The book does not identify the author. According to Jewish tradition the author was Samuel, and there is a  suggestion that the author could be Solomon due to the lineage in the last chapter which ends with David.  Therefore when the book of Ruth was completed David had already been appointed King. The events of Ruth occurred sometime between BC 1160 and BC 1100, during the latter period of the Judges (Ruth 1:1), a time of religious and moral degeneration.

Analysis

19_2

v13–17 The marriage and birth of the firstborn

son, Obed

19_2 8

 

Theme

During the times of the judges when “every man  did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judg  21:25) apostasy and wickedness prevailed in  Israel. Yahweh’s plan to take out a people for His  Name was not thwarted and we see Him calling  the Gentiles into the Hope of Israel. The book of  Ruth is a sharp contrast with the previous book in  the Bible, the book of Judges. It is about a family  which suffered tragedy, and yet found happiness  and good fortune in the end. Ruth is the main  character, a young woman from Moab, who became  the great-grandmother of David and an ancestor  of our Lord (Ruth 4:21–22; Matt 1:1,5 ). The story  is written straightforwardly and very beautifully.  However, there are types for us living during the  closing times of the Gentiles, when natural Israel  has rebelled against God, and the Gentiles are waiting  for their Redeemer.

Ruth 1

The first chapter introduces us to the time of the  story of Ruth. During the times that the judges  ruled an Israelite, Elimelech, and his wife Naomi, Chilion all died. Naomi blessed her daughtersin-  law and decided to return to the land of Judah  because she had heard the famine was ended. She  told her daughters-in-law to return to their own  families, and to stay in Moab. They were distraught  at this suggestion and both Orpah and Ruth said  that they would stay with Naomi and go with her to Judah. Naomi insisted that they return to their own families and remarry, as she was not going to have  any more sons for them to marry and was grieved at  the apparent harshness of Yahweh against them. At this point Orpah agreed and returned to her people  and her gods. However Ruth gave the wonderful  statement showing her true character: “Whither  thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will  lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God  my God” (1:16). Ruth was willing to forsake her  previous life and change allegiances to the God of  Israel. The two of them returned into Israel at the  beginning of the barley harvest.

Ruth 2

We are introduced to Boaz, who was a kinsman  of Elimelech. Ruth was providentially led to his  field to glean the ears of corn after the reapers had  completed their work, as permitted under the Law,  in cases of extreme poverty. Ruth was an industrious  worker, and this drew the attention of Boaz. Boaz  enquired of his servant who was in charge of the  reapers about Ruth, and he learned that she was the  daughter-in-law of Naomi who had returned from  Moab. Boaz was impressed that this young girl had  cared for her mother-in-law even after the death of  both their husbands, and had left her homeland to come into a new and foreign country. Boaz ensured  that she continued to glean in his field, and that she  was not only cared for by his maidens and young  men, but that they left some extra corn for her.

At the end of the next day of gleaning the fields,  Ruth talked with Naomi about Boaz and how this  man was kind to her. Naomi knew that he was a  near kinsman and could see the hand of Yahweh in  guiding Ruth to glean in his field. She gave Ruth  instructions to continue gleaning there.

Ruth 3

Naomi believed that Boaz would continue to help  them in their need as she knew Boaz was a faithful  Israelite who was kind and honoured the Law of  Moses. Ruth’s real need, though, was ‘redemption’.  Under the Law of Moses, if a man died childless,  his brother was required to raise up seed in the dead  man’s name. Naomi instructed Ruth to draw Boaz’s  attention to her need. When he lay down to sleep Ruth was to uncover his feet and lie down there.  This was the custom of the time. Ruth behaved  honourably, showing by her action her submissiveness  to Boaz as her lord.

Boaz woke up in the middle of the night and  was startled to see a woman lying at his feet. Ruth  explained that he was the near kinsman who had the  right to redeem her. Boaz was touched at this and  praised Ruth for preferring him over the younger  men. He could see that Ruth was a virtuous woman,  and although not of the seed of Israel, was doing  what the Law of Moses required. Boaz reassured  her that he would do what was required, and said  that all the people knew that she was a virtuous  woman. However, there was one problem to overcome.  It was true that Boaz was a near kinsman,  but there was a kinsman nearer than him who could  perform the role of redeemer. If he refused to take  the kinsman’s role of redemption, then Boaz was  willing to do it.

Ruth 4

Boaz went to the place where business was conducted  at the gate of the city. There he met the nearer  kinsman who had the right to redeem Ruth. He took  with him ten men of the elders of the city, a quorum.  Boaz, on behalf of Naomi, offered for sale a piece  of land which belonged to Elimelech. The nearer  kinsman agreed to redeem the land. Then Boaz  reminded him that he must also redeem the wife of  the dead, Ruth the Moabitess, to raise up seed for  the dead. The kinsman then declined the purchase  as he claimed it would mar his own inheritance.

The kinsman took off his shoe and gave it to  Boaz (cp Deut 25:7–10). The transaction was made  amicably, and with the shoe being given to Boaz the  transaction was sealed; Boaz was free to purchase  the land and to take Ruth as his wife. Boaz proclaimed  this to the witnesses present.

Interestingly the witnesses openly prayed to  Yahweh to make Ruth like the houses of Rachel  and Leah, “which two did build the house of Israel”,  and also to be like the house of Pharez, of the tribe  of Judah, being the tribe Boaz was from. This is a  wonderful endorsement of the faith shown by Ruth  the Moabitess.

Boaz and Ruth had a son, Obed, and the story of  Ruth concludes with Naomi taking the child, laying  him in her bosom and becoming his nurse. Naomi  had told Ruth to return to her people as she herself  would not have further children whom Ruth could  marry (1:12–13), but now Naomi was able to hold  and nurse the child of Ruth. Yahweh had rewarded  her faithfulness by turning her bitterness into joy.

The book then concludes with an appendix of  the generations of Pharez, showing that the child Obed, born to Boaz and Ruth, was the father  of Jesse and the grandfather of David, the king.  Yahweh promised David that his seed would arise to  build a house for His name, and that Yahweh would  establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. Thus,  because of her faith, Ruth the Moabitess was grafted  into the hope of Israel, she being also in the lineage  of David, and hence of our Lord Jesus Christ.