The events in the book of Ruth transpired during the ages of the Judges. This was a time in Israel's history when every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). This was an incredibly lawless and immoral time in their history, where even the judges and priests did not live their lives pleasing to God. Ruth is said to have been appended to Judges. Ruth is a stark contrast to the book of Judges. Hers is a story of loyalty in a day of anarchy, an example of purity in a time of immorality. “Ruth is a lily in the mud pond of Judges.”(Norman Geisler) It is also one of the books ordered to be read in the synagogue or five special occasions or festivals during the year.
The book of Ruth is written by an unknown author during the reign of King David. This time frame is found in the last chapter, 4:18-22, as it gives the genealogy of David. Eerdmans says the book of Ruth is written without the name of an author and that there is not a direct indication of its date. Geisler writes that evidence indicates that Samuel or some of his prophetic students penned the books of Judges and Ruth. It is also believed to have been written after 1043 BC when Saul was crowned king and prior to 1004 BC when David captured Jerusalem. The book of Ruth has both external and internal evidence for Samuel the prophet as the author of Ruth. Externally, the Talmud gives authorship to Samuel since, if this marriage had been after the time of Ezra, it would go against the idea of ridding the nation of foreign wives. Instead, it seems to be in line with the Law in the days of Samuel (Deut. 23:3 [Moabite]; Gen. 38:1ff [Tamar’s treachery]; Deut. 25:5ff [Levirate marriage]). Internally, the short record of the genealogy (4:18-22) would be familiar to Samuel. The Laws concerning foreign women correspond with the time of Samuel. Based on the scholars counting, the estimated date of the book was written after Saul became king, but before David conquered Jerusalem. There are some who think that Nathan the prophet may have written the book of Ruth. One problem with this idea is that Nathan would have had the knowledge that Solomon was the next in line to the throne. Why would he have left this out?
The first verse in Ruth indicates the time period took place in the days of the Judges. Specifically the closing to the 400-year oppression caused by the Israelites disobedience. These were days cast in shadow for the Jews.
The book of Ruth was written for the Nation of Israel. There are two reasons on why the book was written. One, if the book was written by Samuel, then it was to confirm that David was God’s chosen king for Israel after Saul. Two, if the book was written by Nathan, then the book was written to settle David before the new kingdom of Israel.
Key Lesson: Obedient faith leads to blessing.
Key Word: Kinsman-Redeemer
Key Verses: Ruth 1:16: And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
Ruth 3:11 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.
In the beginning of the book, in the days when the judges ruled, there was a man named Elimelech who was from Bethlehem and moved to Moab with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Elimelech died as a result from a famine that engulfed the land, leaving Naomi with her two sons who soon married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Ten years later, the two sons also died with no children, leaving Naomi with two daughters-in-law.
Naomi has no reason to stay in Moab and decides to go back to Bethlehem after receiving news that the famine is over. She tells her two daughters-in-law to go back to their families and find another husband since she is too old to provide one for them. Orpah kissed Naomi goodbye and left, but Ruth shows loyalty and continued to follow Naomi saying “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. Ruth went out to glean grain, not knowing that it was in the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s husband. Boaz is a man of character who notices Ruth for he has never seen her before. He asks another who tells him about Ruth’s story and her loyalty to Naomi. He shows generosity towards her and makes special arrangements so that she only gleans from his fields. Boaz prays for Ruth and tells her that God will reward her. (Ruth 2).
When Ruth arrived back home to Naomi, she tells Naomi about the kind man, Boaz. Naomi was filled with joy. Naomi begins to tell Ruth that Boaz is their family redeemer. A family redeemer is someone that, if a man dies and has left behind a wife, with no children, or land, it was the family redeemer's responsibility to marry the widow to protect that family line. Boaz has shown kindness to them by asking Ruth to never go to someone else’s field to glean grain because the people may harm her. Naomi now has renewed hope that her family has a future. (Ruth 3).
The end of harvest is near and Naomi wanted to get Boaz to notice their situation. She tells Ruth that after the celebration of the harvest, to go to the threshing floor where Boaz sleeps, quietly uncover his feet and lay down by his feet. This would let him know that she is available to be married. Ruth did exactly what her mother-in-law told her to do. Boaz went to sleep. When he realized that someone was at his feet, he asked who she was, and she replied “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” (Ruth 3:9) Boaz is so impressed with her loyalty and blesses her. He says that her kindness is even more outstanding than before and he’ll do everything that she asked him to do. He remembers that there is another man who is a closer family relative than he. Boaz says that if this relative will fulfill his duty, then that is good, but if not, he will be her redeemer.
The next day Boaz went out to the city to meet the closer relative, who is not named in the Bible; Boaz refers to him as “friend”. Boaz informs him about Naomi moving back to Bethlehem and she is selling some of the land belonging to Elimelech, their brother. The relative says he will buy the land. Then Boaz continues to say that there is a widow, Ruth the Moabite, that he must marry to keep the name of the dead. The relative now refuses the offer because he thinks it will put his own land and residence in danger for marrying a foreigner. The relative takes off his shoe and gives it to Boaz, which was a sign before the elders that he gave the right to Boaz to act as redeemer.
