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Kinsman ­ Redeemer

A Study of the Book of Ruth

Detail of Landscape with Ruth and Boaz by Josef Anton Koch (Source:

Copyright © 2009 Mark A. Myers c/o St. Paul's Lutheran Church 12022 Jerusalem Road Kingsville, MD 21087 Permission is herewith granted to reproduce this document for personal and congregational use. Except for this usage, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the author.

Kinsman ­ Redeemer

A Study of the Book of Ruth

By Mark A. Myers


Table of Contents

A Few Instructions Sources Consulted ......................................................................................................................... vii Lesson 1: Lament for Moab ............................................................................................................1 Lesson 2: The Skeleton in Judah's Closet .......................................................................................5 Lesson 3: In the Days When the Judges Ruled ...............................................................................9 Lesson 4: The Strange Story of Micah and His Idols....................................................................13 Lesson 5: Are We in Gibeah or Gomorrah? ..................................................................................17 Lesson 6: The Alien, the Fatherless, and the Widow ....................................................................21 Lesson 7: A Land of Wheat and Barley ........................................................................................25 Lesson 8: Famine in the House of Bread.......................................................................................29 Lesson 9: Orpah's Choice .............................................................................................................33 Lesson 10: The Confession of Ruth the Moabitess .......................................................................37 Lesson 11: The Fields of Boaz ......................................................................................................43 Lesson 12: Blessed to Be a Blessing .............................................................................................47 Lesson 13: Naomi's Audacious Plan.............................................................................................51 Lesson 14: Conversation at the Threshing Floor...........................................................................55 Lesson 15: Redemption .................................................................................................................59 Lesson 16: The Benediction of the Witnesses...............................................................................63 Lesson 17: The Theology of Genealogy .......................................................................................67 Lesson 18: The Gospel According to Ruth ...................................................................................71 Appendix A: Israel in Canaan .......................................................................................................75 Appendix B: An Abbreviated Genealogy of Jesus Christ .............................................................76 Appendix C: The Problem of Ruth 4:5..........................................................................................77 Appendix D: A Possible Chiastic Structure of the Book of Ruth..................................................81


A Few Instructions

· Please read the relevant Scripture passages and study guide questions prior to each session. I'm not particularly interested in finding the answers to every single question in this guide. The questions will hopefully help us navigate through the text and provide useful discussion points as we read and attempt to interpret it. I'll be using the New International Version (NIV) Bible for this study. As we'll see, the NIV has some shortcomings and inaccuracies. Overall though, it's a decent and readable translation and I think most of you already have this version. If you don't own an NIV Bible, please don't feel obliged to buy one just for this study. Bring whatever English translation you happen to have and we'll do just fine. Ask questions. I won't have all the answers, but with the help of our pastors and the excellent commentaries I have access to, I'm confident that we'll manage if we get stuck on something. This study guide is also available at Feel free to download it if needed. Look for Christ in the text. He said He'd be in there (see John 5:39 and Luke 24:27).



· ·


Sources Consulted

Block, Daniel, I. Judges, Ruth. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999. Duguid, Iain M. Esther and Ruth. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 2005. Franke, John R (editor). Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005. Hoerber, Robert G (general editor). Concordia Self Study Bible. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1986. Hubbard, Robert L. The Book of Ruth. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988. Hubbard, Robert L. "The Go'el in Ancient Israel: Theological Reflections on an Israelite Institution." Bulletin for Biblical Research 1 (1991): 3-19. Keil, Carl F. Joshua, Judges, Ruth: Biblical Commentary of the Old Testament. Translated by James Martin. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978. Lawrenz, John C. Judges/Ruth. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1999. Leggett, Donald A. The Levirate and Goel Institutions in the Old Testament with Special Attention to the Book of Ruth. Cherry Hill, NJ: Mack Publishing Company, 1974. Luter, A. Boyd and Richard O. Rigsby. "An Adjusted Symmetrical Structuring of Ruth." Journal of the Evangelical Theology Society 39/1, (1996): 15-31. McCain, Paul T (general editor). Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005. Nielsen, Kirsten. Ruth: A Commentary. Translated by Edward Broadbridge. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1997. Ulrich, Dean R. From Famine to Fullness: The Gospel According to Ruth. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing Company, 2007. Wilch, John R. "Naomi, Boaz, and David: Evangelists of Israel." Lutheran Theological Review 13 (2000-2001): 69-81. Wilch, John R. Ruth. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2006.




