The Story of Ruth
Jack M. Lane

I’d like to tell you a story.  It’s an old story.  It’s the story of Ruth.

Many people call the book of Ruth a love story.  When I look at it, though, I see a story of people who were obedient to God, regardless of their personal feelings, and the outcome is quite happy.

Ruth and Boaz probably weren’t “in love,” the way we look at it, but they loved God, and wanted to do what was right, and the story has a very happy ending indeed.  No doubt they grew in love throughout their married life, even if they weren’t already “in love” when they married.

Arranged marriages were quite common throughout history, so it shouldn’t surprise us that God was also involved in arranged marriages.  We’ll see how that works as we go through the book of Ruth.

Ruth 1:1-22 (NAS)

1 Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons.
2 And the name of the man {was} Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons {were} Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there.
3 Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left with her two sons.
4 And they took for themselves Moabite women {as} wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years.
5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food.
7 So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me.
9 "May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband." Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.
10 And they said to her, "{No,} but we will surely return with you to your people."
11 But Naomi said, "Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
12 "Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons,
13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me."
14 And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 Then she said, "Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law."
16 But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you {or} turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people {shall be} my people, and your God, my God.
17 "Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if {anything but} death parts you and me."
18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
19 So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came about when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, "Is this Naomi?"
20 And she said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
21 "I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?"
22 So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Let’s stop here and consider a few points.  First of all, this took place during the time of the judges.  Remember what characterized that period of Israel’s history?  The people would sin, God would allow someone to come in and take them captive; then Israel would repent and call out to God, and God would send in a judge to save them; Israel would be faithful until the judge died, then they would lapse back into sin again, and God would allow someone else to come in and invade them.  It was a repeating cycle.  We don’t know just when this story happened, but it takes place against the backdrop of this vacillating relationship with God.

At some point, to make a bad situation worse, God allows a famine in the land.  Elimelech takes his family to Moab because of the famine.  Unfortunately, he dies there.  Then, Naomi’s two sons take Moabite wives.  We might think, “Well, here were two young men, and all that was available was Moabite girls.”  But marrying outside of Israel was something God frowned on.

Deuteronomy 7:1-4 (NAS):
1 "When the LORD your God shall bring you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and shall clear away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you,
2 and when the LORD your God shall deliver them before you, and you shall defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.
3 "Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.
4 "For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you.

And we see this happening again and again throughout Israel’s history.

God sent Israel into the Promised Land, not to intermarry with the nations there, but to displace those nations.  We call it “manifest destiny” -- God ordained that Israel was to go out and take over somebody else’s land.

But here, this family of Israelites was living in a foreign land.  We today find ourselves living in what seems like a foreign land to us, filled with foreign gods and strange idols, and we don’t want our children to marry into the culture around us, and forget God.  So Naomi must have been apprehensive about her sons marrying Moabite girls.

But Ruth actually came out of her own background and accepted the God of Israel, and ended up going to Judea with Naomi.  This in itself is remarkable.  This beautiful sentiment she gives, “Where you go, I will go, your God will be my God,” etc., only hints at what changes must have occurred in her life.

For us, the biggest thing about coming into the faith can be our accepting the Sabbath day, and all the interesting things that does to our lives.  But for Ruth, to forsake the worship of Chemosh, the god of the Moabites, and to radically change her lifestyle, living as a foreigner in a strange land -- we just can’t really appreciate what a huge step that was for her.  But it speaks well for Naomi, and for Naomi’s son, Ruth’s late husband.  They must have taught her, and shown by example, that God’s way of life was the best way.

But what is this curious statement Naomi makes?
11 But Naomi said, "Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
12 "Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons,
13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? …

This comes from God’s law about marrying the brother of your deceased husband.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10:
5 "When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be {married} outside {the family} to a strange man. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her.
6 "And it shall be that the first-born whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.

To God, the continuance of the family was a very strong consideration.  And the rights of a firstborn were to be respected so much that, if a man died without leaving behind any children, it was his brother’s duty to raise up a child for the dead brother, so the family would at least have a firstborn.  To be childless in that day and age was a deep humiliation.

I’ve mentioned this law of Israel to several women in the church, just to see their reaction.  I tell them that if we were living under the laws of Israel, if their husband died without leaving any children, they’d have to marry their husband’s brother.

It’s interesting to watch what kind of looks cross their faces when they think about it.  First they picture their brother-in-law in their mind, then they try to picture themselves married to him, then they screw up their face and say “Yuck,” or “No way!” So this informal poll I’ve taken indicates that this wouldn’t work too well for us today.

