Ruth



by Ken Cayce



Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


Copyright



Table of Contents



Introduction

Chapters




Introduction


Back to Table of Contents




Ruth Explained





Go To Ruth Index

Book of Ruth Explained

Title: Ancient versions and modern translations consistently entitle this book after Ruth the Moabitess heroine, who is mentioned by name 12 times (1:4 - 4:13). Only two Old Testament books receive their names from women, Ruth and Esther. The Old Testament does not again refer to Ruth, while the New Testament mentions her just once, in the context of Christ's genealogy (Matt. 1:5; compare Ruth 4:18-22). "Ruth" most likely comes from a Moabite and/or Hebrew word meaning "friendship." Ruth arrived in Beth-lehem as a foreigner (2:10), became a maidservant (2:13), married wealthy Boaz (4:13), and was included in the physical lineage of Christ (Matt. 1:5).


The Book of Ruth derives its name from its principal character. The biographical sketch of this godly young Moabitess contains much information concerning the customs of the ancient Near East and provides its readers with some valuable data regarding the ancestry of King David. It also demonstrates God's gracious concern for all mankind, Jew and Gentile alike. The book was read at the Feast of Pentecost.


All 85 verses of Ruth have been accepted as canonical by the Jews. Along with Song of Solomon, Esther, Ecclesiastes and Lamentations, Ruth stands with the Old Testament books of the Megilloth or "five scrolls." Rabbis read these books in the synagogue on 5 special occasions during the year, Ruth being read at Pentecost due to the harvest scenes of Ruth (chapters 2 and 3).


Authorship: Jewish tradition credits Samuel as the author, which is plausible since he did not die (1 Sam. 25:1), until after he had anointed David as God's chosen king (1 Sam. 16:6-13). However, neither internal features nor external testimony conclusively identify the writer. This exquisite story most likely appeared shortly before or during David's reign in Israel (1011 - 971 B.C.), since David is mentioned (4:17, 22), but not Solomon. Goethe reportedly labeled this piece of anonymous but unexcelled literature as "the loveliest, complete work on a small scale". What Venus is to statuary and the Mona Lisa is to paintings, Ruth is to literature.


The author has many purposes.


1. Historically, he provides information as to certain activities and customs in the period of the judges.


2. Theologically, the book emphasizes the sovereign activity of God's providential working in the affairs of man. Not only does God's promise to the seed of Abraham go on through the troubled time of the judges, but He so arranges the details of earth's history and the chosen line to include salvation for Gentiles as well. Ruth then provides an important link in the unfolding messianic genealogy.


3. Devotionally, the book provides several analogies between the work of the kinsman-redeemer of ancient Israel and that of Jesus Christ, who serves as the saving Mediator for all men. It also assures the believer of God's continuing love for a helpless mankind and of His willingness to meet man's needs.


Historical Setting: The opening verse places the book in the era of the judges, at a time of a great famine. Such a condition existed in the days of the Midianite oppression (Judges 6:3-6). If this was the occasion spoken of in the Book of Ruth, a date in the middle of the twelfth century B.C. would be distinctly possible for the events narrated here. Besides the opening statement of the book, the internal evidence reveals an intimate acquaintance with ancient Hebrew and Near Eastern social customs (chapters three and four). This data argues strongly for an early date. Moreover, Jewish canonical tradition links (Judges and Ruth), together as one book, again pointing to an early date. Thus seen, the Book of Ruth provides its readers with a light of spiritual faithfulness in a period of otherwise spiritual darkness.


Genealogically, Ruth looks back almost 900 years to events in the time of Jacob (4:11) and forward about 100 years to the coming reign of David (4:17, 22). While Joshua and Judges emphasize the legacy of the nation and their land of promise, Ruth focuses on the lineage of David back to the patriarchal era.


At least 7 major theological themes emerge in Ruth.


1. Ruth the Moabitess illustrates that God's redemptive plan extended beyond the Jews to Gentiles (2:12).


2. Ruth demonstrates that women are co-heirs with men of God's salvation grace (compare Gal. 3:28).


3. Ruth portrays the virtuous woman of (Prov. 31:10; compare 3:11).


4. Ruth describes God's sovereign (1:6; 4:13), and providential care (2:3), of seemingly unimportant people at apparently insignificant times which later prove to be monumentally crucial to accomplishing God' will.


5. Ruth along with Tamar (Gen. Chapter 38), Rehab (Joshua chapter 2), and Bath-sheba (2 Sam. chapters 11 and 12), stand in the genealogy of the messianic line (4:17, 22; compare Matt. 1:5).


6. Boaz, as a type of Christ, becomes Ruth's kinsman-redeemer (4:1-12).


7. David's right (and thus Christ's right), to the throne of Israel is traced back to Judah (4:18-22; compare Gen. 49:8-12).


Background - Setting: Aside from Beth-lehem (1:1), Moab (the perennial enemy of Israel, which was east of the Dead Sea), stands as the only other mentioned geographic/national entity (1:1-2). This country originated when Lot fathered Moab by an incestuous union with his oldest daughter (Gen 19:37). Centuries later the Jews encountered opposition from Balak, king of Moab, through the prophet Balaam (Num. chapters 22-25). For 18 years Moab oppressed Israel during the time of the judges (3:12-30). Saul defeated the Moabites (1 Sam. 14:47), while David seemed to enjoy a peaceful relationship with them (1 Sam. 22:3-4). Later, Moab again troubled Israel (2 Kings 3:5-27; Ezra 9:1). Because of Moab's idolatrous worship of Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7, 33; 2 Kings 23:13), and its opposition to Israel, God cursed Moab (Isa. Chapters 15 and 16; Jer. chapter 48; Ezek. 25:8-11; Amos 2:1-3).


The story of Ruth occurred in the days "when the judges governed" Israel (1:1; ca 1370 to 1041 B.C.; Judges 2:16-19), and thus bridges time from the judges to Israel's monarchy. God used "a famine in the land" of Judah (1:1), to set in motion this beautiful drama, although the famine does not receive mention in judges, which causes difficulty in dating the events of Ruth. However, by working backward in time from the well-known date of David's reign (1011 - 971 B.C.), the time period of Ruth would most likely be during the judgeship of Jair (ca 1126 - 1105 B.C.; Judges 10:3-5).


Ruth covers about 11 or 12 years according to the following scenario.


1. Verses 1:1-18, ten years in Moab (1:4);


2. Verses 1:19 - 2:23, several months (mid-April to mid-June), in Boaz's field (1:22; 2:23);


3. Verses 3:1-18, one day in Beth-lehem and one night at the threshing floor; and


4. Verses 4:1-22, about one year in Beth-lehem.


An exciting story of true romance, the book also gives instruction in practical living in such things as personal morality, a genuine concern for the needs of others, and the necessity for personal godliness in the face of testing and adversity. A great deal of helpful information for today's Christian woman may also be found in the example of Ruth, whose virtues of godliness, purity, humility, honesty, fidelity and thoughtfulness remain an exemplary standard for all. Similarly, Boaz becomes for the Christian man a model of God-given strength, honor, graciousness, courtesy and compassion; that can give encouragement for becoming a believing gentleman in the finest sense of the word.





Chapters


Back to Table of Contents




Chapter Selection



Chapters



Back to Table of Contents



Ruth 1
Ruth 2
Ruth 3
Ruth 4

Ruth 1



Ruth Chapter 1

The book of Ruth is set during the time of the judges. This is a book of the history of Israel. This is one of the two books in the Bible where a woman is the main character. Most people believe that Samuel penned the book of Ruth. Again, the penman is not important. God is the author. In this story, we see that Jesus is descended from the Jew and the Gentile, because Ruth is a Moabite woman. The teaching in Ruth is the near-kinsman redeemer. This book begins with a famine in the land. This famine seemed to be extremely widespread. God had forbidden the Hebrews to intermarry with the Moabites.


Many believe the book of Ruth to be the most beautiful love story in the Bible. Some of the quotes from this book are used in marriages. The favorite quotation, however is not stated to a man by a woman. It is Ruth speaking to Naomi.


Ruth 1:16 "And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, [or] to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people [shall be] my people, and thy God my God:"


The near-kinsman redeemer law is found (in Deuteronomy).


Deuteronomy 25:5 "If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her."


There is much more to it than this one verse, but you get the idea.


It is strange, to me, that Boaz's mother was Rahab, the harlot, from Jericho (Gentile), that befriended Israel. Ruth was a Moabite which was a Gentile. Ruth and Boaz are in the lineage of Jesus. It is interesting, to me, that these two Gentiles by birth were ancestors of Jesus. Their son was Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.


Verses 1-2: "Beth-lehem", which is located in the center of fertile farmland, means "house of bread." This reference unveils the relationship between history and prophecy regarding Christ's incarnation: during the apostasy and lawlessness of the period of the judges. (Judges 21:25), God was working behind the scenes, preparing the ancestral line of Jesus from the Old Testament to the New Testament (4:17-22; Matt. 1:5; Luke 2:4).


The introduction to Ruth (in verses 1-5), sets in motion the following events, which culminate in Obed's birth and his relationship to the Davidic line of Christ.


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 Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons."


"Famine": This disaster sounds similar to the days of Abraham (Gen. chapter 12), Isaac (Gen. chapter 26), and Jacob (Gen. chapter 46). The text does not specify whether or not this famine was God's judgment (1 Kings chapters 17 and 18, especially 18:2).


Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord sometimes used famine to judge a nation or to get His people's attention. This seems the case here, because the famine in "Judah" was localized (the area of Moab, which had food, is only 55 miles from Beth-lehem). Instead of trusting God to provide food, Elimelech tried to solve the problem by moving his wife, Naomi, and their two sons to "Moab", thus violating the meaning of his name, "My God is King."


Such a famine may have occurred in the days of Gideon (Judges 6:3-6).


"Beth-lehem-judah": Beth-lehem ("house of bread") lies in the territory given to the tribe of Judah (Joshua chapter 15), about 6 miles south of Jerusalem. Rachel, the wife of Jacob, was buried nearby (Gen. 35:19; 4:11). Bethle-hem eventually received the title "city of David" (Luke 2:4, 11). Later, Mary delivered Christ (Luke 2:4-7; Micah 5:2), and Herod slaughtered the infants here (Matt. 2:16). This title (Judges 17:7, 9; 19:1-2, 18) serves to distinguish it from Bethlehem of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15).


"Sojourn": Elimelech intended to live temporarily in Moab as a resident alien until the famine passed.


"Moab" was situated along the eastern border of the Dead Sea, on the plateau between the Dead Sea and the Arabian Desert. It was about 35 miles long and 25 miles wide. Although primarily a high plateau, Moab also had mountainous areas and deep gorges. It was a fertile area for crops and herds. The nation of Edom was to the south and west of Moab, and to its north was Ammon. The tribe of Reuben displaced the Moabites from the northern part of their territory after the Israelites invaded the land of Canaan. The tribe of Gad pushed the Ammonites eastward into the desert. Moab, the founder of the Moabites, was a son of Lot by incest (Gen. 19:30-38). Balak, the king of the Moabites, joined with the Midianites in hiring Balaam to curse Israel (Num. 22:1-20). Eglon, a king of Moab, oppressed Israel in the judges' period (Judges 3:12-30), and was killed by Ehud. Ruth was a Moabite and became an ancestor of King David and of Christ Himself (2:6; 4:13-22; Matt. 1:5-16). David conquered Moab (2 Sam. 8:2), and the Moabites remained subject to Israel until after Solomon's death. Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied Moab's defeat and subsequent destruction (Isa. chapters 15 and 16; Jer. chapter 48). Some of the Jews fled to Moab when Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C. (Jer. 40:11-12).


We see from this that they lived in Bethlehem, and a great famine came. To save their lives, they went to Moab where there was food. We know that God's plan was for them to come to Moab.


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 Beth-lehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there."


The term Ephrathite may refer to the traditional or aristocratic citizenry descended from the earlier inhabitants of Ephrath, which subsequently became Beth-lehem (Gen. 35:19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11; 1 Sam. 17:12; 1 Chron. 2:19, 24; Micah 5:2).


"Elimelech": His name means "my God is king," signifying a devout commitment to the God of Israel. Most likely, he was a prominent man in the community whose brothers might have included the unnamed close relative and Boaz (compare 4:3).


"Naomi" means pleasant.


"Mahlon" means sick and "Chilion" means pining. They were of the tribe of Ephraim, but living in Beth-lehem in the middle of Judah.


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


According to Josephus, after he had dwelt in the land ten years, and had married his two sons to Moabitish women. But, as Alshech observes, the text shows that while he was living they were not married to them, but after his death. And it is said of them only that they dwelt there about ten years. So that it is most probable that their father died quickly after he came into the land of Moab. No details, however, are given why Elimelech died. And Naomi was left, and her two sons; in a strange land. She without a husband, and they without a father.


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 about ten years."


"Ruth" was a Moabite who married Mahlon of the Judahite family of Elimelech. Widowed and childless she abandoned her family, country and faith to accompany her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Beth-lehem. Her radical actions continued as she secured food for herself and Naomi, and summoned the relative Boaz to be their redeemer according to God's Word (Deut. 25:5-10). After Boaz married her, she bore a son who became the grandfather of Judah's greatest king, David. The women of Beth-lehem exalted Ruth as the loving daughter-in-law who meant more to Naomi than seven sons, the ideal number, would have (4:15). Thus, her name later appears in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1:5). Her firm commitment, "Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God" (verse 16), brought a rich reward to the family, nation and ultimately all mankind. All of this occurred against the dark background of the judges' period, when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes," and when so few individuals really lived committed, faithful and godly lives.


Though the Moabites were an evil and despised Canaanite tribe, Elimelech and Naomi's sons, "Mahlon" and "Chilion," married women from there instead of returning to Beth-lehem to find Israelite wives. What began as a temporary journey to escape hardship became a decade of disobedience in which the family abandoned the land God gave them and settled into a new way of life.


Some of the great historians think that Elimelech had made the arrangements for the two sons to marry these Moabite women. These ten years could have been altogether, or it could have been after the two sons married the two Moabite women. We are not told. "Orpah" means stubborn. "Ruth" means a friendship.


Ruth 1:5 "And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband."


"The woman was left": Naomi, a widow in Moab whose two sons had died also, believed that the Lord had afflicted her with bitter days until she would die (1:13; 20-21). No reason for the death of these 3 men in her life is given. Ruth married Mahlon, and Orpah united with Chilion (4:10).


It seems that there were no children in either of these families. My own personal belief is that, God took these two men because they married Moabite women, which He had forbidden. This leaves Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.



Verses 6-22: The death of Elimelech and his two sons (1:3, 5), prepared the way for Naomi and Ruth to leave Orpah in Moab (1:6-14), and return together to Beth-lehem (1:15-22).


Ruth 1:6 "Then she 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 in giving them bread."


"The Lord had visited his people": Obviously, the Lord had sent rain to break the famine. The sovereignty of Jehovah on behalf of Israel permeates the pages of Ruth in several ways:


(1) Actually, for good (2:12; 4:12-14);


(2) Perceived by Naomi for bad (1:13, 21); and


(3) In the context of prayer/blessing (1:8-9, 17; 2:4, 12, 20; 3:10, 13; 4:11).


The return of physical prosperity only shadowed the reality of a coming spiritual prosperity through the line of David in the person of Christ.


The news that Beth-lehem's famine was over and God had once again "visited His people" (Luke 1:68), signified to Naomi that God had not forgotten His people, despite their rebellion against Him (Psalm 106:4; Ezek. 38:8). All that she lacked in Moab, she could find again at home. (Psalm 77:11).


Naomi has heard that the famine in Israel is over. Her home, like her husband's, was in Israel. Now that her husband and her sons are dead, she wants to go home. The word translated daughters-in law here, is literally, her brides. This is actually speaking of the brides of her sons.


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."


She went forth": "Naomi had friends (1:19), family (2:1), and prosperity (4:3), awaiting her in Beth-lehem.


"She went forth out of the place where she was" is a clear illustration of repentance. Repentance means to reverse your direction. Naomi left the place where she was, to "return" to the place where she belonged (Gen. 13:1-4; 35:1; Isa. 55:7).


It seems at this point that, her daughters-in-law were with her.



Verses 8-13: The word translated "kindly" (hesed), means "loyal love" or "lovingkindness". Because the widowed Naomi had no other sons for her widowed "daughters-in-law" to marry, she asked God to extend His lovingkindness, or covenantal love, to Orpah and Ruth as they returned to Moab to find "husbands."


In (verses 8-10), Naomi graciously encouraged her two daughters-in-law to return to their homes (1:8), and to remarry (1:9), but they emotionally insisted on going to Jerusalem (1:10).


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."


When they were come, as it is very probable, to the utmost limits of the land of Moab, and to the borders of the land of Israel.


"Go, return each unto her mother's house": The mother's house is mentioned, and not the father's, not because they had no father living; for it is certain Ruth had a father as well as a mother (Ruth 2:11). But because mothers are most affectionate to their daughters, and they most conversant together. And because women in those times had apartments to themselves, and who used to take their daughters to them when they become widows. Though such was the strong love of those young widows to their mother-in-law that they chose rather to dwell with her, while she lived in Moab, than with their own mothers.


"The Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me": That is, with their husbands, who were dead. As the Targum is, that they refused to marry men after their death; or rather it respects their affectionate care of their husbands. And behavior towards them when living, as well as the respect they showed to their memory, at and since their death. And also their filial duty to her, both before and since. And particularly, as the Targum expresses it, in that they had fed and supported her.


It seems as if Orpah and Ruth had been really good to Naomi. The love they had for her sons seemed to be passed to Naomi, when the boys died. They seemed to have a good relationship with their mother-in-law.


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


A twofold blessing is invoked by Naomi on her daughters-in-law, made the more solemn by the twofold mention of the sacred name Jehovah. She prays first for the general blessing, that God will show them mercy, and secondly for the special blessing, that they may find rest and peace in a new home.


She knew the girls were still young and they would marry again. She spoke a blessing on them both in their new life. She in fact, spoke a blessing on their next marriage as well.


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


When they had eased themselves in cries and tears, and had recovered their speech.


"Surely we will return with thee unto thy people": To be proselyted, as the Targum; not only to dwell with them, but to worship with them.


They loved Naomi, and were willing to go with her back to Israel and her people.



Verses 11-13; Naomi selflessly reasoned a second time for their return, because she would be unable to provide them with new husbands (possibly in the spirit of a levirate marriage as described in Deut. 25:5-6). If Orpah and Ruth waited, they would most likely have become as old as Naomi was then before they could remarry (Gen. 38:11).


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?"


The Law of Moses provided for the custom of Levirate marriage by which a childless widow would be married by her husband's brother so as to raise up an heir for the deceased (Deut. 25:5-10). Because both of her sons were dead and she was not then pregnant, "Naomi" could offer her daughters-in-law no hope of protection via this custom. She therefore advises the girls to return to their own people. Naomi's thoughtfulness is underscored throughout the book.


Had there been any other sons of Naomi, the daughters-in-law could have claimed them for marriage, to keep the name of the dead husband alive. The first child of such a marriage would bear the name of the deceased. The truth is, there are no other sons. Naomi is old, and there probably will be no more sons.


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


This she repeated still to try their affections to her, and especially whether there was any real love to the God of Israel, his people, and worship, but still proceeds upon the same topic.


"For I am too old to have a husband": And can never think of marrying again on account of age, nor can you surely ever think I should, at these years I am now arrived to.


"If I should say I have hope": Of marrying, and bearing children; suppose that.


"If I should have a husband also tonight": Be married to a man directly, suppose that.


"And should also bear sons": Conceive and bear, not female but male children. Allow that; all which are mere suppositions, and, could they be admitted, would not furnish out any reason why you should be desirous of going with me.


"I am too old": Naomi was probably over 50.


Ruth 1:13 "Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me."


It is not to be thought that they would tarry till she was married and had children, and then till these infants were grown up to men's estate, and be marriageable. For though Tamar tarried for Shelah, yet he was born, and of some years of age, though not a grown man (Gen. 38:11).


"Would ye stay for them from having husbands?" they were young widows, and it was fit they should marry again. And it could not be imagined that they would deny themselves having husbands, in expectation of any sons of hers.


"Nay, my daughters": I am well satisfied you will never tarry for them, nor deprive yourselves of such a benefit. It is unreasonable to suppose it.


"For it grieveth me much for your sakes": That she could be of no manner of service to them, either to give them husbands, or to support and maintain them, should they go with her. Or "I have exceedingly more bitterness than you"; her condition and circumstances were much worse than theirs; for though they had lost their husbands, she had lost both husband and children. Or it was more bitter and grievous to her to be separated from them, than it was for them to be separated from her. Her affection to them was as strong, or stronger than theirs to her; or they had friends in their own country that would be kind to them. But as for her, she was in deep poverty and distress, and when she came into her own country, knew not that she had any friends left to take any notice of her.


"The hand of the Lord": A figure of speech which describes the Lord's work. The Lord is spirit (John 4:24), and therefore does not have a literal hand.


Even if Naomi were married and were to conceive that very night, Oprah and Ruth would be old women before the sons would be old enough to marry. Naomi is feeling sorry for herself. She says that the LORD is gone out against her. She cannot see that the plan of God could still be working to help her.



Verses 14-18: The meaning of names plays a significant role in this narrative. At the moment of decision, "Orpah" allowed her relatives ("people"), and her false religion ("gods"), to determine her future, causing some rabbis to tease that she "turned her neck." By deciding to stay in Moab, she chose what seemed easy, returning to her old life and beliefs, and she is never mentioned again. In contrast, Ruth followed a God she did not yet know (and thy God my God"), into an uncertain future among potentially hostile strangers, and she became a matriarch in the lineage of Jesus. Decisions determine destiny.


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


"Ruth" (whose name means "friendship"), "clung" to Naomi. The word suggests committed, faithful cleaving within a deeply personal relationship. The same word is used biblically to describe how a husband should bond to his wife (Gen. 2:24), and a person to God (Deut. 10:20).


Orpah loves Naomi and does not want to leave, but she knows that what Naomi says is true. She wants to remarry, and she kisses Naomi and leaves to go back to her home. Ruth refuses to leave, and clings even harder to Naomi.


Ruth 1:15 "And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law."


At the second plea to return, Orpah turned back. Naomi pleaded with Ruth a third time to return.


"Her gods": Refers to Chemosh the chief Moabite deity who required child sacrifice (2 Kings 3:27), and other local deities.


It is not said here, who the god of Orpah is. We do know that Ruth loves the One True God. Naomi is doing everything she can to discourage Ruth from staying. She wants Ruth to be happy. It appears that Naomi loves Ruth as she would her own daughter, if she had one.



Verses 16-17: Ruth's faith and faithfulness are in evidence throughout the book, as expressed here in her commitment to Naomi's "God" as her own. Ruth's own concern for Naomi is bound by a strong oath made before the "Lord" Himself.


Ruth recited her hallmark expression of loyalty to Naomi and commitment to the family she married into.


Ruth 1:16 "And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, [or] to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people [shall be] my people, and thy God my God:"


"Thy God my God": This testimony evidenced Ruth's conversion from worshiping Chemosh to Jehovah of Israel (1 Thess. 1:9-10).


Ruth 1:17 "Where thou diest, 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."


"The Lord do so to me": Ruth's vow bore further testimony to her conversion. She followed the path first blazed by Abraham (Joshua 24:2).


Ruth had set her mind on going with Naomi, and nothing Naomi could say would discourage her. This is one of the dearest things anyone could say to another. Many ministers have the bride and groom at a wedding repeat these verses above to each other. Perhaps Ruth had learned to love God through the teachings of Naomi, since she speaks of God as Naomi's God. This is absolute dedication by Ruth for her mother-in-law. Ruth makes the strongest statement of all, when she says that she wants to be buried where Naomi is buried. She seals her statement by making God a witness of her statement. Nothing but death itself shall part Ruth and Naomi.


Ruth 1:18 "When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her."


"Left speaking unto her" simply means that Naomi accepted Ruth's decision.


Naomi has finally realized, that nothing she can say will change Ruth's mind.


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


"They were come to Beth-lehem": A trip from Moab (at least 60-75 miles), would have taken about 7-10 days. Having descended about 4,500 feet from Moab into the Jordan Valley, they then ascended 3,750 feet through the hills of Judea.


"All the city": Naomi had been well known in her prior residency (Ephrathites of Beth-lehem, 1:2). The question, "Is this Naomi?" most likely reflected the hard life of the last decade and the toll that it took on her appearance.


"Beth-lehem", Beth-lehem-judah, or Ephrath, or Ephratah, is located on the edge of the desert of Judah about five miles south of Jerusalem. It is situated on a rocky spur of the mountains of Judah about 2,500 feet above sea level just off the main road to Hebron and Egypt. Beth-lehem is surrounded by fertile fields, fig and olive orchards, and vineyards. The city was the burial place of Rachel, the wife of Jacob (Gen. 35:19). It was also the setting for much of the Book of Ruth. Beth-lehem was the ancestral home of King David (1 Sam. 17:12), and was rebuilt and fortified by King Rehoboam (2 Chron. 11:6). The prophet Micah predicted that Beth-lehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah (Micah 5:2), a prophecy quoted (in Matt. 2:6). Jesus was born in "the city of David," Beth-lehem. Christ, who is the Bread of Life, was cradled in a town whose name means "House of Bread."


We must remember that Naomi had been gone a very long time; at least ten years. Even though she had had so much sorrow and hardship, they still recognized Naomi. "Bethlehem" means house of bread. This had been the hometown that Naomi, her husband, and two sons had left from during the famine.



Verses 20-21: "Naomi" means "pleasant, lovely, and delightful".


"Mara" means "bitter in taste or experience."


She thought God was against her (1:13), and had "brought" her "home ... empty". Yet through Ruth, He providentially arranged events to redeem her (Psalms 119:71, 75), and to preserve her line for the coming Messiah.


In reality, Naomi had;


  1. A full harvest prospect;
  2. Ruth plus Boaz; and
  3. The hope of Gods future blessing.

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


The name "Naomi" carries with it the ideas of pleasantness and delight. Her great loss seemed to belie her name. Rather, her situation appeared to merit the name "Mara," meaning "Bitter." Naomi calls God by the well-known patriarchal name Shaddai, "The Almighty One" (Gen. 17:1; Job 5:17). Despite her sorrow, she acknowledges the sovereignty of God over her life.


"Mara" means bitter. It seems that Naomi had a tendency to look at the negative. There were some positive things that had happened to her. Ruth loved her greatly. She felt that God had dealt harshly with her. Sometimes we need to look at home for the reason. God chastens those He loves. Perhaps some of the problems came, because of their disobedience to God.


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?"


Of my husband and children, as the Targum; of children and riches, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi. Wherefore some Jewish writers blame her and her husband for going abroad at such a time, and ascribe it to a covetous disposition, and an unwillingness to relieve the poor that came to them in their distress. And therefore, got out of the way of them, on account of which they were punished, so Jarchi on (Ruth 1:1; see Judges 2:15). But this is said without any just cause or reason that appears.


"And the Lord hath brought me home again empty": Deprived of her husband, children, and substance; she acknowledges the hand of God in it, and seems not to murmur at it, but to submit to it quietly, and bear it patiently.


"Why then call ye me Naomi": When there is nothing pleasant and agreeable in me, nor in my circumstances.


"Seeing the Almighty hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? had borne witness that that was not a name suitable for her; or that she had sinned, and had not done what was well pleasing in his sight, as appeared by his afflicting her. She seemed therefore to be humbled under a sense of sin, and to consider afflictions as coming from the Lord on account of it, and submitted to his sovereign will. The affliction she means was the loss of her husband, children, and substance (see Job 10:17).


Truly she did have a husband and two sons with her when she went out, but she certainly did not come back empty. She had Ruth. She does not have material things, but is blessed to have the great unselfish love of Ruth.


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 Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest."


"Ruth the Moabitess" (this title also appears at 2:2, 21; 4:5, 10). Ruth stands out as a foretaste of future Gentile conversions (Romans Chapter 11).


Israel's "barley harvest" occurs in April and May. Naomi and Ruth returned at a time when God was again blessing His people. Naomi was soon to have a new beginning with God. It is never too late to start fresh with Him.


The barley harvest was the earliest of the harvest. It was generally around March when the barley was harvested. It also was the least expensive of the grain.


Ruth Chapter 1 Questions


1. What period of time is the book of Ruth set in?


2. This is one of the two books in the Bible where a __________ is the main character.


3. Who do many believe penned the book of Ruth?


4. In the story, we see that Jesus was descended from both _____ and __________.


5. Ruth is a __________ woman.


6. The teaching in Ruth is the _________ ___________ ___________.


7. God had forbidden the Hebrews to ______________ with the Moabites.


8. Many believe the book of Ruth to be the most beautiful _______ story in the Bible.


9. Where is the law of the near-kinsman redeemer found?


10. Who was Boaz's mother?


11. Who was the son of Ruth and Boaz?


12. Who was his son?


13. Obed was the father of ________.


14. Jesse was the father of ________.


15. During the time of verse 1, there was a _________ in the land.


16. Where did Naomi live at that time?


17. Who was her husband?


18. How many sons did she have?


19. What does "Elimelech" mean?


20. What does "Naomi" mean?


21. What happened to Elimelech?


22. Who were the brides of Naomi's sons?


23. How many years did they dwell with them?


24. What does "Orpah" mean?


25. What does "Ruth" mean?


26. What were the names of the sons of Naomi that died?


27. After the sons died, what did Naomi decide to do?


28. What did Naomi release her daughters-in-law to do?


29. What was the relationship between Naomi and the two girls?


30. What did Naomi do as a gesture of her love for these girls?


31. What good reason did Naomi give the girls for them going home and seeking husbands there?


32. Who did Naomi say had gone out against her?


33. Which of the girls took Naomi's advice, and went to her home?


34. What does the other do?


35. What answer does Ruth give Naomi in verses 16 and 17?


36. When is this very thing said between a man and a woman?


37. What does "Bethlehem" mean?


38. What is Naomi's name changed to?


39. What does this name mean?


40. God chastens those he ________.


41. Who does Naomi blame for her problems?





Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ruth Menu | Return to Bible Menu


Ruth 2



Ruth Chapter 2

"Kinsman of her husband": Possible as close as a brother of Elimelech (4:3), but if not, certainly within the tribe or clan. "A mighty man of wealth". Literally "a man of valor" (Judges 6:12; 11:1), who had unusual capacity to obtain and protect his property.


"Boaz": His name mean "in him is strength." He had never married or was a widower (1 Chron. 2:11-12; Matt. 1:5; Luke 3:32).


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


"Kinsman" is the marginal reading of the Hebrew text. The consonantal text indicates that "Boaz" was a close acquaintance. The point of the verse appears to be that Elimelech's relative was well-known both to "Naomi" and her husband. Only because Naomi was Elimelech's wife could Boaz qualify to become the "goel" (see the note on 3:9), so that Naomi could seek his help in the matter of her "husband's" estate. Boaz was a man of substance, having both personal wealth and an impeccable reputation.


"Boaz" was a wealthy landowner in Beth-lehem in Judah who lived "when the judges ruled" Israel (the twelfth century B.C.). He was kind to Ruth, a Moabite widow of his kinsman Mahlon, whose mother Naomi, was the sole survivor of an Ephrathite family. Boaz ultimately married Ruth and redeemed Naomi's land. Boaz's first son by Ruth, Obed, was pledged as Mahlon's, thus perpetuating the memory of the deceased upon his estate (Deut. 25:5-10). Obed was also deemed Boaz's first son and thus served to link Boaz's ancestry in the tribe of Judah to Obed's grandson, David the king. Boaz appears in the seventh position of David's genealogy (4:18-22; 1 Chron. 2:9-15), and is thus related to Jesus Christ David's greater son (Matt. 1:3-6; Luke 3:31-33).


Boaz, a relative of Naomi's deceased husband, Elimelech, was also a man of distinction and "wealth" (sometimes translated "valiant" or "mighty"), who would use his influence and resources to be God's special provision for Ruth.


In the last lesson, we found that Naomi takes her son's wife, Ruth, and returns to Bethlehem. This is a continuation of that. Boaz was a near kinsman of Elimelech. The name "Boaz" means in him is strength. It seems to have been a Hebrew name. It seems that Boaz was a wealthy man, but was also held in high esteem by the people of Bethlehem as well.


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


"Glean": The Mosaic Law commanded that the harvest should not be reaped to the corners nor the gleanings picked up (Lev. 19:9-10). Gleanings were stalks of grain left after the first cutting (compare 2:3, 7-8, 15, 17). These were dedicated to the needy, especially widows, orphans and strangers (Lev. 23:22; Deut. 24:19-21).


Because of God's heartfelt care for the underprivileged, He installed a provision in the Old Testament law that some grain would be left during the harvest so that the poor, the widowed, orphans, and strangers could "glean" the "heads" (Lev. 19:9-10; Deut. 24:19-22) to survive. God's people ought to care that much, too.


The right of the poor to pick up the grain left by the reapers was guaranteed by the Law of Moses (Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19).


We remember that, the Hebrews were never to harvest the last of the crop. They were to leave enough for the widows and orphans to glean. All the poor had the right, as well as the privilege of gleaning from the field after it was harvested. This was a humiliating experience, especially for Naomi, who had been a proud Hebrew herself. Perhaps that is why it is mentioned again, that Ruth was a Moabitess. She is a Moabitess by birth, but a Hebrew by marriage to a Hebrew. In this particular instance, the gleaning seemed to be of ears of corn. Ruth is not too concerned about what the workers feel, but wants to find favor in the owner of the field's sight. Ruth seeks and receives permission from Naomi to do this.


Ruth 2:3 "And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field [belonging] unto Boaz, who [was] of the kindred of Elimelech."


"She went, and came": Here was a classic example of God's providence at work.


"Part of the field" Possibly a large community field in which Boaz had a plot.


Ruth "happened" to come to the section of the "field" belonging to "Boaz." Naomi later recognized that this was through the providence of a gracious God (verse 20).


"Hap" is speaking of her good fortune. She was fortunate that she went to the field of Boaz to glean. This seems as if this was by chance, but we know the LORD arranged this circumstance.



Verses 4-17: Note throughout how Boaz manifested the spirit of the law in going beyond what the Mosaic legislation required by:


  1. Feeding Ruth (2:14);
  2. Letting Ruth glean among the sheaves (2:15; and
  3. Leaving extra grain for her to glean (2:16).

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


"The Lord be with you": This unusual labor practice speaks to the exceptional godliness of Boaz and his workers.


The fields were just out of Bethlehem. It seemed that Boaz lived in the city, but owned fields here, where Ruth was gleaning. Just by his greeting, we know that Boaz was a man of God. He was not cruel to his workers. They seemed to have a respect for him as well. They answered him "The LORD bless thee". This was an ideal relationship between the owner of the land and his workers.


Ruth 2:5 "Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel [is] this?"


To direct them their work, what part each was to do, and to see that they did it well. To take care for provisions for them, and to pay them their wages when their work was done. Josephus calls him that had the care of the field, and all things relative to it. The Jews say, he was set over two and forty persons, whom he had the command of.


"Whose damsel is this?" To whom does she belong? Of what family is she? Whose daughter is she? Or whose wife? For he thought, as Aben Ezra notes, that she was another man's wife. The Targum is, of what nation is she? Perhaps her dress might be somewhat different from that of the Israelite women.


Ruth has caught the eye of Boaz. We may safely assume from this, that Ruth was beautiful. She did not look like the other paupers in the field, and this is why he asked who she was. He thought she might be one of the Hebrews caught on bad times.


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


Who had taken a great deal of notice of Ruth, and had conversed with her, and so was capable of giving answers to his master's question.


"It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi, out of the country of Moab": Perhaps he had not got knowledge of her name, and therefore only describes her by the country from whence she came. And by her coming from thence along with Naomi, when she returned from Moab, with whose name Boaz was well acquainted, and of whose return he had been informed. And perhaps had seen her in person, and even Ruth also, though he might have forgot her. The Targum makes the servant to add, that she was become a proselytess.


Probably, word had gotten to Boaz that Naomi had brought a beautiful damsel back with her from Moab. Now Boaz has seen her with his own eyes. Perhaps Ruth had told the servant in charge who she was, as he probably made it his business to know who was gleaning in his master's field.



Verses 7, 17: Morning ... evening": Ruth proved to be diligent in her care for Naomi.


Ruth 2:7 And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.


"Sheaves": Bundles of grain stalks tied together for transport to the threshing floor.


"The house": Most likely a temporary shelter built with branches by the side of the field (3:18).


We see from this that, she had asked permission to glean. She had worked diligently all morning gathering food for herself and for Naomi. It appears there were little huts (called a house here), where they went to rest after gleaning in the fields. It seems Ruth spent very little time in this house as she worked diligently.



Verses 8-16: First, Ruth found "refuge" under the protective "wings" of Yahweh, the God of Israel (2:12). Then He gave her Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer, and she came under his protective covering.


Ruth 2:8 "Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:"


"My daughter": Boaz was about 45-55 years old and a contemporary of Elimelech and Naomi. He would naturally see Ruth as a daughter (3:10-11), much like Naomi did (2:2, 22; 3:1, 16, 18). Boaz contrasted himself with younger men (3:10).


"My maidens": The ones who tied up the sheaves.


It seems that Boaz sought her out and spoke to her. She would not have been with the other harvesters. She would have been in the rear picking up what they had left. He had to seek her out specifically. "My daughter" was usually an expression of an older person for a young lady. It seems that Boaz immediately wanted to help this beautiful maiden, who was related to him by marriage. He tells her to not seek other places to glean. He wants to help her. She would be very near the young women, who were harvesting the corn. In fact, she would be the first to glean. This would be an advantage for her.


Ruth 2:9 "[Let] thine eyes [be] on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged 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."


"Young men": The ones who cut the grain with hand sickles (2:21).


It seems that Boaz, has given orders to the young men not to touch Ruth. She is to drink of the water they have drawn. She is not to be treated with disrespect by anyone. She is Boaz's kins-woman. She is to stay near the women harvesters. It appears that Boaz has already taken an interest in Ruth.



Verses 10-11: Ruth "found favor" in Boaz's eyes because she had previously found favor in God's eyes.


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, seeing I [am] a stranger?"


"A foreigner": Ruth remained ever mindful that she was an alien and, as such, must conduct herself humbly. Possibly she had knowledge of (Deut. 23:3-4). She acknowledged the grace (literally "favor") of Boaz.


She humbly says she does not understand why he has chosen her to bless. She bows herself before him to show her humbleness. She realizes that Boaz is showing her special favor. She has never met him before, so it is difficult for her to understand.


Ruth 2:11 "And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been showed 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, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore."


"Fully been showed me": This speaks to both Naomi's quickness to speak kindly of Ruth and Boaz's network of influence in Beth-lehem. Ruth remained true to her promise (1:16-17).


Besides her being a very beautiful woman, who caught his eye, he has great admiration for her attitude toward Naomi. He realizes that Ruth had given up much to come to this strange land to help her mother-in-law.



Verses 12-16: Boaz saw Ruth in her need, as a widow without resources and as a woman who had endured hardship, and blessed her (2:12). He then welcomed this impoverished, despised foreigner by personally giving her his food, demonstrating to any onlooker that Ruth should be treated with respect and kindness. He further provided for her by telling his workers to "purposely" leave extra gleanings for her. His actions revealed Boaz as a man of pity, of prayer, of provision and of protection.


Ruth 2:12 "The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust."


Boaz's appreciation of Ruth's kindness strikes a similar chord in his own feelings. He recognizes his opportunity to give protection and provision as would the "God" in whom this young Moabitess had only recently "come to trust."


"Wings ... come to trust": Scripture pictures God as catching Israel up on His wings in the Exodus (Exodus 19:4; Deut. 32:11). God is here portrayed as a mother bird sheltering the young and fragile with her wings (Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:1, 4). Boaz blessed Ruth in light of her newfound commitment to and dependence on the Lord. Later, he would become God's answer to this prayer (compare 3:9).


Boaz is aware and is telling the beautiful maiden, that God is with her. He knows that God is blessing Ruth in every way. It appears to me, that Boaz has special feelings toward Ruth already. He not only thinks she is beautiful, but is appreciative of her character as well. Boaz speaks a blessing upon her when he says, "The LORD recompense thy work". One of the words that could have been translated here for recompense, is prosper. It seems that Ruth has learned to put her trust in the LORD.


Ruth 2:13 "Then she said, Let me find favor in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens."


Or rather, since she had found favor in his sight already. The words are to be considered, not as a wish for it, but as acknowledging it, and expressing her faith and confidence, that she should, for time to come, find favor in his sight, and have other instances of it. For so the words may be rendered, "Let me find favor", for which she gives the following reasons.


"For that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid": Had spoken in her commendation, and wished her all happiness here and hereafter. Said kind and comfortable words to her, to her very heart, as in (Isa. 40:2), which were cheering, refreshing, and reviving to her.


"Though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens": Not worthy to be one of them, or to be ranked with them, being meaner than the meanest of them, a poor widow, and a Moabitish woman. The Septuagint and Syriac versions leave out the negative particle, and read, "I shall be as one of thine handmaids".


She thought it was an advantage to be a handmaiden of so kind a person as Boaz. She wanted to please Boaz. She knew that he had power to help her and Naomi in their need. She also was not assuming that she would get the same treatment as the Hebrew handmaidens.


Ruth 2:14 "And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched [corn], and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left."


"Vinegar": Sour wine, mixed with a little oil, used to quench thirst.


This was an invitation to eat with Boaz and the reapers. She accepted and ate with them. It seemed at the meal, Boaz passed the parched corn to her to eat with the bread. She left as soon as the meal was over. The vinegar here is speaking of the sour wine.


Ruth 2:15 "And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:"


"Among the sheaves": Boaz granted her request (2:7), to go beyond the letter of the law.


Boaz was making sure that Ruth could get all she needed for herself and for Naomi. His instructions for her to be allowed to glean of the sheaves, was the place where there would be more to glean. It really was instructions so she would have no problems, regardless of where she gleaned. He is showing great partiality to Ruth.



Verses 16-19: "Boaz's" extraordinary goodness in seeing to it that Ruth had special privileges in the gleaning enabled her to gather several days' supply in complete safety. Her "mother-in-law" recognized that Ruth must have received distinct favor from someone and wanted to know his name.


Ruth 2:16 "And let fall also [some] of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave [them], that she may glean [them], and rebuke her not."


That is, when they had reaped a handful, instead of laying it in its proper order, to be taken up by those that gathered after them. Or by themselves, in order to be bound up in sheaves, scatter it about, or let it fall where they reaped it.


"And leave [them], that she may glean them, and rebuke her not": For taking them, as if she did a wrong thing.


He instructed his harvesters to leave some extra for her to pick up. Boaz is getting more and more generous to Ruth as the day goes on. The harvesters are instructed to make sure she has all she can carry.


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


An "ephah of barley equated to 22-30 pounds. This represents a tremendous amount of grain left in the field. Boaz's gracious generosity and Ruth's hard work (2:7) paid off.


They beat the grain with a stick, or beat it against a rock to get the barley out. An Ephah would be 3 pecks of grain. This would feed these two ladies for a good while. She did not quit until the job was done. She was industrious, as well as of good character.


Ruth 2:18 "And she took [it] up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed."


"She had reserved: Not the gleaned grain, but rather the lunch ration which Ruth did not eat (compare 2:14).


It seems, when Ruth had eaten the corn that Boaz had given her, she saved some back to take to Naomi to eat. She gave that to Naomi, and brought the ephah of barley as well.



Verses 19-20 That Boaz, a close relative, "did take notice of" Ruth, encouraged Naomi to think that the Lord had "not forsaken His kindness" to them after all. God always sends someone to be His representative in response to the needs of His children.


Ruth 2:19 "And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned today? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she showed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day [is] Boaz."


In what part of the field of Bethlehem? Or on whose land, that she had gleaned so much? Not that she suspected that she had got it in an illicit manner, but supposed she had been directed by the providence of God to a spot of ground where there was good gleaning. Or that she had met with some hand that had dropped ears of corn plentifully in her favor.


"And where wroughtest thou?" Which is the same question repeated in other words, and shows that gleaning is a work, and a hard work too. Closely followed, to be stooping and picking up ears of corn a whole day together.


"Blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee": She knew by the quantity of corn she brought home, that she must have had kindness shown her by somebody. And especially she knew it by the food she brought home, and therefore pronounced the man blessed, or wished him happiness, before she knew who he was. Though perhaps she might guess at him, or conjecture in her mind who it was that had taken notice of her.


"And she showed her mother in law with whom she had wrought": That is, with whose reapers, men and maidens, she had wrought, whom she followed in gleaning, they working in one sort of work, and she in another, yet in the same field.


"The man's name with whom I wrought today is Boaz": That is, in whose field, and with whose servants, she wrought. For Boaz wrought not himself, unless this can be understood of her eating and drinking with him. But the other sense is best.


The mother-in-law is so pleased with what Ruth has brought back, she wants to know the details of her gleaning. She is aware that Ruth was greatly blessed with so much from one day's gleaning. Naomi would well remember the name of Boaz. He was a close relative of her husband.


Ruth 2:20 "And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed [be] he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man [is] near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen."


"His kindness": Naomi began to understand God's sovereign working, covenant loyalty, lovingkindness and mercy toward her because Ruth, without human direction (2:3), found the near relative Boaz.


"One of our next kinsmen": The great kinsman-redeemer theme of Ruth begins here (3:9, 12; 4:1, 3, 6, 8, 14). A close relative could redeem;


  1. A family member sold into slavery (Lev. 25:47-49);
  2. Land which needed to be sold under economic hardship (Lev. 25:23-28); and/or
  3. The family name by virtue of a levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5-10).

This earthly custom pictures the reality of God the Redeemer doing a greater work (Psalms 19:14; 78:35; Isa. 41:14; 43:14), by reclaiming those who needed to be spiritually redeemed out of slavery to sin (Psalm 107:2; Isa. 62:12). Thus, Boaz pictures Christ, who as a Brother (Heb. 2:17), redeemed those who;


  1. Were slaves to sin (Rom. 6:15-18);
  2. Had lost all earthly possessions/privileges in the Fall (Gen. 3:17-19); and
  3. Had been alienated by sin from God (2 Cor. 5:18-21).

Boaz stands in the direct line of Christ (Matt. 1:5; Luke 3:32). This turn of events marks the point where Naomi's human emptiness (1:21), begins to be refilled by the Lord. Her night of earthly doubt has been broken by the dawning of new hope (Rom.8:28-39).


(See the note on 3:9).


Naomi speaks the blessing of God upon Boaz. She thinks Boaz has befriended Ruth in memory of her husband, Elimelech. She is undoubtedly aware that part of the reason he was so kind, is because he is struck by the beauty of Ruth. She is not only physically beautiful, but has inward beauty and manners as well. This is the first time that Ruth is aware that Boaz is their near-kinsman.


Ruth 2:21 "And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest."


Besides the favors he has shown me already, he has given me reason to expect more, for he has given me this strict order.


"Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest": Both barley harvest and wheat harvest; his will was, that she kept following them, and gleaned after them, as long as both harvests lasted. The Septuagint version is, "with my maidens", and which agrees with (Ruth 2:8), where the order of Boaz is expressed. And with the instructions of Naomi in the next verse, who so understood it; but if we understand it of young men here, there is no contradiction. For both young men and maidens wrought together in the same field, either in reaping or binding up. So that if she kept fast by the one, she also would do the same by the other.


Ruth hides nothing from Naomi. She tells her what Boaz said unto her. We see that Ruth was very pleased by the kindness Boaz has shown her. She appreciates him allowing her to come again and glean from the field, until harvest is over. She is especially pleased of being able to glean so near the harvesters, until the entire harvest is over. She will be able to get a great deal of needed food for herself and Naomi.


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 meet thee not in any other field."


"They meet thee not": Ruth the Moabitess would not be treated with such mercy and grace by strangers outside of the family.


Naomi realizes what Boaz is trying to do for them and encourages Ruth to stay and glean in that field, until harvest is completely over.


Ruth does just as her mother-in-law tells her. Naomi wants her to stay by the maidens to stay out of danger.


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


"The end of ... harvest": Barley harvest usually began about mid-April and wheat harvest extended to mid-June, a period of intense labor for about two months. This generally coincided with the seven weeks between Passover and the Fast of Weeks, i.e., Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-16; Deut. 16:9-12).


Ruth did just as she was instructed of Naomi. The wheat harvest would extend this harvesting by over a month. It appears that Ruth spent a lot of time in the field of Boaz. Perhaps Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz would all welcome the opportunity of a casual meeting now and then. Ruth would undoubtedly see him, as he came to inspect the fields. We are not told of any home visits, but it would have been in order, since he was a near relative. She lived with Naomi and gleaned for both of them.


Ruth Chapter 2 Questions


1. Who was the wealthy kinsman of Naomi's husband?


2. What does "Boaz" mean?


3. What did Ruth say to Naomi, that she wanted to do to get them something to eat?


4. What is Ruth called in verse 2?


5. What was gleaning?


6. Who was allowed to glean?


7. Ruth was a Moabitess by _________, but a Hebrew by _____________.


8. Who does Ruth want to find favor with?


9. What is "hap", in verse 3, speaking of?


10. Boaz came from _____________.


11. How did he greet his workers?


12. What did Boaz ask the servant that was over the reapers?


13. What can we safely assume about Ruth?


14. How did the servant answer Boaz?


15. She had asked permission to ________.


16. What does Boaz call Ruth in verse 8?


17. What does he tell her to do?


18. What instructions does Boaz give the young men about Ruth?


19. Who is Ruth to stay near?


20. What humble statement does Ruth make in verse 10?


21. What has been told Boaz that makes him admire Ruth?


22. What blessing does Boaz speak on Ruth?


23. What did Boaz invite her to eat with him?


24. What special favor did Boaz tell his young men to show Ruth?


25. How long did she glean in the field that day?


26. How much barley did she get?


27. What special thing had Ruth saved for Naomi?


28. What questions did Naomi ask Ruth about her gleaning?


29. When does Ruth become aware that Boaz is their near-kinsman?


30. What does Naomi tell Ruth to do?


31. How long did Ruth glean from Boaz's fields?


32. What were some advantages, besides the food, they all received from the extended gleaning?


33. She lived with _________.





Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ruth Menu | Return to Bible Menu


Ruth 3



Ruth Chapter 3

Verses 1-13: Because widows were usually destitute in biblical times, God provided for their well-being through Levirate law, in which the nearest relative would marry and care for a widow (Deut. 25:5-10).


Encouraged by Ruth's day in Boaz's field, Naomi instructed Ruth in the way she should go to insure a brighter future. Ruth carefully followed Naomi's directions to solicit redemption by Boaz, while the Lord had prepared Boaz to redeem Ruth. Only one potential obstacle remained, a relative nearer than Boaz.


Ruth 3:1 "Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?"


"Be well": Naomi felt responsible (just as she did in 1:9), for Ruth's future husband and home.


Naomi had great love for Ruth. She had worked hard to furnish a living for herself and Naomi. Ruth's mother-in-law wanted to see Ruth do well. She probably had seen Ruth and Boaz together from time to time on a friendship basis. She probably also, knew that they cared for each other.



Verses 2-6: Naomi's plan probably seemed illogical to Ruth, who did not understand Jewish laws and customs. Yet out of respect for her mother-in-law and her religion, Ruth promised to do everything Naomi instructed.


Ruth 3:2 "And now [is] not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshing floor."


"Threshing floor": Usually a large, hard area of earth or stone on the downwind (east), side of the village where threshing took place (loosening the grain from the straw and winnowing).


"To night": Winnowing (tossing grain into the air to finish separating the grain from the chaff), normally occurred in late afternoon when the Mediterranean winds prevailed. Sifting and bagging the grain would have carried out past dark, and Boaz may have remained all night to guard the grain from theft.


The "threshing floor" was a public area where animals trampled the barley heads to separate the grain from the chaff. Boaz slept there to protect his grain from thieves.


Naomi knows that Boaz will be at the threshing floor, because that is what they do at end of harvest. Boaz is their near-kinsman. Ruth's husband had died without having a child. The law of their land was that the brother would marry the wife, and give the first child the name of the dead brother. In this case, the brother is dead also. Boaz is the nearest of kin. This is found in (Deut. chapter 25:5-6). "Winnowing" was when the grain was thrown up in the air several times to separate it. This removed the chaff from the grain. They sometimes remained all night with their grain on the floor of the threshingfloor.



Verses 3-4: Naomi instructed Ruth;


  1. To put on her best appearance; and
  2. To propose marriage to Boaz by utilizing an ancient Near Eastern custom.

Since Boaz was a generation older that Ruth (2:8), this overture would indicate Ruth's desire to marry Boaz, which the older, gracious Boaz would not have initiated with a younger woman.


Ruth 3:3 "Wash thy self therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: [but] make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking."


As a bride prepares herself for marriage (see Ezek. 16:9).


"And anoint thee": Not with aromatic ointments, as great personages, both men and women, used as Aben Ezra notes, but with common oil. Ruth being a poor widow that she might look sleek and smooth.


"And put thy raiment upon thee": That is, her best raiment; for it cannot be supposed that she was now without clothes. Or else her ornaments as the Targum. Her mother-in-law advises her to put off her widow's weed. The time of mourning for her husband being perhaps at an end, and put on her ornamental dress she used to wear in her own country, and in her husband's lifetime. Jarchi interprets it of her Sabbath day clothes.


"And get thee down to the floor": To the threshing floor where Boaz was winnowing, and which it seems lay lower than the city of Bethlehem.


"But make not thyself known unto the man": Some understand it, that she should not make herself known to any man, not to any of the servants of Boaz. Who, though they knew her before, when in the habit of a gleaner, would not know her now in her best and finest clothes, unless she made herself known to them. But rather Boaz is meant, to whom it was not advisable to make herself known. And who also, for the same reason, though he might see her at supper time, might not know her because of her different dress. And the rather he is particularly intended, since it follows.


"Until he shall have done eating and drinking": When Naomi thought it would be the fittest time to make herself known unto him in order to gain the point in view, marriage with him.


Ruth was to prepare herself by washing and smelling good. She was to dress attractively, and go down to where Boaz was working. She was not to interrupt his work by letting him know she was there. She should wait out of sight, until all of the workers have eaten and gone to their respective homes for the night.


Ruth 3:4 "And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do."


On the threshingfloor, under the open air, in order to sleep, and take rest.


"That thou shall mark the place where he shall lie": The spot he shall lie on, and the direction in which he shall lie, whether east, west, etc. That when the light shall be taken away, and the darkness of the night come on, she might pretty easily find the place where he lay.


"And thou shall go in and uncover his feet, and lay thee down": Go into the threshingfloor, or to the place where he lay down and gently lay aside the covering upon his feet, whether a blanket, or rug, or his own long clothes, with which his feet were wrapped, and then lay herself down at his feet. This seems to be advised to, in order to give him a hint that there was somebody at his feet.


"And he will tell thee what thou shall do": Being a judge of Israel, and expert in the law, he would inform her whether he was the next kinsman, and had the right of redemption or not. And what methods must be taken, and what rites used, in order to her marriage with him, or another person.


This seems that Naomi has figured out a way to trap Boaz into marrying Ruth. I think Naomi has realized, during these months that Boaz has known Ruth, that they love each other. This particular marking of the spot where he lay, and also Ruth uncovering his feet has to do with him being her near-kinsman redeemer. She is making it clear to him that she wants to marry him. Boaz was possibly a bit shy in making his feelings about Ruth known, so Naomi has figured out a way for Ruth to show her feelings for Boaz. Boaz can accept her or reject her, as she lies down beside him. In their customs, it was not out of line for Ruth to expect him to become her husband. He is the nearest kin of her husband. We can assume from this, that Ruth already knew the feelings of Boaz, even if he had not expressed those feelings in words. It will now be up to Boaz to tell her to go or stay.


Ruth 3:5 "And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do."


Having the highest opinion of her piety and prudence, and being confident she would never advise her to what was contrary to true religion and virtue.


"All that thou sayest unto me I will do": Observe every instruction and direction she gave her, and attend strictly to every circumstance pointed out to her, as she did.


Ruth follows the advice of Naomi.


Ruth 3:6 "And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her."


From the city of Bethlehem, from her mother-in-law's house there, to the threshing floor of Boaz, which was at some distance from it, and lower.


"And did according to all that her mother in law bade her": Both before she went, and after. She washed and anointed herself, and put on her best clothes before she went down. And when she was there, taking care not to make herself known to any, especially to Boaz, and marked the place where he lay down after he had supped.


Ruth probably was not as familiar with the law of the near-kinsman redeemer as Naomi was. She followed Naomi's instructions exactly.



Verses 7-10: Ruth's actions at the threshing floor demonstrated her dependence on Boaz. Lying at Boaz's feet was an act of submission, a request that required him to decide whether or not to protect her. She made a bold marriage proposal, perhaps because Boaz's age prevented him from proposing to her (3:10), yet she did so humbly and honorably, in accordance with Jewish levirate law.


Ruth 3:7 "And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down."


"His heart was merry": Using the same language of 3:1 ("rest" ... "be well"), Boaz is described as having a sense of well-being which is most readily explained by the full harvest in contrast to previous years of famine (Judges 18:20; 1 Kings 21:7).


It appears that, after he had eaten and drunk he was tired and lay down to rest. He probably went to sleep. It appears that while he slept peacefully, Ruth slipped in. She uncovered his feet and lay down beside him.


Ruth 3:8 "And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet."


So long Boaz slept without knowledge of any person being at his feet, and so long Ruth had lain there. But awaking, and perceiving something at his feet, which pressed them, it made him look about and feel, and so affected him.


"That the man was afraid": Though a man, and a man of spirit, he was afraid, a panic seized him, not knowing but it might be a ghost, a spirit, or a demon.


"And turned himself": To see who it was.


"And, behold, a woman lay at his feet": Which he knew by putting his hand upon her head, as Jarchi thinks, and so knew her by her headdress, or vail. Or rather by her voice, as Aben Ezra.


When Boaz lay down, there was no one at his feet. He was startled when he realized someone had lain down at his feet. He realizes it is a woman. He would have been even more frightened, if this had not been Ruth.


Ruth 3:9 "And he said, Who [art] thou? And she answered, I [am] Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou [art] a near kinsman."


"Near kinsman" (Hebrew goel), designates one of the social institutions among the Hebrews. Two of his many family responsibilities are in evidence in the Book of Ruth.


  1. He was charged with redeeming family property that had been lost or was about to be lost by sale (4:3; compare Lev. 25:25-34);
  2. He was obligated to marry the widow of the deceased near relative so as to raise up children to the name of the dead (4:5; compare Deut. 25:5-10).

The law of near kinsman operated on the principle of degree of closeness of relationship. Boaz brings both duties to bear as one issue in the case of Ruth (4:3-5). Naomi's instructions to Ruth to seek out Boaz are apparently in accordance with social propriety in that the widow could initiate proceedings relative to the securing of the "goel". Ruth's request that Boaz "spread" his "skirt over thine handmaid" is a symbolic pledge of marriage (Ezek. 16:8-14). It reflects a well-known custom in the ancient Near East that is still practiced in some quarters. The Lord had so moved in the lives of Boaz and Ruth that the duties of family institutions were reinforced by a genuine love for one another. Accordingly, Boaz took special measure to see that no impropriety would mark the occasion (verses 11-14).


"Spread therefor thy skirt over thine handmaid": Ruth righteously appealed to Boaz, using the language of Boaz's earlier prayer (2:12), to marry her according to the levirate custom (Deut. 25:5-10).


In the dark he could not see who this was, so he asked? What a pleasant surprise for him, when he discovers this is Ruth. She is at his feet because she feels she is his handmaiden. He still can accept her, or reject her at his time. "The spreading of his skirt over her" would show he had accepted his duty as her near-kinsman. He would be her protector as her husband.


Ruth 3:10 "And he said, Blessed [be] thou of the LORD, my daughter: [for] thou hast showed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich."


"Kindness": Ruth's loyalty to Naomi, the Lord, and even Boaz is commended by Boaz.


"Not young men": Ruth demonstrated moral excellence in that;


  1. She did not engage in immorality;
  2. She did not remarry outside the family; and
  3. She had appealed for levirate redemption to an older, godly man.

He had observed that Ruth was not a loose woman. She had not sought a husband of the young men, whether rich or poor. He had great admiration as well as love for Ruth. He is saying that, the blessing that came upon him by her choosing him, was the greatest of the kindness she had shown. He was very pleased.


Ruth 3:11 "And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou [art] a virtuous woman."


"Virtuous": In all respects, Ruth personifies excellence (Psalm 31:10). The same language has been used of Boaz ("a man of great wealth" see 2:1 for meaning of wealth "valor"), thus making them the perfectly matched couple for an exemplary marriage.


Everyone was aware of the fact that Ruth was a virtuous woman. Ruth would have been a wonderful wife for anyone, because of her strength of character. Boaz is willing to accept her as his wife.


Ruth 3:12 "And now it is true that I [am thy] near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I."


"A kinsman nearer that I": Boaz righteously deferred to someone else who was nearer in relationship to Elimelech. The nearer relative may have been Boaz's older brother (4:3) or Boaz may had been his cousin. The fact that the neighbor women said "A son has been born to Naomi" at Obed's birth would suggest the brother or cousin relationship to Elimelech (4:17).


This is certainly not what Ruth wanted to hear. She wanted Boaz to be her husband. There is someone closer related than Boaz, however.


Ruth 3:13 "Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, [that] if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, [as] the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning."


"I will do the part of a kinsman to thee": Boaz willingly accepted Ruth's proposal, if the nearer relative was unable or unwilling to exercise his levirate duty.


"As the Lord liveth": The most solemn, binding oath an Israelite could vow.


Boaz and Ruth loved each other, and they wanted to marry. They had to live by the law God had given though. She spent the night with him, but did not become his wife that night. They would wait for the answer from the other near-kinsman.



Verses 14-17: Ruth left early in the morning so that no one would misunderstand what had taken place and dishonor either of them. Boaz further showed his care for Ruth by sending her home with more grain, not "empty-handed (1:21).


Ruth 3:14 "And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor."


"Lay at his feet": According to the text, no immorality occurred. Boaz even insisted on no appearance of evil.


She must leave early to keep her good name. No one was to know she spent the night at his feet on the threshing-floor. They each wanted to protect the honor of the other.


Ruth 3:15 "Also he said, Bring the veil that [thou hast] upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six [measures] of barley, and laid [it] on her: and she went into the city."


"Six measures": The Hebrew text gives no standard of measurement, but some translations use the word ephah. However, 6 ephahs would weigh about 200 pounds, far too much for Ruth to carry home in her shawl. Therefore, deemed most reasonable is 6 seahs (60-80 pounds), which would have been twice the amount Ruth had previously gleaned (see 2:17).


The veil here, was more like an apron than a face covering. Regardless of what it was, he filled it with barley for her to take back with her. The amount of barley was all she could conveniently carry.


Ruth 3:16 "And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who [art] thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her."


To Naomi, in Bethlehem.


"She said, who art thou, my daughter? It being near dusk, she could not discern her, or perhaps she put the question before she opened the door and saw her. Though one would think, if Ruth had called to her, she would have known her voice. Rather therefore the particle may be rendered, "what" or "how", instead of "who"; and the sense be, what had befallen her? What success had she had? How had things gone with her? Was she married or not? Or rather, had she got a promise of it? Or was it likely that she should be married? With which the answer agrees.


"And she told her all that the man had done to her. What kindness he had shown her, what promises he had made to her, and that either he, or a nearer kinsman, would marry her, and redeem her husband's estate.


Naomi asked her if she was now Boaz's wife. Ruth really did not know how to answer this, except to tell her exactly what happened.


Ruth 3:17 "And she said, These six [measures] of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law."


Which she laid down before her, which was a proof of his kindness to her, that she was acceptable to him, and had well sped. Of these six measures (see Ruth 3:15), which by some are allegorically interpreted of six blessings that should be bestowed upon her. As the spirit of wisdom, understanding, etc. (as Isa. 11:2), so Jarchi; or of six persons that should spring from her. As David, Daniel, and his companions, and the King Messiah, as the Targum.


"For he said unto me, go not empty unto thy mother in law": Which, as it expressed a regard to Naomi. And a compassionate concern for her support, so would give her assurance of the success Ruth met with, she would relate to her.


She had brought back all the barley she could carry, to show Naomi of his good intentions. Ruth had probably told Boaz of Naomi encouraging her to do this thing. He wanted to show appreciation to Naomi also. Naomi had approved of the possibility of Ruth being his wife.


Ruth 3:18 "Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day."


In times of waiting, often the best thing a person can do is to "sit still" and draw strength from God (Exodus 14:13; Psalm 46:10). As Boaz waited to discern God's will, Naomi and Ruth waited to discover it.


Naomi knew that Boaz was a man of integrity and would fulfill his promise with a sense of urgency. They needed to wait on the Lord to work through Boaz.


Naomi knows that Boaz will get this settled as quickly as possible, because he wants to marry Ruth. Ruth is undoubtedly a little concerned, because she wanted Boaz for a husband, not the other near-kinsman. Naomi feels in her heart that this will work out for Ruth and Boaz. She knows they love each other. She also knows that God blesses those who keeps his commandments. Boaz had already proved he was a godly man.


Ruth Chapter 3 Questions


1. Naomi had great love for _________.


2. She tells Ruth that Boaz is their __________.


3. Where would Boaz be that night?


4. What was the law of their land about a near kinsman?


5. What is "winnowing"?


6. What did Naomi tell Ruth to do to herself, before she goes to Boaz?


7. Why was she not to go in, until he had finished eating and drinking?


8. After Boaz went to sleep, what was Ruth to do?


9. Why is Naomi trying to get Boaz to marry Ruth?


10. How does Ruth answer these suggestions of Naomi?


11. When Boaz went to sleep, what did Ruth do?


12. When did Boaz wake up?


13. What did he realize, when he woke up?


14. What question did Boaz ask the woman at his feet?


15. What would "the spreading of his skirt over her" show?


16. What had Boaz noticed about Ruth's character?


17. He called her a __________ woman.


18. How did he feel about Ruth choosing him?


19. What bad news does Boaz give her in verse 12?


20. What does Boaz ask Ruth to do?


21. Is Boaz willing to marry Ruth?


22. Why did she rise very early in the morning?


23. What did Boaz give her to take with her?


24. What did Naomi ask Ruth, when she saw her?


25. What did this question mean?


26. How did Ruth answer her?


27. What was the gift of barley for?


28. What did Naomi tell Ruth to do about the situation?


29. Why is Ruth concerned?


30. Why does Naomi believe this will work out for Ruth and Boaz to marry?





Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ruth Menu | Return to Bible Menu


Ruth 4



Ruth Chapter 4

Verses 1-6: To "redeem" during the period of the judges had three meanings: to free from bondage (Lev. 25:47-48), from poverty (Lev. 25:25), or from death (in the case of a widow who needed an heir to carry on the family line and provide for her; (see Deut. 25:5-6). Boaz redeemed Ruth and Naomi in all three ways, portraying the redemption Jesus offers from slavery to sin, poverty of spirit, and the consequences of death.


God's divine plan fully blossomed as Boaz redeemed Naomi's land and Ruth's hand in marriage. Naomi, once empty (1:21), is full; Ruth, once a widow (1:5), is married; most importantly, the Lord has prepared Christ's line of descent in David, through Boaz and Obed, back to Judah (Gen. 49:10) to fulfill the proper messianic lineage.


Ruth 4:1 "Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down."


"Went Boaz up": Apparently, the threshing floor was below the level of the gate. Compare (Ruth 3:3), "go down to the threshing floor."


"The gate": The normal public place to transact business in ancient times (2 Sam. 15:2; Job 29:7; Lam. 5:14).


"Such a one": The Hebrew text is not clear whether Boaz called him directly by name (which is then not mentioned by the author) or addressed him indirectly.


The city "gate" served as the place where public affairs were carried on, especially for the administration of justice (Deut. 21:19; 22:24; Joshua 20:4; 2 Kings 10:8), or for the transaction of business arrangements (Gen. 23:10, 18; 2 Kings 7:1).


The penman decided not to name the near-kinsman redeemer here. It might be that he never knew his name, or it could be that he did not want to give it for shame to the man. Boaz deliberately went to the city gate to wait for him. He knew that he would go through this gate, because it was the only one out of the city at the time. When Boaz calls to him, he comes over to see what Boaz wants.


Ruth 4:2 "And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down."


"Ten men": This number apparently comprised a quorum to officially transact business, although only two or three witnesses were needed for judicial proceedings (Deut. 17:6; 19:15).


Boaz had these men as witnesses to what he was about to do. They were not aware they were there for a witness however. Ten speaks of world government. Boaz was keeping the law of the land.


Ruth 4:3 "And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which [was] our brother Elimelech's:"


"Naomi ... selleth": As a widow, she needed the money for living expenses, knowing that the land would ultimately be returned at Jubilee (Lev. 25:28).


"Our brother Elimelech's": Boaz and the unnamed relative were most likely either brothers or cousins.


Boaz and Ruth had discussed all of the business of Naomi. Boaz knew that Naomi was poor. She perhaps had to sell the land for a living. This other near kinsman was possibly the older brother of Boaz, since he says, our brother Elimelech. That would answer why the other man had the first right as the near-kinsman redeemer.



Verses 4-7: At this time in history, to remove one's "shoe" and give it to someone confirmed a transaction, that transferred property from one person to another "I will no longer step foot on your property or your belongings" (Deut. 25:8-10). The close relative transferred his right to "all that was Elimelech's, and ... Chilion's and Mahlon's". Both the "field" that Boaz bought and the hand of "Ruth" in marriage. He also relinquished his name and would be called "What's His Face" in the Hebrew (4:1; see also Deut. 25:10).


Ruth 4:4 "And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy [it] before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem [it], redeem [it]: but if thou wilt not redeem [it, then] tell me, that I may know: for [there is] none to redeem [it] beside thee; and I [am] after thee. And he said, I will redeem [it]."


"Buy it": As authorized by the Mosaic Law (Lev. 25:23-28).


The land was not to be sold to a stranger. Either Boaz or his brother would have to buy it to keep it in the family name. This is said before these witnesses, so there will be proof later. The man immediately says he will redeem it, because he wants the land.


Ruth 4:5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy [it] also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.


"Thou must buy it": Both redeeming Ruth and the land would not have been required by the letter of the levirate law (Deut. 25:5-6). Perhaps this exemplified Boaz's desire to obey the spirit of the law (see note on 2:4-17) or maybe redemption of land and marriage had been combined by local tradition. The levirate principle appears first in Scripture at (Gen. 38:8; Matt. 22:23-28).


Now there is a new twist to the circumstances. The other man has to marry Ruth, to be able to redeem the land. Boaz reminds him that Ruth is a Moabitess. He does not stress the fact that she is a Hebrew by marriage to a Hebrew. His first child will belong to Ruth's dead husband.


Ruth 4:6 "And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem [it] for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem [it]."


Although the nearer kinsman wanted to "redeem" the field that Naomi had up for sale, apparently the additional expense of providing for a wife, together with the probability of losing the property if a son should be born to the widow, caused the nearer kinsman to relinquish his rights to Boaz.


"I mar mine own inheritance": He was unwilling to have the family portfolio split between his existing children and the potential offspring of a union with Ruth.


Redeem thou my right to thyself": The closer relative relinquished his legal right to the land and Ruth. This cleared the way for Boaz to redeem both.


It seems he already had a family and his inheritance would have been divided into so many pieces, it would be almost lost for the family. He does not love Ruth, as Boaz does, or nothing would stop him. He says in front of all the witnesses, that Boaz can redeem the land and Ruth. This is just what Boaz wanted to hear.


Ruth 4:7 "Now this [was the manner] in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave [it] to his neighbor: and this [was] a testimony in Israel."


"Plucked off his shoe": The Scripture writer explained to his own generation what had been a custom in former generations. This kind of tradition appears (in Deut. 25:5-10), and apparently continued at least to the time of Amos (2:6; 8:6). The closer relative legally transferred his right to the property as symbolized by the sandal, most likely that of the nearer relative.


Since Boaz had arranged all the business details relative to acting as the near kinsman, no disgrace would attach to the nearer kinsman (Deut. 25:9). The transfer of the "shoe" symbolized the relinquishing of his right to act as the nearest kinsman and the exchange of his authority in the matter to another.


We see by this that the "taking off of one's shoe and giving it to someone" gave them the right to walk on the land they were unwilling to walk on. When the man gives Boaz his shoe, he is giving his right as near kinsman to Boaz.


Ruth 4:8 "Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy [it] for thee. So he drew off his shoe."


Which is repeated to show he gave his full consent to it, that he should make the purchase of it if he pleased, and which he confirmed by the following rite.


"So he drew off his shoe": Thereby signifying that he relinquished his right to the purchase of the estate, and ceded it to him. As if this was some acknowledgment for yielding his right unto him. But here the man plucked off his own shoe, who chose not to redeem.


The proof that Boaz is free to buy the land and to marry Ruth, is shown when the man takes his shoe off, and gives it to Boaz. The transaction is sealed with witnesses.



Verses 9-10: "Boaz" was able and willing to serve fully as the "goel" both in the redemption of the field and in marriage to "Ruth." The story serves as a vivid reminder of the Son of Man who, being rich (2 Cor. 8:9), willingly died in behalf of a destitute mankind (Rom. 5:6-11; Heb. 12:1-2), which He took into union with Himself as His beloved bride (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:6-9).


Ruth 4:9 "And Boaz said unto the elders, and [unto] all the people, Ye [are] witnesses this day, that I have bought all that [was] Elimelech's, and all that [was] Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi."


"I have bought": Boaz exercised his legal option to redeem both the land and Ruth before appropriate witnesses.


We may assume, that Naomi either went with Boaz to transact this, or she came up later, and sold the land to Boaz. Naomi knew that she would be welcome to live with Ruth and Boaz. After all, she was the one who planned all of this.


Ruth 4:10 "Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye [are] witnesses this day."


"The wife of Mahlon": Only here is Ruth's former husband identified (compare 1:5 note).


"I purchased ... my wife": Boaz exercised the spirit of the law and became Ruth's kinsman-redeemer (Deut. 25:5-6).


"The name of the dead": Perpetuation of the family name (1 Sam. 24:21) was an important feature that the levirate process provided.


Boaz has accomplished exactly what he set out to do. Now he can marry Ruth. He has become her near-kinsman redeemer, by the other man forfeiting his rights in front of witnesses. He bought the land, and will give his first child to the memory of Ruth's dead husband. Boaz has fulfilled the law. The son will be able to inherit Mahlon's land through Elimelech.


Ruth 4:11 "And all the people that [were] in the gate, and the elders, said, [We are] witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Beth-lehem:"


"We are witnesses": This affirmation signaled the strong approval of the city.


"Like Rachel and like Leah": Rachel, the most beloved wife of Jacob, was buried nearby (Gen. 35:19); Leah was the mother of Judah (by Jacob), their namesake descendant (Gen. 29:35). This remembrance went back almost 900 years to ca 1915 B.C.


"Ephratah ... Beth-lehem": The ancient name of Bethlehem (Gen. 35:19; 48:7; see note on 1:2). Michah later prophetically wrote that this city would be the birthplace of Messiah (5:2).


We must remember in all of this that, it was legal in God's sight for Boaz to marry Ruth, because she was a Hebrew by marriage. Her first husband sinned in God's sight, because she was a Moabite. Now, she is Hebrew. It is legal for Boaz to marry her, and be blessed of God. The elders witnessed the whole thing. Boaz had done everything decently and pleasing to God. Boaz had kept the law. Rachel and Leah had been the mothers of the tribes of Israel. They were honored women. This is saying that Ruth is indeed a Hebrew of high morals.


Ruth 4:12 "And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman."


"Pharez ... Tamar ... Judah" (read Gen. 38:1-30 for the background to these three). Tamar, the widow of Judah's first son, Er, when denied a levirate marriage to Judah's remaining son, Shelah (38:14), took matters into her own hands and immorally consorted with her father-in-law, Judah (38:18). Perez, the firstborn of twins by Tamar, became the main ancestor of the Ephrathites and Bethlehemites (1 Chron. 2:3-5, 19; 50-51; 4:4). See note on 4:18.


"Seed": The firstborn son would be considered the son of Mahlon. Additional sons would legally be the offspring of Boaz (Deut. 25:6).


They were wishing that Boaz and Ruth would have a large family. This marriage is pleasing unto the LORD. In a good marriage, the husband feels for the wife as Jesus did for the church. Jesus was also, the near-kinsman redeemer of His bride (all believers in Christ). The wife feels toward her husband as the church does toward Christ. The seed that comes is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will be descended from both Jew and Gentile.


Ruth 4:13 "So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son."


"He went in unto her": Old Testament euphemism for sexual intercourse.


"The Lord gave her conception": As with Rachel (Gen. 30:22) and Leah (Gen. 29:31), so also with Ruth (Psalm 127:3).


Boaz and Ruth became husband and wife. Their love for each other produced a son. Notice this son comes from the LORD's blessings on this marriage.



Verses 14-17: Pain makes people either bitter or better. Although Naomi had been bitter (4:20-21), she was better now that she could see that "the Lord ... had "not left" her, and had restored the family line". Ruth was "better" to her "than seven sons," which were considered the ideal family in biblical times. More blessings were to come, because through Ruth and Boaz eventually came the Savior.


Ruth 4:14 "And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed [be] the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel."


"The Lord ... not left thee": In contrast to Naomi's worst moments of despair (1:20-21).


"A kinsman ... his name": Refers to Obed, not Boaz (4:11), who cared for Naomi in her latter years.


Ruth's son is Naomi's grandson. He is now her near-kinsman redeemer through Ruth. His name will be very famous as an ancestor of David, king of Israel, and the fact that he is in the direct lineage of Jesus.


Ruth 4:15 "And he shall be unto thee a restorer of [thy] life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him."


"Better ... than seven sons": Seven represented the number of perfection and thus 7 sons would make the complete family (compare 1 Sam. 2:5). However, Ruth exceeded this standard all by herself.


It is true that Ruth had been better to Naomi than any son could have been. She will have her hopes renewed in this grandson. She had lost hope, when her husband and two sons died. Now, she is renewed. The new baby, Obed, will revive her spirit.


Ruth 4:16 "And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it."


"Became nurse unto it": This expresses the natural affection of a godly grandmother for her God-given grandson.


Naomi was not a grandmother, who has little to do with raising her grandbaby. This boy is like her son. She helps with the care and training of this baby from the beginning. Ruth wants it that way. She loves Naomi, and wants to share the baby with her.



Verses 17-22: The list of 10 generations from Pharez, Judah's illegitimate son, to David seems to reflect the prohibition (in Deuteronomy 23:2; see note), and serves to legitimize David's claim to the throne of Israel. From the union of "Boaz" and Ruth was to come the line of descendants that gave birth to king "David", through whom came Jesus Christ. Thus, through the union of Jew and Gentile would ultimately come the Savior of all men (Acts 4:12). The marriage of Boaz and Ruth may thus serve as a picture of Christ and His church through whom all believers become one (Eph. 2:11-22).


Ruth is the only Old Testament book that puts king David in the line of Judah. Obed was king David's grandfather. Obed's birth blessed a marriage, a mother, and a mother-in-law, and he continues to bless all humanity even now because through the line of "Boaz ... Obed ... Jesse ... and David" ultimately came Jesus, the Redeemer.


Ruth 4:17 "And the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he [is] the father of Jesse, the father of David."


"Her neighbors gave it a name": Here is the only place in the Old Testament where a child was named by someone other than the immediate family. Obed means "servant."


"A son born to Naomi": Ruth vicariously bore the son that would restore the family name of Naomi's deceased son Mahlon (compare 4:1)


"Obed ... Jesse ... David": This complete genealogy appears identically in four other biblical texts (Ruth 4:21-22; 1 Chron. 2:12-15; Matt. 1:5-6; Luke 3:31-32). Boaz and Ruth were the great-grandparents of David.


"Obed" means worshipper. Another meaning of the name is serving, or servant. I like the first one best. The ladies in the neighborhood gave him his name. The neighbors felt as if God had given this baby to Naomi to replace her son. This book is obviously penned a little later, because of the mention of Jesse and David, here. This would be entirely possible, if Samuel was the penman.



Verses 18-22: Perez ... David": This representative genealogy, which spans 9 centuries from Perez (ca 1885 B.C.) to David (ca 1040 B.C.), specifically names 10 generations. The first 5 (Perez to Nahshon) cover the patriarchal times to the Exodus and wilderness wanderings. Salmon to David covers Joshua's lifetime and the judges to the monarchy. This genealogical compression by omission does not signal faulty records, because in Jewish thinking, "son" could mean "descendant" (Matt. 1:1). The purpose of a family record was not necessarily to include every generation, but rather to establish incontestable succession by way of the more notable ancestors.


Verses 18-19: "Hezron" (compare Genesis 46:12).


Ruth 4:18 "Now these [are] the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,"


(See note on verse 12). Although this genealogy only goes back to Perez, it conclusively establishes that David's lineage extends further back through Judah (Gen. 49:8-12), Jacob (Gen. 28:10-17, and Isaac (Gen. 26:24), to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3).



Verses 19-20: "Amminadab": The father-in-law of Aaron (Exodus 6:23), who does not appear (in 1 Chron. 2:10), but is cited (in Matt. 1:4 and Luke 3:33). Some Hebrew manuscripts also include Admin between Ram and Amminadab (in Luke 3:33).


Ruth 4:19 "And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,"


"Ram"; Listed as Ami (in some Greek texts of Luke 3:33).



Verses 20-21: "Salmon": The husband of Rahab the harlot (Matt. 1:5).


Ruth 4:20 "And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,"


"Nahshon": The leader of Judah in the Exodus (Num. 1:7; 2:3; 7:12, 17; 10:14).


Ruth 4:21 "And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,"


"Salmon begat Boaz": Since (Matthew 1:5), lists Rahab the harlot, who lived ca. 1425 - 1350 B.C., as Salmon's wife, it thus indicates that some generations have been selectively omitted between Salmon and Boaz (ca 1160 - 1090 B.C.).


Ruth 4:22 "And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David."


"David" Looking back at Ruth from a New Testament perspective, latent messianic implications become more apparent (Matt. 1:1). The fruit which is promised later on in the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:1-17), finds its seedbed here. The hope of a messianic king and kingdom (2 Sam. 7:12-14), will be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation chapters 19 and 20), through the lineage of David's grandfather Obed, who was born to Boaz and Ruth the Moabitess.


This is the same genealogy as in the New Testament, except for slight variations in the spelling of their names. The name is spelled differently in Greek. We see in this book that Jesus is indeed, the God of the Gentiles as well as the Jews.


Ruth Chapter 4 Questions


1. Where did Boaz go to try to catch the kinsman of Ruth and Naomi?


2. What did Boaz do, when he saw him?


3. Who did Boaz take with him to the gate?


4. Why had Boaz brought them?


5. What does the number "ten" speak of?


6. What did Boaz tell the kinsman that Naomi was doing?


7. Who had told this to Boaz, most probably?


8. Why does the author believe the kinsman is Boaz's older brother?


9. Why is Boaz saying this in front of the ten men he brought with him?


10. When the kinsman heard about the land, what did he want to do?


11. When did he change his mind?


12. What makes it legal, in the sight of God, for Boaz to marry Ruth?


13. He does not love Ruth as ________ does.


14. What does the kinsman say in front of the witnesses?


15. What did it mean for him to "take off his shoe and give it to Boaz"?


16. What does Boaz say to the elders, after he receives the shoe of the kinsman?


17. How did Naomi feel about this?


18. In verse 10, Boaz says he purchased Ruth to be his _______.


19. The first child of Ruth and Boaz will belong to whom?


20. How would Ruth be like Rachel and Leah?


21. In a good marriage, how does the husband feel about the wife?


22. How does the wife feel about the husband?


23. The LORD gave Ruth conception, and she had a ______.


24. What is this grandson to Naomi?


25. Who helped Ruth raise the child?


26. Who named the son?


27. What does "Obed" mean?


28. He was the father of _______, who was the father of ______.


29. How does the genealogy here, and in the New Testament, vary?





Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ruth Menu | Return to Bible Menu

###