Ruth - From Bitterness to Blessing, in Coming Back to God

Feb 17, 2019 version


Ruth is one of the five O.T. books called the Megilloth, which were read at festivals. Ruth was read during the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. Ruth fills a couple of key purposes in the Bible.

Historically, Ruth shows us the ancestry of David. This explicitly is one purpose, according to Ruth 4:18-22. Ruth is in the genealogy of Joseph in Matthew 1:5.

Conceptually, the words "redeem" or "redemption" (ga'al) are found 23 times in the book, and this concept would be useful later when the Messiah came. Also Ruth also serves as a counterbalance to the tragic pictures in Judges.

Apart from the spiritual value, Ruth is also an excellent example of literature. A full 59 of the 84 or 85 verses contain dialogue. The Believer's Bible Commentary p.287-288 relates the following. "Once when Benjamin Franklin was in the French Court, he heard some French aristocrats putting down the Bible. While Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian himself, he valued the Bible as literature, so here is what he did. Franklin wrote out the story of Ruth in his own handwriting, changing all the names to French ones. Then he read the story to the aristocrats. They asked him 'But where did you find this gem of literature, Monsieur Franklin?' Franklin answered, 'It comes from that book you so despise, la sainte [Holy] Bible!'."

There were different kinds of Hebrew over the centuries, and Ruth was written in "classical Hebrew" as were 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings.

Background on the Moabites: Moab was 50 miles east, across the Dead Sea. Moab and Ben-Ammi, the ancestor of the Ammonites were born from Lot's incestuous relations with his daughters. The Moabites had not been hospitable to the Jews in the wilderness, hiring Balaam to curse Israel in Numbers 22:4-6. But they still had somewhat friendly relations; David sent his parents to Moab when he was on the run from Saul.

Deuteronomy 23:3 forbade a Moabite from entering the assembly of the Lord, down to the tenth generation. In Nehemiah 13:1-3 the Jews remembered this. This would help avoid half-Israelite children would not grow up worshipping other gods. Since this was true, why would Naomi's sons marry Moabite women? However, God can use even disobedience in His plan. Beyond this, Christians disagree with two answers.

Yes, Ruth would be excluded from the assembly, but even if someone had this lesser status and is excluded from the assembly, she still can worship God and follow Him. Sometimes Christians are excluded from some ministry opportunities because of sin (divorcing their spouse, etc.), or simply because the target people are prejudice against their nationality. But they can still serve God in a new role that God has now given them.

No: "Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God" (Ruth 1:16). If a person was classified as "a foreigner who bound himself with Israel" (Isaiah 56:6), such as Ruth, then she would be an Israelite by adoption. In fact, King David was Ruth's great-grandson (3 generations), according to Ruth 4:21-22, Matthew 1:5-6 and Luke 3:31-32. Likewise, later Isaiah 56:3 said that foreigners who have bound themselves to the Lord will not be excluded from God's people.

A Final point is that in these dark times in Israel, both Ruth and the villagers might have been unaware of this restriction. Sometimes God even uses our ignorance. For example, the Israelites made a treaty with the Gibeonites in Joshua 9.

Here is an outline of the Book of Ruth

Ruth 1:1-5 Returning, after Running Away to Moab

Ruth 1:6-22 Turn back, unless you really want the blessing

Ruth 2: Ruth gleans and sees Boaz

Ruth 3 The Visit to the Threshing Floor

Ruth 4:1-12/17 Redeeming Ruth and How God Can Guide

Planning, claiming, pledging, and anticipating redemption

Ruth 4:13/18-22 Joyful birth of a son, and a royal line

Ruth 1:1-7 - Returning, after Running Away to Moab

Chapter 1 is the story of three widows. Naomi was a grieving widow, Orpah was a leaving widow, and Ruth was a cleaving widow.


1. In Ru 1:1 was Elimelech poor because of the famine, or was Naomi "full" as Ru 1:21 says?




2. In Ru 1:1, why do people leave what God has given them for something better?




3. In Ru 1:2, why were people of Bethlehem called Ephrathites?



4. In Ru 1:2, Bethlehem, not Moab, was the place where God would bless them. What are ways we can not be in the place of God's blessing today?



5. In Ru 1:2 are the names Mahlon (meaning "sickness") and "Chilion" (meaning "wasting") more appropriate for fiction, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.263-264 claims?