But Naomi was saying to Ruth and Orpah, “Look, I don’t have any more sons.  Even if I had a husband and was pregnant right now, you’re not going to wait until the baby grows up.  Return to your mothers’ homes, and try to find a husband here.”

Orpah listened and returned; Ruth decided it would be better to go back to Judea with Naomi.  At least the two of them could be widows together.  It was a very special relationship they had with each other.

v. 22: So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

That would be right about now, at the time of the spring holy days.  Naomi had heard that the crops were doing well back home, so she returned, right when the harvest was coming in.

Ruth 2:1-23

1 Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.
2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor." And she said to her, "Go, my daughter."
3 So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.
4 Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, "May the LORD be with you." And they said to him, "May the LORD bless you."
5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, "Whose young woman is this?"
6 And the servant in charge of the reapers answered and said, "She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab.
7 "And she said, 'Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.' Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while."
8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, "Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids.
9 "Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw."
10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, "Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?"
11 And Boaz answered and said to her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.
12 "May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."
13 Then she said, "I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants."
14 And at mealtime Boaz said to her, "Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar." So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.
15 When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, "Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her.
16 "And also you shall purposely pull out for her {some grain} from the bundles and leave {it} that she may glean, and do not rebuke her."
17 So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what 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. She also took {it} out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.
19 Her mother-in-law then said to her, "Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed." So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, "The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz."
20 And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "May he be blessed of the LORD who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead." Again Naomi said to her, "The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives."
21 Then Ruth the Moabitess said, "Furthermore, he said to me, 'You should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.'"
22 And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, "It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, lest {others} fall upon you in another field."
23 So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

From what we’re seeing here, it would seem that this story is taking place at a time when people were mindful of God and His laws.  This whole concept of gleaning, and of people following the reapers to pick up the gleanings, comes from God’s instructions in --

Leviticus 19:9-10:
9 'Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.
10 'Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.

And again in --

Deuteronomy 24:17-22:
17 "You shall not pervert the justice due an alien {or} an orphan, nor take a widow's garment in pledge.
18 "But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.
19 "When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
20 "When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.
21 "When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.
22 "And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.

Since Israel was enslaved by various captors off and on during the period of the judges, they would also be mindful of God if he had just recently released them from captivity from the Philistines, or whoever the most recent invader was.

Boaz had already heard about Ruth.  Her reputation had preceded her.  Ruth was already dedicated to Israel’s God, and Boaz was also faithful.  It lends a great deal of charm to the story to think that these two worthy people should meet and come together.  But that actually becomes the whole point of the story -- that following God’s ways, even in the most trying circumstances, will lead to what every good story should lead to -- a happy ending.  Boaz understood his responsibility to the poor of his community, and also to Ruth, for she was both a foreigner and a widow.

What takes place next is the meatiest part of the story.  Naomi has identified Boaz as being a near relative, one who could fulfill the role of the kinsman-redeemer.  We need to look at that role for a minute, to understand what happens next in the story.

In Leviticus chapter 25, we read of a number of applications of the law of the Jubilee Year.

Leviticus 25:1-28
1 The LORD then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying,
2 "Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, 'When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD.
3 'Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop,
4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.
5 'Your harvest's aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year.
6 'And all of you shall have the sabbath {products} of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you.
7 'Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.

So here we find that every seventh year was to be a land sabbath.

8 'You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, {namely,} forty-nine years.
9 'You shall then sound a ram's horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land.
10 'You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.

When Joshua was first leading Israel into the land, it was decided by lot which tribes would take which areas.  These portions of the land were to be the inheritance of these tribes throughout their generations.  In our Western world today, we can go into an area, buy a piece of land, pretend we own it, and we can sell it later on and move away.  But God’s way was to set His people in their own land, so they would stay there, and be attached to the land, generations after generation.

What we’re reading now tells how this was done.  If someone sold their land, it was only sold up until the year of the jubilee, then it reverted back to its rightful owner.

Verse 10 tells us, “Each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.”

11 'You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in {from} its untrimmed vines.
12 'For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its crops out of the field.
13 'On this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his own property.

Now here are the rules for selling property:

14 'If you make a sale, moreover, to your friend, or buy from your friend's hand, you shall not wrong one another.
15 'Corresponding to the number of years after the jubilee, you shall buy from your friend; he is to sell to you according to the number of years of crops.
16 'In proportion to the extent of the years you shall increase its price, and in proportion to the fewness of the years, you shall diminish its price; for {it is} a number of crops he is selling to you.

