Before we even start let’s recall the ending of Deuteronomy. The Lord spoke through Moses about the blessings and curses upon entering the Promised Land. One of the curses was a famine…
Ruth Chapter 1
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
So we know the setting of this book. Now let’s have some fun and break down the names.
- Elimelek- El (Lord) and the i (means “my”) melek (King) “My God is King”
- Naomi- Pleasant
- Mahlon-sick or weak
So Elimelek, not living up to his name, left Bethlehem to live in Moab….C’mon, you can remember this one…who started the Moabites?? Clue: Lot, mountain top, daughter, beer, gross. The Moabites, after all, were horrible people. They were the people that tried to get Balaam to curse the Israelites as well as the ones that strongly worship foreign gods.
Elimelech and his wife went to Moab and his sons married Moabite woman. After the sons had died, Noami was heading back to Bethlehem and told her daughters-in-law to go back to their families. Orpah returns to her family and her gods BUT Ruth changes the course of history when she says :
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
Ruth uses the word Yahweh in this verse. LORD-All Caps. When you read your Bible and you see all caps it is referring to the name Yahweh. This is a profound statement. A conversion statement. Yahweh is the name God uses at the burning bush to explain WHO He is...”I AM who I AM”.
Get this! Ruth pledges to become an Israelite! Her commitment to Yahweh discards all alliances with social, religious, and political ties to the Moabites. She is now a citizen of the land until death. This changes her ethnic identity and religion. She commits to the Law when she says “may The LORD deal with me”. Ruth does what few Israelites do: commit to the LORD and opposes all other gods. THIS is what will open the door for her to marry an Israelite in the future. She is Converted.
Ruth and Naomi (well, Naomi wants them to call her by her new nickname “bitter” since she has lost her husband and her sons) head back to Bethlehem as the barley harvest begins.
Boaz- a person from Elimek’s family- the Tribe of Judah
- He goes beyond the mandate to leave food for the poor in the field to let them “glean”. (Duet 24:19-provisions for the poor.) He takes it a step further by feeding her a meal and protecting her.
- He recognizes her loyalty to Naomi
- He understands that Ruth’s identity has changed through her conversion to follow Yahweh when he says “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
Boaz is a man of character, wealth, “a man of standing’, but he is ALSO a relative described as a kinsman-redeemer. The law states in Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 25 that a male, near relative, has the responsibility of rescuing, protecting, and helping weaker relatives. His responsibilities might include buying back land they may have lost, defending legal issues, or raising children with the wife of a deceased relative, even marrying a brother’s widow to extend the family.
Chapter 3– In short, Ruth proposes to Boaz. (I have studied this book before and there are different interpretations on the “feet” since the same Hebrew word was used for another male part, but we will stick with feet for this reading 😜) Boaz accepts her proposal- however, following the law, he states that there is a kinsman that is closer to her and gets first dibs.
Chapter 4 – If you want to re-read this chapter circle any variation of the word Redeem or Redeemer. It is obvious it is the climax of the book. Boaz meets the relative at the city gates (where legal matters were held) and shows up with this in his hand (but still sealed)
A land deed was a scroll with a seal. The only one who could open it was the Redeemer. The relative says he will buy the land BUT he hears that Ruth comes with the deed. For personal reasons (maybe already married), he lets Boaz be the Redeemer. (He is the only one now worthy to open the scroll…who knows where I am going with this 😁).
Next, the witnesses bless Ruth and Boaz wishing her to be the matriarch of Israel and Boaz to be famous in Bethlehem. Indeed!!
The Genealogy Ending- Click here to print-
In comments tell me why I talked about the deed as a scroll if you think you figured it out.