6. In Ru 1:4, were they right to take Moabite wives?



7. In Ru 1:2-5, God gives us blessings as we wait on Him and do His will. How would you counsel a believer who is thinking of short-circuiting that by providing for themselves apart from God?



8. In Ru 1:6, what does it mean that the Lord had visited His people to give them bread?



9. In Ru 1:7, what would you say to a believer who messed up bad, and now wants to repent and get back to God?


 

Ruth 1:8-22 - Turn back, unless you really want the blessing

1. In Ru 1:8, why did Naomi try to persuade her two daughters-in-law not to return with her?




2. In Ru 1:10, the two young women wanted to stay with Naomi after she first told them to go back. How do we cultivate a winsome attitude, that people want to be with us?




3. In Ru 1:6-18, why did Naomi not make it easy for Ruth, entreating her to stay in Moab three times?




4. In Ru 1:6-18, when do you tell someone to "go back to your gods"?




5. In Ru 1:11, when would it make good sense to turn back from God's blessing?




6. In Ru 1:12-13 Naomi herself was dealing with some issues, calling herself bitter. Why did Naomi think God's hand was against her?




7. In Ru 1:13 and 1:20, do the Aramaic words in Ruth point to it being written in the seventh century?




8. In Ru 1:15, why did Naomi tell Ruth to go back to her [Moabite] gods like her sister did?



9. In Ru 1:20, was Naomi right to want to be called Mara which means bitter?


 

Ruth 2-3 - Looking for Marriage in All the Right Places


1. In Ru 2:4, 2:4, 2:12, 2:19, 2:20, what should be the role of blessing in our lives?



2. In Ru 2:4, 2:4, why should we pay attention to our greetings (and farewells)?



3. In Ru 2:6, why do you think Boaz said this about Ruth to the harvesters, or do you think he said this for everyone?



4. In Ru 2:6-7, why did the chief servant permit Ruth to glean after the reapers without informing Boaz in advance?



5. In Ru 2:10 what is Ruth's attitude here?



6. In Ru 2:12, how did Ruth come "under God's wings", and are some Christians under God's wings and some might not be?



7. In Ru 2:19, why did Naomi say this?



8. In Ru 3:1, how do we find "home"?



9. In Ru 3:7-9, what did Ruth and Boaz do here?




10. In Ru 3:7-9, was Ruth bold request in effect a marriage proposal to Boaz, and was that right?



11. In Ru 3:11, why did Boaz call Ruth a virtuous woman?



12. In Ru 3:12-13, why did Boaz not accept Ruth's proposal then?



13. In Ru 3:14, why did Boaz not want it known that a woman came to the threshing floor?



14. In Ru 3:18, why did both Naomi and Ruth appear to rest so easy here as a dramatic change in Ruth's future was being decided?

 

Ruth 4 - The Redemption by the Kinsman-Redeemer


1. In Ru 4:3-8, was this against the law of a man marrying his dead brother's wife in Dt 25:5-10?



2. In Ru 4:3, who owned the land prior to this sale?



3. In Ru 4:6, why did the closer relative initially agree to buy the land, and then back out?



4. In Ru 4:1-9, did Boaz use well-thought-out strategy here?




5. In Ru 4:8, is there any other evidence of witnessing a transaction by exchanging sandals?



6. In Ru 4:10, why is Ruth a purchased wife? (A Muslim mentioned this as being so bad.)



7. In Ru 4:10, why was Tamar mentioned here?



8. In Ru 4:13, why didn't Mahlon and Ruth already have a son?



9. In Ru 4:16-17, did Naomi adopt the son?


10. In Ru 1-4, how is this redemption in Ruth a type of Christ's redemption of us?
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Ruth 1:1-7 - Returning after Running Away to Moab - some brief answers

Chapter 1 is the story of three widows. Naomi was a grieving widow, Orpah was a leaving widow, and Ruth was a cleaving widow.

1. In Ru 1:1 was Elimelech poor because of the famine, or was Naomi "full" as Ru 1:21 says?
A: You do not need a lot of money to have a rich family life. They left Judah because of the famine. Naomi leaving "full" in Ruth 1:21 refers to her having her husband and two sons who later died. People can be monetarily poor, but still have a full life. See Difficulties in the Bible p.335-336 for essentially the same answer.

