"OH, ONE MORE THING. THERE ARE STRINGS ATTACHED..."
*It's a rainy morning in Madison, WV, but still it's a good morning. Today, we return to the Book of Ruth. Yesterday's events were interesting to say the least. It is my belief that Ruth did what she had to do in order to secure her future. I believe that, regardless of what actions took place on the threshing floor, there was a marriage proposal of sorts. And yes, Ruth made the proposal. Now, Boaz has been identified as a kinsman-redeemer. He is a relative of Naomi's deceased husband. But...(don't you always hate it when there is a but?) Boaz realizes that there is actually another man who is a closer relative than he.
"Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, 'Come over here, my friend, and sit down.' So he went over and sit down." (Ruth 4:1)
Boaz meets the fellow who is closest of kin at the town/city gate. He then calls for ten city elders to join them. This poor fellow is probably left to wonder: "What is about to happen here?" Apparently the location of the city gate in ancient times served as a courtroom. The ten elders have been brought together in order to hear the case. What is the case? The passage continues with Boaz telling the kinsman-redeemer that Naomi has a piece of land that belonged to Elimelech and she is selling it. Now, we are not given many details about the land and why she is selling it. However, the role of the kinsman-redeemer in this case would be to buy the land. This purchase would not only keep the land "in the family" but would also keep the widow out of poverty. Boaz goes on to say that he (Boaz) is next in line if this fellow declines. Well, the fellow decides to purchase the land. Boaz then says, "Well, that is great! Congratulations! Oh, there's just one thing I forgot to mention. You see, when you buy the land you will also acquire the dead man's widow. So, again, congratulations!" (There is confusion as to whether he would acquire both widows, because of Hebrew wording) This was more than the fellow bargained for, and to make a long story short, he declined the entire deal.
"So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, 'Buy it yourself."..Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, 'Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech...I have also acquired Ruth...as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property..." (Ruth 4:8-10)
Well, Boaz is now the husband of Ruth. The witnesses declare the deal to be official. Now, this has been at times a complicated tale to tell. The wording that we dealt with was sometimes ambiguous. In trying to understand a story such as this we must have a good understanding of ancient customs. For instance, the removal of the shoe in verse eight was a way of transferring responsibility. Today, if someone took off his or her shoe it would be for any other reason than to "seal a deal." Today, we have our own language which consists of terms that are often only known to people in our own region, culture, age bracket, etc. So, while "uncovering one's feet" to us may simply mean "to take one's shoes off" it meant something entirely different in the ancient world. If it is true that Ruth did a "naughty" act on the threshing floor, we look at it in a different way today than it would have been perceived then. What Ruth did was to secure the future for not only herself, but also Naomi. In fact, what Ruth did was not much different than what Tamar did back in Genesis. You remember Tamar, correct? She was childless. Her first husband died, then his brother (and her second husband died), then her father-in-law wouldn't allow the third son to marry her. She dressed up like a...yes...a prostitute and had a child by who? Yes, her father-in-law. And, if you recall, Tamar ended up in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. She, in fact, was one of four women mentioned in the same genealogy that is found in Matthew's gospel. (Women were not typically mentioned in genealogies) Oh, speaking of Tamar, her son is mentioned in the Book of Ruth. Oh Boy! Hang on! This is about to get good!
"Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah." (Ruth 4:12)
This was a blessing upon Boaz by the elders. Perez was the son born to Tamar and Judah whom we mentioned earlier. Of course the two stories and the characters are connected by way of levirate marriage. Also, Perez was the youngest son of Tamar and Judah, but his tribe held a more prominent position in the kingdom, because...ready...King David came from this tribe. (Hint! Hold on to that info) O.K., I would encourage you to read the remainder of the chapter and all the passages that I have not dealt with. Boaz and Ruth have a son. They name him Obed. The story ends with a short genealogy beginning with Perez. It ends with King David. Remember, what I said? King David (whom we will meet very soon) came from the lineage of Perez. Well, now we discover that Boaz and his son Obed were in the genealogy of King David. Which of course, meant that Ruth was as well. Oh, wait...Ruth was a foreign woman. A Moabitess. Um...Tamar was a foreign woman. And, Rahab was a foreign woman. You remember Rahab, correct? She was a what? Yes, a prostitute. Oh, wait! Not only did Tamar make it into the genealogy of Jesus, so did Rahab! Two foreign women in the genealogy of Jesus. And prostitutes! Well, one was a prostitute, one played a prostitute, and one, well she did whatever she did on the threshing floor. Ummm....well...let's make that three foreign women in the genealogy of Jesus: "Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth." (Matthew 1:5) Yes, Ruth became the third woman listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Oh isn't this great stuff? But, there is one more thing. Now, this little bit of info I can not prove. It is only a legend. But, it is neat. According to legend Orpah and Ruth never met again. However, their ancestors did. They met on the battle field. Who were they? David and Goliath.
Tomorrow we will begin looking into the Book of First Samuel. This will be a very important study. I encourage you to join me as we meet some interesting and important characters. Along the way we will meet the first king of Israel, Saul. We will meet Samuel and his mother, and we will meet David. I pray you have a great day. -Pastor Rick