weights and Measures, 5:917).

31 The term in the NASV is kindness but in Hebrew it is the central theological concept of the entire book of Ruth--hesed ( dsh )! YHWH is loyal to his covenants--not because he has to be loyal, but because he chooses to be loyal!

32 Ruth and Naomi

33 The line of Elimelech

34 The term that is used is goel ( lag ) for kinsman. This will unfold much more in chapters 3--4.

35 Once again this is more than an indication of time, but of continued, compounded blessing from YHWH in accordance with Deuteronomy 27--28.

The wheat harvest occurred in the Hebrew Month of Sivan (May-June). The Feast which was tied to the wheat harvest was the Feast of Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks being seven weeks from the time that they began to put the sickle to the standing grain [Deut. 16:9-12]).

Pentecost was also identified with the Feast of First Fruits (Lev. 23:9-14) where one was to wave the first fruits of the harvest before YHWH in faith that he would provide more of the same. Naomi did not express such faith when she returned to Bethlehem, but Ruth did, and it is with Ruth that God providentially enabled to hold the raw grain (Grant, Literary Structure, Bib. Sac. 148 (1991): 429-430. Therefore, there is an expression of hope in the continued grain harvest.

36 Naomi is attempting to provide for Ruth that which she earlier prayed that YHWH would provide (1:9, jWnm ).

37 The term she uses is not the term for kinsman redeemer, but for a friend as in 2:1 ( udy). The significance of this observation is that Naomi's plan was probably a romantic one designed in a desperate way to provide Ruth with a husband (cf. 3:1).

Ruth is actually the one who broaches the subject of Boaz being a kinsman ( lag, 3:9), not Naomi. And it turns out that Ruth has been uninformed by Naomi that Boaz is not the closest kinsman ( lag; compare 2:20 with 3:12)

As Berlin says, Naomi sent her on a romantic mission but she turned it into a quest for a redeemer (Poetics, p. 90).

The only objection to this interpretation is that Naomi did seem to understand that Boaz could be a kinsmen redeemer through her prayer in 2:20. Perhaps it might be best to interpret Naomi's plan as an intended short cut to what might have been a more proper approach of Boaz. It is difficult to be sure.

38 The narrator fills this chapter with terms that suggest the possibility of immorality (to lie down [8 times], to know [3:3,4,11], to come to [3:3,4,7,cf. 4:13]. But they are not meant to tantalize, but to demonstrate the loyal love of Ruth and Boaz. They demonstrate their character in this scene.

39 The exhortations for Ruth to wash, to anoint herself, and to put on her (regular) clothes are cultural descriptions of a person ending their time of mourning (see 2 Sam. 12:20).

40 This would be a time when Boaz would be merry (cf. 3:7).

41 When one compares what Ruth agreed to do, and what she actually did do, it becomes clear that Ruth misunderstood Naomi.

The narrator seems to adopt Ruth's point of view in 3:6 when he states that Ruth did all that her mother-in-law commanded her to do since Ruth really did think that she was following instructions, but when she laid at Boaz' feet she was so quiet/secret ( flb, 3:7) that Boaz did not notice her until he startled awake in the middle of the night (3:8). This was probably not what Naomi had in mind.

As Berlin says, She did not realize that her mission was a romantic one, thinking rather that she was there on secret legal business. (The fact that she was a foreigner explains how she could be ignorant of the institution of ge'ullah and its workings). So, although she thought she was carrying out Naomi's directions, in reality she was not. The scene read this way becomes both comic and touching. (Poetics, p. 91).

42 The generic terms of man and woman were probably employed to heighten the moral suspense of this precarious situation.

43 The phrase, spread your covering is descriptive of the covenant of marriage. This same imagery was used later by Ezekiel to describe YHWH's marriage to the nation of Israel (Ezk. 16:8).

44 The term that is used here is lag. It has the sense of doing the part of the next of kin by buying back land so that it is not sold out of the family's inheritance (Lev. 25:25). This is later broadened to included the act of redeeming a person (Ruth 3:13) probably in accordance with levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5-10) [BDB, s.v. la^G*, p. 145].

As a definition, the kinsman-redeemer delivers someone or something at a price to himself because of his familial relationship to the person or the owner of the thing being redeemed

Isaiah used this term to describe the One who would come to redeem the nation (Isa. 59:20). Jesus's redemption brought about: (1) deliverance from the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13), (2) at the price of his life (Mark 10:45; 2 Pet. 2:1), and (3) because he became a man (Heb. 2:15-16).