2. In Ru 1:1, why do people leave what God has given them for something better?
A: As the saying goes, "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence." Moab, on the east side of the Jordan, had fertile land east of the Dead Sea. Later in history Mesha, king of Moab, could be called the "mutton king" since they land was so good for raising sheep.
God told both Moses and Joshua that He gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites. While many people in Bethlehem did not see a need to leave because of the famine, Elimelech decided that he could do better on his own, going to richer pastures that were not what God had given them.
Sometimes people get have so many distractions from entertainment, things they can do nothing about, or petty things that they don't have time to ponder are they really living they way they want to live.
Today, believers who say they believe in God have to ask a second question, "do they really believe that God's way is the best way?" Do they really believe they will ultimately be happier staying within God's provision for them, or do they fall into the temptation to think that they can be happier going for "extra" beyond what God had for them.

3. In Ru 1:2, why were people of Bethlehem called Ephrathites?
A: This is because there were two towns named Bethlehem, and they were born in the southern one. The southern town was called Bethlehem Ephrathah, as Genesis 35:19, 1 Samuel 17:12 and Micah 5:2 show.

4. In Ru 1:2, Bethlehem, not Moab, was the place where God would bless them. What are ways we can not be in the place of God's blessing today?
A: Sometimes we put something as more important than where God wants us to be. Furthermore, sometimes we do that in the name of serving God. I have heard of multiple cases where men, either in the military or not in the military, enlist or get a job knowing they will be separated from their wife for a few years with only occasional visits. This is a major stress on their marriage that frequently causes marriages to fail. Being away from home all the time, or at least all weekdays also can hurt your effectiveness in raising kids well. Before you decide to do that, for purposes of more money to take care of your family, more money for college for your children, or more money to give to the Lord, make sure you ask, "God, do you really want me to do that?"
A second way is that we might love God and want to serve God, but we have some addiction that we love so much, we just don't want to give up. We want to serve God and have an addiction too. But it does not work that way.
A third way is to compromise by doing something not ethical or legal to make more money. Even if we give some of our ill-gotten gains to the church, God does not want any money given from those sources.
A fourth way, that can ruin pastor's marriages, is spending so much time ministering to others, that you neglect the time and care God wants to you show to your spouse and children.


5. In Ru 1:2 are the names Mahlon (meaning "sickness") and "Chilion" (meaning "wasting") more appropriate for fiction, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.263-264 claims?
A: One could conjecture that these might not necessarily have been their original names but what they were called later after they died. On the other hand, the name Elimelech is in 14th century cuneiform letters, according to the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.182.
However, a more likely answer is found by studying non-Western cultures. The Israelites, like many Africans in even the twentieth century, would give names whose meaning was based on current events, whether they be good or bad. So if the sons were born in hard times, it would be natural for the Israelites to name them appropriately.
As evidence of this, Rachel named her son Ben-Ammi (son of my sorrow) as she was dying, and Phinehas' wife named her son Ichabod (no glory, or the glory has departed) as she was dying in 1 Samuel 4:19-20. Hosea was told by God to name his first son Jezreel after the massacre at Jezreel, his daughter Lo-Ruhamah (not loved), and his second son Lo-Ammi (not my people). God told Isaiah to name his son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil) in Isaiah 8:1-4.
In conclusion, it was not out of character for people to be named after the time, even hard times. As for my children though, I think I will stick to simpler names.

6. In Ru 1:4, were they right to take Moabite wives?
A: Regardless of whether they were right, the Bible is simply recording what these common people did. While the prohibition against non-Israelite wives was not given until later, this would not be wise, as children of Moabites would be excluded from the religious congregation.

7. In Ru 1:1-5, God gives us blessings as we wait on Him and do His will. How would you counsel a believer who is thinking of short-circuiting that by providing for themselves apart from God?
A: Do you really think you know better than God what will bring happiness, without greater resulting regret and sorrow? Most person are blissfully unaware of all of the heartache, misery, sorrow, grief (and jail time) they have missed out on by avoiding doing evil things. Do you really want to experience these horrible things? God's way is the best way, and you can learn that the easy way, or the hard way.

8. In Ru 1:6, what does it mean that the Lord had visited His people to give them bread?
A: On the surface, the answer is simple: the famine was over. However, it is not clear whether
a) the famine was caused by lack of rain, or
b) the famine was caused by raiding and war, and God had delivered them from their oppressors.
Either way, the relevant point was that the famine was over. Naomi did not couch it in terms of "nature caused the famine to end", but that God blessed His people.

