The book of Ruth is a great story of hardship, persistence, redemption. On the surface, it’s a story about an older woman, Naomi, and younger woman, Ruth, who both become widowed, but through hard work, savvy and faith, thrive in Bethlehem as a mighty man named Boaz takes the younger woman under his care, and from there the older woman is blessed with offspring/an inheritance.
Many commentators of the book see Boaz as a picture-type of Jesus. In the story, Boaz redeems the women (who are related through marriage-Ruth married Naomi’s son) by paying the price to redeem the inheritance that Naomi sold for sustenance. Part of the deal in redeeming the land was marrying Ruth. Boaz accomplished both of these things. So as a picture-type, Jesus redeems us by paying the price for sin that we can’t pay for, thus we have an eternal inheritance with God (Deuteronomy 9:26). Too, believers today are the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2), as Ruth becomes the bride of Boaz.
When we talk about picture-types, we are talking about getting a glimpse into things to come, otherwise known as a foreshadow. It is like looking dimly through a glass or window (1 Corinthians 13:12) where you are able to pick out certain shapes and images that give you an idea of what is on the other side of the glass, without specificity or great detail; it is not “picture-perfect” as we would say today. Yet you can gain some understanding of what is on the other side, enough to piece together in your mind the general content of what was observed with limited understanding. That’s my basic definition of a picture-type or foreshadow, some understanding without full clarity. And that’s what we should keep in mind as we look for more meaning beyond the apparent in the book of Ruth.
In this study, we will dig down into the layers of this little book to see if there are more picture-types to “glean.” We start by outlining the main players as related to the picture-type:
- Boaz = Jesus
- Naomi = the Israelites
- Ruth = the New Testament church
We will highlight a verse or verses and present a picture-type for consideration. In some instances, other insight or scriptural references may be provided.
Ruth 1:1 – …there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab… Is it a good idea to leave Bethlehem, the “house of bread,” for the pagan country of Moab? I don’t think so, and you’ll note trouble followed them. Abram did the same thing in Genesis 12:10 because of famine, but God did not ordain this for him, and trouble pursued. Famine can mean a scarcity of grain. But as a picture-type, grain/seed symbolizes the Word of God in the parables of Matthew 13 (ex. Matthew 13:19). Note what was prophesied in Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” Remember that this story took place during the time of the Judges, and in that time it is noted that people were doing what was right in their own eyes. This was a dark time in the nation of Israel.
Ruth 1:3 – Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died… Trouble followed with the death of Elimelech. This name means God is my king. Nice! But in this picture-type, Naomi (Israel) and family left Bethlehem (house of bread), and Elimelech (God is my king), died. In the Bible and even today, the house of Israel has left God in pursuit of other things, and God has, in a sense, distanced from them/died to them.
Ruth 1:4 – They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. Orpah comes from a noun that can have meaning of “stiff-necked.” Moses uses this word with this meaning in Exodus 33. Ruth means friendship. Interestingly, in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Ruth means compassion for the misery of another. You will see as you read the story of Ruth that this dictionary’s definition explicitly captures what Ruth is all about, perhaps because her name’s meaning in the Merriam-Webster was derived from this biblical story!
Ruth 1:5 – Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died… More tragedy strikes in the land of Moab as Naomi’s sons die. No wonder though, as Mahlon means sick and Chilion means wasting away. Ruth (New Testament church) first married Mahlon (sick), which is quite a picture-type of the believer BEFORE accepting Christ. Before Christ, we are betrothed to Satan, which is definitely a sickness in the eyes of God.
Ruth 1:12 – Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband… Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth have proceeded to return to Judah/Bethlehem upon hearing the famine is over. As they begin the trip, Naomi tells Orpah and Ruth not to return with her. In the process, Naomi proclaims to be too old to have a husband. Was Sarah too old to have a child? In this picture-type, it is never too late to claim the Lord God as your husband. Isaiah 54:5 says, “For your maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts…!” Even today Israel (Naomi) needs to return her maker and husband, YHWH God.
Ruth 1:14 – …Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Orpah kissed Naomi before heading back to her Moab people; Judas kissed Christ in betraying Him. It’s a stark comparison but makes a valid point. This was not the term of endearment you might think it was; a kiss does not always hold real affection or Godly truth. Orpah could be a picture-type of the person that does not go on to find Jesus (Boaz), but returns to the familiar, worldly comforts of unbelief. Ruth, on the other hand, clung to Naomi. The word clung here is the same as cleave in the original Hebrew, which means to be joined together, to adhere together as if with glue. It’s the same word used In Genesis 2:24 when God says man shall cleave to his wife and they will become one flesh. This word describes a closeness that’s inseparable. Ruth goes on expressing her dedication to Naomi in verses 16 and 17 and ends saying that nothing but death will separate them. What dedication Ruth has for Naomi! And in certain aspects of the church today, many Christians hold value in their unending support of Israel. More on this later.
Ruth 1:15 – …Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law. Per Naomi’s prompting, Orpah returns to her pagan ways and her gods. That’s sad, especially when Orpah initially wants to go with Naomi back to Judah/Bethlehem. Again, Orpah is a picture-type of the unbelieving world, returning to their pagan/unbelieving ways after having some hope of redemption. She’s like the seed that fell on rocky soil. Without being unfairly critical of Israel, it would not seem that they have done much recently to inspire the gentile world to believe in the one true God. Remember, the Jews were the chosen people that were to present the Messiah to the world (imagine the picture-type applications if Israel would have accepted the Messiah and presented Him to the world). That didn’t happen as they rejected Jesus, and for about 2000 years there has been little fruit from the Jews in leading people to God. In fact, the opposite is true, as Paul quotes Moses in Romans 10:19 when he says Israel will be jealous of a nation without understanding (believing Gentiles).
Ruth 1:16 – …where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Here Ruth is stating her allegiance to Naomi in various ways, including her God. See more on this at 2:12.
Ruth 1:18 – When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her. So Ruth in previous verses pours out her soul to Naomi, and what’s Naomi’s response? She goes silent. Again, it’s another picture-type of things today. The church (Ruth) has in at least certain veins shown great dedication to Israel (Naomi) in light of the Scriptures, but the response to it has been lukewarm at best.
Ruth 1:20-21 – She said to them, do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty… Naomi and Ruth make it back to Bethlehem, and the people of the city wonder if it really is Naomi. Naomi is distraught and says don’t call me Naomi (means my delight or pleasant), call me Mara (means bitterness). The word full in this verse comes from a root verb which can mean to consecrate. The word empty comes from an adjective which can mean vain, of little value, or like a hungry soul. Israel has in the past been in the fullness of God, consecrated, back in the days when they put God in His proper place; first in their lives, land and kingdom. Think of the time of King David as an example. Conversely, they missed the boat and missed their anointing to present the Messiah to the world, which has left them lacking. In the end times, God will restore Israel as he promised in both the Old Testament (Jeremiah 16:15) and the New Testament (Romans 11:26). However, some would say it will be with much unpleasantness, and emptiness, and trouble, i.e., Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).
Ruth 1:22 – …And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. The barley harvest is a spring event and typically occurs in April or May. It is near to and relational of the Passover. More will be said about barley later.
Ruth 2:1 – Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. Here is the introduction to Boaz. He’s a relative to Naomi’s late husband Elimelech, thus the connection to Naomi and Ruth. Boaz means fleetness or strength, and is described in the text as being of great wealth or a mighty man, depending on the translation you use. Later you will see picture-types of Boaz as Jesus. Here you can see the relationship between Elimelech and Boaz by their names, and could be a picture-type of God the Father (Elimelech=God is my king) and the Son (Boaz=strength/great wealth).