45 This is pivotal to the book of Ruth because the natural progression of the book must now seek a new role in order to resolve the tension. There is no manipulating the events in order to obtain Boaz as the kinsman-redeemer if one is truly looking for a proper resolution to this dilemma

Literarily this is an anticlimax. The resolution is out of Boaz' control. There must be a turn to God for resolution. At this point the real Redeemer must resolve the tensions of the characters of this book.

46 The phrase before one could recognize another is helpful for the reader to understand that this was before dawn.

While this might at first appear to be questionable activity by Boaz (3:13), it seems that he was choosing a time when it would be safer for Ruth to return home (early morning) rather than in the middle of the night when another might be out and take advantage of her.

47 The reason Boaz prayed this prayer is because others might inaccurately speculate about what went on between Ruth and Boaz that night and thus threaten his approach to the nearer redeemer.

48 More literally Naomi asked, Who are you, my daughter( Ta-ym ). In other words are you Ruth or Mrs. Boaz?

49 The words themselves refer back to 1:21 when Naomi told the women that she went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty ( <qyr ).

What is even more significant is that the harvest of fruit is particularly identified at this point with people. Naomi's previous emptiness was the loss of her husband and two sons. Now Ruth comes baring barley as a symbol that Naomi's emptiness is about to be filled. The fruitfulness of the harvests are now about to be applied to the people of God!

50 The term for turns out is actually falls ( lpy ) implying chance as in rolling dice. This is the narrator's was throughout the book of describing YHWH's sovereign activity. That which appears to be chance, will be YHWH's providential hand.

51 The gates were the central place for any important assembly (1 Ki. 22:10; Jer. 38:7), and they were especially the legal courts of their day (Deut. 22:24; 25:7; Ps. 127:5; 2 Sam. 15:2-6; Amos 5:10,12,15).

52 The nearer redeemer is never specifically named. He is called the close relative and friend ( ynm)la ynOP , peloni almoni), but not a name. This man does not show loyal love, therefore, his name does not go down in the scriptures to be remembered.

As Sasson writes, the potential redeemer is anonymous, for his future, unlike Boaz's, will ultimately be anonymous: an interesting fate for someone who will shortly fret about his estate (The Literary Guide, p. 326).

53 This discussion of the redemption of the land was in accordance with the Mosaic Law prescribing the kinsman-redeemer to buy back the land of a brother who must sell it because it belonged to the YHWH (Lev. 25:23-28).

54 The English text seems to have Boaz still speaking to the nearer redeemer, but in fact it reads, If he will redeem it ...( lagy al-<aw ).

55 This is a very difficult verse to translate, but it seems best to understand its sense to be that he must buy the land in order to raise up the seed of the deceased.

56 This is levirate marriage prescribed in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. While strictly speaking this was the obligation of the brother of the deceased, and the nearer redeemer was the brother of the father of the deceased, the spirit of this provision was to raise up the name of the deceased so that the name of the dead brother would not be blotted out (Deut. 25:6). Therefore, although the nearer redeemer may not have been technically obligated to fulfill this command, in not doing so he refuses to express loyal love and thus forfeits his right to the Davidic line.

57 This is not the same event described in Deuteronomy 25, and The custom does not conflict with Deuteronomy 25 because in Ruth 4:7 the sandal is being used for a different purpose--to confirm the transaction.

The sandal probably was a visual way of expressing that one had walking rights on the land (cf. Josh. 1:3; 14:9; Deut. 1:36; 11:24; Ps. 60:8).

58 If the action of levirate was not legally incumbent upon the nearer redeemer then it was that much less incumbent upon Boaz. The point is that Boaz is truly demonstrating loyal love toward Ruth, Naomi, and the deceased.

59 Rachel was the wife whom Jacob loved (Gen. 29:30) and was the wife who directly bore him Joseph (Gen. 30:23-24) and Benjamin (Gen. 35:16-18).

Leah was unloved by Jacob (Gen. 29:30-31), so the Lord made her womb very fruitful (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah) Genesis 29--30

The other children of the nation were born to the handmaidens of Rachel (Bilhah bearing Dan, Naphtali) and Leah (Zilpah bearing Gad, Asher). See Genesis 29--30.

Therefore, the point of this blessing is that this is a prayer that Ruth might be a wife whom Boaz would love, and who would provide many great children for his family.

60 The term for honor is lyj which has already been used of Boaz (2:1) and Ruth (3:11). They are praying that Boaz will be known even more fully for the virtue of the loyal love that he has just shown.

