As promised, in connection with the ongoing discussion of Jubilee, I’ve started a related thread on the book of Ruth that I believe not only bears out a beautiful love story, but contains many prophetic undertones in regard to Christ’s redemptive work, which follows the concepts in the Jubilee thread. The book of Ruth is only four chapters, so I recommend becoming familiar with it before engaging in this discussion. My summary will be brief in detail, but I will periodically explain the prophetic aspects as I go along, as well as some background coloring.
Disclaimer: I may be wrong in certain aspects in the details. Therefore, if anyone has any other insights to what I explain here, please bring it to my attention. This is a discussion forum after all.
I will be posting by chapters to keep each post from being too long.
**Chapter 1 **
The story of Ruth begins with a man by the name of Elimelech, who was a Jewish immigrant (from the tribe of Benjamin) who dwelt in the land of Moab (a Gentile nation), forced there because of a famine in the homeland of Judah. (Moab gets it’s origins from one of Lot’s daughters, whom he had incest with after fleeing Sodom and Gomorah and Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt. Since Lot’s daughters lost their husbands in the destruction of the cities, they reason that they must continue the family line in most unorthodox means by getting their father drunk and conceiving with him. The firstborn’s daughter bore Moab. See Genesis 19).
With Elimelech were his wife Naomi and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Now Elimelech died and afterward both sons married Moabite women. Mahlon married Orpah (not Oprah) and Chilion married Ruth (I am assuming this by the order of the names in the text, but it isn’t clear who married who. Not that it matters much in the story). Unfortunately both sons also died leaving three widows, Naomi and her daughters in law, to try and hash out a living. But unfortunately things weren’t working well in their favor and Naomi decides to return to Judah. All in all, she lived in Moab for a span of about ten years.
- In this story, Naomi is a type of Israel. Her forced move to Moab predicts the Diaspora of the Jews from the homeland after the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jews I the surrounding nations.
As Naomi prepares to leave, she tells her daughters in law to stay in Moab and the Lord will provide for them, in the house of their husbands. Naomi explains that she is too old to bear any more sons, and will they really wait for them to grow old enough to marry anyway? Naomi feels that God has somewhat disfavored her and doesn’t want to be a burden to them. After some weeping, Orpah decides to remain in Moab, but Ruth clings to Naomi. She vows to cleave to her and make Naomi’s God her God and return to Judah with her until death parts them. Seeing that Ruth is relentless, Naomi grants her desire to go with her.
- Naomi’s return to Judah, of course, parallels the Jews return to Israel.
Once back in Judah, Naomi is depressed for the Lord has dealt harshly with her, and wants to change her name to Mara, which means ‘bitterness’. She has nothing in her name and her future looks bleak. But her return coincides significantly with the beginning of the barley harvest.