Notice that.  It’s the productivity of the land, for a certain period of years, that you could sell.  You could not sell your family inheritance, which was the land itself.

17 'So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God.
18 'You shall thus observe My statutes, and keep My judgments, so as to carry them out, that you may live securely on the land.
19 'Then the land will yield its produce, so that you can eat your fill and live securely on it.

But someone is bound to notice, if every seventh year is a land sabbath, then the 49th year is also a land sabbath.  Then along comes the 50th year, and that’s a land sabbath, too.  Won’t we starve?  God had that figured out, too.

20 'But if you say, "What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?"
21 then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years.
22 'When you are sowing the eighth year, you can still eat old things from the crop, eating {the old} until the ninth year when its crop comes in.

Now the part that’s relevant to Ruth:

23 'The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are {but} aliens and sojourners with Me.
24 'Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land.
25 'If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold.

Here is the kinsman-redeemer.

26 'Or in case a man has no kinsman, but so recovers his means as to find sufficient for its redemption,
27 then he shall calculate the years since its sale and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and so return to his property.
28 'But if he has not found sufficient means to get it back for himself, then what he has sold shall remain in the hands of its purchaser until the year of jubilee; but at the jubilee it shall revert, that he may return to his property.

When Naomi returned to Judea with Ruth, they had no men, and no real means of support.  Naomi set about to correct that situation through Boaz, who was in a position to do two things:  (1)  As a close male relative, he could take on what we would call “power of attorney,” in order to sell Naomi’s land to raise funds, until the year of jubilee, and (2)  He could perform the duty of a husband’s brother, or take on the honorable role of bringing a child into the world to carry on the name of his relative, Ruth’s late husband, who died childless.

Now, Naomi goes to a lot of trouble to set up Ruth to catch Boaz.  Why do you suppose she didn’t consider setting herself up?  It’s likely that Naomi and Boaz were closer in age.  Wouldn’t Naomi have been the one to approach Boaz?  The answer is that Naomi had had two children with Elimelech, so she was not eligible for Boaz to perform the duty of a husband’s brother.

But Ruth had not had any children with her husband, and her husband’s brother had also died, so another close relative would have to fulfill the requirement by marrying Ruth and producing a child for the dead husband.

So Naomi sends Ruth to Boaz to present herself to him, to ask him to perform the duties God’s law commands.  It was at the time of the harvest, remember, and Boaz, as owner of the fields and owner of the crops, took on the role himself of threshing the grain.

We’re going to start looking at some similarities between Boaz and Yeshua the Messiah.  When we read about Boaz at the threshing floor, we might be reminded of something John the Baptizer said in --

Luke 3:15-18
15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he might be the Christ,
16 John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 "And His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
18 So with many other exhortations also he preached the gospel to the people.

Sometimes we might feel as if we’re being thrown up into the air and separated.  It’s a good analogy, and makes us think that the people whom God considers to be good wheat are going to come back down and hit the ground hard, while the ones being separated out tend to be blown away.  Now, with this picture in mind, we can have a better understanding as we look at chapter three of the book of Ruth.

Ruth 3:1-18

1 Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?
2 "And now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight.
3 "Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your {best} clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; {but} do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
4 "And it shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do."
5 And she said to her, "All that you say I will do."
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her.
7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down.
8 And it happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet.
9 And he said, "Who are you?" And she answered, "I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative."
10 Then he said, "May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.
11 "And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.
12 "And now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
13 "Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning."
14 So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, "Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor."
15 Again he said, "Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it." So she held it, and he measured six {measures} of barley and laid {it} on her. Then she went into the city.
16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, "How did it go, my daughter?" And she told her all that the man had done for her.
17 And she said, "These six {measures} of barley he gave to me, for he said, 'Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.'"
18 Then she said, "Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today."

All the commentators, all the sermonizers, hasten to tell us that Ruth was not doing anything improper when she came to Boaz at night.  Her purposes and his purposes were completely noble.  It was often the custom of a slave or a servant to sleep at the feet of their master.  Boaz knew he was there alone, so when he felt someone there,
he startled and sat bolt upright.

When Ruth identified herself and told him why she was there, he understood immediately.  He was willing to fulfill his role as kinsman-redeemer, but he also knew -- perhaps he’d already given it some thought -- that there was another fellow who was more closely related to Elimelech.  That would be the fellow who had what we might call
“the first right of refusal.”

Apparently it was a fairly simple matter to get married in those days.  Ruth as much as proposed!  “Spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.”  Various translations say “spread your garment over me,” “spread your wing over me,” and so forth.  The Hebrew supports the idea of spreading his wing over her, so she would come under his protection.

Again, we can reference a scripture in the gospels with a similar thought:

Luke 13:31-35
31 Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him, "Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You."
32 And He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third {day} I reach My goal.'
33 "Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next {day;} for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.
34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, {the city} that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen {gathers} her brood under her wings, and you would not {have it!}
35 "Behold, your house is left to you {desolate;} and I say to you, you shall not see Me until {the time} comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

As chicks run under the hen’s wings for protection, so it was that Ruth desired Boaz to spread his garment over her, to symbolize that he would take her as his wife.

Ruth 4:1-22

1 Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, "Turn aside, friend, 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 down here." So they sat down.
3 Then he said to the closest relative, "Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.
4 "So I thought to inform you, saying, 'Buy {it} before those who are sitting {here,} and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem {it,} redeem {it;} but if not, tell me that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem {it,} and I am after you.'" And he said, "I will redeem {it.}
5 Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance."
6 And the closest relative said, "I cannot redeem {it} for myself, lest I jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem {it} for yourself; you {may have} my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem {it.}

Now, what was going on here?  Boaz proposed to his relative that the relative buy the land.  The relative thought that was a good idea.  But when Boaz mentioned that Ruth came as part of the package, the relative changed his mind and backed out of the deal.  Why?  “Lest I jeopardize my own inheritance.”

This may well have been not too long after a jubilee year.  If the relative bought the land, it might be a good long time, upward of fifty years, before it would revert back to Naomi’s family.  The relative might well have grown old and died in that time, which raises the matter of his own inheritance that he would leave his own children.

If the relative married Ruth, and brought a firstborn into the world, that firstborn would not be reckoned as his, but as Ruth’s late husband’s child.  The law of God was that the firstborn was to receive a double portion of the inheritance, so if this relative had to dish out a double portion to a child that wasn’t even his, that would leave considerably less inheritance for his own natural children, if he should have had any.  So he opted out of the deal.

7 Now this was {the custom} in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange {of land} to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the {manner of} attestation in Israel.
8 So the closest relative said to Boaz, "Buy {it} for yourself." And he removed his sandal.
9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, "You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.
10 "Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased may not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his {birth} place; you are witnesses today."
11 And all the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, "{We are} witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem.
12 "Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD shall give you by this young woman."

What was this quaint custom of finalizing a deal by taking off your sandal and giving it to the other party?  It may also have arisen out of the regulations concerning the duty of a husband’s brother.  You see, in verse 7, it talks about redeeming and exchanging.  It doesn’t specify property, as the New American Standard said.  It might not be talking about property at all.

Deuteronomy 25:5-10
5 "When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be {married} outside {the family} to a strange man. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her.
6 "And it shall be that the first-born whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.
7 "But if the man does not desire to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, 'My husband's brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.'
8 "Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And {if} he persists and says, 'I do not desire to take her,'
9 then his brother's wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, 'Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.'
10 "And in Israel his name shall be called, 'The house of him whose sandal is removed.'

So when Boaz’s relative pulled off his sandal to complete the transaction, that may have stemmed from this practice, introduced in the days of Moses.  He was unwilling to take on Ruth as a wife, and he was so eager about getting out of the obligation that he pulled off his own sandal.

Continuing in Ruth 4:

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
14 Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.
15 "May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him."
16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse.
17 And the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, "A son has been born to Naomi!" So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Now we can see the significance of the story of Ruth.  It isn’t just a nice love story.  It’s the story of King David’s family.

18 Now these are the generations of Perez: to Perez was born Hezron,
19 and to Hezron was born Ram, and to Ram, Amminadab,
20 and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon,
21 and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz, Obed,
22 and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David.

Now if we turn over to the Gospels, we’ll see this very lineage listed as part of the family tree of Yeshua.  And when we do, we’ll see some things we may have missed before.

Matthew 1:1-17
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 To Abraham was born Isaac; and to Isaac, Jacob; and to Jacob, Judah and his brothers;
3 and to Judah were born Perez and Zerah by Tamar; …

Now, let’s stop there a moment.  What do we know about the story of Judah and Tamar?  Tamar wasn’t even Judah’s wife!  We should look at the story.

