Ruth 1:1-2:23

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

The book of Ruth is named for the principal character, Ruth, the Moabitess. She was first of all the wife of Mahlon. After his death she married Boaz. She was the great-grandmother of David and, therefore, an ancestress of Christ.

The author of Ruth is unknown. It is also impossible to assign the date too precisely. However, Ruth 4:22 mentions David and it would seem likely that Ruth was written at some time during his reign (c. 1011 B.C. to 971 B.C.).

The purpose of the book of Ruth is to relate an episode in the ancestry of King David which accounted for the introduction of non-Israelite blood into the family line. It also demonstrates the grace of God to welcome even Gentile converts to the fellowship of His redeemed people. Most importantly, the book of Ruth shows the function of the goel or kinsman-redeemer which serves as a type of the Messiah. In order to fulfill his position as kinsman-redeemer, a man must be a blood relative, he must be able and willing to purchase the forfeited inheritance and to marry the wife of a deceased kinsman.

In the narrative Boaz represents Christ, and Ruth represents the believer. Christ became a blood relative of man by virtue of the virgin birth; He was able to pay the price for sinners; He was willing in that He laid down His life of His own volition; and Christ will have for His bride the Church.

We see the –

    I.     Migration and Sojourn in Moab – Ruth 1:1-5


Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah [i.e. Bethlehem which was located in the land allotted to the tribe of Judah] went to sojourn [i.e. to live for a while] in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.


Ruth 1:2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah [i.e. Ephrathah or Ephratah is an ancient name for Bethlehem. Ephrathites are inhabitants of Beth-lehem]. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there [i.e. remained there].


1:1-2 – (RSB) The beautiful romance of Ruth is set against the dark background of the apostasy and foreign oppression of the period of the judges. Because of a local famine, Elimelech (whose name means my God is King) took his wife Naomi (whose name means pleasant, lovely) and his two sons, appropriately named Mahlon (whose name means puny) and Chilion (whose name means pining), to visit temporarily in nearby Moab. The country of Moab was about 50 mi . . . from Beth-lehem on the East side of the Dead Sea. Moab was the son of Lot by an incestuous union with his older daughter.


Ruth 1:3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.


Ruth 1:4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there [i.e. in Moab] about ten years.


Ruth 1:5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left [i.e. bereft] of her two sons and her husband.

We also see –

  II.     Ruth’s Choice to Return with Naomi to Judah – Ruth 1:6-18


Ruth 1:6 Then she [i.e. Naomi] arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people [i.e. Israel] in giving them bread.


Ruth 1:7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.


Ruth 1:8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.


1:8 – (RSB) Naomi, destitute of husband and sons (for heirs), repeatedly urged her daughters-in-law to return to their Moabite homes (also vv. 12 and 15).


(RSB) the LORD deal kindly with you. The Hebrew word translated “deal kindly” . . . expresses Naomi’s prayer that the LORD . . . would show His faithful, covenant-keeping love to these two Moabite widows.


Ruth 1:9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest [i.e., by finding a second husband], each of you in the house of her husband [i.e. of her second husband]. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.


Ruth 1:10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.


Ruth 1:11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? [i.e. Naomi will not have any more sons because she is past her child-bearing years.]


Ruth 1:12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;


1:11-12 – (RSB) Naomi’s reference to the hopelessness of her having additional sons . . . relates to the custom of levirate marriage, by which the brother of the husband who died childless would marry the widow, so that the deceased would have an heir. . . . Naomi is too old even for this.


Ruth 1:13 Would ye tarry [i.e. wait] for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? [i.e. Would you refrain from marriage?] nay [i.e. No], my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes [Lit., it is more bitter for me than for you] that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. [(RSB) A common expression for God’s activity. In this case it was against her, yet she submitted to God’s sovereignty.]


Ruth 1:14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave [i.e. clung] unto her.


Ruth 1:15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods [Chemosh was the national god of Moab]: return thou after thy sister in law.


Ruth 1:16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not [i.e. do not urge me] to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest [i.e. where (or wherever) you go], I will go; and where thou lodgest [i.e. wherever you lodge], I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:


Ruth 1:17 Where thou diest [i.e. wherever you die], will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.


1:16-17 – (RSB) . . . Ruth’s leaving (Moab with Naomi) meant final severance from her nation and her religion.


(RSB) the LORD do so to me. A formula invoking divine punishment, the addition of and more also indicating the worst possible consequences if Ruth were not true to her vow.


Ruth 1:18 When she [i.e. Naomi] saw that she [i.e. Ruth] was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she [i.e. Naomi] left speaking [i.e. ceased speaking (about this matter of Ruth staying in Moab and seeking another husband)] unto her [i.e. to Ruth].

In addition, we see –

 III.     The Mournful Homecoming to Bethlehem – Ruth 1:19-22


Ruth 1:19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved [i.e. excited] about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?


1:19 – (RSB) all the city. Mostly the women (they said is from a feminine Hebrew verb form) because the men were out harvesting (v. 22).


Ruth 1:20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.


1:20 – (RSB) Naomi means “pleasant,” whereas Mara means “bitter.” Even though God dealt bitterly with her, Naomi acknowledges Him as El Shaddai, the Almighty.


Ruth 1:21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?


