INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF RUTH
Ruth is one of the greatest love stories ever written. It not only tells the true story of Ruth and Boaz, but also gives a picture of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. We find the drama of three poor widows struggling seemingly without hope. The oldest (Naomi) seems to be bitter against God. Another, returns to the gods of her people. Yet another (Ruth) puts her trust in the Lord, and finds grace in the eyes of a wealthy landowner (Boaz). While trusting under the wings of the Lord she is redeemed, and has a son (Obed) who is the grandfather of King David. Just as Ruth found Grace in the eyes of Boaz, we can find grace in Jesus Christ our Kinsman Redeemer.
Understanding the principle of the kinsman redeemer. Law of the kinsman redeemer Deuteronomy 25:5-10
The Lord intended for each family to retain their land from generation to generation in Israel. When someone died having a wife, but no children, their next of kin (usually a brother) was to take the widow to be his wife. If they had a child together it was to be brought up in the name of the dead man, and receive the dead man’s inheritance. If the next of kin refused to redeem the widow he was humiliated by having his shoe removed, and the widow may also spit in his face.
When we are born, we are born into sin, and being as dead men with no inheritance we need a redeemer. No natural man (though he may be of our family) is able to redeem us, because he too was born a sinner. The law could not redeem us even if we were able to keep it. The blood of animals is not sufficient to redeem us. Only Jesus Christ is both willing and able to be our Redeemer. He is able because he was born into the family of man, and being the Son of God, knew no sin. He is also willing to redeem us, “…he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37
Names and Meanings
In the book of Ruth, as with much of the Bible, it is important to understand the meanings of the names of places and people. It is ironic that a man named Elimelech (my God is King) would seemingly lose hope, and leave Bethlehem (the house of bread) during a famine. The country to which he brings his family is Moab (of his father) who is descendants of Lot. The sons of Elimelech, Mahlon (sick) and Chilion (sick, pining) both die, and we are left assuming that it was from bad health. When Naomi (my delight) has lost her husband and sons, she seeks to return to Bethlehem, because she hears there is bread in Bethlehem (the house of bread). Upon returning Naomi (my delight) is bitter and wishes to be called Mara (sad, bitter). The greatest comfort Naomi has in the worst of times is Ruth (a female friend). (The meanings of names were found in “Smith’s Bible Dictionary.” Ruth – “the kinsman redeemer”
KEY VERSE: Ruth 1:16-17, “And Ruth said, Intreat 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: 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.”
THEME: God’s reward for committing our ways to him. • Faithfulness in times of hardship.
• Sustaining grace.
• His redeeming hand.
DATE: Ruth probably lived around 1250 B.C. about the time of Gideon.
• Ruth begins with the statement, “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine
in the land.” The famine mentioned in Judges 6:3-6, may well have been the famine Elimelech experienced.
• The last verse reveals that at least some of the book was recorded as a much later narrative, because it lists Ruth’s
WRITER: Samuel is traditionally given credit for writing Ruth, but we have no concrete evidence of this in scripture. WRITTEN: Ruth is closely tied to the book of Judges.
• The history of the children of Israel shows a definite cycle of walking near God, being at ease, being enticed by other gods, being judged by God, repentance, and once again walking near God. This cycle can be seen in Ruth through the beginning famine, and later the definite godly attitude of the people mentioned in the book. This would also coincide with the time when Gideon was a judge. The attitude of the people revealed Israel’s relationship with God at that time.
• “Boaz” means “Redeemer,” one quick to do things and no procrastination (putting off). He met people with an attitude of respect, and blessed them. He was careful to only take Ruth lawfully. He was shown to be generous, a type of Grace.
• Boaz’s servants. Greeted their master with “The Lord bless thee” and they treated Ruth well. Ruth Page 1
• The Nearer Kinsman. Released the responsibility to redeem Ruth in the correct manner.
• The neighbor women – Type of Law – Could not redeem. Blessed the Lord for his kindness to Naomi. THE BOOK: Number in the Bible – 8th of 66 Books
Number of Chapters – 4
Number of Verses – 85
PURPOSE: To show the faithfulness of God to His people
• To show the reward Ruth gained by trusting in the God of Israel.
• To record the genealogy of David.
TRADITIONS: We find the use of dress has symbolic meaning in the book of Ruth
• Spreading the Skirt over someone. When Ruth presents herself to Boaz she asks him to spread his skirt over her. This would have been a common seal of engagement between Ruth and Boaz, which was acceptable in the East.
• Removing the shoe. It was given under law that if a person refused the part of kinsman redeemer they must remove their shoe.
• Removing the veil (or shawl). It is quite possible that a statement is being made by Boaz sending this widow home with her veil removed and full of barley.
Remember the statement made at the end of the Book of Judges when studying this time period; Judges 21:25. “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
I. The decline of Elimelech’s family – 1:1-5 II. Naomi returns to Bethlehem – 1:6-22
A. The decision to return – 1:6-7
B. Orpah departs to her people – 1:8-15
C. Ruth commits herself to Naomi and her God – 1:16-18 D. The entrance into Bethlehem – 1:19-22
III. Ruth gleans in Boaz’s field – 2:1-23 A. Introduction of Boaz – 2:1-3
B. The kindness of Boaz – 2:4-17
C. Naomi’s concern for Ruth – 2:18-23
IV. Ruth seeks her rest – 3:1-18
A. Naomi’s council – 3:1-5
B. Boaz’s acceptance – 3:6-11
C. Ruth waits for confirmation – 3:12-18
V. The Widows’ rewards for waiting on the Lord – 4:1-22 A. Boaz buys all that was Elimelech’s – 4:1-9
B. Boaz marries Ruth – 4:10-12
C. The generations of Ruth and Boaz – 4:13-22
FACTS: Of the top one hundred names of girls, “Ruth” is the seventh most popular. There are one and one-half million girls in the United States named “Ruth.”
The Book covers a period of ten years of heartbreak and sorrow caused by the philosophy, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
Bethlehem means – “The House of Bread”
Judah means – “Praise”
Moab means – “The World” (Garbage Dump); of his father – descendants of Lot (Thirty miles from Bethlehem) (Psalm 60:8 God’s Wash Pot – Gets one clean)
Elimelech means – “God Is My King”
Naomi means – “Pleasant One” (Delightful)
Mahlon means – “Sickly”
Chilion means – “Puny” (Piney)
Ruth means – “Beauty”
Orpah means – “Fawn”
Boaz means – “Redeemer” (Quick to do things. No procrastination)
Ruth is read in the synagogues by the Jews at Pentecost (Harvest Festival).