Genesis 38:6-30
6 Now Judah took a wife for Er his first-born, and her name {was} Tamar.
7 But Er, Judah's first-born, was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD took his life.
8 Then Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother."
9 And Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so it came about that when he went in to his brother's wife, he wasted his seed on the ground, in order not to give offspring to his brother.
10 But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also.
11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, "Remain a widow in your father's house until my son Shelah grows up"; for he thought, "{I am afraid} that he too may die like his brothers." So Tamar went and lived in her father's house.
12 Now after a considerable time Shua's daughter, the wife of Judah, died; and when the time of mourning was ended, Judah went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.
13 And it was told to Tamar, "Behold, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep."
14 So she removed her widow's garments and covered {herself} with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife.

Again, we see the humiliation of not having children, and the duty of a husband’s brother already established before Sinai -- in the book of Genesis!

15 When Judah saw her, he thought she {was} a harlot, for she had covered her face.
16 So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, "Here now, let me come in to you"; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, "What will you give me, that you may come in to me?"
17 He said, therefore, "I will send you a kid from the flock." She said, moreover, "Will you give a pledge until you send {it?}
18 And he said, "What pledge shall I give you?" And she said, "Your seal and your cord, and your staff that is in your hand." So he gave {them} to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him.
19 Then she arose and departed, and removed her veil and put on her widow's garments.
20 When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge from the woman's hand, he did not find her.
21 And he asked the men of her place, saying, "Where is the temple prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?" But they said, "There has been no temple prostitute here."
22 So he returned to Judah, and said, "I did not find her; and furthermore, the men of the place said, 'There has been no temple prostitute here.'"
23 Then Judah said, "Let her keep them, lest we become a laughingstock. After all, I sent this kid, but you did not find her."
24 Now it was about three months later that Judah was informed, "Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the harlot, and behold, she is also with child by harlotry." Then Judah said, "Bring her out and let her be burned!"

There’s a little hypocrisy showing in Judah here.  He seems to be a bit two-faced with the idea of righteousness.

25 It was while she was being brought out that she sent to her father-in-law, saying, "I am with child by the man to whom these things belong." And she said," Please examine and see, whose signet ring and cords and staff are these?"
26 And Judah recognized {them,} and said, "She is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah." And he did not have relations with her again.
27 And it came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb.
28 Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet {thread} on his hand, saying, "This one came out first."
29 But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, "What a breach you have made for yourself!" So he was named Perez.
30 And afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet {thread} on his hand; and he was named Zerah.

I’m not going to go into detail about the significance of this breach.  Herbert Armstrong went into great detail about the breach in his book, The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy.  My point for today is that Judah and Tamar both did some things that were not altogether righteous.  Yet there they are, in the geneology of Christ.

Matthew 1:3:
… and to Perez was born Hezron; and to Hezron, Ram;
4 and to Ram was born Amminadab; and to Amminadab, Nahshon; and to Nahshon, Salmon;
5 and to Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab; …

Now, here is something else significant.  Rahab was the prostitute of Jericho.  She was a Canaanite.  As you recall, she hid the Israelite spies in Jericho, and was spared when the Israelites attacked the city.  This verse tells us that she married an Israelite named Salmon, and their son was this same Boaz we’ve been reading about.

Two things are significant:  (1) For Boaz to be as righteous and God-fearing as he was, his parents must have spent a great deal of time teaching him God’s way.  That speaks well of Rahab.  (2) If Rahab was a Canaanite, that means Boaz was half-Canaanite.  So there may not have been as much in the way of racial or cultural differences between Boaz and Ruth as there might be between a racially pure Israelite and someone of another descent.

It’s possible Boaz and Ruth may have been attracted to each other because of racial or cultural similarities.  It’s hard to say after this many millenia have gone by.

We understand that Rahab became what we would call “a naturalized citizen of Israel.”  But there was a prohibition against marrying Canaanites.  We saw the scripture earlier:

Deuteronomy 7:1-4 (NAS):
1 “… the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you,
2 … You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.
3 "Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.
4 "For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you.

Then why was Rahab allowed to marry an Israelite?  Probably because she turned her back on the pagan idols of her people, and confessed that Yahweh was the true God.  She gives her confession in --

Joshua 2:8-11
8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof,
9 and said to the men, "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.
10 "For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.
11 "And when we heard {it,} our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

Rahab became a convert to the Way of Yahweh.  As such, she married into Israel, and we can tell, from the actions of her son Boaz, she became a devoted follower of the Way of God.