9. In Ru 1:7, what would you say to a believer who messed up bad, and now wants to repent and get back to God?
A: Look at the story of the prodigal son. When he decided to return (helped no doubt by the fact that he was broke and hungry), his elderly father immediately ran out to meet him for joy. That is how God welcomes us back. When you repent and return, you are not some sort of "Second-class Christian", but a servant of God just like anyone else. While there might be some things a man might not longer be qualified for, such as being an elder or deacon, there are still many ways to serve God. Don't miss out on the joy and opportunities by delaying your comeback!



Ruth 1:8-22 - Turn back, unless you really want the blessing - some brief answers

1. In Ru 1:8, why did Naomi try to persuade her two daughters-in-law not to return with her?
A: In Ruth 1:6, both daughters initially were going to follow Naomi. We can conjecture that she probably thought that was not best for two reasons.
Financially, she was no able to support her two-daughters-in-law. It would appear they would have a better chance of marrying, or at least finding support among their blood relatives in Moab. Famine and starvation were very serious realities.
Spiritually, there was no point in them coming to Israel, if they were not going to worship the true God.
This is at least the fourth example in the Bible of someone being a part of God's people by their own active choice, rather than simply by birth. See also the discussion on Ruth 1:15 for more info.
By the way, the word for kindness in Ruth 1:8, also means covenant love / loyal love. It is also used in Ruth 2:20 and 3:10.

2. In Ru 1:10, the two young women wanted to stay with Naomi after she first told them to go back. How do we cultivate a winsome attitude, that people want to be with us?
A: At this point Ruth related to Naomi's God through Naomi. Through Naomi, Ruth longed to know Israel's God. In general, be genuinely interested in the other person, and their welfare. Care about them and express that. Take time for them, and rejoice in their victories, and sympathize with them in their defeats.

3. In Ru 1:6-18, why did Naomi not make it easy for Ruth, entreating her to stay in Moab three times?
A: In Ruth 1:6, both daughters initially were going to follow Naomi. We can conjecture that she probably thought that was not best for two reasons.
Financially, she was no able to support her two-daughters-in-law. It would appear they would have a better chance of marrying, or at least finding support among their blood relatives in Moab. Famine and starvation were very serious realities.
Spiritually, there was no point in them coming to Israel, if they were not going to worship the One True God.
Ruth voluntarily gave up the security and happiness of a Moabite husband for the uncertainty of being with an old woman. With no sons, Naomi would have no means of financial support. What promise did Ruth have? Naomi made clear to Ruth that she had no promise or guarantee or anything. Naomi wanted to be sure Ruth knew what she was deciding.
This is at least the fourth example in the Bible of someone being a part of God's people by their own active choice, rather than simply by birth. See also the discussion on Ruth 1:15 for more info.

4. In Ru 1:6-18, when do you tell someone to "go back to your gods"?
A: If they have never left their gods in the first place, you can point out what their present decision is. A true Christian "cannot go back to their gods" (plural), because regardless of their pre-Christian past, those idols are not their gods anymore.

5. In Ru 1:11, when would it make good sense to turn back from God's blessing?
A: For someone who does not want to get God's blessing, it does not help to half-heartedly try, or come to God with conditions God has to meet.
If you are not going to obey God, it is better for you not to know what God's will and blessing would be, than to know and turn your back on it. Read about the grave mistake the people made by asking Jeremiah ask God to answer their question in Jeremiah 42:19-22.
For an obedient Christian, there can be a happy pleasant place that God wants us to leave to preach to those who need to hear it more. This is not turning back from God's blessing, (it would be turning back to stay), but sometimes it can appear so at the time.

6. In Ru 1:12-13 Naomi herself was dealing with some issues, calling herself bitter. Why did Naomi think God's hand was against her?
A: Naomi still followed God, but with the famine and deaths of her husband and two sons, and with no hope of descendents, she had definitely seen better circumstances. But even though Naomi was wrong to be bitter and tell people she was bitter, she still had hope in God anyway, and still served Him.

7. In Ru 1:13 and 1:20, do the Aramaic words in Ruth point to it being written in the seventh century?
A: No. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.262 even claimed it was written in the fifth century B.C. The following first will discuss why the alleged Aramaic words are not relevant, and second why it was likely written earlier.
1. lahen in Ruth 1:13 does mean "therefore" in Aramaic, but it also means "to them" in Hebrew. Mara in Ruth 1:20 is spelled the Aramaic way, but the Hebrew has an identical sound and is only slightly different in spelling. Of course, as the book as copied through the years, scribes who knew Aramaic could easily have introduced the second change. See Survey of Old Testament Introduction p.286-287 for more info.
2. The author Gleason Archer also points out that it was probably written down between the time of David and Solomon. Though David is not a part of the story, David was specifically mentioned. Solomon probably would have been mentioned too, if he had been reigned when it was written down. Also, the book of Ruth clearly shows a time before the Moabites hated the Israelites because of their constant subjugation.