Lesson 1: Lament for Moab Genesis 19:30-38



The title character of the book of Ruth was a native of Moab. Israel and Moab first encountered each other during the time of Moses. Read Numbers 22:1-6 and 25:1-5. a. How did the king of Moab react to the arrival of Israel on his borders?

b. What did he plan to do to the Israelites? Was his plan successful?

c. What trap did the people of Israel fall into while in Moab?

d. Read Deuteronomy 23:3-6. What additional information does this passage give about Israel's first encounter with Moab and its consequences?


Read Judges 3:12-15 for information about Moab and Israel not long after the Israelites entered and occupied Canaan. What was the relationship between Israel and Moab at this time? Now read verses 28-30. How did this relationship change?


Read 1 Kings 11:7. How is the god of the Moabites described in this verse?


Read Psalm 60:7-8. What image describes Judah? What image describes Moab? What might Israelites--especially those of the tribe of Judah--have thought of Moabites?



The Moabites were descendants of Lot, the nephew of Abraham. Lot had accompanied Abraham when the latter was called by the LORD to go to Canaan. The two men


eventually separated and moved to different regions with Lot settling in the city of Sodom. Refer to Genesis 19:1-29 for the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom. a. Lot resisted leaving Sodom even though he was urged to flee immediately. Why do you think he hesitated?

b. What happened to Lot's wife?


While the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a well-known story, what happened to Lot and his daughters afterward is not. Read Genesis 19:30-38 for this strange and disturbing epilogue. a. Explain the two women's dilemma as articulated by the older daughter. What was her solution?

b. Was Lot responsible for the sin that occurred between him and his daughters? Explain your answer.

c. How do you think the story of Moab's origin influenced the way Israelites and Moabites viewed one another?

d. Do we Christians make assumptions about people based on race, skin color, place of birth, personal appearance, or other similar considerations? Explain your answer.



Read the following passages and describe the relationship between Israel and Moab in the years and centuries after the events in the book of Ruth. a. 1 Samuel 22:3-4.


b. 2 Samuel 8:2.

c. 2 Kings 3:4-5.

d. 2 Kings 24:1-2.


Israel can often be seen as a type of the Christian church. If Israel typifies the church, what does Moab typify?


In some cases Moab might be said to function as a type of sinner condemned by the Law. Read the following excerpts from Jeremiah 48, a long prophecy against Moab, and interpret them based on this typological model. a. Jeremiah 48:8-9.

b. Jeremiah 48:36.

c. Jeremiah 48:47.




Lesson 2: The Skeleton in Judah's Closet (Genesis 38)



The setting for much of the book of Ruth is the village of Bethlehem in the territory of the Israelite tribe of Judah. The people of Judah were descendants of a man also called Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. Genesis 38 contains crucial information about the origins of the tribe of Judah. Before we read this strange narrative, let us deal with the following preliminary questions. a. The Joseph cycle began just prior to the events recorded in Genesis 38. Summarize the conflict between Joseph and his brothers. What happened to Joseph?

b. What was Judah's involvement (see Genesis 37:26)?


Read Genesis 38. This story touches on an institution common in the ancient Near East called levirate marriage, a practice that also features prominently in the book of Ruth. a. Why did the LORD put Er to death?

b. What did Judah tell Onan to do after Er's death?

c. Why did Onan refuse to do as Judah had instructed?

d. If Tamar had given birth to a son by Onan, what would this have meant for Er? What would it have meant for Onan?

e. What happened to Onan?



