April 2nd Ruth, 1
1v1–22 Ruth’s love for Naomi
1: Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2: And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3: And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4: And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. 5: And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. 6: Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread. 7: Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. 8: And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9: The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. 10: And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. 11: And 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? 12: Turn again, my daughters, 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; 13: Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. 14: And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. 15: And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. 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: 17: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. 18: When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her. 19: So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? 20: And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21: I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? 22: So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
2v1–23 Ruth seeks Boaz.
1: And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. 2: And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. 3: And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. 4: And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee. 5: Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? 6: And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: 7: And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house. 8: Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: 9: Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn. 10: Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? 11: And Boaz answered and said unto her, 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. 12: The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. 13: Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens. 14: And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left. 15: And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: 16: And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not. 17: So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley. 18: And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed. 19: And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz. 20: And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen. 21: And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest. 22: And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field. 23: So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.
3v1–18 Ruth is sought by Boaz
1: Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? 2: And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. 3: Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. 4: And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do. 5: And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do. 6: And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her. 7: And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. 8: And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. 9: And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. 10: And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. 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. 12: And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. 13: Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning. 14: And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. 15: Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city. 16: And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. 17: And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law. 18: Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.
4v1–22 Ruth’s love for Boaz.
1: Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down. 2: And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down. 3: And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's: 4: And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it. 5: Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. 6: And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it. 7: Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel. 8: Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe. 9: And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi. 10: 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 from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day. 11: And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: 12: And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman. 13: So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. 14: And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. 15: And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. 16: And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. 17: And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. 18: Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, 19: And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, 20: And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, 21: And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, 22: And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
This little book in the Bible describes the Grace of God to a Gentile woman – Ruth. The story of Ruth is set during the period of the Judges of Israel, a period of 490 year (in the year of the Lord) between the entrance of Israel into the land and the time of the Monarchy. This is a tragedy and love story. It is a description of the Judgment of God on Israel and how the Lord is able to bring victory out of defeat, He is able to bring joy out of sorrow, blessing out of destitution and restoration to those who have gone astray. God shows grace to Ruth a Moabitess and brings her into blessing. The key characters of the narrative are Elimelech, Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. It is a historical story which has a prophetic message - after a period of judgment and sorrow God will bring Israel back to himself and back into the land and back into blessing and prosperity. There are other sub plots - the priveledge and duty of the restoration of the inheritance of a poor widow and her children and the inability of the natural man to redeem the lost and the gracious provision of the one who volunteers to be the redeemer. Perhaps the key verse is..Ruth 3:18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.
The narrative begins with a succession of events which bring a Jewish family from posterity to destitution. In the Law, the Lord promised that if Israel remained faithful to him then they would always prosper and be in health and live long, but if they forsook the LORD then the LORD would cause the crops to fail, they would get sick, die young and bring their families to destitution. The story of Ruth puts a human face to these principles. And so we see that the story begins with a man who lived at Bethlehemjudah who is faced with a famine in the land. (It’s interesting that the story begins with a failed harvest in Bethlehem and finishes with a bountiful harvest in Bethlehem.) This event was not unique in Israel’s history. Abraham faced famine and went down to Egypt. Isaac faced famine and went down to Philistime. Jacob faced famine and went down to Joseph in Egypt. These famines were the result of failed rains and we see in the life of Elijah that God used the weather as a means of disciplining Israel. The first act of Elijah faced with a nation that had forsaken the Lord was to pray that it might not rain. The famine was as much an act of God as was the rain when Israel returned to the Lord. And here we have a clue to the understanding of scripture. When Christ came into this world he found a nation groaning under sickness, disease and death and wherever he went, he preached that Israel should return to the Lord their God, he forgave men of their sins and reversed the effect of their backslidings. What we see in the book of Ruth is how these things are worked out in a single family. In this story Elimelech went down into Moab. He went from the house of bread (Bethlehem) to the wilderness where Israel was fed by manna. The man took his wife and two sons and there they married gentile