8. In Ru 1:15, why did Naomi tell Ruth to go back to her [Moabite] gods like her sister did?
A: In this situation Naomi might have known what she was doing. Naomi compelled Ruth to make firm her decision. Naomi did not want Ruth to come with her for financial or emotional reasons. Having Ruth claim to want to serve the Living God would do no good either, if that were just a pretense. This conversation shows that it was not a pretense, and it was definitely Ruth, and not Naomi, who wanted to follow Naomi's God.
Sometimes in evangelism today, we need to give people room to make their decision, and to let them realize that it is really their decision. For a second example that has some similarities to this, see Joshua 24:14-25.

9. In Ru 1:20, was Naomi right to want to be called Mara which means bitter?
A: Naomi had a tragic sojourn, a depressing emptiness, and a bittersweet return. With three deaths in her family, Naomi had no reasonable hope of descendents, which was important in that culture. She still followed God, but her wanting to be known as "bitter" is understandable. Understandable does not mean it was good though. Believers can fall short in different ways, and she was getting very discouraged. God graciously picked her up out of her despair, and gave her a great hope.
Today you might feel very discouraged at times; Paul did in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. You may feel that "bad news" or "bitter" should be your name, too. God can pick you up out of that, and show you a real hope. 1 Peter 1:3-12 tells us of our great hope, as does Paul in Romans 8:18. Hebrews 12:1-3 speaks of the perseverance and hope of Jesus and others in the face of suffering, and how we need to have the same hope. Not a weak, timid hope, but a hope that gives us strength to withstand any trial.


Ruth 2-3 - Looking for Marriage in All the Right Places - some brief answers

1. In Ru 2:4 (two times), 2:12, 2:19, 2:20, what should be the role of blessing in our lives?
A: The first thing that can come to a person's mind is how we can be in God's blessing. But it is suggested that there are too more important things than that. First, how can we in our lives bless God. The second is, how can we bless others?
Naomi honored and blessed Ruth by referring to her as "my daughter" eight times in Ruth.
In the book of Ruth every prayer is a prayer of blessing, and every prayer is answered.
Boaz spoke the language of faith, blessing others. What comes out of our mouths?
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.532-533 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.422 for more info.

2. In Ru 2:4 (two times), why should we pay attention to our greetings (and farewells)?
A: Our greetings and farewells should not be trite, but should mean something. We want them to have a good meaning, and why not make them a request to God to bless others?

3. In Ru 2:6, why do you think Boaz said this about Ruth to the harvesters, or do you think he said this for everyone?
A: While he might have felt this about everyone in his field, it is most likely that he especially told his harvesters this about Ruth. He liked Ruth and admired Ruth staying around to take care of her mother. Today, when a person is looking for a spouse, they might ponder things like "are they fun to be around", "how attractive are they", or "how wealthy are they". But more important questions are "are they a mature believer", "what is their character", and "are they the kind of person who will stick around, even if my circumstances were to go for the worse". The wealthiest, most attractive, most fun husband or wife in the world does not give you any happiness after they ditch you.

4. In Ru 2:6-7, why did the chief servant permit Ruth to glean after the reapers without informing Boaz in advance?
A: Scripture does not say, but there could be two reasons.
Legal: In the Israelite law (Leviticus 19:10; 23:22; and Deuteronomy 24:21) the farmers were forbidden to go over the fields a second time, but to leave the gleanings for the strangers and the poor. Boaz calls Ruth "my daughter" as a sign of friendship, despite their difference in age.
Relationship: Apparently the relationship was such between Boaz and the chief servant that the chief servant could take the initiative, prior to informing Boaz, without any question that Boaz would want to be stingy and disobey the law. In a boss/subordinate relationship, one of the most valued traits of a subordinate is that they can be trusted to do what the boss wants done.
As a side note, today in business relationships, one side in a relationship will often benefit more if it "leaves a little money on the table" for the other side. When both sides are in a win-win situation, both have incentive to continue the beneficial relationship.