Consider Judah's reaction to the deaths of his two oldest sons. a. What did Judah promise to do for Tamar?

b. Why did he break his promise?

c. What does this indicate about his faith at this time?


What was Tamar's status at the end of verse 11? Why from her point of view was her situation an impossible one to endure?


What did Tamar do when she realized that Judah did not intend to keep his promise to her? What do Tamar's actions reveal about her?


How much had Judah become like his Canaanite neighbors? What warning should we Christians take from this?


What did Judah mean by his words in verse 26?


Answer the following questions about Judah and Lot. a. How were these two patriarchs responsible for the tragedy and shame that befell them?

b. Scripture is full of stories about people like Lot and Judah who break their promises to God and each other. How would this have affected the view of God an "outsider"


might have had? What does this mean for us as Christians living in a world full of people who do not know Christ?

c. In what ways did God show mercy and grace to Lot and Judah? How does God's faithfulness to these wayward patriarchs encourage us in our walk as His children?

d. Do we have "Lots" and "Judahs" in our congregation here? Explain your answer.


Read Genesis 44:18-34. How did Judah change? What does this teach us about how the Holy Spirit works repentance in us?


Judah's son Perez became the ancestor of the most powerful and influential clan of the tribe of Judah. David and all the kings of Judah were members of this clan. What does this reveal about the way God works?


Read Matthew 1:3 and refer to Appendix B. Why is Tamar listed in Christ's genealogy? What does this teach us about God and His plan of salvation? How does Romans 8:28 underscore this point?




Lesson 3: In the Days When the Judges Ruled (Judges 1-2)



Read Deuteronomy 7:1-6. a. What did the LORD command Israel to do to the Canaanite nations? Why?

b. What did the LORD command Israel to avoid? Why?

c. How did the LORD describe Israel in verse 6?


Ruth 1:1 tells us that the story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz took place in the time of the judges. To prepare for our study of Ruth, we will devote the next three lessons to analyzing lengthy excerpts from the book of Judges. One of the themes of Judges is the "Canaanization" of Israel. Old Testament scholars use this term to describe how Israel's failure to completely destroy the Canaanite nations resulted in the Israelites becoming like the Canaanites in their worship and morality. Although we have not used this term until now, we were introduced to the concept of Canaanization in the two previous lessons. a. How had Lot and his family been Canaanized?

b. How had Judah and his sons been Canaanized?

c. Can you think of some ways that Christianity in 21st century American has become Canaanized?

d. Are we at St. Paul's in danger of becoming Canaanized? Explain your answer.



The book of Judges is a catalog of Israel's many failures to live up to their covenant with God. These failures begin already in Judges chapter 1. a. Read Judges 1:19. How did the tribe of Judah fail and why? Is the reason for Judah's failure understandable?

b. Read Judges 1:27-30. In what way did these three tribes fail? What did they do to the remaining Canaanites?

c. Read Judges 1:31-33. What is the subtle yet significant difference between these two tribes' situation and that of the tribes mentioned previously?

d. Read Judges 1:34. Why was the Danites' failure the worst of all?

e. Describe the pattern of the Israelite's failures we have surveyed. How does Israel's failure explain the way sin works in our lives?



Read Judges 2:10-19. a. Summarize the cycle depicted in these verses.

b. How does this cycle also describe the working of Law and Gospel in our lives?

c. Read Romans 7:21-25. What is the only way out of the cycle of sin in which we are trapped?



Canaanization is an important theme in many books of the Old Testament besides Judges. In 1 and 2 Kings, the people and rulers of Israel and Judah continually abandoned the LORD to worship Baal and other false gods. Because of their stubborn idolatry, God allowed both kingdoms to eventually be destroyed by Assyria and Babylon. Read 2 Kings 17:14-15. a. Why were the Israelites always so tempted to worship false gods? What is the warning here for us Christians?

b. What false gods are we tempted to worship? Why?

c. How are false gods described in this passage from 2 Kings?

d. What happened to the people as a result of their worship of false gods?

e. Based on your answers to parts c and d, explain how we Christians become more like Christ.