Boaz and Ruth marry and have a son; Naomi cared for him. They name the son, Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David. (Ruth 4).
I. Introduction to Ruth (1:1-5)
Bethlehem was experiencing a very severe famine. The severity of this famine was so strong not even Bethlehem, “The House of Bread” know for its rich agriculture, could support its inhabitants. All of Israel knew the Lord's warning: “If…you will notdo all My Commandments…..your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” (Lev. 26:15-16,19-20).
Elimelech and Naomi took stock of their situation and decided to move to Moab. There, they could give their sons a more comfortable life since Moab was not affected by famine. This was to be a temporary move, a sojourn, but unfortunately, it was not as temporary as the family believed. What was intended to be temporary turned into a tragedy filled ten years. Right off the bat the decisions was one not directed by God. Geographically they had to travel through the Judean wilderness and Jericho pass straight back into the land their God rescued them from so many years before. Elimelech, the father of the family, took matters into his own hands instead of following the instruction of his God- this was the very cause of the famine. This irony is Elimelech's names means “God is King”. Something happened while the family was in Moab and Elimelech died. His sons, Mahlon and Chilion married women from Moab and their names were Orpah and Ruth. Her two sons also died leaving behind childless widows without any means of support.
A. Events Happened "When the Judges Ruled" (1:1) B. Famine in Bethlehem (1:1) C. Move to Moab (1:1) D. Information about Naomi's Family (1:2) E. Elimelech Dies (1:3) F. Naomi's Sons Marry Moabites (1:4) G. Naomi's Sons Die (1:5)
II. Ruth Devoted to Naomi (1:6-2:23)
Ruth 1:6,7 says, “(Naomi) arose with her daughters in law….and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.” Naomi tried to persuade her daughters in law to return home to their families because she had nothing to offer them, there was no hope for a better future with her. Orpah returned to her home but Ruth refused to leave Naomi. Ruth was willing to let everything go from her old life. Her family, her gods. She made a decision to leave behind her old life and confessed her loyalty to the God of Israel saying, “…Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16). Once in Bethlehem, Ruth busied herself by gleaning barley to provide food for herself and Naomi. She was noticed by a man named Boaz who was her next of kin. Boaz gave her permission to follow his field hands so she could pick up enough barley for her food because he had heard of her devotion to her mother in law. (2:17)
A. Return to Bethlehem (1:7) 1. Naomi Tells Ruth and Orpah to Return to Moab (1:8-13) 2. Orpah Returns to Moab (1:14) 3. Ruth Refuses to Leave (1:14-18) B. Arrival at Bethlehem (1:19) 1. Naomi Asks to be Called Mara (1:20) 2. Naomi Blames God (1:21) 3. Arrival is During Harvest Time (1:22) C. Ruth Cares for Naomi (2:1-23) 1. Introduction to Boaz (2:1) 2. Ruth asks to Glean (2:2) 3. Ruth Gleans (2:3) 4. Boaz Meets and Provides for Ruth (2:4-23)
III. Ruth is Rewarded (3-4)
Naomi was curious as to her success since she collected so much more than normal. Ruth told her of Boaz and how he had looked out for her. Naomi was anxious for Ruth to remarry for her sake as well as Ruth's, so she sent Ruth to remind him of his duty to the family. Ruth married Boaz and became the mother of Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. ((4:17) Ruth is one of three Gentile women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:3,5-6).)
A. Naomi Advises Ruth (3:1-9) 1. Ruth Follows Instruction (3:6-8) 2. Boaz Sees Ruth at His Feet (3:9) B. Boaz Wants to Marry Ruth (3:10-18) 1. The Problem (3:12) 2. The Gift (3:15) 3. Ruth Returns to Naomi (3:16-17) 4. Naomi's Response (3:18) C. Boaz Marries Ruth (4:1-22) 1. Boaz Gets the Right of Redemption (4:1-12) 2. Marriage of Boaz and Ruth (4:13) 3. Obed is Born (4:14-17) 4. David is a Descendant of Ruth and Boaz (4:18-22)
Since Elimelich died without an heir, it was the duty of the next of kin to marry Ruth and produce an heir to carry on the family name through Elimelech. In fact, it was the law. (Deut. 25:5,6). The Law provided for Boaz, as a kinsman-redeemer, to reclaim the deceased Elimelech's inheritance, to marry Ruth, and to raise a child to continue the lineage of Elimelech.
An unnamed near kinsman had the first legal right to redeem Elimelech's lost inheritance, but he refused, saying it would put his inheritance in jeopardy. Boaz then adopted the customary and legal measures to obtain a decision. He summoned the near kinsman before ten elders at the gate of the city, related to him the circumstances of Naomi's return, with her desire that Ruth should be married and settled with her father-in-law's land as her marriage portion, and called upon him to declare his intentions. The near kinsman, whose name and degree of relationship are not stated, declared his inability to fulfill his responsibility, which he renounced in legal form in favor of Boaz according to ancient custom in Israel.