5. In Ru 2:10 what is Ruth's attitude here?
A: Ruth does not think too highly of herself, and is not even thinking about marrying Boaz. Ruth's response in Hebrew is a pun. Basically it is similar to "Why do you remark on me, when I am unremarkable."

See the New International Bible Commentary p.344 for more info.

6. In Ru 2:12, how did Ruth come "under God's wings", and are some Christians under God's wings and some might not be?
A: The Hebrew word for the corner of a garment in kanap, from which we might get our word canopy. It can also mean wing.
In a judicial sense, every genuine believer is under God's wings in that Jesus' blood saves them from the penalties for sin. But in a day-to-day sense, a Christian should not think they can count on God's protective wings when they walk on a path God told them not to walk on, and run to things God told them not to run to. But even when we are living in obedience for God, under His wings, sickness, accidents, and other painful things can still happen to us, but nothing except what God allows and what God will be there with us to work through.

7. In Ru 2:19, why did Naomi say this?
A: When Naomi saw that the amount was an entire ephah (about 29 to 50 pounds), she figured out what was going on. Someone had noticed Ruth and was being especially generous to her.
By the way, we do not know how much time elapsed between chapters 2 and 3.

8. In Ru 3:1, how do we find "home"?
The Hebrew word for rest, manoah, is almost like the word for home, menuhah. As believers we should never be satisfied, but always strive on to be closer to God and to do more to glorify Him. But at the same time we should be content, and be "at home" resting in being in God's will.

9. In Ru 3:7-9, what did Ruth and Boaz do here?
A: While some try to read into this passage that they had sex here, the book of Ruth specifically does not say this. In the Bible, the term "lay with someone" means to have sex with someone, but Ruth did not do that. Ruth lying down only means that she laid down to sleep. Ruth had to note where Boaz laid down because at night it would be totally dark. She did not want to accidentally lie down at the feet of the wrong man.
As Hard Sayings of the Bible p.199-200 says, Boaz was "startled" in the middle of the night when his feet were uncovered and Ruth was there. So obviously, prior to this, Boaz was not involved in any way with Ruth, or he would not have been surprised. Both this and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.98 explain that Boaz spreading the corner of his blanket over her was a custom saying he would marry her. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.200 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.3 p.537 also mention this it is still the practice of some Arabs today that a man would throw a garment over a woman he is going to marry.
Ruth coming at night would not put public pressure on Boaz to accept her. According to When Critics Ask p.153, Ruth uncovering Boaz's feet was a customary practice to demonstrate her submission to Boaz. Scripture does not say Naomi told Ruth to say this. Ruth got right to the point; throw your garment over me as a sign that we are going to get married. On the other hand, it was in the dark, so if Boaz rejected her offer, nobody would be embarrassed.

10. In Ru 3:7-9, was Ruth bold request in effect a marriage proposal to Boaz, and was that right?
A: In an indirect, respectful way, Ruth was actually very bold. In our lives there are times to be bold, and there are times not to be. But even when we are to be bold, we can be bold in humility, respecting others.

11. In Ru 3:11, why did Boaz call Ruth a virtuous woman?
A: Because Boaz saw Ruth's loyalty to Boaz was greater than her desire to marry a younger man.

12. In Ru 3:12-13, why did Boaz not accept Ruth's proposal then?
A: Boaz apparently liked Ruth, and he was both happy and flattered she would want to marry him. But it was proper to ask the nearest of kin first. So despite his pleasure, Boaz valued what was right and proper more than he valued marrying a particular girl. On one hand, apparently Boaz would have been fine if the closer relative had decided to marry Ruth. But on the other hand, Boaz had already known who was the closest relative.

13. In Ru 3:14, why did Boaz not want it known that a woman came to the threshing floor?
A: Boaz probably was afraid of the appearance of evil (2 Corinthians 8:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:22). Furthermore, if it was known that Boaz permitted Ruth to come, then other women, such as their wives, might want to come and visit the younger men. There are times when we need to safeguard our reputation, even when we did nothing wrong.

14. In Ru 3:18, why did both Naomi and Ruth appear to rest so easy here as a dramatic change in Ruth's future was being decided?
A: By Naomi's advice and Ruth's actions, both had done all they could do. There was nothing more for them to do now. It was in God's hands. God who had made it appear by chance that Ruth glean in Boaz's field could continue to take care of them. When we are in a similar situation of nothing more we can do, we need to learn to be able to rest easy in God's hands, no matter how important the subsequent outcome will be.