61 Perez was the son who continued the line of Judah (Gen. 38). Like Ruth, Tamar's husband, who was Judah's son, died, so the Lord caused her to conceive through a levirate arrangement with her father-in-law, Judah. However, Judah was tricked into the arrangement by Tamar because Judah would not give Tamar his youngest son to fulfill his levirate duty. Nevertheless, Judah's evil was exposed through Tamar's conception, and the unusual circumstances surrounding the birth of the twins (where the younger came out first).

There are similarities between Judah/Tamar and Boaz/Ruth in that both women were not of the generation of the levirate partner. However, one detail is strikingly different. Whereas Judah had to be tricked into performing a levirate provision, Boaz willing offers himself for his brother's son. Boaz is demonstrating loyal love. No wonder the analogy with Perez is made, but the exceptional character of Boaz makes the prayer all the more hopeful.

The prayer also adds a national flavor to the tensions which are being resolved. Judah's son, Perez, becomes the line from which the scepter will not depart (Gen. 49:10). If Boaz's house becomes like the house of Perez, there is hope for the nation. This will blossom into a more direct affirmation in 4:18-22.

62 This is a type of inclusio with 1:19-21. Whereas before Naomi proclaimed that she went out full but came back empty, now the women proclaim that Naomi is full--through Ruth.

63 The literal words are to return life ( vpn byvml ) picking up on the them of returning from 1:21 (empty YHWH has caused me to return). As Campbell writes, Naomi's complaint, dormant since 1:20-21, is here resolved. (Ruth, p. 164).

64 This phrase is usually applied to a male progeny (1 Sam. 1:8) with the number seven being symbolic of a perfect family (1 Sam. 2:5). But here it is applied to Ruth! She is better than seven sons to Naomi because unlike her (two) sons, she has been able to provide one to continue the family name--she has given birth to a son who will be the heir.

65 The term that is used for son is one for young child ( dly ) forming an inclusio with 1:5 where Naomi lost her young children. YHWH has restored the loss.

66 This kind of family involvement may also be seen in the naming of John the Baptizer in Luke 2:57-66.

67 This name means Servant ( dbwu ) perhaps emphasizing that this child will serve Naomi and the family of Elimelech.

68 One might have expected the narrator to have said that a son has been born to Mahlon in view of the emphasis upon levirate marriage, but Naomi is emphasized to highlight the theme that YHWH resolves the tensions of his people in accordance to his promises.

This theme of personal resolution logically follows the logical flow of most of the Book of Ruth. It is only in the unit that follows that this theme is extended to the nation--through David. What YHWH does for individuals he likewise does for the nation.

69 Berlin notes that this movement from Obed to David, serves here as a coda--to advance the time frame beyond that of the story closer to that of the audience (Poetics, p. 109).

This is also the first specific extension of the blessing of this book beyond specific individuals to the nation as a whole through David.

70 Although Berlin does not explain this unit in such theological terms, she dose understand the genealogy to function in a canonical sense when she writes, Verses 18-22 link Ruth to this main narrative sequence. That is to say, the function of these verses is not to bring the audience from story time to present time, but to situate the characters of this story among the body of known personalities in the tradition (Poetics, p. 110). She is emphasizing the placement of Boaz and the other unknowns into the material from Genesis to Kings, but in so doing the larger theological theme of YHWH's faithfulness to the nation is being emphasized--canonically.

As Morris writes, A genealogy is a striking way of bringing before us the continuity of God's purpose through the ages (Morris, Ruth, p. 318).

71 It is very probable that this genealogy is not a tight chronological arrangement. It was probably compressed with certain names being omitted (cf. Morris, Ruth, p. 317).

Boaz is highlighted by being placed as seventh in line (Berlin, Poetics, p. 110).

72 This is a construction much like that in Genesis 2:4; 5:1; 6:9, et cetera which might best be paraphrased as what became of ( twdlwt from dly meaning to beget). This gains significance since Perez is what became of the line of Judah (Gen. 38) from whom the scepter of Judah would not leave (Gen. 49:10). YHWH's sovereign faithfulness is being emphasized.

73 The genealogy in Matthew connects Rahab to the parentage of Boaz (Matt. 1:5). She was another one like Ruth who was not from Israel but demonstrated faith in YHWH against her own people and her own gods (Josh. 2; 6:25)

74 Again one would expect Obed to be identified with his Mahlon since Boaz was performing levirate marriage with Ruth, but it seems that the narrator is honoring Boaz because of his great expression of loyal love by making him the one through whom the line of David passes.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines