This love story
is embedded in the eighth book of the Old Testament, in a little four chapter
book called Ruth. Three Levitical laws are shown being practiced by the people
in this book. The first is the law of gleaning (Leviticus 23:22), the second law
is the law of redemption (Leviticus 25:25) and the third law is the law of
Levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5- 6). These three laws were built around the
love a man should have for his fellow man. That’s what God is really all about.
begins with a man by the name of Elimelech, an Ephrathite from
Elimelech owned land in Bethlehem
because of a famine in that land he moved his wife,Naomi,and
their two sons to the country of Moab to sojourn there. Sojourn in the
Hebrew has a few different meanings, applicable here is the following: To abide,
dwell in, dwell with, remain, inhabit. In other words Elimelech had no intention
of returning to Bethlehem. As a matter of fact, we learn later
on in our story that Elimelech indeed sold his inherited property before he and
his family left Judah.
his family settled in Moab. Moab
was a pagan Gentile nation and God forbade Jews to mingle with Gentiles.
Elimelech should not have moved to Moab. Soon afterward Elimelech died,
leaving Naomi and her two sons to fend for themselves. When Naomi’s two sons
were old enough they married Moabite women. Mahlonmarried
Ruth and Chilion married Orpah. They dwelt there in Moab for ten years and both Mahlon
and Chilion also died. We aren’t told anywhere in the book of Ruth why Elimelech
and his two sons died but we know from studying the law of Moses the Israelites
weren’t to leave their land or marry outside of their own people. Presumably,
God took them because of their disobedience. Also to leave their inherited land
and move to a land that was so pagan and full of idolatry would also be a form
Naomi, the wife
of Elimelech lost her husband and her two sons apparently within just a few
years of one another, and then she was left with two Moabite daughters-in-law.
Now word came
to Naomi that the famine was over back in the land from which they came,
Judah, so Naomi decided to go back to
the land of her birth. Naomi’s two daughters-in-law decided to leave Moab
and go with Naomi. After setting out on their journey, somewhere between
Moab and Bethlehem Judah,Naomi
turned to her two daughters-in-law and told them to
return to their mother’s house, but they refused.
Then Naomi said“Turn
again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? [are] there yet [any more] sons in
my womb, that they may be your husbands? go [your way]; for I am too old to have
an husband. If I should say, I have hope, [if] I should have an husband also to
night, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown?”
tears Orpah did as she was told and returned to her
mother’s house. Ruth on the other hand refusedto
part from Naomi. Ruth’s response to Naomi “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 1:16. Eventually, Naomi
relented and they continuedon
their journey to Naomi’s homeland. Here we need to take notice that Ruth has
told Naomi that the God she worships will be the God Ruth will worship from then
on. Ruth is still a gentile but no longer a pagan worshipping many false gods.
Something that is evident here is that both of Naomi’s daughters-in-law loved
Naomi. Neither of these two young women wanted to return to their mother’s
homes, they were both adamant about staying with Naomi. This says a lot for
Naomi and her love for these two Moabite women.
Now when Naomi
and Ruth arrived in the city of
old neighbors recognized her and they gathered around her to welcome her back
home. They tried to greet her and treat her kindly but Naomi wouldn’t have any
part of it, and proceeded to tell them not to call her Naomi any longer that
they should call her Mara. In the book of Ruth as well as throughout the entire
Bible name changes have a specific meaning. Naomi means “My delight” but Mara
means “bitterness”. We can all understand the pain Naomi must have been feeling.
She left Bethlehem with a complete
family, a husband and two sons, and she returned with one daughter-in-law and no
sons or husband, and both women were desolate;they
had no livelihood to speak of.
At this point
in the book, almost as a side note, we are told that Naomi had a wealthy
relative by the name of Boaz and he was a land owner. Now Ruth tells Naomi that
she is going to go out into the field and do some gleaning. Here we get a
picture of the law of gleaning. “And when ye reap the harvest of your land,
thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou
reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave
them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I [am] the LORD your God,”
Leviticus 23:22 We’re not told whether Ruth knew gleaning was a levirate law
or not. It’s possible since Naomi was familiar with the law she might have
explained it to Ruth on their trip back to Bethlehem. At any rate Ruth headed out
to the fields and where did she end up but in one of Boaz’s fields. Now Boaz had
been away from home and when he returned to his home he noticed a young maiden
gleaning in one of his fields whom he didn’t recognize. Boaz proceeded to
question one of his servants about this maiden, and this servant told him, “She
is the Moabitess that came back from Moab with your relative Naomi”.
Boaz was a
wealthy man and his countenance was that of a gentle and kind man. After
speaking to his servant about Ruth he ventured out into the field where she was
gleaning and Boaz spoke to the young maiden. He told her to remain in his field
until the end of harvest, and to attach herself to his handmaidens. Boaz went on
to explain to Ruth that he has already spoken with the young men working for him
and told them to leave her alone, not to touch her. Boaz also told Ruth to help
herself to the water that had been brought up from the well by the young men.
When Ruth heard Boaz and realized how kind he was being toward her she
immediately bowed herself to the ground. She questioned him as to why he was
being so nice to a total stranger. To which Boaz replied “…It hath fully been
shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of
thine husband: and [how] thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land
of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore,”
invited Ruth to come to his house and eat with the rest of the workers. So Ruth
ate until she was full, thenshe
put a little of the food away to take to Naomi when she finished the days
gleaning. While Ruth was out in the field gleaning Boaz had a conversation with
his reapers and commanded them they weren’t to touch
Ruth. Then he commanded them they were to leave some
handfuls of the grain for Ruth to pickup; Boaz wanted to make it as easy as
possible for Ruth to fill her sack. At this point in our story it’s plain to see
that with just the little knowledge he had of Ruth, Boaz was smitten.
finished gleaning for the day in Boaz’s field, she returned to Naomi who was
amazed at her bountiful harvest. She questioned Ruth as to where she had
gleaned, and received this great amount of barley. Ruth explained her day to
Naomi and Naomi in turn explained to Ruth that Boaz, the owner of the field
where she gleaned, was a close relative.
Naomi, aware of
what was happening, advised her daughter-in-law to remain in Boaz’s field until
the end of barley harvest and the wheat harvest. At the end of the harvest Ruth
returned to Naomi with all she had gleaned. What we see beginning to take shape
here are two more Levitical laws, that of a redeemer (for Naomi’s land) “If
thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away [some] of his possession, and if
any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother
sold,” Leviticus 25:25. And also the law (Levirate marriage)
that an heir to the land of Elimelech may be brought forth and
conceived through Ruth.
to Ruth what would happen next pertaining to the harvest, that Boaz and his
servants would be up on the threshing floor winnowing the wheat and when they
were finished they would celebrate the completed harvest. Naomi tells Ruth
“Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee”
basically to get herself dolled up, go out and get her nails done, a new hairdo,
and splash on some Chanel No. 5, then to get up to the threshing floor where
Boaz and his reapers would be. She then should wait for them to
finish their eating and drinking and to watch where Boaz laid down to sleep and
then she should go quietly and lie down and uncover his feet.
Naomi explained to Ruth that Boaz will know what this means and he will tell her
what she was to do next. So Ruth agreed and did as she was told.
herself ready, Ruth made her way up to the threshing floor then waited for the
men to fall asleep, after which she found Boaz and lay down and uncovered his
feet. It was about midnight when Boaz awoke and noticed a woman was laying at
his feet. Boaz asked “Who [art] thou”? The woman answered, “I [am]
Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou
[art] a near kinsman.” Ruth 3:9.
exactly what she was asking of him – that he would
marry her and together they would raise up an heir for the land of Elimelech. Boaz explained to Ruth that he
was willing to perform the act of kinsman redeemer, but that there was a
relative closer than he and he must confront this other man with the prospect of
performing the act himself. If this other relative would become the kinsman
redeemer then so be it, but if he refused then Boaz would do it. He then told
her to lie down and he covered her with his skirt. He told her to wake up before
dawn and leave so none of his servants would see her there on the threshing
you jump to any immoral conclusions this is only a question and answer period.
She is asking him to become the kinsman redeemer for herself
and Naomi, and he is giving her his answer. There is nothing sexual happening
before dawn and readied herself to leave, Boaz gathered six measures of barley
for Ruth to take with her and give to Naomi. When Naomi saw this gift from Boaz
she understood it’s meaning to be that Boaz had accepted the request from the
two women that he should fulfill the law as their kinsman redeemer. Naomi
explained to Ruth that Boaz wouldn’t rest until he completed the task at hand.
the closer relative with the proposition brought forth by the two women,Naomi
and Ruth. The closer relative agreed to redeem the land for Naomi. Then Boaz
explained that he would be expected to marry Ruth, theMoabitess,to
raise up an heir for the land that was redeemed for Naomi. This new information
was a shock to the closer relative and he declined and made it clear that he
could not redeem the land for Naomi and marry Ruth, because it would’ve created
a cloud on his own inheritance. So Boaz agreed to redeem Naomi’s land and marry
Ruth, and had the whole city of elders sanction his intent. Here we see the
third law is demonstrated in the book of Ruth (The Law is of God) realized and
that is the law of Levirate marriage. “If brethren dwell together, and
one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without
unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him
to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. And it shall be,
[that] the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother
[which is] dead, that his name be not put out of Israel,”
Deuteronomy 25:5, 6. In this case it wasn’t the husband’s brother,but
Boaz was a close relative which was also legitimate.
This whole love
story is a picture type of Jesus Christ who is our kinsman redeemer.
Jesus came to redeem Israel
but Israel declined his offer by
basically rejecting Jesus as their Messiah.
Gospel of Matthew chapter 12 we read where the nation of Israel rejects Jesus
and beginning in chapter 13 Jesus only speaks to them in parables so they can no
longer understand because they’re eyes were blinded to the truth.)
turned to the gentile nation and made the offer to them and they accepted him as
their savior. Boaz is a picture type of Jesus Christ in that he became the
kinsman redeemer to Naomi and Ruth. Remember that earlier we learned that Ruth
was a Gentile, a Moabitess, although she told Naomi that Naomi’s
God would be her God, this didn’t make her a Jew. Ruth is a picture type of the
Gentile nation who would become the bride of Christ. Naomi is a picture type of Israel in that the Jews have their
land back but they are still living in rebellion because they haven’t
acknowledged Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus became our kinsman redeemer when He
became fully man; only then would He be able to redeem us because only a man
could be our near kinsman, but only God could be the once for all sacrifice.
Just like Boaz marring a Gentile and taking upon himself the position of kinsman
redeemer, Jesus Christ symbolically married the
Church and became the
Church’s groom, metaphorically speaking of course, and our kinsman redeemer. Our
God and our Creator has now become our redeemer through His shed blood on that
cross at Calvary. A huge sacrifice for God,
Boaz also had to sacrifice because according to Levirate law Jews weren’t to
marry outside of their race. If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish community
would have a funeral for the Jew and consider them dead. It was thought that to
even enter the house of a Gentile made a Jew unclean before God.
genealogy, Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David which is
the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Boaz was the son of the prostitute
Rahab and Ruth married him anyway).
It took a
perfect God to enter his creation and become a perfect man so he could save his
rebellious children who are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. The
first time He came He died for His creation. Are you a part of the body of
Christ? Jesus is only your kinsman redeemer if you will accept Him into your
life. Will you be an heir to His Kingdom? Or will you refuse you inheritance?
God bless you