Ruth 1:22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest. [i.e. Toward the end of April]

Next, we see –

 IV. Boaz, a Friend in Need – Ruth 2


Ruth 2:1 And Naomi had a kinsman [i.e. relative] of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.


Although Boaz was a relative of Elimelech, we do not know what the relationship was.


Ruth 2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn [i.e. pick up the heads of grain] after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.


2:2 – (RSB) glean. i.e., pick up the corn (i.e. pick up the heads of grain). In this case barley (v. 17), which the reapers left on purpose for the poor, as provided in the law. . . .


Leviticus 19:9-109 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. 10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.


Ruth 2:3 And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on [i.e. she happened to come to, she chanced upon] a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred [i.e. of the family] of Elimelech. [i.e. At this time, Ruth didn’t realize whose field it was or even who Boaz was.]


2:3 – (RSB) . . . In the providence of God, Ruth came to the field of her relative, Boaz.


Psalms 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delighteth in his way.


God directed Ruth just like He directs men.


Psalms 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go. I will guide thee with mine eye.


Ruth 2:4 And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they [i.e. the reapers] answered him [i.e. answered Boaz], The LORD bless thee.


Ruth 2:5 Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers [i.e. the foreman], Whose damsel [i.e. young woman] is this?


Ruth 2:6 And the servant that was set over the reapers [i.e. the foreman] answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:


Ruth 2:7 And she said [i.e. Ruth said to the foreman of the reapers], I pray you [i.e. Please], let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves [i.e. among the bundles of grain]: [the foreman continues] so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house [except that she rested a little in the house (or shelter)] [Ruth was a diligent worker.].


2:7 – (RSB) The house was probably a temporary shelter for the workers.


Ruth 2:8 Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? [i.e. You will listen, will you not, my daughter?] Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence [i.e. from here], but abide here fast by my maidens [i.e. but stay close by my young women]:


Ruth 2:9 Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged [i.e. commanded] the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.


2:9 – (RSB) Boaz promised to protect and provide for Ruth.


Ruth 2:10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me [i.e. that you should take notice of me], seeing I am a stranger [i.e. since I am a foreigner]?


Ruth 2:11 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity [i.e. of your birth], and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore [i.e. which you did not know previously].


Ruth 2:12 The LORD recompense thy work [i.e. repay (or reward) your work], and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust [i.e. for refuge].


2:12 – (RSB) under whose wings. As a mother bird protects her young by spreading her wings over them, so the Lord protects His people.


Ruth 2:13 Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast [i.e. for you] comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly [i.e. for you have spoken kindly] unto thine handmaid [i.e. unto your maidservant], though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens [i.e. like one of your maidservants].


Ruth 2:14 And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither [i.e. At mealtime Boaz said to Ruth come here], and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel [i.e. your piece of bread] in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn [i.e. Boaz served her roasted grain], and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left [i.e. Ruth was satisfied and had some left over].


Ruth 2:15 And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves [i.e. among the standing grain], and reproach her not [i.e. don’t stop her, don’t insult her, don’t say anything to her]:


Ruth 2:16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them [i.e. intentionally pull out some of the grain (or stalks) from the bundles and leave it (or leave them)], that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.


2:15-16 – (RSB) Boaz’s kindness exceeded Ruth’s legal rights by not only allowing her to glean where the reapers were still working (among the sheaves), but also by commanding that loose grain be intentionally left for her.


I am reminded of the Lord’s kindness for us as believers in that He has provided abundantly for us. Mattthew 11:28-30 says,


Matthew 11:28-3028 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


Ruth 2:17 So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out [i.e. threshed] that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.


2:17 – (RSB) . . . About three-fifths of a bushel (20 qt), enough to feed herself and Naomi for about 10 days.


Ruth 2:18 And she [i.e. Ruth] took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she [i.e. Ruth] brought forth, and gave to her [i.e. to Naomi] that she [i.e. what Ruth] had reserved after she [i.e. after Ruth] was sufficed [i.e. the roasted grain Ruth had left over after she had eaten enough in verse 14].


Ruth 2:19 And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? [i.e. Where did you work?] blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee [i.e. who took notice of you]. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought [i.e. worked], and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.


2:19 – (RSB) . . . Naomi recognized that the unusually large amount of grain was due to a special favor.


Ruth 2:20 And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he [i.e. Boaz] of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness [i.e. who (Boaz) has not stopped showing his kindness] to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us [i.e. the man is our relative], one of our next kinsmen [i.e. one of our closest relatives, one of our kinsman redeemers].


2:20 – (RSB) kinsmen. Here Naomi used the Hebrew word goel, “kinsman-redeemer.”


Ruth 2:21 And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men [i.e. stay close to my young men], until they have ended [i.e. finished] all my harvest.


Ruth 2:22 And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they [i.e. other people] meet thee not in any other field. [Ruth would be safe in Boaz’s field, but she might not be safe in the fields belonging to other people.]


Ruth 2:23 So she kept fast by [i.e. she stayed close to] the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.


2:23 – (RSB) wheat harvest ended around the end of May or first of June. Ruth, therefore, worked for 4-6 weeks in the fields.


This sermon is the 1st part of the series, Study of Ruth. Other sermons in this series are: