Ruth and Boaz
The Book of Ruth
Ruth's love is demonstrated
Ruth's love is rewarded
The Weekly Outlook - Aug 25, 2013
Wednesday, Aug 28: Ruth 1 - Ruth 4
Thursday, Aug 29: 1 Samuel 1 - 1 Samuel 7
Friday, Aug 30: 1 Samuel 8 - 1 Samuel 13
Saturday, Aug 31: Labor Day Weekend; Holiday
The book of Ruth is the eighth book in our series. It gives a series of intimate glimpses ito the private lives of members of an Israelite family. The book also presents a delightful account of the remnat of true faith and piety in the period of the Judges, reviving an otherwise whole dark picture of the era.
In today's guided tour, we meet Ruth, a Moabite woman who lived in Israel during the period of the Judges. Ruth remains as a shining example, of self-sacrificing devotion to the higher things in life, a model of faithfulness, of loyalty and modesty and excellence of character.
Come, let's go visit her.
(Ruth Chapter 1)
Naomi Loses Her Husband and Sons
During the times of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A certain man, Elimelech, of Bethlehem, went to sojourn in the country of Moab, along with his wife, Naomi and his two sons - Mahlon and Kilion. They arrived in the country of Moab and remained there. Moab was a heathen country, a region northeast of the Dead Sea.
While at Moab, Elimelech, died; Naomi was left with here two sons. Both the men married Moabite women - one was called Orpah and other Ruth. Ruth was born as a Moabite princess, The chief god of Moabites as Chemosh and they also worshiped Molech to whom they offered child sacrifices. Ruth was disgusted with the cruel and lowest form of idol worship of her own people and was looking for a new religion.
Ruth happened to meet the family of Elimelech and became acquainted with their religion. Princess Ruth was willing to marry one of the two sons of Elimelech, even though she had to give up her royal comforts. Marriage with Moabite women was not forbidden. However, per the law of Moses, Moabites or their sons to the tenth generation could not enter the assembly of the LORD.
Soon both men Machlon and Kilyon died; Now the woman, Naomi, was left with her two daugher-in-laws.
Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem
Naomi was heart-broken and did not have any means to support these two women. She thought about all possible alternatives but none of them was feasible and practical. Naomi heard that food was now available in the land of Judah, and decided to go back to Judah. Hence, she strongly urged them to return them to their family and to their gods - so that these two women do not have to travel with her.
Ruth 1:11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”Naomi was reciting the law of Moses and saying these options to find the girls husbands was not going to work out. Hence Naomi urged the women to leave. The three women wept and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye. Nothing is mentioned about Orpah in the Bible anymore.
Ruth, on the other hand decided to stay back with Naomi. Even after so much persuasion, Naomi could not convince her to leave. Ruth spoke one of the most popular passage in the Bible, which sums up all her dedication and faithfulness to Naomi.
Ruth 1:16 But Ruth replied, “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. 17 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.”Both women returned to Bethlehem and the whole town could not recognize Naomi, who looked so tired and different due to poverty. They arrived when the barley harvest was about to begin.
In order for a better understanding of the story, one needs to know about the steps involved in harvesting. Those who have exposure to farming can relate these easily. Let's take a look at those. The following steps briefly and sequentially summarizes those steps during harvest:
1. Cutting those ripened standing grains with hand sickles,
2. Binding those grains into sheaves - usually done by women,
3. Gleaning - gathering stalks of grains left behind,
4. Transporting the sheaves to the threshing floor,
5. Threshing - loosening the grain from the straw
6. Winnowing - done by tossing the grain into air, so that the afternoon wind blows away straw ans chaff,
7. Sifting of the grain by removing any foreign matter,
8. Bagging the grain for transportation and storage.
(Ruth Chapter 2)
Ruth Meets Boaz in the Grain Field
LORD gave the Israelites a law in Leviticus 19:9-10 and Deuteronomy 24:19; regarding harvesting from their fields. They were not supposed to thoroughly harvest their fields. In fact, they are supposed to leave some behind, so that the poor can come after them and harvest what’s left. Due to their poverty, Ruth decided to do this, and went into go to one of the barley fields, where they’re harvesting the barley, and pick up some of the leftover grain.
Ruth went into the barley fields of Boaz, one of the distant relatives of Naomi. She went ahead and began to glen in those fields after the harvesters.
Boaz came into his fields and inquired his men about this new woman who is in his field. They told him that she is one of the Moabite woman who came back with Naomi, and she has been working in their fields steadily for the entire day, with taking much rest. Boaz approaches Ruth, and told her to continue to glean from his fields, rather than going to someone else’ fields. He instructed his men not to touch her or cause any trouble. He further gave them instructions that she should be allowed to drink from the men’s water jars.
Ruth 2:10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”
11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”Boaz was a wealthy and godly man with a kind spirit. He treated women with respect. By the looks of Ruth, he could tell that she was no ordinary woman. He also let her join them for food.
Later, Boaz instructed his men purposely leave behind some stalks for her to pick up. That day, Ruth gathered about 22 liters of barley, and shared the special consideration she received from Boaz. When Naomi heard about this, she advised Ruth that it'll be good for them to follow Boaz’ advice, and stay in his fields. This was also considering the personal security of Ruth, who could be harmed in the event she she went to someone else’s field. So Ruth stayed with Naomi and continued going to Boaz's fields, until the end of the barley harvest.