What implication does your answer to part e have regarding the way we worship here at St. Paul's?




Lesson 4: The Strange Story of Micah and His Idols (Judges 17-18)



The last five chapters of the book of Judges show how thoroughly Canaanized Israel had become during this dark time in history. We begin with a bizarre story about a man named Micah and the migration of a large segment of the Danite tribe to the extreme north of the Promised Land. Micah (not to be confused with the prophet of the same name) lived in the tribal territory of Ephraim (see the map in Appendix A). Read Judges 17:1-6. Evaluate the faith and character of the two people who are introduced in these verses. a. Micah's mother.

b. Micah.


Where is Micah's father in the story? What is the first duty of a Christian father? What are the consequences when Christian fathers neglect or fail in this duty?


In his commentary on Judges and Ruth, Daniel Block describes Micah and his mother as "deadly sincere in their religious expression but thoroughly pagan in action." What do you think Dr. Block means by this? Give an example of how we can be religiously sincere but pagan in action.



Read Judges 17:7-13 and respond to the following questions. a. Where was the Levite from? Why had he come to Ephraim?

b. According to verse 10, what three things did Micah want from the Levite. What did Micah offer him in exchange?


c. Why did Micah think that the LORD would bless him? Why was he wrong? Do we Christians ever think and act as Micah did? Explain your answer.


Micah is an abbreviated form of Micaiah, a name that means "Who is like the LORD?" How does this meaning accentuate the irony of the story told in Judges 17?



Read Judges 18. Direct your attention to the first verse of this chapter before considering other parts of the text. a. What does the writer of Judges mean by the statement "Israel had no king?"

b. The words of Judges 18:1 are identical to the first part of Judges 17:6. Why did the author repeat this sentence?


Review your answer to Question 23d above. Then re-read the first two verse of Judge 18. a. What had the Amorites done to the Danites?

b. Why was this setback potentially fatal for the Danites as a tribe?

c. What did the Danites do in response?

d. Which commandment did they break by doing this?


Compare Judges 18:3 to John 10:27.


a. What did the Danites hear and recognize? What do you think this implies?

b. How do we learn to recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd?


Re-read verses 5-6. What did the Danites want from the Levite? What did he give them? What commandment did he break? What is the danger when pastors, teachers, parents, or other Christians in authority behave as the Levite did?


Re-read verses 18-30. a. How did the Danites convince the Levite to abandon Micah and go with them? Do you think pastors are ever tempted to do something similar? Explain your answer.

b. What is so tragic about Micah's complaint in verse 24?


What did the Danites do with Micah's idols and the Levite? Who did the Levite turn out to be? What does his identity show about the extent of Canaanization in Israel's worship in the time of the judges? What is the warning for us Christians?


By the end of this narrative, the Danites have defeated the people of Laish, built a capital city called Dan after their eponymous ancestor, and established themselves in a new land where they can live and thrive (see the map in Appendix A). a. How do congregations and church bodies sometimes seek to emulate the "success" of the Danites?

b. How might we at St. Paul's be tempted to follow in the footsteps of the Danites?




Lesson 5: Are We in Gibeah or Gomorrah? (Judges 19)



Judges 19 initiates a narrative arc that continues to the end of the book. We will be considering chapter 19 only in this Bible study so you are encouraged to study Judges 2021 on your own. Read Judges 19:1-10. a. How does verse 1 set the tone for the story to follow?

b. What are some similarities between the Levite of the story of Micah's idols and the Danites and the Levite described in this text?

c. How long did it take for the Levite to go after his concubine? Why?


Think about the Levite's concubine. a. What is a concubine? How is a concubine different from a wife?

b. Why had she run away from the Levite? Where did she go?

c. How did she behave toward her husband when he arrived to take her back?


How was the Levite treated by his father-in-law? What did you think of the father-inlaw's hospitality?


Why did the Levite insist on departing from father-in-law's house late in the day rather than staying one more night and leaving early the next morning?




Read Judges 19:11-26. How did you react when you read this text the first time?


Why did the Levite refuse to spend the night in Jebus?


The Levite decided to go a few miles beyond Jebus to Gibeah, a town in the tribal territory of Benjamin (refer to the map of Israel in Appendix A). a. What happened to the Levite when he arrived in Gibeah? Why was this odd?

b. Who greeted the Levite and offered him hospitality?

c. Why did the old man insist on bringing the Levite and his party to his home?


Consider the following questions about this disturbing narrative. a. What did the men of Gibeah intend to do to the Levite? Why?

b. How did the old man try to protect the Levite? What did the Levite do to protect himself? What can we conclude about these men by their words and actions?

c. What happened to the Levite's concubine?

d. The outrage in Gibeah clearly echoes a previous incident that took place in a different city. What city was that? What do the parallels between these two cities tell us about the depth of Canaanization in Israel?



Read Judges 19:27-30. a. How did the Levite treat his concubine in the morning?

b. What did the Levite do to his concubine after arriving at his final destination?

c. How did the Levite's concubine die?

d. How did the tribes of Israel react when they received the Levite's "message?"


Judges 19 is a sickening and terrifying story. Why is it in the Bible?


Read Ephesians 5:21-33. a. How does Paul use to describe the relationship between Christ and the church?

b. What does Christ do for the church according to this text?

c. How is the Levite's concubine like the church? How is she unlike the church?

d. How is Christ different from the Levite? How is this difference a source of comfort for us?




Lesson 6: The Alien, the Fatherless, and the Widow (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Leviticus 25:23-28, 47-49)



The writer of the book of Ruth takes it for granted that the reader is familiar with an important Israelite social law called the law of levirate marriage. The word levirate comes from the Latin levir which means brother-in-law. We have already encountered levirate marriage in the story of Judah and Tamar in Lesson 2 (see particularly Question 11). Read Deuteronomy 25:5-6. a. Who was required to fulfill the levirate law?

b. What do the words "if brothers are living together" in verse 5 mean?

c. What does verse 5 tell us about the legal status of the widow?

d. Read Genesis 13:14-17 and 18:18. Why was it imperative for an Israelite man who died childless to be provided with a son through the levirate law?


A rite of refusal took place when an Israelite man declined to perform his levirate obligation. This is described in Deuteronomy 25:7-10. a. Who initiated the refusal ceremony and why?

b. Where did the ceremony take place and why?

c. What did the widow do to the levir who refused to fulfill his duty?

d. How did the refusal ceremony protect the rights of the widow?



Donald Leggett, an Old Testament scholar who has studied the institution of levirate marriage comments as follows: "It is important to recognize that the levirate duty entailed a sacrifice of love." a. What sacrifice did the levir make?

b. What from the refusal ceremony shows that the levirate duty was considered an act of love and not of compulsion?



Read 1 Kings 21:2-3. Why did Naboth refuse to sell his vineyard to Ahab? What does Naboth's refusal tell us about his attitude to the land?


The concept of redemption and the goel, the man who redeems, are of primary importance in Ruth. One of most important duties of the redeemer was to aid a member of his extended family who had been forced to sell his land due to severe poverty. Read Leviticus 25:23-27, a text that describes the work of the goel in redeeming land (the NIV translates goel as "nearest relative" in verse 25). a. How is the LORD described in relation to the land?

b. How are the Israelites described in relation to the land?

c. It is important to remember that Israelites could never sell the land itself because they did not own it--the LORD was the true owner and the Israelites were His tenants. The clans of the various tribes of Israel had received the land from God during the conquest of Canaan as a permanent inheritance that was to be passed from fathers to sons. If driven by extreme financial necessity, an Israelite was permitted to temporarily sell his land's usufruct (the right to use the land and profit from its produce) to someone else. What was the duty of the goel if a poor Israelite sold his usufruct and was unable to buy it back?