Ruth 4 - The Redemption by the Kinsman-Redeemer - some brief answers

1. In Ru 4:3-8, was this against the law of a man marrying his dead brother's wife in Dt 25:5-10?
A: Not at all. Six points to consider in the answer.
1. There was no surviving brother. Instead they were going by the nearest male relative.
2. Note that in Ruth 4:4, the closest relative initially was willing to buy the property, until he found out that Ruth would become his wife in the transaction. The closest relative, whose name is now forgotten, was more concerned about his descendents all carrying his name, than in Ruth's well-being, or even the property.
3. Ruth was not an Israelite, but a Moabitess, so that might explain the closest male relative's reluctance.
4. The commands of Deuteronomy 25:5-10 were not applicable here, because the man was not a brother of the husband. However, they were trying to follow the principle and spirit of Deuteronomy 25:5-10.
5. Since Deuteronomy 25:5-10 was not a command here, they did not strictly follow the punishment either. The man took off his own sandal, Ruth did not spit in his face. Archer points out that Ruth apparently did not desire to embarrass the man.
6. There were differences in the law in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 and what they did in the Book of Ruth. The book of Ruth simply records what these people did.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.167-168 for more info.


2. In Ru 4:3, who owned the land prior to this sale?
A: Elimelech had probably mortgaged it when he left to go to Moab, as the Believer's Bible Commentary p.292 says. In other words, he sold the land to someone else, but unless it was bought back it would revert back to Elimelech's "heir" (whoever that would be), in the fiftieth year of Jubilee.

3. In Ru 4:6, why did the closer relative initially agree to buy the land, and then back out?
A: He gave the reasons as he could not marry Ruth, or he might endanger his own estate. Since polygamy was practiced then, the real reason is that if Ruth gave birth to his firstborn son, others might consider that this son would inherit both Ruth's husband's name and the man's property. Deuteronomy 25:5-10 specifies that a man must marry his brother's widow if the brothers were living together. However, in this case they were not brothers and they were not living together.

4. In Ru 4:1-9, did Boaz use well-thought-out strategy here?
A: Perhaps so. If the closer relative lived outside the city and worked in the city, Boaz would know that he would come in the gate at some time.
Boaz's greeting does not have an exact parallel in English. "My Friend" is like "John Doe": or a greeting where you know the person but do not formally want to say his name. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.426 for more info. Perhaps Boaz wanted to make it easier for the man to back out without his name being embarrassed.
First Boaz presented the positive: the land was for sale, and if the man had money he might want to buy it. Boaz said that he wanted to buy it himself, but it graciously (actually lawfully) let the man buy it, since he had the right as next of kin.
Then Boaz sprung Ruth on him. This means that the inheritance of the land would be counted with Elimelech and Mahlon, not the man's family. Furthermore, if the many did not have any children yet, this son born to Ruth would be the firstborn and have a double inheritance.
He also reminded the man that Ruth was a Moabitess, which also might sour the man on marrying her.
Finally, in mentioning both Naomi and Ruth, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.426 says it is possible that as early death came to Naomi's husband and Ruth's husband Mahlon, the man might have a concern that an early death might come to him too.
However, while Boaz presented the case well, there was no guarantee that this would work. All Boaz could do was leave the result to the Lord.

5. In Ru 4:8, is there any other evidence of witnessing a transaction by exchanging sandals?
A: Yes. Not only does Deuteronomy 25:7-10 say they were supposed to do this, the Nuzi tablets (late 14th century B.C., just after Moses' time) also record renouncing property rights by transferring a sandal to the new owner according to The NIV Study Bible p.369.
Exchanging sandals can also metaphorically mean having the write to walk on the land being sold, according to The Nelson Study Bible p.447. The Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.2 p.490 says that people of Germany and India also had the custom of taking possession of purchased property by treading on the soul.

6. In Ru 4:10, why is Ruth a purchased wife? (A Muslim mentioned this as being so bad.)
A: Boaz "purchased" (i.e. paid dowry) for Ruth by buying the land from Naomi. Boaz took care of Ruth and his mother-in-law the widow Naomi, and why this Muslim has a problem with Boaz's loving act of compassion is unclear to me. I hope he was not just grabbing any verse from the Bible that he could.

