First, I would like to acknowledge the person who inspired me to write this study, Pastor Rich Roberts, M.Div. Pastor Rich preached through this beautful book from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Okanogan, Washington. This study utilizes the notes from the sermons by Pastor Rich and notes from other men of God such as Charles Haddon Spurgen and J Vernon McGee, as well as others. Thank you Rich and may God richly bless you as you continue your work in the ministry.
The book of Ruth reveals a beautiful type of our Lord Jesus Christ in that Boaz becomes Ruth’s and Naomi’s Kinsman Redeemer. Boaz was a blood relative of Naomi. He had the price required to redeem the lost inheritance of Naomi and was willing to redeem it.
The book of Ruth is A LOVE STORY. It is one of the greatest short historical accounts ever written. There are many themes in the book of Ruth, redemption, faithfulness and love.
This records the account of the love of a daughter-in-law for her mother-in-law and of the faithfulness of a converted foreigner from the god Chemosh to the God of Israel, YHWH. It records the redemption of one without hope who finds a kinsman redeemer, the man named Boaz who is a picture of Jesus Christ Himself.
The setting is against the dark background of the apostasy and foreign oppression of the period Israel’s history calls the time of the Judges. It was a time that every man did that which was right in his own eyes. We see this in the book of Judges which precedes the book of Ruth in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Some scholars place the time of this book during the first half of the book of Judges and most attribute the writing of the book to Samuel. The reason for this is if it had been written at a later date we would have expected a further genealogy than what we have here in Ruth. By this I mean that we see the last verses in chapter 4 trace Ruth’s descendants only to David and this argues for writing during David’s time.
We will see that the author felt the need to explain customs that were no longer practiced as in the following verses.
Ruth 4:6-8, 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.
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 neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.
Ruth 4:8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.
The book provides a glimpse into the lives of ordinary, though godly, people during this turbulent time. We will see how Gentile blood enters into the line of David, and thus the line of Christ. This will not be the only time that a Gentile enters the line of Christ, but more on that later.
It was a time when there was no king in Israel, and the people did what ever they wanted. Like most of us, when left without guidelines, they tended to drift away from God.
Israel would abandon the tried and true worship of YHWH and bring in other gods to worship and bow down to. They would fall into all manner of corruption including sacrificing their children to Chemosh and Baal-peor.
YHWH would only let the Israelites stray so far, and when they cried to Him, God would raise up a judge that would restore order and restore the people to the worship of YHWH. Things would be good in the land for awhile and then the cycle would start all over again.
The book of Ruth records one of the famines during that time period and in the Old and New Testament we can find thirteen occurrences of famines.
Genesis 12:10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
Genesis 26:1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
Genesis 41:54 And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.
Genesis 41:55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.
Genesis 41:56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.
Genesis 41:57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.
Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.
2Samuel 21:1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.
1Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
2Kings 4:38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.
2Kings 6:25 And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.
2Kings 8:1 Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.
2Kings 8:2 And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God: and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.
2Kings 8:3 And it came to pass at the seven years’ end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines: and she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land.
2Kings 8:4 And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done.
2Kings 8:5 And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.
2Kings 8:6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now.
Nehemiah 5:1 And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.
Nehemiah 5:2 For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live.
Nehemiah 5:3 Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.
Jeremiah 14:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.
Jeremiah 14:2 Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.
Jeremiah 14:3 And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads.
Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
Revelation 6:5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
Revelation 6:6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
Revelation 6:7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
Revelation 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Now, from the verses we have looked at so far, do you see a central theme running through all of these famines in the Old Testament? All of these famines were used to direct Israel back to the God of their fathers, YHWH. We now live in a generation that also says “whatever feels good do it”, and I believe that it is time for God’s people to start living a life that brings honor to Christ.
According to Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie the outline for the first three chapters of the book of Ruth would look like the following:
- Ruth’s Resolve 1:1-22
- Her background 1:1-5
- Her choice 1:6-18
- Her arrival in Bethlehem 1:19-22
- Ruth’s rights 2:1-23
- Her right to glean 2:1-3
- The results of her gleaning 2:4-17
- Boaz meets with Ruth 2:4-7
- Boaz protects Ruth 2:8-13
- Boaz provides for Ruth 2:14-26
- The report of her gleaning 2:17-23
- Ruth’s requests 3:1-18
- Suggestion by Naomi 3:1-4
- Executed by Ruth 3:5-9
- Agreed to by Boaz 3:10-18
- Ruth’s reward 4:1-22
- Boaz bargains for Ruth 4:1-10
- The people witness and rejoice 4:11-12
- Ruth’s Child 4:13-17
- The Lineage 4:18-22
We will look at the history of Israel’s relationship to Moab and why God did not want the Israelites associating with the Moabites.
Deuteronomy 23:3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:
Deuteronomy 23:4 Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.
Deuteronomy 23:5 Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.
Deuteronomy 23:6 Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.
Why did God forbid Israel to deal with Moab? For a complete explanation of this we need to turn to the Old Testament book of Numbers chapters 21 through 23. I will give you a short recap of these two chapters, but I must encourage you to read them for yourself!
When Israel left the wilderness wandering and were finally going to enter Canaan, Moab refused them bread and water. We find this in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy 23:4 mentioned above. Now it was Balak the king of Moab, who hired Balaam to try and curse Israel. Every time Balaam tried to curse Israel God caused him to bless Israel.
However, Balaam did eventually succeed in getting the people to fornicate with the Moabites and to take up the idolatrous worship of Baal, Baal-peor and Chemosh. It was the practice to offer child sacrifices by fire to these false gods. We can see what God thought and thinks of this practice in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel!
Ezekiel 20:31 For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.
God turned His back on Israel when Israel turned to idols.
An interesting side note about this prophet Balaam. He was what we might call a “prophet for hire”. He would prophesy for any god or king for payment.
Twice in the Bible God says Moab is my washpot
Psalms 60:8 Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.
Psalms 108:9 Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.
We can see the beginning of Moab by turning to the first book in the Old Testament, Genesis chapter 19. Again I encourage you to take the time to read this account for yourself. Briefly, we have the story of Lot’s meeting with the Lord and two angels and what the men of the city tried to do to the two angels. Sodom had so degenerated into complete wickedness and depravity that the men of the city wanted to have sex with the two angels.
Lot was told to get his family out of the city and flee to the mountains. Lot does finally end up in a cave in the mountains, after a little self willed action, and there in that cave Lot makes a big mistake. Lot gets drunk with wine and one at a time over the course of a couple days both of his daughters have incestuous relations with their father and both become pregnant and have sons.
The first daughter’s son was called “Moab” and the youngest daughter’s son was called “Ben-ammi”. The name Moab means “from the father” and Ben-ammi means “son of my people”. This carries the implication to mean from the same family or father. Question, what sins do we see here, what can we detect? We see incest, drunkenness, and failure to trust God on the part of Lot and his daughters. The daughters thought there was no hope of finding a mate and having children so they went about fixing this in their own way.
The question before us now is what were the results of that sin? We have the children from these unions becoming the father of the Moabites and the father of the Ammonites. These two nations plagued Israel, worshipped false gods, and put stumbling blocks before the Israelites. This all looks a little bleak right about now, so I want to offer a little encouragement. For the Christian we have God’s grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer.
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Isn’t that great?
We need to look at the genealogy of Ruth.
Genesis 11:27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
Here we see the father of Abram and the father of Nahor and Haran which is Terah, who is the descendant of Shem the son of Noah. We have seen before that Lot begat Moab and Ammon, and Ruth is descendant from the line of Moab. So, we see that Ruth is a shirt tail relative of one of the principal characters of this study, which would be Boaz, the kinsman redeemer.
We know the line of Ruth, but how about the line of Boaz? Where do we find His Genealogy? Let us look in the book of Ruth.
Ruth 4:18 Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,
Ruth 4:19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,
Ruth 4:20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,
Ruth 4:21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,
Ruth 4:22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
If we compare this with the book of Matthew in the New Testament we will see the connection.
Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Matthew 1:2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
Matthew1:3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
Matthew 1:4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
Matthew 1:5 And Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
Matthew 1:6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
We see that Boaz is of the seed of Abraham as well through Pharez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, and then David.
Before we leave here let’s take a look at the mother of Boaz. The book of Matthew says that Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab, so who was Rachab? We can find this out in the book of Joshua in the Old Testament.
Joshua 2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
This Rahab is the same as Rachab. History tells us that Rahab married Salmon and that would make Rahab the harlot, who is a Gentile, the mother of Boaz, who was the great grandfather of King David. It is believed that the spies stopped at an inn in the city of Jericho, a place that they could rest and eat.
The inn keepers of that age were usually harlots since they would have all of the necessary trappings to ply their trade in this type of setting. Rahab hid the two spies from the king of Jericho and later helped them escape out of the city. In turn, Rahab and her family were spared from destruction when God led the Israelites to destroy Jericho.
Lastly, we come to the genealogy of Naomi. Who are her ancestors? Not finding a genealogy for Naomi, we are left with the fact that she was the wife of Elimelech of Bethlehem Judah.
Bethlehem means “the house of bread” and Judah means “praise”. When we put the two meanings together we have “the house of bread and praise”. Other meanings seem to be as important in the book of Ruth. Ruth’s name translates “faithful”, Orpah’s name translates “back of the neck” or “turns back”, Naomi translates “pleasant”, Elimelech translates “My God is King”, Mahlon translates “puny”, Chilion translates “pinning” or “wasting away”, and Boaz translates “in Him is strength”. As we go through the book of Ruth, we can see the importance of a name reflecting the character of the person!
The purpose of the book of Ruth is twofold.
- Ruth gives the genealogy which shows that Christ came from the line and tribe of Judah as previously seen in Ruth 4:18-22 and Matthew chapter 1. Some scholars think that this is the primary purpose, but whatever you choose it is important in that it connects the genealogy.
- Most scholars agree that the primary purpose is the presentation of the doctrine of the Kinsman Redeemer and the providence and sovereignty of God.