The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Ruth


#1

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


#2

Chapter 2

Naomi discovers that she has a kinsman on Elimelech’s side of the family by the name of Boaz. A wealthy kinsman at that. But I don’t believe at this point of the story that Naomi is aware of Boaz yet.

Since they are poor, Ruth reasons with Naomi that perhaps she could glean some barley from a field. Gleanings are leftovers or barley in part of the corners after the field is harvested.

The law of gleaning is stated in Leviticus 19:9-10:

*“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.” *

Ruth was both poor and a stranger (stranger here meaning ‘foreigner’), so it was her right to do so under the law. And she just so happened upon Boaz’s field and gleans barley after the reapers. Boaz come across his reapers and gives the typical Jewish greeting, “the Lord Bless thee” and then notices Ruth. After finding out from the reapers that this is a Moabite woman who came back with Naomi and that Ruth respectfully asked to glean there, which she did all day, Boaz insists that she not glean anywhere else and to feel free to hang around with his maid servants.

Ruth bows herself down before Boaz and asks, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?”

To which Boaz replies, “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. 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.”

And Ruth responds, “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.”

You can see where this is going: The beginnings of a beautiful relationship and love at first sight. Boaz is so impressed with Ruth’s dedication to Naomi that he arranges for more than enough barley to fall her way (wink, wink). Ruth ends up with a ephah of barley, which is about a bushel or 33 liters. She returns home to Naomi, who then inquires as to where she got all this barley. Ruth tells her it’s from Boaz’s field.

Then something clicks in Naomi.

It pays to know the Mosaic Law, for within those provisions Naomi realizes the answer to their problem. She knows that Boaz in a kinsman and that the law of redemption can apply in her circumstances. So as she formulates a plan, she and Ruth agree to have Ruth remain in Boaz’s field for the duration of the harvest as Boaz promised her.


#3

Chapter 3

So here was the situation:

According to the Mosaic Law, A kinsman-redeemer was a relative who could redeem a poor person’s inheritance (Leviticus 25:25):

“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.”

In certain circumstances, where there was no heir, a near relative could act as kinsman-redeemer by marrying the relative’s widow to redeem the inheritance. A relative was not obligated to act as kinsman-redeemer, however. If no relative chose to help, the widow would probably live in poverty.

Shrewdly, Naomi tells Ruth to prepare herself saying, “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. 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.”

A threshing floor is a place where they tread out the grain to separate the barley or wheat from the husks or straw. It is usually an open area and often needs to be guarded lest thieves try to rob the barley.

So then Ruth goes to the threshing floor and Boaz is sleeping there, after eating and drinking, and she crept in, uncovered his feet, and lied down there. At around midnight, Boaz is stirred and discovers Ruth and asks, “Who art thou?”, to which Ruth replies, “I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.”

Essentially, Ruth was proposing to Boaz. We see similar phrasing in Ezekiel 16:8 in God’s covenant with Israel:

“Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.”

But in this case, it is Ruth who takes initiative according to the law of levirate marriage in Deuteronomy 25:5, 7-10):

*“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 if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.
Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.
And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.” *

Thus the significance of the shoe in the next chapter.

Now notice Boaz’s respond to Ruth’s proposal, “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. 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.”

I take that as a ‘yes’!

  1. In case you aren’t clued in by now, Ruth (a Gentile bride) is a type of the Church, AKA the Bride of Christ, and Boaz typifies the Lord Jesus Christ. Boaz sees this virtuous woman and pledges to do what he can to redeem the land for her and Naomi.

But there is a problem. There is a nearer kinsman in the family than Boaz. And by law, that kinsman has the rights to the land in question. The catch is that if this nearer kinsman decides to buy the land, he would also have to marry Ruth. The land and Ruth are tied together. (Naomi was fully aware of this and saw that she could kill two birds with one stone: get some redeemed land and at the same time marry off Ruth. However, I don’t think she was aware of the nearer kinsman.)

So Boaz tells her, “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.”

Boaz then gives Ruth six measures of barley, so than she can barely contain it (shades of Malachi 3:10), and she brings it back to Naomi and tell her what happened. So they sit and wait for Boaz to take action.


#4

Chapter 4

Boaz goes to the marketplace where he meets up with the nearer kinsman. Boaz takes ten men to witness the public transaction. He tells the other kinsman that there is some land he can redeem for Naomi, and initially the kinsman goes for it. But when he tells him that it would involve marrying Ruth, the other kinsman backs down, as this would mar his own inheritance, for reasons unclear. He takes off his shoe, according to the law as stated in the previous post, and the deal is done. Boaz becomes the kinsman-redeemer.

  1. Thus, the role of kinsman-redeemer (Savior) is passed to Boaz (Christ), who not only redeems the land for Naomi (Israel), but also marries Ruth (The Church). Ruth bears him children, whose lineage descends to David, and eventually to Jesus Christ (which come to think of it, may have literal implications of the law redemption tied to Him as a result of Boaz’s transaction).

Some closing thoughts that actually tie up nicely with the UR view:

  1. As Naomi is a type of Israel, the land (nation) is redeemed by the Messiah who will reign 1000 years in Jerusalem. I believe all Israel will be saved, by virtue of this redemption (Romans 11:25). Salvation is of the Jews first, then the Greek.

  2. Ruth as a type of the Church, is redeemed by marriage to the Lamb, purchased by His own Blood (Acts 20:28). The significance of blood may tie the church into the blood family of Israel somehow, thus the inheritance of Israel is also the inheritance of the Church.

  3. And what of Orpah(did you forget her), the sister of Ruth, the other daughter-in-law of Naomi? I see Orpah representing everyone else that is not Israel nor the Church. Presumably since Naomi and Ruth are redeemed, then there is provision for the whole family to have part in the inheritance by blood. Thus Orpah, should come to Israel, would have a place prepared through Ruth or Naomi. Perhaps this is what we see in Rev. 21:24 with the nations having access to the New Jerusalem.

  4. And how does all this tie into Jubilee? You tell me. :smiley:


#5

Thank you for that Dondi.

It’s nice to read something other than scriptural sniping and name calling :smiley: i know the story of Ruth of course but had never really thought of it in those terms before. Much to ponder.