Leviticus 25:28 refers to the Jubilee. Read about God's provision of the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25:8-10 and 13. a. When did the Year of Jubilee occur?

b. What happened on the Year of Jubilee?

c. What fundamental principle did the Jubilee reinforce?


Read Hebrews 11:8-16. a. What did the land promised to Abraham and his seed signify?

b. Based on this passage, explain why the Danites' migration to Laish recorded in Judges 18 was such a travesty (review Lesson 4, particularly Question 32).

c. Lutheran scholar John Wilch describes the theological significance of the land like this: "It was [the Israelite's] duty... to retain his inheritance faithfully, for it was a personal sign to his family of God's gracious covenant, a down payment on God's promise of eternal life in the new heavens and new earth." In light of this, explain why the law of redemption was such a blessing to Israel.


Another responsibility of the goel was to redeem a relative who had been sold into indentured servitude. Go to Leviticus 25:47-49 to read the regulations for the redemption of persons. a. Why might an Israelite be sold into indentured servitude?

b. Why was a state of indenture not to be permanent?


c. How could an indentured person be redeemed?


The goel could be called upon to perform another duty besides the redemption of land or persons. Read Numbers 35:16-27 and describe this duty.


God instituted the redemption laws out of love for Israel. When through the loss of land or freedom an Israelite became alienated from God's covenant promises, he could be fully restored through the work of a goel. This reflected the reality that the LORD Himself had acted as divine goel when He redeemed Israel from bondage in Egypt to be His own people (see Exodus 6:6-8). The redemption laws therefore are an Old Testament type of Christ, the goel of the whole world. a. Read Galatians 3:13-14. From what has Christ redeemed us? To what end has He redeemed us?

b. Read 1 Peter 1:18-19. What was the cost of our redemption?


Lesson 7: A Land of Wheat and Barley (Deuteronomy 24:19-22; Leviticus 23:10-14; 15-21)



We will begin this lesson by studying the law of gleaning, the third of the three social laws that are prominently featured in the book of Ruth. This will serve as a springboard into a broader examination of agriculture in the ancient Near East and its connection to the religious practices of the Israelites. Go first to Deuteronomy 24:19-22 to read about the institution of the law of gleaning. a. What did God command in these verses?

b. For whose benefit did God institute the law of gleaning?

c. Read Leviticus 19:9-10. What additional provision to the law of gleaning does this passage stipulate?

d. In addition to providing a source of food for the destitute, what other benefits resulted from the law of gleaning?

e. Although the law of gleaning was a characteristic of the culture of ancient Israel, what can it teach us 21st century American Christians?



The barley fields of Boaz are the setting of chapter 2 of the book of Ruth. Barley was the first of the crops sown the previous winter to be harvested (see Exodus 9:31). Bread made from this grain was an essential food of the inhabitants of the ancient Near East, particularly the poor (see 2 Kings 4:42 and John 6:9). Barley was also used as feed for horses (see 1 Kings 4:28). The ancient Egyptians are known to have brewed barley beer in large quantities. It is likely that the Israelites were introduced to this drink during their time in Egypt. Fermented beverages are mentioned many times in the Bible and it is clear that these are different from wine (see Deuteronomy 14:6 and Luke 1:14). Many scholars think these are references to barley beer. The NIV uses the word "beer" in the


story of Hannah, the mother of Samuel (see 1 Samuel 1:15) and parts of the book of Proverbs (see Proverbs 31:4 and 6). a. The barley harvest was celebrated by a religious festival known as First Fruits. Read Leviticus 23:9-14 for the regulations governing this festival. i. What were the people to do at the beginning of the barley harvest?

ii. On what day were they to do it?

iii. What were they forbidden to do?

b. What did the festival of First Fruits celebrate in Old Testament Israel? Now read 1 Corinthians 15:20-23. How does this passage explain the significance of First Fruits in the New Testament era?

c. Read Leviticus 23:4-8. What two festivals were observed just before and in conjunction with First Fruits?



