Guest Author - Charisse Van Horn
The book of Ruth is one of the most beautiful stories about redeeming love in the entire Bible. The author is anonymous and it is believed Ruth was written in the 10th century B.C. The book follows Judges and rightfully so, as Ruth takes place during the time when judges ruled Israel. The early portion of the book places the setting as the land of Moab that is located to the east of the Dead Sea. The latter setting is near Bethlehem. Though the author is anonymous, Jewish tradition credits the authorship as Samuel.
One of the most notable features of the book of Ruth is that during the time of Judges, which is often referred to as a period when Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord; Ruth chronicles the journey of an honest, hardworking, and God-fearing family. Ruth is described as a woman of morals and virtues and her faithfulness and determination placed her in the Davidic family line. The story is also one of feminine wisdom, courage, and inspiration as Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, are two widows who survive hardship and famine and use wisdom and obedience to God’s law in finding restoration.
The beginning of Ruth chronicles Naomi’s troubles and introduces both she and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Naomi decides to leave Moab as famine is severe and Ruth pledges her faithfulness to stay by her mother-in-law’s side, even though she could rightfully leave her. The two travel to Bethlehem where Ruth meets Boaz, a wealthy man who is a relative of Elimelech, Naomi’s widow. Due to the familiar relationship, it is traditionally acceptable that Ruth and Boaz can marry. Boaz favors Ruth and provides for her. Through Boaz’ care, Ruth is able to help care for Naomi. Boaz’ generosity towards Ruth shows that he is a faithful, devout Israelite, as is Ruth.
In Ruth chapter 3, we read of how the relationship between Ruth and Boaz grew until one night, she lay down at his feet according to what Naomi had instructed her to do. The move was symbolic and a gesture that essentially asked Boaz to marry her. According to the laws of Israel, Ruth could have married one kinsman who was a closer relative to her husband than Boaz was. Boaz arranged to meet with the relative to see if he would marry Ruth. The man said he could not marry Ruth and Boaz purchased all the land that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon, and married Ruth. The marriage was a powerful, symbolic move that demonstrated God’s redeeming love.
Boaz not only married Ruth, providing immediate financial care for Ruth and Naomi, but by purchasing Elimelech’s property, he continued to carry on his line. Ruth and Boaz had Obed who later became the father of Jesse, who then became the father of David, who became King of Israel. In Matthew, chapter 1, the genealogy of Jesus Christ is given and Ruth is given special mention. In Matthew 1:5, it states that Salmon was the father of Boaz through Rachab and that Boaz was the father of Obed through Ruth. If it were not for Ruth’s faithfulness to her mother-in-law and the God of Israel, she never would have been part of the Messianic line that ultimately led to the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.