Ruth 2:2 – …Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain… Ruth asks Naomi permission to go and glean, and Naomi approves. Ruth goes to the field to glean, based on need. This ancient practice in Israel was a way to provide for the poor. In a harvest, God said not to take every bit of grain that was available, but to leave the corners of the field and that which falls on the ground for the poor to pick up (Leviticus 23:22). For more understanding, let’s examine some of the words in this verse. In the Matthew 13:38, Jesus is explaining a parable and says that the field is the world. The word glean is generally used to gather something together, to collect something; nothing usual there. It is the same Hebrew word used to describe the Israelites gathering manna in the desert. Interestingly, ears and grain in this verse are the same Hebrew word. Together, they mean a group or cluster of something, not individual kernels as you might first imagine when casually reading this verse. Ruth was gathering clusters from the sheaves that the harvesters had bundled! We know this because a few verses later (7) the servant in charge of the reapers tells Boaz that Ruth requested gathering from the sheaves, and her request was granted.
Ruth 2:2 – …after one in whose sight I may find favor… Ruth was seeking after someone who would be willing to give her a little support. The word favor here means grace. All of us, in coming to the Lord, were seeking the One who would give us grace. Grace is an unmerited gift; it isn’t anything we can earn. Ruth simply asked the servant in charge of the reapers to gather in this field, hoping to find an owner that would be gracious enough to agree to it. This is a picture-type of individuals coming to Christ. The Holy Spirit (the servant in charge) is pointing people to Jesus; He’s convicting us and putting us on notice that we need a Redeemer. We (Ruth) need only to ask for the grace of the owner of the field (God/Jesus), and the Holy Spirit (servant in charge) will give the grace of Christ as we ask for it with sincerity.
Ruth 2:3 – …she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz… The King James Version Bible says, “her hap was to light on a part of the field unto Boaz,” meaning that, by fortuitous chance, Ruth ended up at Boaz’s field. God led Ruth to Boaz’s field, without her direct knowledge of it. God is in the business of “hap.”
Ruth 2:4 – …Boaz came from Bethlehem… So did Jesus. As a matter of consideration, Jesus may not have been from Bethlehem had not Ruth made her way to Bethlehem and fulfilled destiny.
Ruth 2:5 – …Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, whose young woman is this? Boaz is asking about the status of Ruth. The words young woman here can mean available, unmarried woman, although different from the word virgin (remember Ruth was married before… see Ruth 1:5 for the picture-type). The servant agrees with Boaz’s general assessment and says yes she’s available, and that she’s from Moab. Like Ruth, we must be available to come to God, leaving behind our old life of selfish wants and needs. We take a step toward God, and He notices it, and the Spirit of God will tell Him about it. But we must take the first step toward Him. James says in the New Testament, draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.
Ruth 2:7 – …Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves… It’s worth mentioning again. Ruth had specifically requested to gather from the sheaves after the reapers. It’s quite remarkable that this foreign girl would make such a bold request, and even more remarkable that it would be granted. In a sense, that’s not unlike the way we go to a store today. The food is already together and packaged, all we have to do is reach out and grab it. But Ruth is one up on us in that she did not even pay for it! This is such a great picture-type of grace!
Ruth 2:7 – …she has been sitting in the house for a little while. It sounds like Ruth is waiting for Boaz to arrive. Likewise, we are to wait upon the Lord; we are to inhabit or dwell (the meaning of sitting here) until He arrives. David says in Psalm 27:4 to desire the Lord and dwell in His house all of our days.
