Daily reading

Today’s reading is: Ruth 1:1-4:12


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Ruth Chapter One

  1. The Book of Ruth fits within the time-frame of the Judges (towards the end of that time-frame) (Ruth 1:1).
  2. The Book of Ruth centers on the House of Elimelech, of the Clan of Ephrathah, Tribe of Judah (Ruth 1:2).
    1. Elimelech אֱלִימֶלֶךְ ’eliymelek #458: my God is king.  Used 6x, all in Ruth.
    2. Of Bethlehem (house of bread) in Judah (cf. Gen. 35:16,19; 48:7; Jdg. 17:7,8,9; 19:1,2,18).
    3. His wife was pleasant (Naomi), but their sons were sick (Mahlon) and pining (Chilion).
  3. Famine in the land brought a series of bad decisions and an unhappy end to Elimelech.
    1. A decision by Elimelech to sell his land, and an unwillingness to request a kinsman to redeem it (Ruth 4:3,4 cf. Lev. 25:25-28,47-54). Note: the principles of land inheritance and the role of the Kinsman-Redeemer are fundamental doctrines which must be understood in order to properly appreciate the Book of Ruth.
    2. A decision by Elimelech to sojourn outside the land of promise, perhaps as an unwillingness to sell himself into servitude (Ex. 21:2-6; Lev. 25:39-43; Dt. 15:7-18).
    3. Elimelech’s subsequent (sin unto) death, leaving a widow and two sons strangers in the land of Moab (Ruth 1:3).
  4. Sick and Pining, in their generation, chose to remain in Moab, and marry Moabite women—Orpah (gazelle? neck?) and Ruth (friend, girlfriend) (Ruth 1:4).
  5. God’s Divine discipline upon the family of Elimelech continues, in that both sons remained childless, and both sons died out of the (geographic) will of God (Ruth 1:5).
  6. Naomi receives word that there is food once again in Canaan, and determines to return (Ruth 1:6-8).
    1. Naomi urges the two Moabitesses to stay in Moab, and remarry there (Ruth 1:9).
    2. Both daughters-in-law desire to remain with Naomi, and live among her people (Ruth 1:10).
    3. Naomi is immediately dismissive of their idea and rejects any possibility to provide them with future sons she might birth as per ancient customs or Mosaic Law regarding Levirate marriages (Ruth 1:11-14; Deut. 25:5-10).
      1. Note: a careful reading of Mosaic Law on Levirate marriage, and a review of the Judah & Tamar story (Gen. 38) is essential for observing the similarities and differences present in the Book of Ruth.
      2. Levirate comes from the Latin: lēvir (husband’s brother, brother-in-law).
  7. Ruth has a love for the Lord which prevents her from being discouraged by Naomi’s lack of faith (Ruth 1:14-18).
    1. Orpah’s return to Moab was a geographical and spiritual return to idolatry (Ruth 1:15). This should have grieved a spiritually-minded Naomi, but clearly did not.
    2. Ruth’s understanding of YHWH prevents her from imitating Orpah (Ruth 1:16-18).
  8. Naomi’s continued mental attitude sin turns rejoicing into grieving (Ruth 1:19-22).

Ruth Chapter Two

  1. Chapter two introduces Boaz, an “acquaintance” of Elimelech, who should have been much closer—and biologically speaking, he actually was.
    1. Kinsman (Ruth 2:1): מֹדָע modā‘ #4129: acquaintance.  מֹדַעַת mōda‘ath #4130: kindred, kinship (Ruth 3:2).
      1. At the time of Naomi’s return, she is not thinking in terms of redemption, or any other spiritual activity.  She is focused on survival. 
      2. To her, Boaz is still an acquaintance, and not yet a kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 2:20).  גֹּאֵל gō’ēl #1350: to act as kinsman, to redeem; (participle) redeemer, blood avenger, foster husband/father.
    2. A mighty man of valor.
      1. גִּבּוֹר חַיִל gibbowr chayil. 
      2. The most common understanding is a man of tremendous military prowess, such as Gideon (Jdg. 6:12); Jephthah (Jdg. 11:1), Kish (1st Sam. 9:1), & David (1st Sam. 16:18).
      3. A secondary understanding would be a man of wealth (2nd Kgs. 15:20).  These two concepts may also overlap—tremendous military valor producing the great wealth.
    3. Boaz.  בֹּעַז bō‘az #1162: fleetness? strength?  Meaning uncertain, both for this man and for the pillar in Solomon’s temple (1st Kgs. 7:21; 2nd Chr. 3:17).
  2. Ruth declares her intention to work as a gleaner in the fields, in search of a grace-oriented believer “in whose sight I may find favor” (Ruth 2:2).
    1. Her random choice “she happened to come” or “her chance chanced upon” of a field was God’s sovereign choice (Ruth 2:3; Prov. 16:33).
    2. This particular field is a workplace positive to YHWH (Ruth 2:4). Boaz arrives on the work-site to spiritually encourage the reapers (Ruth 2:4a).  Their response indicates that they have a spiritual capacity of their own to reflect that fellowship (Ruth 2:4b).
  3. Boaz knows his own (Jn. 10:14) and quickly spots the one who is not (Ruth 2:5).
  4. The servant’s report to Boaz also reflects how the Lord has Sovereignly arranged all of these circumstances (Ruth 2:6,11).  God allowed word of Ruth’s faithfulness to come to Boaz’ attention, and his servants’ attention.
  5. Boaz invites Ruth to glean exclusively from his fields, and extends grace provisions beyond anything that gleaners were accustomed to receiving (Ruth 2:8-16,21-23).
  6. The grace provision for Ruth and Naomi was quite amazing—beyond what could be asked or thought (Ruth 2:17-19a).  An ephah was ½ a bushel, about 30 pounds, and was enough food for many days.
  7. The display of grace, and the name of Boaz reminded Naomi of God’s faithful provision of redemption (Ruth 2:19b,20).
    1. Naomi admits knowledge of a number of near ones, and a number of redeemers (Ruth 2:20).
    2. Naomi makes no mention of the redeemer who is closer to Elimelech than Boaz (Ruth 3:12; 4:1).
    3. Is Naomi truly thinking about the gō’ēl redeemer in spiritual terms, or strictly in financial terms?

Ruth Chapter Three

  1. Naomi initiates a plan of action for Ruth, as a quest for bios life security (Ruth 3:1).
    1. מָנׄוחַ mānowach #4494: rest (Ruth 3:1 cf. מְנוּחָה menuchāh 1:9).
    2. יָטַב yātab #3190: to be good, well.
  2. Naomi still refers to Boaz as their מֹדָע mōdā‘ #4129: acquaintance, rather than their גֹּאֵל gō’ēl #1350: redeemer.  (Perhaps because she knows the closer relative is actually the legal gō’ēl, or perhaps because she has given no thought at all to Elimelech’s inheritance).
  3. Naomi has had the entire barley harvest and wheat harvest to instruct Ruth properly in the doctrine of kinsman-redemption (Ruth 2:23). There is no indication that she did so, yet Ruth has some understanding of the term (Ruth 3:9).
  4. Instead, she waits until the night of feasting, and drinking, and provides Ruth with methodological instructions minus the theological foundation (Ruth 3:3-6).
  5. Kinsman-redemption is supposed to be a public matter (Deut. 25:5-10; Ruth 4), but Naomi is counseling an after-hours arrangement.
    1. Remain hidden until he’s asleep.
    2. Sneak into his bed.
    3. Do whatever he says.
  6. Ruth agrees to Naomi’s procedures, but does so with the theological understanding of kinsman-redemption (Ruth 3:5-9).
    1. “Uncovering the feet” & “washing the feet” are Hebrew idioms for sexual relations (2nd Sam. 11:8; Prov. 19:2).
    2. “Spreading a covering” is Hebrew idiom for sexual relations (Ezek. 16:8).
    3. Not many commentators believe that Boaz & Ruth engaged in sexual activity on this night.
      1. That was undoubtedly Naomi’s intent, but Ruth was unable to awaken Boaz.
      2. When Boaz was awakened, Ruth’s action was clearly a sexual invitation—in the context of his redemptive and leviratic obligations.
      3. There is no sexual immorality on Ruth’s part in making the sexual offer, because she is making a kinsman-redeemer levirate-marriage request.
  7. Boaz is delighted to be the gō’ēl (Ruth 3:10-18).
    1. He has the spiritual capacity to appreciate Ruth’s lovingkindness.  (חֶסֶד checed #2617).
    2. He praises her for seeking a gō’ēl (for spiritual reasons) rather than seeking younger men (for sexual reasons).
    3. He praises her as “a woman of excellence.”  אֵשֶׁת חַיִל ’ēsheth chayil  (Ruth 3:11 cf. Prov. 12:4; 31:10) contrasted with the gibbowr chayil (Ruth 2:1).
    4. He must defer his right to marry her, however, so he sends her home before the sun rises, and her reputation be destroyed (Ruth 3:12-18).

Ruth Chapter Four

  1. Boaz publicly and legally arranged for Naomi & Ruth’s redemption (Ruth 4:1-12).
    1. The close relative is not named. Boaz refers to him as פְּלֹנִ֣י אַלְמֹנִ֑י pelōniy ’almōniy (so-and-so).  Pastor Bob usually calls him “Dummy.”
    2. Boaz presents Dummy with the opportunity to redeem Elimelech’s land (Ruth 4:3,4).
    3. Dummy agrees to redeem Elimelech’s land, until he finds out that the redemption price also includes the cost of raising up the name of his deceased kinsman by marrying Mahlon’s widow and fathering an heir to Elimelech’s land (Ruth 4:5,6).
    4. With Dummy’s waiver secured, Boaz claims the gō’ēl redemption rights and the Levirate marriage duty to keep Elimelech’s name from being cut off (Ruth 4:9-12; Deut. 25:6).

(Chapter Four continues tomorrow)