women. How would God bring restoration to this Jewish family? This is the story of Ruth and it all begins in the heart of Naomi. After about ten years Naomi hears news – that God had visted her people by giving them bread. Naomi descides (like the prodigal son) that she will find her way home but she is so sad and so inwardly bitter against the LORD for what she sees that the LORD had done in her life that she is returning home in great sorrow and regret. (The LORD would turn her sorrow into joy.) Noami calls her daughters in law and tells them to return to their father. She knows that Moabites would not be universally welcome in Israel. She tells them that the hand of the Lord has gone out against her and she is sad they these innocent young women have been caught up in the judgment of God. They all wept together at what had happened to them. Orpah kissed her in farewell but Ruth clung to her. Then Naomi said to Ruth look Orpah has returned to her people and her gods – you go home. But Ruth spoke the famous words. Please do not ask me to leave you or to stop learning from you, because where you go l want to be and where you live l want to sleep. I want your people to be my people and l want your God to be my God and where you die there l want to be buried. And may the Lord do far worse to me; if anything but death part you and me. When Naomi saw that she was determined, she stopped asking her to go home. And so they both arrived at Bethlehem. For once in the life of Naomi she was in the right place, but she was not fully in her right mind. The entire city was stirred in compassion for her. She looked so different - ten years older, probably much thinner and full of mourning. They gathered to her but Naomi said do not call me Naomi but Mara (Bitterness) because the Lord has dealt with me very bitterly. I went out full but the Lord has brought me home empty. (Yes but at least she is home!) She said why call me Naomi because the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty one has afflicted me. When they arrived home it was the beginning of the barley harvest. She was not only in the right place but at the right time. Next we are going to see a remarkable thing which could only happen in Israel. We saw in the law that the land was appointed by lot and was never sold permenantly; it was always available to be redeemed. (That is purchased back from the person to whom it had been sold) Naomi had a near kindsman, a mighty man of wealth, his name was Boaz. (Boaz is a type of Christ) Ruth being under the authority of Naomi asked her permission to go and glean corn in the fields with the poor. Then we see that unknown to her she was guided by the LORD to go to the field of Boaz. When Boaz came to visit his workers his greeting was God blessing on them and they returned in like manner. ‘The Lord bless you’. Boaz noticed Ruth and asked his foreman who she was and he informed him. Boaz realising that Noami was near family and how Ruth had returned to look after her in her old age, he loved Ruth for what she had done. And he was determined to bless her and Naomi. Then Boaz spoke to her saying do not go into another field but stay here near to my young women. No one will hurt you and when you are thirsty go and drink the water that is provided. Ruth was overcome in gratitude and fell on her face saying why have you acted in unmerited favour to me, because l am a stranger here. Boaz said l have heard everything about you and how you have looked after your mother in law since the death of her husband and how you left your father and mother and your own land to come to a people who are strangers to you. The LORD will pay you back and give you a full reward for your righteous deeds because you have come to trust under the shadow of his wings. (The grace of God was seen in the blessing of God under the Mosaic Law and the blessing of God was a reward for righteous living before God) Ruth replied I am amazed that you have been so kind to me when l am not a virgin like your young women are. Boaz said when it is food time come and eat bread and sit with the reapers. She came and sat with the reapers and Boaz gave her roasted corn until she was full and then she returned to her gleaning. Then Boaz told the reapers to deliberately leave extra corn for Ruth to collect. And he said let her glean in the middle of the field where the sheaves were standing and do not rebuke her and leave handfulls of grain on purpose for her to collect. Ruth worked on until evening and then sorted her store and it was about 1 bushel or 35 litres, which is a rucksack full. It was probably hard for her to lift it and carry it home. When Ruth came to Naomi she showed what she had got and told her of Boaz and Naomi told Ruth that he was a near kindsman. Naomi blessed Boaz for his kindness to her and her dead husband and sons. Ruth told her of all that Boaz had said and Naomi said do not go into other fields but stay with his young women until the end of the harvest. Next Naomi told Ruth to go to Boaz who was going to be winnowing the wheat in the threashing floor. Make your self clean and put on a little scent and go and watch him and when he lies down to sleep lie at his feet and spread his blanket over you there. (This was a sign of interest in a young woman to a man who she wished to marry. She was not sleeping actually with him but she was being near to him.) When Boaz turned over in the night he was amazed that a woman lay at his feet. He asked who are you? (It was dark) She replied l am Ruth your servant, spread your blanket over me because you are a near kinsman. (This was in effect a proposal of marriage) Boaz replied my God bless you because you have sowed more kindness to me in the end than you did to Naomi in the beginning. You did not chase after the young men - either rich or poor. Now young woman do not fear anymore l will do for you what you have asked. Everyone knows you are a godly woman and you are right, I am a near kinsman but there is another that is nearer than l. So sleep on for now and in the morning l will perform the part of a kinsman to you if he is unwilling to do so. Ruth lay at his feet until the morning and left before anyone knew she was there. Boaz also gave her six beakers of barley to take home to Naomi. When she found Naomi she told her everything. Naomi said wait now because Boaz will not rest until he has finished this issue today. In the morning Boaz went to the city gate and sat down there and when the near kinsman walked by, Boaz called to him to wait a while and sit down with the elders of the city. Then Boaz took ten elders of the city to witness what was going to be said. Boaz said Naomi wants to redeem/purchase a part of ground which belonged to her husband and l wanted to give you the first opportunity to buy the field from its present owner - if you will redeem it. The man said Yes l will buy it for Naomi but then Boaz said hang on you also have a duty to take the hand of his daughter-in-law to marriage. His face fell. He was unwilling to have her because it interfered with his own inheritance. So he drew back from his offer and gave Boaz the right of near kinsman, saying you keep this as a token (his shoe) of the agreement today. (This custom still pervades today in that a shoe is kept by two parties as an objective token of the agreement.) Boaz said let everyone know that today l will purchase the field for the family of Elimelech and all that belonged to him including his wife and daughter-in-law to raise up children to the honour and perpetual memory of Elimelech. In this way his inheritance and line does not cease in Israel. The elders ratified the agreement and blessed Boaz praying that Gods blessing might be on him in children. And may Boaz be worthy in Ephraim and famous in Bethlehem. Boaz married Ruth and she had a child. Then the women spoke to Naomi blessing her saying that the LORD did not leave her without a kinsman-redeemer and he will be the restorer of her life and the norisher of her old age, because of her daughter who loved her and was better to her than seven sons. Naomi took the baby and became nurse for him. What joy filled her life now? They called the baby Obed. He was the father of Jesse the father of David. And so this book ends with a little genealogy showing that God not only can restore Naomi but restore the family line and the inheritance in Israel. This is the Old Testament version of the parable of the prodigal son.