Ruth 2:8 – Then Boaz said to Ruth, listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. Here is the first meeting and exchange between Boaz and Ruth. Boaz says to Ruth in more precise translation, “have you not heard…” as if to say, it is without question that you will stay in my field; it is a foregone conclusion in the mind of Boaz. Boaz addresses Ruth in particular fashion by calling her daughter… or at least that’s what most translations show. However, look at the word daughter in the original language, and you will see that this same word was translated as apple of the eye in Psalm 17:8 and Lamentations 2:18. So the better translation here could be that of the NET version, where it says, “listen carefully, my dear.” This, plus the fact that Boaz says to stay in his field, indicates that his fondness for her is becoming evident. He says to stay with his maids; there are two words here that need further definition… stay and maids. Stay means to cleave, with the same meaning of the word clung in 1:14, meaning to adhere together as if with glue. Maids here are simply (female) servants or girls, different from a handmaid, maidservant or slave (i.e., Hagar).
Ruth 2:9 – Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? While this may be a stretch, what came to mind for this section of this verse is when Lot was pulled out of Sodom before it was destroyed… the young men being the angels sent to retrieve the righteous before calamity occurs (Genesis 19:16). Too, Ezekiel speaks of those that are marked as righteous not being touched as destruction occurs around them (Ezekiel 9:6). And in the end times, God’s chosen will not be touched during final destruction.
Ruth 2:10 – …Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner? Boaz is showing Ruth particular and exceptional kindness, with no real reason to, and Ruth voices this to Boaz. The word favor here is usually translated grace from the original Hebrew. And as we’ve mentioned earlier, grace is unmerited favor, it is a gift. God’s grace through Jesus was extended to the foreigner, i.e., the Gentiles.
Ruth 2:11 – …All that you have done… has been fully reported to me… Here Boaz is telling Ruth that he is fully aware of what she has been doing, and the kindness she has shown to Naomi. God/Jesus knows what we are doing, perhaps reported to Him from the angelic host that is around us now. Boaz goes on to say in this verse that he’s aware that Ruth even left her father and mother in seeking a new life. This is very similar to when Jesus says that anyone who comes to Him must leave his father and mother, etc., to become His disciple (Luke 14:26).
Ruth 2:12 – May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge. It is interesting here that Boaz states that Ruth has come to seek refuge under the wing of the LORD, the God of Israel. In 1:16 Ruth makes a confession of allegiance in Naomi, including to follow her God. Now Boaz recognizes Ruth’s faith in the God of Israel, which is notable given that she is a foreigner. This is revelation completes or fulfills what happened in 1:16… Ruth has put on display her commitment to YHWH God. Boaz goes on to speak a blessing of favor in her labors from the LORD, having Godly insight and compassion into Ruth and Naomi’s plight. The wings wording here is not unlike what Jesus said as He spoke of Jerusalem/the Israelites, wanting to gather them together as a hen gathers chicks under her wings.
Ruth 2:13 – …you… have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants. Ruth replies to Boaz and references maidservants. The maidservant serves the master, perhaps as a slave girl. Ruth is saying she is in service to Boaz, but isn’t just a servant girl. I believe she’s sending a signal to Boaz that there could be more between them.
Ruth 2:14 – Boaz said… come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar. Boaz continues to show kindness and favoritism toward Ruth, inviting Ruth to eat with Boaz and the reapers. Jesus said in John 6:51 that we are to partake in Him as He proclaimed of Himself living bread from Heaven. Also consider this… as Jesus was on the cross, he was offered vinegar to drink, fulfilling an Old Testament prophesy (Matthew 27:34). As with Boaz and Ruth, we, as followers of Jesus, will also be offered “vinegar” and unpleasantness in partaking with Jesus.
Ruth 2:15 – Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. In this verse Boaz confirms Ruth’s request to glean among the sheaves, letting his reapers know he approves of this.
Ruth 2:16 – Also let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her… Boaz continues to show favor for Ruth, telling the reapers to not only let her glean among the sheaves, but to let grain be available elsewhere for her.
Ruth 2:20 – Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead! And Naomi said to her, “This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.” Ruth gets back from the field and tells Naomi about Boaz. Naomi’s spirit is revived in hearing this news, and in seeing the gleaned grain and leftover roasted grain Ruth brought back from her meal with Boaz. Remember back in the beginning of our story when Naomi was down in the dumps and wanted to be called Mara (bitterness). Now she’s feeling better about life and recognizes the name of Boaz as a close relative. Jesus, like Boaz, does not forsake the living or the dead, but wants all to come to Him to receive His loving kindness.
Ruth 2:22 – It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, and that people do not meet you in any other field. Ruth tells Naomi a bit more of the story and Naomi confirms that it’s good for Ruth to hang out with the Boaz crowd, and not to go to another other field. Likewise, God wants us to stay in the field of Jesus, and to avoid fraternizing with other questionable influences outside of Christ Jesus.
Ruth 2:23 – …to glean until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest. Ruth continues to glean in the field of Boaz and stays through the barley and wheat harvest. This was likely a couple of months… the barley harvest ends as the wheat harvest begins. So Ruth and Naomi are well taken care of by Boaz through the wheat harvest. Note too that barley is akin to the nation of Israel as wheat is relative to the Gentile nations. Reflect back on the dream Gideon’s enemy had in Judges 7:13. Gideon hears an enemy Midianite speak of a round loaf of barley rolling into their camp with flattening affect. A friend of the dreamer interprets this to mean Gideon’s army, the Israelites, would overcome the Midianites. And that’s what happened. Wheat, on the other hand, is spoken of much more than barley by the Lord Jesus. In fact, the parable of the field with tares in Matthew 13:30 speaks of reapers gathering wheat into a barn, and Jesus specifically explains this parable, indicating that the tares are sons of the devil to be burned up, while the wheat are sons of the kingdom. (Note too that Jesus explains that the reapers in this parable are angels, so it’s very possible that the reapers of Boaz could be a picture type of this as hinted at above.)
Ruth 3:1 – Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? I initially missed what is likely the true meaning of this verse before reading J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on Ruth. There, he says Naomi is playing match-maker between Ruth and Boaz. It may not be apparent depending on which Bible translation you are reading; but when you consider the possibility with the previous verses where we mentioned their growing fondness for each other and the following verses, it’s entirely likely. Many translations say seeking security or rest, but a few translate it as seeking a home for Ruth. These all make sense in context, given that Boaz could provide security, rest and a home for Ruth. As the classic hymn states, through Jesus, “It is well with my soul.”
Ruth 3:2 – …he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Boaz was working through the evening to midnight, separating the grain from the chaff. In Luke 3:17, John the Baptist uses similar wording to describe what Jesus will do in separating the good from the bad, the believers from the unbelievers, the grain from the chaff.
Ruth 3:3 – …wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment… Naomi tells Ruth to prepare herself to meet Boaz at the threshing floor. Likewise, we are to prepare ourselves as believers for our eventual meeting with Jesus. We are and will be washed clean of sin and unrighteousness for our meeting, and will be dressed with garments of white linen, thanks to the work He accomplished.
Ruth 3:4,7 – …uncover his feet and lie down… The text says that Ruth went to the threshing floor and uncovered the feet of Boaz. While that may be what is says, that’s likely not what it means. Many scholars consider this a euphemism, where feet = genitals. Scriptural evidence for this understanding includes Deuteronomy 28:57, Ezekiel 16:25, and especially Isaiah 7:20, where it mentions shaving the “hair of the feet”. Also consider Isaiah 6:2, where the Cheribum cover their feet in an act of modesty, and Exodus 4:25, where Zipporah touches Moses’ feet with the foreskin of their recently circumcised son.
Ruth 3:8 – Now it happened at midnight… Boaz had worked all evening, had eaten and was resting by a pile of grain. At midnight Ruth was there at his feet, looking to be covered by Boaz. Jesus told a story about a bridegroom meeting five prepared virgins at midnight in Matthew 25:6. Continue this thought with the next verse.
Ruth 3:9 – Take your maidservant under your wing… There is a possible similarity between the two events mentioned in association with verse eight. Some commentators say that when Ruth asked to be taken under the wing of Boaz (some translations say she asked to be covered by the corner of his garment), she was asking Boaz to marry her! The story of the bridegroom in Matthew ends with the bridegroom taking those who were prepared to a wedding (Matthew 25:10). Coincidence? I think not.
Ruth 3:10 – Blessed are you of the LORD… in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. Boaz commends Ruth for not seeking after young or rich men. While Boaz may have had considerable resources, Ruth was seeking him out for all the right reasons, just as we seek out Jesus for all the right reasons.
Ruth 3:11 – And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman. Boaz agrees to Ruth’s proposal, knowing she’s a keeper… virtuous as the townspeople called her. In 2 Peter 1:3 the Bible shows us that God calls us by glory and virtue.
Ruth 3:12 – Now it is true that I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. What’s this? There is a closer relative to Naomi than Boaz? The plot thickens.
Ruth 3:13 – Stay this night, and in the morning it shall be that if he will perform the duty of a close relative for you—good; let him do it. But if he does not want to perform the duty for you, then I will perform the duty for you, as the LORD lives! Boaz tells Ruth to stay put until morning, then everything would be resolved.
Ruth 3:14 – So she lay at his feet until morning, and she arose before one could recognize another. Ruth gets up and readies to leave before daybreak, taking the advice of Boaz. I suppose Boaz didn’t want to cause an unnecessary commotion in the community; folks may have started the rumor-mill and disrupted their plans by smearing Ruth’s good name.
Ruth 3:17 – And she said, “These six ephahs of barley he gave me; for he said to me, ‘Do not go empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’ Boaz wanted to make sure Ruth took some grain back to Naomi, and Ruth told Naomi about all the goings-on with Boaz. This verse is another picture-type, as barley = Israel = Naomi (see 2:23).
Ruth 3:18 – Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day. Naomi tells Ruth to hang tight until Boaz gets everything straightened out, which would be by day’s end.
Ruth 4:1 – Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. Boaz meets with the close relative and the elders of the city, and explains Naomi’s situation to them. It’s important to note that initially he doesn’t mention Ruth as being part of the equation. Traditionally the gate of the city was the gathering point of authority for a city, so it makes sense that they would resolve this matter there.
Ruth 4:4 – And he said, “I will redeem it.” The close relative of Boaz, who goes unnamed throughout the story, initially agrees to redeem Naomi.
Ruth 4:5 – Then Boaz said, on the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess… Now Boaz tells the rest of the story, stating that the close relative must also redeem Ruth in the process, since she was the wife of Naomi’s deceased son Mahlon, left without an inheritance.
Ruth 4:6 – And the close relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” Upon hearing that he would have to redeem Ruth as well as Naomi, the close relative quickly changes course and tells Boaz he cannot redeem Naomi and Ruth after all. When you think upon this verse more fully, and consider Naomi as the nation of Israel and Ruth as the New Testament church, the close relative aligns closely as the Old Testament Law! The Law was designed for the nation of Israel with its rules, laws and ordinances, to guide them and lead them toward God. That’s why the close relative was willing and able to redeem Naomi initially. Ruth, being a picture-type of the New Testament church, has no redemption from the Old Testament Law, and the Law does not redeem anyone today. So in our story, the close relative (Law) acquiesces to Boaz (Jesus) in redeeming Ruth (New Testament church). With its subtleties on the surface but great significance in its depth, this may be the most intriguing verse of the entire book of Ruth!
Ruth 4:9 – Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Boaz, before the elders, witnesses and close relative, proclaims his willingness to act as the Kinsmen Redeemer for Naomi through the purchase of inheritance of her husband Elimelech, to include their sons, Chilion and Mahlon. It makes one wonder what would have become of Orpah had she come back to Bethlehem with Naomi and Ruth, since Boaz is redeeming both husbands. Jesus is willing that none would perish, and will redeem all that come to the Father through faith in Him as the Christ (John 3:16).