Returning to the geneology in --

Matthew 1:5
… and to Boaz was born Obed by Ruth; and to Obed, Jesse;
6 and to Jesse was born David the king. And to David was born Solomon by her {who had been the wife} of Uriah;
7 and to Solomon was born Rehoboam; and to Rehoboam, Abijah; and to Abijah, Asa;
8 and to Asa was born Jehoshaphat; and to Jehoshaphat, Joram; and to Joram, Uzziah;
9 and to Uzziah was born Jotham; and to Jotham, Ahaz; and to Ahaz, Hezekiah;
10 and to Hezekiah was born Manasseh; and to Manasseh, Amon; and to Amon, Josiah;
11 and to Josiah were born Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon, to Jeconiah was born Shealtiel; and to Shealtiel, Zerubbabel;
13 and to Zerubbabel was born Abihud; and to Abihud, Eliakim; and to Eliakim, Azor;
14 and to Azor was born Zadok; and to Zadok, Achim; and to Achim, Eliud;
15 and to Eliud was born Eleazar; and to Eleazar, Matthan; and to Matthan, Jacob;
16 and to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 Therefore all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to {the time of} Christ fourteen generations.

One thing I don’t have an answer for is this question:  Why is Obed listed in the geneologies, both in Hebrew and in Greek, as the son of Boaz and Ruth, when Boaz stated he intended to raise up a child for his dead relative?  Obed should have been reckoned as the son of Mahlon or Killion, but the records don’t reflect that.  I don’t know why.  Most likely it’s because Boaz was not Ruth’s brother-in-law.  But the intent is stated to raise up a child for the first husband.  So I don’t know why it’s listed the way it is.

Now to continue on the theme of Christ as our kinsman-redeemer.

We have often heard of Christ as our Savior, and as our Redeemer.  Yes, He has saved us.  Yes, He redeems us.  But from now on, I hope we’ll also look to Him as our kinsman-redeemer, to better understand how it is that He redeems us.

We were sold under sin, slaves to sin, and He bought us, paid for us, redeemed us, and brought us under His protection -- and He’s planning on marrying us!

Consider that both Ruth and Orpah were going to go with Naomi to Judea.  They were already on the way.  Along the road, Naomi stops and tells them both to go back.  Orpah went back to her useless, lifeless, pagan idols, and she may have found another husband from among her own people.  But she drops out of the story at that point.  She went back.

Ruth, on the other hand, persisted in going with Naomi, giving up her old life, her people, her lifestyle, her pagan idols.  She went with Naomi to a strange land, not knowing what to expect.  Once there, God led her on the most exciting adventure, to the most wonderful life, and to a place of honor in the pages of history.

Orpah gave up and went back.  She was not eligible for the redemption of the kinsman-redeemer.  Ruth kept going forward, even against Naomi’s urging her not to go, and as a result, Ruth is celebrated by her relationship to a couple of her kinsmen, her descendants King David and Yeshua the Messiah.

Messiah, in turn, became the kinsman-redeemer of the world, saving the lives of His family members from the days of Adam to the end of human life in some future time, if such a time ever comes.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (NIV):
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment
-- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession -- to the praise of his glory.

Redemption isn’t going to heaven.  Redemption is being bought back, by our kinsman-redeemer.  We were bought with a price -- and it was a high price indeed.

We asked the Messiah to spread His wings over us, to redeem us from our bondage to corruption and decay, to protect and defend us.  It was up to us to ask God to forgive us, to ask Christ to be our personal Lord and Savior.  And He has thrown the edge of His garment over us.

Is it significant that Boaz was on the threshing floor, winnowing his grain, separating the grain from the chaff, just before Ruth came in and asked him to be her redeemer?  Is it significant that many of us perceive that Messiah is now sifting His ekklesia, getting ready to gather the good grain into eternal stores in His kingdom and family, while at the same time separating out the chaff, letting them be blown around, and blown away, by every wind of doctrine?

Is Messiah our redeemer?  Is He our kinsman?  Then we should heed the saying of Ruth:  “Where you go, I will go.”

Revelation 14:4 (NKJV):  “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”

Ruth said, “Where you die, I will die.”
Romans 6:1-9 says,
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

Sin should have no more dominion over us, because of the power of the Spirit, and because of Christ living in us.  When that happens, then death will have no more dominion over us, because we die once in this mortal body, and live forever in the resurrection.

There is a famine in the land -- a famine of the word.  In fact, it’s been about ten years now, hasn’t it?  But we have heard that God has been good to His people, and has blessed His true followers with a huge crop.

Messiah stands with his winnowing tool in His hand, and He is purging His floor.  Let us give all diligence not to be blown away as chaff, but to be gathered into the barns of the Almighty.