IN HEBREW THOUGHT OF THAT DAY (AND COMPLETELY IN HARMONY WITH THE SCRIPTURES) YAHUSHA WAS THE TRUE AND ULTIMATE OWNER OF THE LAND WHERE THE HEBREW PEOPLE HAD SETTLED (THE FORMER LAND OF CANAAN). BY MEANS OF HIS BLOOD-COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM YAHUSHA HAD GIVEN YISHARAL THE RIGHT TO INHERIT THIS LAND; HOWEVER THIS LAND-INHERITANCE DID NOT INVOLVE TRANSFERENCE OF OWNERSHIP, IT WAS MORE OF A LEASE. YISHARAL WOULD ONLY BENEFIT FROM THE USE OF THE LAND THAT BELONGED TO YAHUSHA WHILE THEY WERE OBEDIENT TO HIM; HE DID NOT TURN OVER COMPLETE OWNERSHIP AND TITLE DEED OF THE LAND OVER TO THEM.
THE USE OF THE LAND HAD BEEN DIVIDED UP (UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF JOSHUA AND MOSES) AMONG THE TRIBES AND AMONG THE CLANS WHO FORMED THE TRIBES. SO IT’S IMPORTANT WHEN WE LOOK AT A MAP OF CANAAN AFTER THE CONQUEST (WHAT WE COULD LOOSELY TERM “YISHARAL”), AND WE SEE THE 12 TRIBAL TERRITORIES OUTLINED WITH THEIR BOUNDARIES, THAT WE UNDERSTAND THAT A FURTHER SUBDIVISION HAD ALSO OCCURRED IN WHICH THE CLANS OF EACH TRIBE WERE ASSIGNED SPECIFIC PORTIONS OF THE TERRITORY GIVEN TO THEIR PARTICULAR TRIBE (A CLAN BEING, OF COURSE, JUST A SUB-DIVISION OF A TRIBE, AND A FAMILY BEING A SUB-DIVISION OF THE CLAN). SO WHOEVER POSSESSED A CERTAIN AREA OF LAND WAS NOT ALLOWED TO SELL IT OR PART WITH IT IN ANY OTHER MANNER; RATHER IT WAS INTENDED THAT THE FAMILY-LAND REMAIN PART OF HIS FAMILY, HIS CLAN, AND HIS TRIBE FOREVER (AGAIN, NOT AS OWNERS BUT RATHER AS THE AUTHORISED TENANTS, WHO LIVED ON YAHUSHA’S LAND).
SHOULD THE HEBREW POSSESSOR (OF A PIECE OF THE PROMISED LAND) FIND HIMSELF IN A SITUATION WHERE HE HAD TO SELL IT (USUALLY ON ACCOUNT OF FINANCIAL DISASTER), AND ACTUALLY DID SELL IT . . .
THEN IT WAS THE OBLIGATION OF THE NEAREST FAMILY RELATIVE TO INTERCEDE AND PURCHASE THAT LAND BACK (REDEEM IT) IN ORDER FOR IT TO STAY IN THE FAMILY AND ULTIMATELY THE CLAN, SO THAT THEY DIDN’T LOSE THE INHERITANCE THAT YAHUSHA HAD GIVEN THEM AND TRUSTED THEM AS WISE STEWARDS OVER.
WE FIND FROM THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS THAT EVEN IF THE LAND WAS NOT REDEEMED IN A TIMELY MANNER BY THE FAMILY GO’EL (KINSMAN REDEEMER) THAT IT STILL EVENTUALLY CAME BACK (BY MEANS OF THE LAWS OF JUBILEE) TO THE ORIGINAL FAMILY AND CLAN WHO HAD POSSESSED IT (BUT LOST IT) BY MEANS OF THE JUBILEE LAWS THAT REQUIRED NO PAYMENT TO THE PERSON WHO HAD PURCHASED THAT LAND IF THE FAMILY WAITED UNTIL THE YEAR OF JUBILEE THAT CAME AROUND ON A 50 YEAR CYCLE. ESSENTIALLY THE LAND HAD BEEN “LOST” ONLY TEMPORARILY AND FURTHER IT WASN’T SO MUCH THAT THE LAND HAD BEEN LOST.
NOW THERE WAS ANOTHER CUSTOM OF THE ERA (THAT HAD ACTUALLY BEEN WRITTEN INTO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF MOSES) THAT WE HAVE COME TO CALL LEVIRATE MARRIAGE - THE MARRIAGE OF A BROTHER-IN-LAW TO THE WIDOWED WIFE OF HIS BROTHER. AND THE IDEA WAS THAT A HEBREW MAN WHO DIED WITHOUT CHILDREN (OR MORE IMPORTANTLY WITHOUT A SON) DIED WITHOUT AN HEIR. THUS IT WAS THE DUTY OF THE DECEASED MAN’S BROTHER TO MARRY HIS SISTER IN LAW (NOW WIDOWED) AND PRODUCE A SON WITH HER. THIS SON WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS THE SON OF THE BROTHER BUT RATHER AS THE SON OF THE DECEASED MAN; THUS HIS NAME AND FAMILY LINE WOULD NOT COME TO A DEAD END WITHIN THE CLAN.
HIS ESSENCE WOULD LIVE ON (IN THEIR MINDS). THE SON PRODUCED FROM THIS LEVIRATE MARRIAGE THEN BECAME THE LEGAL HEIR TO THE LAND THAT BELONGED TO (WHAT WAS BIOLOGICALLY) HIS DECEASED UNCLE.
NOW, SCRIPTURALLY AND LEGALLY SPEAKING LEVIRATE MARRIAGE AND THE OBLIGATIONS OF A FAMILY (KINSMAN) REDEEMER (A GO’EL) ARE NOT CONNECTED. HOWEVER IN THE STORY OF RUTH WE SEE THAT THE TWO INSTITUTIONS OF LEVIRATE MARRIAGE AND KINSMAN REDEEMER HAD (AT SOME POINT) BECOME BOUND TOGETHER BY HEBREW TRADITION. IN OTHER WORDS WHILE THE TURAH TECHNICALLY ONLY REQUIRED THAT A BROTHER-IN-LAW MARRY THE CHILDLESS WIDOW OF HIS DECEASED BROTHER IN ORDER TO PRODUCE AN HEIR, AT SOME POINT IT BECAME CUSTOMARY TO INCLUDE THIS KIND OF MARRIAGE OBLIGATION AS ONE OF THE SEVERAL DUTIES OF A GO’EL IF CIRCUMSTANCES DEMANDED IT. THUS IF THERE WAS NO BROTHER OF THE DECEASED MAN, OR IF THERE WAS A BROTHER BUT HE REFUSED TO GO THROUGH WITH A LEVIRATE MARRIAGE WITH THE WIDOW, THE FAMILY GO’EL SHOULD STEP IN AND ACCEPT THIS ROLE ALONG WITH REDEEMING THE LAND OF THE DECEASED IN ORDER THAT IT REMAIN WITHIN THE FAMILY AND CLAN.
SO IN THIS SECTION OF RUTH, ELIMELECH (NAOMI'S DEAD HUSBAND) HAD POSSESSED SOME PORTION OF LAND IN AND AROUND BETHLEHEM, BUT BECAUSE BOTH OF HIS SONS HAD DIED, AND THEIR WIDOWS HAD PRODUCED NO SONS, THERE WAS NO LEGAL HEIR TO THE LAND; SO IT FELL TO ELIMELECH’S WIFE NAOMI. BUT SINCE SHE WAS POVERTY STRICKEN SHE HAD TO SELL THE LAND (SHE WAS TOO OLD TO WORK THE LAND), AND BOAZ (WHO WAS RELATED TO ELIMELECH) WAS THE FAMILY REDEEMER (THE GO’EL) WHOM NAOMI HOPED WOULD ACCEPT THE OBLIGATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH BEING THE FAMILY GO’EL (REMEMBER THE WHOLE LIST OF DUTIES ASSIGNED TO A GO’EL THAT WE DISCUSSED LAST VIDEO?).
AND PART OF NAOMI’S HOPE WAS THAT BOAZ WOULD MARRY HER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW RUTH TO GIVE HER A WELL-SECURED LIFE, PLUS THAT BOAZ WOULD PURCHASE THE FIELD, PLUS BOAZ WOULD GIVE RUTH A SON TO CARRY ON RUTH’S DECEASED HUSBAND, MACHLON’S FAMILY NAME. THIS SON WOULD ALSO BE THE NEEDED HEIR FOR ELIMELECH AND THEN THE CLAN AND FAMILY-LINE WOULD BE PRESERVED.
THIS PROCEDURE WAS WELL UNDERSTOOD BY THE ANCIENT HEBREWS AND EVERYONE KNEW THEIR ROLE AND THEIR RIGHTS AND DUTIES IN THIS PROCESS. BOTTOM LINE: IF BOAZ (A POTENTIAL FAMILY GO’EL) WOULD COMMIT TO MARRY RUTH, A WHOLE SERIES OF PROBLEMS WOULD BE SOLVED ALL IN ONE BOLD STROKE.
IT IS WITH THIS IN MIND THAT WE CAN NOW HAVE OUR CORRECT CONTEXT FOR CONTINUING IN RUTH AND A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF NAOMI’S MOTIVES FOR INSTRUCTING RUTH IN THE RATHER STRANGE AND BOLD ACTIONS NAOMI WANTED RUTH TO TAKE TOWARDS BOAZ.
BOAZ (RUTH 3-4)
One day (while the harvest was still happening), Naomi said to Ruth: “Is it wrong for me to want you to settle down with a man and be happy? It’s time my daughter, we need to find you a husband, someone who’ll take care of you and give you a home and peace”.
RUTH JUST HAD A DIVINE APPOINTMENT WITH BOAZ THEIR KINSMAN REDEEMER AND NAOMI HAS NO INTEREST IN LETTING THIS AMAZING OPPORTUNITY PASS HER BY. NAOMI TELLS RUTH THAT SINCE BOAZ IS A FAMILY GO’EL THAT IT’S HER INTENT TO INVOLVE HIM AS A SOLUTION TO THEIR PREDICAMENT. AND TO REMIND US OF THE CONTEXT OF THE MULTI-FACETED SOLUTION SHE WAS SEEKING:
1ST, HOW COULD SHE FIND A WAY TO KEEP THE NAME OF ELIMELECH AND HIS CLAN ALIVE SINCE HE AND BOTH OF HIS SONS WERE DEAD?
2ND, HOW COULD THE ELDERLY NAOMI PROPERLY PROTECT THE ALL-IMPORTANT LAND INHERITANCE THAT HAD BEEN LEFT IN HER TRUST, SINCE HER HUSBAND DIED AND THERE WERE NO MALE HEIRS?
3RD, HOW COULD RUTH, YOUNG AND WITH SO MUCH LIFE YET TO LIVE, BE AFFORDED A GOOD AND DECENT FUTURE? AND ALTHOUGH IT’S NOT FRONT AND CENTRE BUT IS SELF-EVIDENT,
4TH, HOW COULD NAOMI FIND A MEANS OF SUPPORT IN HER OLD AGE SINCE SHE HAD NO SONS TO PROVIDE FOR HER? THE ANSWER TO ALL OF THESE CHALLENGES IS . . . . BOAZ . . . (IF HER PLAN WORKS).
“You’ve been picking up grain alongside the women who work for Boaz, and you know he’s a relative of ours. Tonight he’ll be threshing the grain with the boys, so take a bath and put on some perfume, then dress in your best clothes (DON’T WEAR YOUR WIDOW-CLOTHES FOR MOURNING ANYMORE, IT’S TIME TO DRESS NORMAL AGAIN). Go over to where he’s working, but don’t let him see you until he's finished eating and drinking. Watch where he goes to spend the night, then when he’s asleep, lift the cover and lie down at his feet, and he’ll tell you what to do".
“Ok Mum, whatever you recon ... i'll do it.”
ON THE PROWL IN HEBREW TOWN
I’M SURE MOST OF YOU HAVE AN IMAGE OF SEDUCTION IN YOUR MINDS ABOUT NOW, REGARDING THIS LITTLE KABUKI DANCE THAT NAOMI TELLS RUTH TO PERFORM. WAS THIS CUSTOMARY OF HEBREWS IN THAT DAY OR WAS IT UNIQUE? WE REALLY DON’T KNOW. FOR SURE, THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF THIS ENDEAVOUR IS FOR RUTH TO INDICATE HER DESIRE TO MARRY BOAZ. BUT IS THIS HOW ENGAGEMENT HAPPENED AMONG THE ANCIENT HEBREWS? THERE ARE NO RECORDS TO INDICATE SUCH A THING, ALTHOUGH THERE ARE A COUPLE OF SIMILAR SCENES ELSEWHERE IN THE SCRIPTURE (SUCH AS EZEKIEL 16 AND 2 SAMUEL 12).
BUT ON ANOTHER LEVEL, WHILE HER GOING TO BOAZ, UNCOVERING HIS FEET AND THEN LAYING DOWN BESIDE HIM MAY NOT NECESSARILY HAVE BEEN USUAL, THE PURPOSE OF PROPOSING MARRIAGE ON THE GROUNDS THAT BOAZ IS HER GO’EL IS LIKELY WHAT NAOMI WAS REFERRING TO WHEN SHE SAID THAT BOAZ WOULD THEN TELL HER WHAT TO DO. THAT IS, RUTH WAS A MOABITE AND UNFAMILIAR WITH THE HEBREW WAYS. EVEN THOUGH MOST MIDDLE EASTERN SOCIETIES (ALMOST CERTAINLY THE MOABITES AS WELL) HAD SOME KIND OF FAMILY REDEEMER CUSTOMS THEY FOLLOWED, HOW EACH NATION PERFORMED THEM WOULD HAVE BEEN SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT.
NAOMI AND BOAZ THOROUGHLY UNDERSTOOD THE ROLE AND DUTIES OF A GO’EL WITHIN HEBREW SOCIETY, AND ALL THE NUANCES OF HOW SOMEONE APPROACHED A POTENTIAL GO’EL FOR THEIR HELP; AND THEN THERE WERE THE UNIQUE SOCIAL INTRICACIES THAT WOULD FOLLOW. AND OF THESE, RUTH KNEW LITTLE IF ANYTHING SINCE SHE WAS A FOREIGNER. THEREFORE WHILE NAOMI GOT THE BALL ROLLING SUFFICIENTLY FOR BOAZ TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS BEING ASKED OF HIM, RUTH WOULD THEN HAVE TO RELY ON BOAZ TO TAKE OVER AND DO WHAT LOGICALLY AND LEGALLY CAME NEXT. AND THAT DEPENDED ON WHETHER OR NOT HE ACCEPTED RUTH’S REQUEST OF HIM OR NOT. THEREFORE (AS NAOMI SAID),“HE WILL TELL YOU WHAT TO DO”. THIS WAS ALL UP TO BOAZ.
So Ruth went out to the place where Boaz was working and did what Naomi her mother-in-law had told her. After Boaz finished eating and drinking and was feeling happy, he went over and fell asleep near the pile of grain.THIS IS NOT TALKING ABOUT JUST A `GENERAL STATE OF WELL BEING', BOAZ HAD A `BIT OF A BUZZ ON' FROM DOWNING A FEW WINES.
SO TIRED AND RELAXED, HE LOCATED HIMSELF AT THE END OF THE PILE OF GRAIN UNDOUBTEDLY TO MAKE SURE NO ONE CAME TO HELP THEMSELVES TO THE PRODUCT OF HIS DAYS WORK.
And Ruth slipped over quietly, lifted the cover that was over him and lay down near his feet.CUSTOMARY PRACTICE TO ASK FOR PROTECTION AND POSSIBLY EVEN MARRIAGE.
"INDECENT PROPOSAL ?"
THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL ASPECT OF THIS SECTION IS RUTH “UNCOVERING HIS FEET”, BECAUSE “FEET” IS OFTEN USED AS A SCRIPTURAL IDIOM TO REFER TO GENITALS. “COVERING ONE’S FEET” IS ALSO AT TIMES USED TO DESCRIBE GOING TO THE TOILET. SO SOME SCHOLARS BELIEVE THAT WHAT RUTH DID WAS TO EXPOSE BOAZ’S GENITALS AS AN EXPRESSION OF HER DESIRE FOR HIM TO MARRY HER, AND THAT MAYBE THIS WAS SOME APARENTLY UNKNOWN ENGAGEMENT PRACTICE IN THAT ERA. IN FACT THAT LINE OF THOUGHT HAS BECOME A RATHER POPULAR `RECENT' INTERPRETATION OF THE SCENE, HOWEVER MORE INSPIRED THINKERS MAKE IT VERY CLEAR THAT THERE ARE TOO MANY PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS APPROACH OF INTERPRETATION.
LET’S FIRST DISPEL THIS NEW VIEW THAT RUTH COMMITTED A VERY SEXUALLY PROVOCATIVE ACT UPON THE SLUMBERING BOAZ. THE HEBREW WORD THAT IS RENDERED “FEET” IN THE BOOK OF RUTH IS "MARGELOTH" AND IN THE ENTIRE SCRIPTURE IT IS ONLY USED IN 3 PLACES (HERE IN RUTH AND ONCE MORE IN DANIEL 10) AND IT MEANS LEGS AND NOT FEET. IT BASICALLY MEANS EVERYTHING FROM THE HIPS DOWN (THAT IS, THE LEGS AND FEET, THE ENTIRE OF THE EXTREMITIES THAT STARTS AT THE HIP). THE USUAL HEBREW WORD FOR FOOT OR FEET THROUGHOUT THE OLDER TEXT IS "REGEL", AND INDEED WE DO FIND THAT WORD USED IN THE IDIOMS THAT REFER TO THE GENITALS. HOWEVER NOWHERE IN THE WHOLE OF THE SCRIPTURE DO WE FIND "MARGELOTH" USED THAT WAY; AND THUS IT IS ALMOST CERTAINLY INACCURATE TO TRANSLATE MARGELOTH TO BE “FEET” HERE IN RUTH; RATHER IT SHOULD BE TRANSLATED AS LEGS.
SO WE HAVE RUTH UNCOVERING BOAZ’S LEGS (NOT HIS FEET) AND HER LYING THERE NEXT TO HIM AS INSTRUCTED BY NAOMI, AND NOTHING MORE. HOWEVER, THAT THERE ARE SEXUAL OVERTONES TO ALL THIS IS HARD TO DISPUTE; THE ISSUE IS THE DEGREE. CERTAINLY WHAT MAN WOULD GO TO BED ALONE, ONLY TO BE AWOKEN SUDDENLY BY A LOVELY YOUNG WOMAN LYING NEXT TO HIM, AND NOT BE A LITTLE EXCITED BY THE SITUATION? IF YOU’RE AN OLDER MAN LIKE BOAZ AND THIS YOUNG STARLET SNEAKS INTO YOUR BED, CRAWLS UNDER YOUR BLANKET AND ESSENTIALLY PROPOSES MARRIAGE, WELL, HELLO BOYS, THAT’LL GET YOUR ATTENTION FOR SURE. BUT IT SEEMS THAT THE AUTHOR OF THIS STORY INTENDS IT TO BE THAT WAY; AFTER ALL, RUTH IS TRYING TO ENTICE BOAZ TO MARRY HER AND BY ALL ACCOUNTS SHE IS QUITE BEAUTIFUL, NOT ONLY IN CHARACTER BUT IN APPEARANCE. SO WHAT COULD BE MORE NORMAL THAN FOR HER TO MAKE USE OF THESE NATURAL GIFTS IN A WAY THAT INTERESTS A MAN?
LET’S ALSO DISPEL THIS THOUGHT OF AGGRESSIVE SEXUAL ACTION TAKEN BY RUTH UPON BOAZ AS HE SLEEPS, BY OUR RECALLING THE CONTEXT AND HISTORY OF RUTH'S SITUATION. RUTH AND BOAZ HAVE SHOWN THEMSELVES TO BE EXEMPLARY PEOPLE; DEVOUT AND OBEDIENT TO YAHUSHA. BOAZ HAS RAVED ABOUT HOW WELL-KNOWN RUTH’S HIGH CHARACTER IS AMONG THE RESIDENTS OF BETHLEHEM, AND BOAZ HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BE A KIND MAN WITH ONLY NOBLE MOTIVES AND INTENTIONS IN ALL HE DOES. AND DON'T FORGET THAT (EXCEPT WITHIN THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE) FOR A WOMAN TO LOOK UPON AN EXPOSED MAN COULD BRING HER A TERRIBLE PUNISHMENT . . .
(RECALL THE INSTANCE IN THE TURAH OF A WIFE WHO HELPED HER HUSBAND IN A FIGHT BY GRABBING THE GENITALS OF HER HUSBAND’S OPPONENT; IT RESULTED IN HER HAND BEING CUT OFF). FOR RUTH TO UNCOVER A MAN’S PRIVATE PARTS WOULD BE NOTHING LESS THAN PROSTITUTION. SO TO ACCUSE RUTH AND BOAZ OF ENGAGING IN SEXUAL ACTIVITIES THAT ARE STRICTLY FORBIDDEN BY THE INSTRUCTIONS OF MOSES WOULD BE COMPLETELY INCONSISTENT WITH ALL WE HAVE LEARNED ABOUT THEM, AND AGAINST THE ENTIRE PURPOSE AND NATURE OF THE STORY.YES THERE WERE SUBTLE SEXUAL OVERTONES TO RUTH’S ACTIONS, BUT WE NEEDN’T GO OVERBOARD AND READ THINGS INTO THE ACCOUNT THAT SIMPLY AREN’T THERE.
COURTING OBVIOUSLY INVOLVES A FLIRTATIOUS INTERACTION BETWEEN A MALE AND FEMALE AS ONE ATTEMPTS TO ATTRACT THE OTHER, BUT HOPEFULLY IT UNFOLDS MORE IN THE WAY THAT YAHUSHA (WHO CREATED MAN AND WOMAN) INTENDED, AS OPPOSED TO SOMETHING THAT IS SIGNIFICANTLY LESS THAN APPROPRIATE, ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO SEEK TO HONOUR YAHUSHA. BOAZ IS SHOWN QUIETLY HANDLING THE SITUATION LIKE A GENTLEMAN, NEITHER AS AN OLD FOOL OR A VILLAGE IDIOT. HE MAY BE COUNTRIFIED BUT HE HAS DIGNITY AND RESTRAINT.
And in the middle of the night, Boaz suddenly woke up and rolled over, shocked to see a woman lying at his feet. “Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Ruth,” she answered, “Please spread the edge of your cover over me, for you’re my redeemer”.(GO'EL - THE RELATIVE WHO IS TO LOOK AFTER ME).
WE DISCUSSED IN OUR LAST VIDEO, THE CONNECTION BETWEEN RUTH FIRST COMING UNDER YAHUSHA’S KANAPH FOR THE PURPOSE OF REFUGE, AND NOW UNDER BOAZ’S KANAPH FOR THE PURPOSE OF REFUGE. THE FIRST WAS A DIVINE REFUGE BY MEANS OF A SPIRITUAL “MARRIAGE” TO THE ALAHIM OF YISHARAL (SO TO SPEAK), AND THE SECOND WAS AN EARTHLY PHYSICAL REFUGE BY MEANS OF AN EARTHLY PHYSICAL MARRIAGE TO BOAZ. WHILE RUTH’S WORDS MAY NEED INTERPRETATION TO US MODERNERS, IT NEEDED NONE FOR BOAZ WHO PERFECTLY UNDERSTOOD HER REQUEST AND INTENTIONS.
ALSO, WHEN RUTH SAID, ‘SPREAD YOUR KANAPH OVER YOUR MAIDSERVANT’,THIS WAS AN ALLUSION TO WHAT YAHUSHA SAID TO THE HEBREW PEOPLE AT THE TIME OF THE GIVING OF THE MARRIAGE COVENANT AT SINAI, "I HAVE BORNE YOU ON THE KANAPHEI (WINGS) OF EAGLES AND BROUGHT YOU TO ME". JUST AS YAHUSHA SHOWED HIS LOVE AND PROTECTION FOR THE HEBREW PEOPLE IN THIS WAY, RUTH ASKED BOAZ TO SHOW HER THE LOVE OF MARRIAGE AND PROTECTION. THIS IS SO PROFOUND AND MOVING AND AMAZING WHEN WE LOOK BEHIND THE ENGLISH INTO THE ORIGINAL HEBREW AT JUST HOW MUCH IS THERE TO DISCOVER.
And so impressed and taken by Ruth's behaviour, Boaz replied, “May Yahuah bless you my daughter! Your loyalty never ceases to amaze me. You’re kindness to your family is even greater now than in the beginning. You could have gone and found a younger man, rich or poor, but you didn’t, for the sake of your mother. Everyone I speak to in town even says how remarkable and capable you are. So don’t worry Ruth, I’ll do what you’ve asked my Darling".
WHAT IS RUTH’S “LATEST ACT OF LOVING KINDNESS?” AND WHY WAS IT GREATER THAN THE FIRST? WAS IT CHOOSING A MAN THAT WAS PROBABLY OLDER THAN NAOMI, WHEN SHE COULD HAVE HAD A MUCH YOUNGER, HANDSOMER, MORE VIBRANT MAN? NOT AT ALL. RATHER IT WAS THAT SHE CHOSE TO FOLLOW THE YISHARALITE WAYS SO COMPLETELY THAT SHE NEVER EVEN CONSIDERED DOING ANYTHING BUT MARRYING HER HEBREW FAMILY’S GO’EL (REDEEMER). RUTH COULD HAVE SOLVED HER OWN PERSONAL DILEMMA OF BEING A POOR WIDOW BY MARRYING A YOUNG MAN WITH A GOOD FUTURE; BUT THAT WOULDN’T HAVE SOLVED NAOMI’S PROBLEM OF NEEDING AN HEIR TO CARRY ON ELIMELECH’S NAME AND CLAN-LINE IF SHE HAD MARRIED THAT YOUNGER MAN WHO WAS NOT THE FAMILY REDEEMER.
REMEMBER RUTH WOULD HAVE BEEN A PRIZE CATCH, NO DOUBT. IT’S APPARENT THAT HER OUTWARD BEAUTY MATCHED HER TENDER DEMEANOUR AND GOOD CHARACTER. SHE WOULD HAVE HAD YOUNG SUITORS LINED UP. INSTEAD SHE CHOSE BOAZ, A MUCH OLDER MAN. CONSIDER AS A PRACTICALITY, THAT BOAZ WAS AT THE LEAST IN THE AUTUMN, IF NOT WINTER, OF HIS LIFE. A FEW MORE YEARS IS PROBABLY THE BEST THAT RUTH COULD HOPE FOR WITH BOAZ AND THEN SHE’D BE A WIDOW AGAIN. BOAZ WAS AS PRACTICAL AND WISE AS HE WAS KIND AND GENTLE, AND SO RUTH’S WILLINGNESS TO PROVIDE AN HEIR FOR NAOMI BY MARRYING A GO’EL LIKE THE AGED BOAZ EVEN EXCEEDED HER VERY IMPRESSIVE KINDNESS OF FOLLOWING NAOMI FROM MOAB TO CARE FOR HER; AND BOAZ INSTANTLY RECOGNISED THE GRAVITY AND SELFLESSNESS OF RUTH’S DECISION EVEN IN HIS BLURRY-EYED STATE AND IN THE DARKNESS OF THAT LATE HOUR.
BUT RUTH ALSO MADE A WISE CHOICE FOR HERSELF, IN THE END. I THINK RUTH SAW BEYOND BOAZ’S ELDERLINESS AND SAW A MAN OF RARE KINDNESS, KEEN SENSE OF DUTY, DETERMINED PURITY, AND PROPER FEAR AND RESPECT FOR YAHUSHA. BOAZ HAD ALSO SHOWN RUTH MUCH TENDERNESS AND RESPECT. WHO COULD POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN A BETTER HUSBAND FOR HER THAN BOAZ?
"It’s true that I’m one of the relatives who’s supposed to redeem you(TAKE CARE OF YOU),but there’s someone else who’s an even closer relative than I. But stay here until morning, then I’ll find out if he’s willing to look after you. And if he isn’t, I promise by the only living Alahim that I’ll redeem you myself. Now go back to sleep until morning".BOAZ ALSO TOLD RUTH THAT THERE WAS ANOTHER FAMILY GO’EL (REDEEMER) IN BETHLEHEM WHO WAS A NEARER RELATIVE TO ELIMELECH THAN HE WAS AND THAT IT WAS PROPER PROTOCOL TO GIVE THAT NEARER RELATIVE THE FIRST CHANCE AT PERFORMING THE DUTIES OF A GO’EL.
So Ruth went back to sleep at his feet, but got up before daylight, so that no one knew that a woman had been on the threshing floor. Then he told her to spread out her shawl. And he filled it with a whole lot of grain, as much as she’d ever hope to carry, and placed it on her shoulder.AS A SORT OF GIFT SEALING THE AGREEMENT, UNTIL HE KNEW THE OUTCOME OF HIS MEETING WITH THE NEARER RELATIVE.
BOAZ ACTED RESPONSIBLY TOWARDS RUTH IN FOUR SPECIFIC WAYS:
FIRST - HE DID NOT TELL HER TO LEAVE AND GO HOME IN THE DARK, THUS EXPOSING HER TO DANGER.
SECOND - HE DID NOT TOUCH HER UNTIL SHE WOULD BE RIGHTFULLY HIS.
THIRD - HE PROTECTED THE RIGHTS OF THE KINSMAN THAT WAS A NEARER RELATIVE TO THE DECEASED ELIMELECH THAN HIMSELF.
FOURTH - HE VOWED TO RESOLVE THIS MATTER WITHIN HOURS AND ACCEPT THE RESULTS HOWEVER IT TURNED OUT.
BUT BOAZ WAS NOT YET THROUGH WITH HIS KINDNESS; HE INSTRUCTED RUTH TO USE HER SHAWL (PROBABLY THE SIMLAH OUTER GARMENT SHE WEARING) AND TO GRAB HOLD OF THE EDGE OF IT. AND INTO IT HE DUMPED 6 MEASURES OF BARLEY GRAIN FOR HER TO TAKE HOME TO NAOMI.
And when Ruth got back to town, Naomi asked her what had happened, and Ruth told her everything. She also said, “Boaz gave me this grain, because he didn’t want me to come back without something for you too.”
“Just be patient my daughter and don’t worry about what will happen”, Naomi said, “Boaz won’t rest until everything is settled today!”
In the meanwhile, Boaz had gone to the meeting place at the town gate and was sitting there when the other redeemer (close relative) came by. So Boaz invited him to come over and sit down, and he did. Then Boaz got ten of the town leaders and also asked them to sit down too, before speaking to the man, “Naomi has come back from Moab and is selling the land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. I’m just letting you know, since you’re his closest relative and have the right to buy the property back first. If you want it, you can buy it back (redeem it) now and these ten men and the others standing here will be our witnesses. But if you don’t want the property, let me know, cause I’m next in line mate".
And the man replied, “Ok, I’ll buy it!”
“Ok no worries, but there’s one hitch. If you do buy the land from Naomi . . .
. . . you must also marry her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth, so that you can give her son, and the property will stay in the family of Ruth’s first husband Mahlon.”
“Oh, well nah mate. If that’s the case, I don’t want to buy it! That would really stuff me around big-time and make all sorts of problems with my property portfolio". MEANING THIS PROPERTY WOULD THEN HAVE TO BE SHARED WITH RUTH AND HER CHILDREN AS WELL AS WITH HIS OWN FAMILY AS AN INHERITANCE ... (REMEMBER HOW ONAN FELT ABOUT THAT TOO).
“So .. ah yeah … thanks but no thanks, she’s all yours mate, you go ahead and good luck with all that … I’m out!”
PLEASE TAKE NOTE HOW THIS WHOLE MATTER SUDDENLY SHIFTS FROM RUTH TO NAOMI. WHILE RUTH WAS THE CENTRAL FEMALE CHARACTER AND THE BOOK’S NAMESAKE, IN FACT THIS WHOLE STORY IS ABOUT COMING TO A RESOLUTION TO SOLVE NAOMI’S PROBLEM. IT’S JUST THAT IN MANY WAYS RUTH WAS NAOMI’S SOLUTION.
THE PROBLEM IS THIS: HAD NAOMI ALREADY SOLD THE LAND TO SOMEONE OR WAS IT THAT SHE INTENDED TO SELL THE LAND AND THIS IS AT LEAST PART OF WHAT WAS GOING ON HERE AT THE CITY GATE? A MEMBER OF ANOTHER CLAN (LIKELY ANOTHER CLAN OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH) CURRENTLY HOLDS POSSESSION OF ELIMELECH’S LAND.
NAOMI HAS RETURNED FROM MOAB AS CHILDLESS WIDOW AND NOW PUSHES THE ISSUE OF HOW TO GET THE LAND RETURNED TO THE CLAN, AND IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, TO HER (TECHNICALLY ELIMELECH’S) FAMILY. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS ISSUE IS FULLY RECOGNISED BY ALL THE COMMUNITY OF BETHLEHEM, AND SO IS NAOMI’S PLIGHT.
May the children you have by this young woman make your family as famous as the family of Perez, the son Tamar gave Judah".
IT IS AN INTERESTING CHOICE OF WOMEN’S NAMES TO INVOKE BECAUSE RACHAEL AND LEAH HAD SOMETHING IN COMMON WITH RUTH: THEY WERE ALL GENTILES (FROM THE OUTSIDE NATIONS) BEFORE THEIR HEBREW HUSBANDS MARRIED THEM. IT’S HARD TO GET AWAY FROM THE FACT THAT GENTILES ALWAYS PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN BUILDING UP OF THE NATION OF YISHARAL AND IN THEIR REDEMPTION. IN FACT, WHEN EVEN THE NAME OF TAMAR IS MENTIONED AS THE MOTHER OF PERETZ (JUDAH BEING THE FATHER) SHE TOO WAS A GENTILE WOMAN. AND PERETZ IS MENTIONED BECAUSE HE WAS AN ANCESTOR OF BOAZ. THERE'S ALSO THE CANAANITE RAHAB, WHO WAS BOAZ'S MOTHER.
To make a sale legal in those days, one person would take off a sandal and give it to the other. So after the man had agreed to let Boaz buy the property, he took off one of his sandals and handed it to Boaz, who told the town leaders and everyone else, “All of you are witnesses that today I’ve bought from Naomi the property that belonged to Elimelech and his two sons, Chilion and Mahlon. You’re also witnesses that I have agreed to marry Mahlon’s widow Ruth, the Moabitess. This will keep the property in his family’s name, and keep the name and memory of the dead remembered in this town".
Then the town leaders and the others standing there said: “Woot woot, we are witnesses to this. May Yahuah give your wife many children, just as he did Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob. May you be a rich man in the Tribe of Ephrath and an important man in Bethlehem . . .
So Boaz married Ruth, and Yahusha blessed her with a son. After his birth, the women said to Naomi, “Praise Yahuah! For today He’s given you a redeemer and a grandson to take care of you. May that boy grow up to be famous everywhere in Yisharal. He will make you happy and take care of you in your old age, because he is the son of your daughter-in-law, and she loves you more than seven sons of your own would love you.
And Naomi put the boy to her chest and nursed him and loved him, and the neighbourhood women named him Obed, and he became the father of Jesse, who later became the father of King David.
So here is a list of the ancestors of David: Jesse, Obed, Boaz, Salmon, Nahshon, Amminadab, Ram, Hezron, and Perez.
NOW THE CHALLENGES OF THIS FINAL CHAPTER OF RUTH DON’T END WITH THE LEGAL PROCEEDINGS AT THE CITY GATE OF BETHLEHEM, BECAUSE IN STACCATO FASHION WE’RE TOLD BOAZ AND RUTH HAD THE SON THAT WAS NEEDED TO KEEP THE LINE OF MACHLON ALIVE AND IN DOING SO ALSO KEPT THE LINE OF ELIMELECH FROM COMING TO A DEAD END. BUT WHY IS THIS SON OF RUTH SEEN BY THE WOMEN OF BETHLEHEM AS A REDEEMER FOR NAOMI!
IT SAYS THAT IT WAS THESE SAME WOMEN OF BETHLEHEM WHO NAMED NAOMI’S SON! DID YOU GET THAT? NOT RUTH’S SON BUT NAOMI’S. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT NOWHERE IN THE SCRIPTURE DO WE FIND ANYONE BUT THE MOTHER, AND PERHAPS THE FATHER IN A COUPLE OF INSTANCES, GIVING THEIR OWN CHILD ITS NAME. NEIGHBOURS NAMING YOUR CHILD WAS UNHEARD OF. BUT YOU SEE, THAT IS WHAT IS SO FANTASTIC ABOUT THE BOOK OF RUTH. THE WHOLE COMMUNITY KNEW THAT IN SOME STRANGE WAY THE MARRIAGE OF RUTH AND BOAZ AND THE RESULTANT FIRST SON WAS FAR MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN MERELY CONCERNING THE PRIVATE FAMILY MATTER OF RESTORING THE ELIMELECH CLAN LINE.
THIS MATTER WAS PROFOUND AND FAR-REACHING IN WAYS THAT THEY COULD SENSE WOULD AFFECT THEM ALL, BUT THEY DIDN’T KNOW HOW. AND OF COURSE IN RETROSPECT WE KNOW THAT THIS SON WENT ON TO BE THE GRANDFATHER OF THE FUTURE KING DAVID, AND FROM DAVID’S LINE CAME THE EVEN MORE FUTURE REDEEMER OF THE ENTIRE WORLD, YAHUSHA OF NAZARETH.
THE REFERENCE TO THE FIRST SON OF RUTH AS BEING NAOMI’S SON IS MERELY A COMMON WAY OF SPEAKING ON A NUMBER OF LEVELS FROM THAT ERA. FIRST THE WORD FOR SON IS BEN AND ONE OF ITS MANY AND VARIED USES IS AS “GRANDSON”. BUT ON ANOTHER LEVEL THIS GRANDSON MORE OR LESS LEGALLY REPLACED NAOMI’S DECEASED SON MACHLON. AND ON YET ANOTHER LEVEL, SINCE NAOMI WAS THE WIDOW OF THE DECEASED ELIMELECH, BY THE LEGAL FICTION OF DESIGNATING THIS MALE CHILD OF RUTH AS NAOMI’S SON IT ALSO MADE HIM ELIMELECH’S SON, AND THUS ESTABLISHING THE PROPER HEIR OF ELIMELECH’S LINE.
THE BOOK ENDS WITH OBED’S DESCENDANTS, BUT FIRST TRACES HIS ANCESTORS BACK TO PERETZ, SON OF JUDAH BY TAMAR. AGAIN NOTICE: THE MESSIANIC LINE BEGINS WITH A GENTILE WOMAN (TAMAR), AND THEN MAKES A SIGNIFICANT TURN WITH YET ANOTHER GENTILE WOMAN, RUTH. OF COURSE BOTH OF THESE GENTILE WOMEN ARE DRAWN IN TO THE COMMUNITY OF SET APART PEOPLE, YISHARAL, IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. OBED IS THE FATHER OF YISHAI (JESSE), AND JESSIE IS THE FATHER OF DAVID. THUS THE VALIDITY OF KING DAVID’S LINE AND RIGHT TO THRONE IS ESTABLISHED BY MEANS OF THE STORY OF RUTH, AND THE EXPECTATION OF A MYSTERIOUS REDEEMER THAT WOULD EFFECT NOT JUST ELIMELECH’S LINE BUT THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY IS PRESENTED.
BUT LET’S NOT LET THIS AMAZING CONNECTION ZOOM BY US EITHER - THE SON OF RUTH, THE ONE WHO REDEEMS, WAS BORN IN BETHLEHEM AND THEN PERHAPS 125 YEARS LATER THAT SON’S GRANDCHILD, KING DAVID, WOULD ALSO BE BORN IN BETHLEHEM. AND THEN 1000 YEARS AFTER THAT, JOSEPH AND MIRIAM WHO LIVED FAR TO THE NORTH IN NAZARETH OF THE GALILEE FOUND THEMSELVES IN BETHLEHEM FOR A FEW DAYS AND THERE, IN THE SAME PLACE THAT OBED AND DAVID WERE BROUGHT INTO THIS WORLD, SO WAS YAHUSHA THE MESSIAH.
ARE YAHUSHA’S LIVING WORDS AND PURPOSES AMAZING OR WHAT?
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT HE WILL BRING ALL THINGS TO THE GOOD IF WE TRUST AND OBEY HIM AND ALLOW HIM TO TRAIN AND TRANSFORM US? EVERY SINGLE CALAMITY AND CONSEQUENCE CAN BE TURNED AROUND IN A HEARTBEAT BY YOUR FATHER WHO LOVES YOU SO VERY MUCH. EVEN YEARS OF WASTED TIME ISN'T REALLY A WASTE FOR THROUGH IT ALL YAHUSHA HAS BEEN CALLING YOU AND LEADING YOU, SHOWING YOU THAT HE TRULY IS FAITHFUL AND KIND TO DO WHAT HE SAYS HE WILL DO . . . FINISH THE WORK IN YOU THAT HE STARTED MANY YEARS AGO, AND ALLOW YOU TO BRING FORTH FRUIT AT ANY AGE. METAMORPHOSIS ISN'T EASY, IT'S PAIN, AGONY AND EXAUSTION, BUT THROUGH THE POWER OF THE ETERNAL CREATOR, WE WILL BE PERFECTED AND TRANSFORMED . . . SO KEEP GOING !