Ruth 4:10 – Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife… Boaz makes it clear that in this process he is taking Ruth as his wife, to “perpetuate the dead through his inheritance.” Mahlon’s inheritance goes to Boaz through his ‘acquisition’ of Ruth. In our story, it’s entirely likely that Mahlon was a believer, given the circumstances and meaning of names of Elimelech (God is my king) and Naomi (pleasant). When they got to pagan Moab, they were probably seen as being different from the local crowd in many ways, but for our purposes different in a good, Godly way. Ruth may have been attracted to Mahlon’s and his family’s God, based on her profession of faith back in chapter one. So for Boaz to perpetuate Elimelech’s and Mahlon’s lineage was to perpetuate God fearing people. Today, do you know what the Bible says is God’s inheritance? You are the inheritance, believer! Check out Deuteronomy 9:26, where Moses is speaking to God of the redeemed, and calls them His inheritance.
Ruth 4:11 – The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel. The elders seem to be quite pleased with the arrangement, admonishing that Ruth be fruitful like Rachel and Leah, the founding mothers of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Ruth 4:12 – May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah… The elders now make an interesting correlation. They reference Tamar as a hope and inspiration for Ruth regarding offspring. It’s easy to understand the reference in verse 11 of Rachel and Leah, but Tamar is a different story. Recall the funny business Tamar pulled to become pregnant by her father-in-law (Genesis 38:13-26). Even so, Tamar, like Ruth, is in the lineage of David and our Savior Jesus. Never forget that no matter what you’ve done in life, no matter how despicable you’ve been in the eyes of God, you are redeemable and God has a plan for you to be used for His ultimate glory.
Ruth 4:13 – So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife… the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. Boaz and Ruth conceive and have a son. How does this son fit into our picture-type setting where Boaz is Jesus and Ruth is the church?
Ruth 4:15 – May he be to you a restorer of life… The women of Bethlehem are as inspired by the birth of the boy as the elders were with Ruth as the next Rachel or Leah. They see the birth of the child as a renewing to the clan, going as far as to say that Ruth is better to Naomi than seven sons! That’s really saying something, given the agrarian society that existed then, and the harsh conditions during the time of the Judges.
Ruth 4:16 – Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Upon a casual reading, one may think that breastfeeding is occurring, given the bosom and nursing verbiage. But this word in the original Hebrew isn’t the word meaning to suck. It’s the word that means to support, to establish, to be faithful. So essentially Naomi is acting as a loving and caring grandmother would. And interestingly, this word is most translated as believe.
Ruth 4:17 – Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. Naomi gets her inheritance fulfilled through the child, as the neighbor women proclaim a son is born to Naomi. They even went as far as naming him… they called him Obed. Obed means serving or worshiping. In doing this commentary, it took me some time to “figure out” two things; one was who or what the close relative represents (the Law) and the other was who or what Obed represents. It appears Obed is a picture-type of new life… new life through Jesus. Death and tragedy started the story with the death of the three husbands, death that occurred before knowing Christ. The baby, Obed, represents eternal life as Boaz represents Jesus; Jesus gives us eternal life. Obed, with the meaning of serving or worshiping, is an indication that we will be servants of God throughout eternity, worshiping God forever!
The book of Ruth ends with the genealogy from Perez to David (Ruth 4:18-22). This shows without a shadow of a doubt that this foreign girl Ruth, a Moabite initially outside of the house of God, became an integral part of God’s plan through lineage to bring not only one of the most revered leaders of the Jewish nation, David, but also the Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God.
Ruth is a great little book on so many levels, but what can be more rewarding and exciting than seeing the many different picture-types of our Lord and Savior Jesus as we dig down into the Scriptures! Always keep Jesus close in mind when reading through the Old Testament… there is a good chance you will find Him there!