(Ruth Chapter 3)
Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing Floor
The next activity in harvesting was at the threshing floor. Naomi wanted to find a home for Ruth, and this thought has been going on in her mind. To her surprise, Naomi learned that Boaz was a close relative of her late husband, and second in line as kinsman-redeemer of Elimelech’s properties. The kinsman-redeemer was responsible for the interests of extended family members. The duty also bound to marry the widow of his deceased kinsman. Hence, Naomi advised Ruth to prepare herself like a bride - to wash and perfume herself and do to the threshing floor wearing her best clothes. Naomi also advised her not to let anyone know until they had finished eating their dinner.
Ruth agreed to do precisely as Naomi said. When Boaz finished eating, he went over to lie down at the far end of his grain field. It was common for the owners to be present at the threshing floor to protect their grain. Ruth tip-toed and quietly went and lay down near his feet. In the middle of the night, something woke up Boaz and he noticed a woman lying at his feet.
Ruth 3:9 “Who are you?” he asked.
“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”
10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”'Spread the corner of your garment over me' is a request to marry me - a custom which still prevails in certain parts of Middle East today.
'there is another who is more closely related than I' - Apparently Boaz has done his homework and background investigation on Ruth. He learned that there is another man who is a closer relative to Ruth who is more eligible to marry Ruth. Clearly, Boaz did not want to bypass the law of the land. He also sounds like a fairly older man and is thrilled at Ruth's request.
Boaz asked Ruth to stay with him for the night, and she was at his feet until the morning. He also made sure that Ruth left the threshing floor early morning before anyone recognized her. He advised her to sneak out early morning so that people won’t find out that a woman was at the threshing floor and to avoid any scandal. Before Ruth left, Boaz asked her to hold out her shawl, into which he poured “six measures” of barley for her to take home.
Ruth reached home safely and shared the entire episode with Naomi.
Ruth 3:18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”In the first part, Naomi said told Ruth not to share this incident with anyone yet. In the second part, Ruth shares her expectation that Boaz will not sit idle, knowing the integrity, faithfulness and diligence of Boaz. She also perceived that Boaz is now affectionate towards Ruth and is waiting for a decision, keeping their fingers crossed.
(Ruth Chapter 4)
Boaz Marries Ruth
Deuteronomy 23:15–19 describes those rules of a relative redeeming a man’s family line. Here the problem is that if Naomi has a closer relative than Boaz, such a relative by all rights, could and should marry Ruth instead of Boaz.
As per the custom for transacting such business, Boaz seated himself at the town gate, and waited for this closer other closer relative (of Naomi) for the kinsman-redeemer. When he arrived, Boaz greeted him and asked him to sit down along with the ten elders of the town who joined them.
Pay attention here:
Boaz after done his homework thoroughly, presented the case very carefully in front of the kinsman-redeemer. I bet he is praying that this distant relative turns down the offer. Rather than starting the subject with Ruth, Boaz began his presentation of the case with a piece of land which Naomi owned. It was the responsibility of the kinsman-redeemer to purchase any land so that it stayed within the family. If the distant relative did not buy the land, then in that case, Boaz was interested in buying that land.
We do not know if Naomi even owned this land, whether she and her husband Elimelech sold it before leaving for Moab, or not. Even if they had sold, by law, Naomi had the right of redemption to own such a land back, because she was poor.
When Boaz told the distant relative about this land, “I will redeem it,” he said.
Ruth 4:5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”
6 At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”It was a custom those days while sealing such a deal, the kinsman-redeemer to take off his sandal, and give it to Boaz. Next, Boaz announced the deal to those elders of the town who witnessed that he had bought the land from Naomi, and he also acquired Ruth, Mahlon’s widow, as his wife. From now on, Boaz would continue Mahlon’s family line.
Those who were present verified that they witnessed the deal, and then prayed to the LORD to bless Boaz and any offspring that may result from their union.
Naomi Gains a Son
Boaz not only redeemed the property of Elimelech, but also married the modest and gentle young woman Ruth, who had given up her royal palace to live with Naomi and follow her everywhere. Ruth then gave birth to a son.
Ruth 4:17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.The Genealogy of David is given in the next few verses of Ruth 4:18 - 22.
Ruth lived long enough and was fortunate to see her great-grandson David become king of Israel. It is so nice to share such a wonderful story of dedication, redemption, who by her own strength of character and genuine love became one of the most noteworthy women in the lineage of Jesus Christ.
WARNING: Some of the actions performed in this book are dangerous and should only be attempted by professionals familiar with the action in question.
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Ruth and Shavuot
Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day LORD gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai.
Jewish Shavuot falls in the harvest season, and is the culmination of a seven-week count beginning with the first barley harvest. As we saw, the story of Ruth unfolds against the background of the barley harvest in ancient Judea.
David was born on the festival of Shavuot (907 BCE), and passed away on the same date 70 years later.
Ruth is considered the "righteous convert" who with her great sacrifice who forsakes her former life and identity to be born anew as a Jew; i
The entire Book of Ruth is publicly read in the course of the morning services on Shavuot day.
Click here for few paintings related to Ruth.
Recommend watching these paintings in full screen mode in flickr.
PS: It's been a busy day today!