Boaz accepted the charge that was transferred to him and the elders and bystanders, who were witnesses, gave a formal blessing. Boaz, a type of Christ who assumed the right of “kinsman-redeemer,” purchased the property inheritance of Naomi and took Ruth as his wife. After making the necessary arrangements, Boaz said to the elders…You are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech'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 (Ruth 4:9-10, Lev. 25:25-34,47-48, Deut. 25:5-10
Ruth became the mother of Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David(4:17). Through the marriage of Boaz and Ruth, for the third time God united both Jew and Gentile in the ancestry of David and our Lord Jesus, the Messiah.
The book of Ruth shows how Christ our Kinsman-Redeemer purchases us for Himself. Through grace, Boaz brought Ruth, a Moabite, into the family of Israel. In the same way, through grace, Christ brought us, sinners, into the family of God.
Ruth supplies an important link in the ancestry of King David and shows how the birth of David into the messianic and monarchial line was providentially guided by God and to demonstrate the function of the law concerning the Kinsmen Redeemer. (Ruth 4; Deut. 25:5) The book of Ruth also teaches us about obedience and the blessings that come when you seek the Lord in everything you do. Ruth obeyed God and left everything she knew behind. As we can easily see, God blessed her for that.
Geisler has three purposes on why the book of Ruth was written. 1) The historical purpose, the book of Ruth is an important part in Israel’s history. It carries an important association in the genealogy of king David and show how the birth of David into the humble and majestic line was favorably handled by God. Just like it announces the holy element of the Davidic empire. 2) The doctrinal purpose, the doctrinal significance of the book of Ruth is its expression of the part of the law regarding the Kinsman Redeemer. 3) The Christological purpose, the book of Ruth exquisitely describes a few divine purposes. It shows how our Kinsman Redeemer, Christ, acquisitions us for Himself. It clarifies the grace of God as Ruth is brought into the line of Jesus.
One of the things we can learn from the book of Ruth is that genuine love may sometimes require uncompromising sacrifice. Regardless of how things go in life, we can live according to the precepts of God. Genuine love and kindness will be rewarded. God blesses abundantly, those who live obedient lives. Obedient living allows for no “accidents” in God’s plan for our lives. It shows the difference between what happens when a nation does not follow in obedience to the covenant of God (Judges), and when God’s people follow in faithfulness within the covenant (Ruth).
Chuck Swindoll wrote, “The book was written from Naomi’s point of view.” Every event related back to her: her husband’s and son’s deaths, her daughters-in-law, her return to Bethlehem, her God, her relative, Boaz, her land to sell, and her progeny. Almost without peer in Scripture, this story views “God through the eyes of a woman.”
Naomi has been compared to a female Job. She lost everything: home, husband, sons-and even more than Job did-her livelihood. She joined the ranks of Israel’s lowest members: the poor and the widowed. She cried out in her grief and neglected to see the gift that God placed in her path-Ruth.
Ruth embodied loyal love. Her moving vow of loyalty (Ruth 1:16-17), is included in modern wedding ceremonies. The book reveals God’s grace-He accepted Ruth into His chosen people and honored her with a role in continuing the family line into which His appointed king, David, and later His Son, Jesus, would be born (Matthew 1:1-5).
The book of Ruth is more than a love story. It is an example of a redeemer doing what needs to be done despite the person being a foreigner. This foreshadows what God does for us as Gentiles; Christ is our redeemer. Just as Boaz took on Ruth, a Moabite, as his wife, despite the laws regarding marrying a foreigner, God offers Gentiles a chance to enter His Kingdom through the work of Christ upon the cross.
The sovereignty of God is clearly seen in the book of Ruth. God had a plan for the life of Ruth even in the face of what appeared to be one catastrophe after another. He was busy guiding her every step of the way to become an ancestor of Jesus Christ. (Matt. 1:5) We can all have the assurance that God also has a plan for each one of us and he is working that plan out in our lives even if on the surface, it looks anything but a well thought out plan. We belong to a loving, faithful, powerful God, who has never failed to provide for his children.
Ruth was an example of the Proverbs 31 woman. She was devoted to her family (Ruth 1:15-18) (Prov.31:10-12) and fully dependent on God (Ruth 2:12) (Prov. 31:30, she had godly speech, her words, were loving, kind and respectful to Naomi and to Boaz. Ruth is a woman to emulate even in today’s world or culture.
Geisler, Norman L., A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, Baker Publishing Group, 1977
Hash, John A., The Best of Bible Pathway, 5th ed., Bible Pathway Ministries, Murfreesboro, Tn 2004
Orr, James, The International Standard Bible Encylopedia, Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub., Grand Rapids, MI. 1976
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