If this Muslim has a problem with dowries for wives, note that Mohammed paid 4,000 dirhams for his wife Umm Habibah. Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2103 p.565. Also, 'Ali bin Abi Talib bought the daughter of Rab'iah for himself. She bore him a daughter named Umm Ruqayyah al-Tabari vol.11 p.66

7. In Ru 4:10, why was Tamar mentioned here?
A: The people probably brought this up because this was another example of levirate marriage, although an imperfect one. When "Judah got a wife for Er", his firstborn son, Genesis 38:4 does not say she was a granddaughter of Jacob. So this would be another example of levirate marriage, though it was before God gave the Law through Moses. When Er died, Judah had Onan and Tamar marry to carry on Er's line. When Onan died, Judah promised Tamar that she could marry Shelah, though he reneged on that. So the line was preserved through Judah himself.
Tamar did evil, prostituting herself to Judah, her future husband. But the people honored their ancestor, remembering her fruitfulness after that, overlooking her sin. She was faithful to a man who was scared of marrying her.

8. In Ru 4:13, why didn't Mahlon and Ruth already have a son?
A: Mahlon and Ruth were married for ten years with no children. Either Mahlon or Ruth might have been infertile. Ruth 4:13 says of Ruth "The Lord gave her conception".

9. In Ru 4:16-17, did Naomi adopt the son?
A: Probably not. But Naomi was so overjoyed for her grandson that it was the same as the joy a mother would have. For another view, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.428 thinks this might have been a formal adoption by Naomi.

10. In Ru 1-4, how is this redemption in Ruth a type of Christ's redemption of us?
A: Now let's "unlock" the book of Ruth and see twelve ways this relates to Christ and us.
1) The probability, by chance, that Ruth would have a descendant who would be the King of Israel was effectively zero. This did not happen to any other Moabitess. Gleaning in Boaz's field, Boaz noticing her, Boaz being a kinsmen-redeemer, the closer relative not wanting to get entangled, etc. all had to work out just right.
2) In Ruth 1:1-2 Naomi's family chose to leave the Promised Land and lived in Moab for ten years. They could have just been forgotten like so many other Israelites who assimilated into the lands around them. Likewise people have chosen to leave God and His "umbrella" of His protection and will and go off to their own alien land.
3) In Ruth 3:10, Ruth could have ignored this kinsman-redeemer thing, as she was a Moabitess anyway, and just found a young man, perhaps prosperous and with minimum hassle in Moab. After all Orpah did. Ruth knew her place as a foreigner in Ruth 2:10, but she accepted that and took Boaz's kindness.
4) In Ruth 3:11-13 Boaz gave Ruth a promise that he would settle the matter, and both Ruth and Naomi fully believed in the promise of Boaz.
5) Ruth was not one of God's people, but a foreign Moabitess, and the Moabites were estranged from the Israelites. We were once alienated and enemies of God according to Colossians 1:21. But as Boaz brought Ruth into God's people, Christ brought us into His special people.
6) In Ruth 4:17 however, Ruth did not merely become an Israelite, one of God's people; she became the ancestor of the royal line of David. Likewise we are a royal priesthood, kings and priests, in Christ according to 1 Peter 2:9-10.
7) In Ruth 3:1-9 Naomi suggested what to do, and Ruth played here part, but Naomi and Ruth were not in a position to buy the land and get married; it had to be Boaz.
8) As Boaz, the kinsmen-redeemer, was a type of Christ. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. But while Boaz used money to purchase the land and Ruth, and carry on the bloodline of Mahlon, Christ used His own blood to purchase us, His holy people.
9) In Ruth 4:3 the "closer relative" can symbolize the law. The law had the prior claim on us, but the law was unable to redeem us. We don't know for certain why Boaz wanted ten witnesses, but that reminds us of the Ten Commandments.
10) When we stand as witnesses to someone being baptized, think back to Ruth. In Ruth 4:2 the elders and people of Bethlehem were witnesses to that redemption back then.
11) In Ruth 4:13-17, Ruth and Boaz married "to be fruitful", to produce offspring to carry on the line of Elimelech and Mahlon. We likewise are saved to be fruitful, to do the good works God has prepared beforehand for us to do in Ephesians 2:10.
12) God often uses humble and improbable means to bring about His glory. God's providence can work in unusual circumstances, and anyone can become a believer, be redeemed, and receive God's blessings. God used Boaz and Ruth not only for the line of David, but for the line of Christ, both legally through Joseph and biologically through Mary. Even today God redeems sinners, improbable people, unsuitable for Heaven, and brings them into His family and His people, and ultimately into His perfect heaven.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.292 and the Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament vol.2 p.487-490 for more info.



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