While the action of Ruth 2 is set during the barley harvest, the chapter ends with the mention of a different harvest--the wheat harvest (see Ruth 2:23). Wheat was the second essential cereal crop of the ancient Near East (see Deuteronomy 8:8 and Joel 1:11). Israel exported this grain to neighboring countries (see 1 Kings 5:11 and Ezekiel 27:17). Wheat was sown at the same time as barley but it matured more slowly (see Exodus 9:31) and was therefore not ready for cutting until a couple of weeks into the barley harvest. Although the two crops are similar in nutritional content, wheat was more expensive than barley and was often considered to produce the superior bread flour. a. Read Leviticus 23:15-21 to learn about the religious rite associated with the wheat harvest, the festival of Weeks. i. How long after First Fruits did the festival of Weeks take place?


ii. How was the observance of Weeks similar to that of First Fruits?

b. Read Acts 2, especially verses 1-4, 22-24, and 41. i. What is the festival of Weeks known as in the Christian church?

ii. What happened to the disciples in Jerusalem during this festival?

iii. What did Peter preach at this time and what was the result of his sermon.

iv. How did the festival of Weeks serve as a foretaste of Acts 2:41?



The setting for much of Ruth 3 is the threshing floor of Boaz. A threshing floor is a flat stone or hard-packed earthen surface on which sheaves of harvested grain are scattered and threshed. A common method of threshing in ancient Israel employed an implement called a threshing sledge, a heavy wooden slab with teeth made of stone, metal, or potsherds fastened to the underside (see Isaiah 41:15 and Amos 1:3). Oxen or mules dragged the sledge back and forth over the sheaves to allow the teeth to break down the stalks into husks, straw, and grain kernels. Wooden pitch forks were used to lift away the straw. The kernels were then separated from the husks by winnowing, tossing the pile of threshed grain into the air with a winnowing fork (see Jeremiah 15:7). Wind, whether caused by a natural breeze or artificially generated by winnowing fans, blew away the lighter chaff (see Psalm 1:4 and Hosea 13:3) while the heavier heads of grain fell down to the threshing floor. The kernels were then sifted with a sieve (see Amos 9:9 and Luke 22:31) and collected for storage. The chaff was burned as fuel (see Matthew 13:12) and the straw became animal fodder (see Genesis 24:32). a. Read Joel 2:23-24. What agricultural images are associated with the threshing floor in this text? What does the threshing floor represent?

b. Read Hosea 9:1. What sinful practice is linked to the threshing floor?


c. Read 2 Chronicles 3:1. Where did Solomon build the Temple of the LORD? What was the purpose of the Temple?

d. How does the threshing of grain point to our Lord's suffering on the cross and the Sacrament of the Altar?

e. Read Matthew 3:11-12. What do the threshing floor and winnowing fork (or fan) symbolize?


Why are threshing and winnowing appropriate metaphors for what takes place in the Divine Service at St. Paul's?


Lesson 8: Famine in the House of Bread (Ruth 1:1-6)



Read Ruth chapter 1. Then go back and re-read verses 1-2. a. What was the situation in Israel during the time of the judges?

b. Consult a Bible dictionary to find out what Bethlehem means. What is ironic about this meaning in the context of Ruth 1:1-2? What do Christ's words in John 6:35 add to the meaning of Bethlehem?

c. Locate Moab on the map in Appendix A. How long did Elimelech plan to stay in Moab? Did his plans change? How do you know?


The famine in Bethlehem is critical as both the cause of Elimelech's move to Moab and as a manifestation of sin and its consequences in the world. a. What does the text of Ruth 1 say about the cause of the famine?

b. According to Leviticus 26:18-20, what might have caused the famine?

c. Read Romans 8:28. Why did God cause or allow the famine in Bethlehem to occur? What does God intend by allowing "famines" in our lives?



Re-read verses 3-5. Some Old Testament exegetes hold the view that Elimelech sinned when he took his family out of Judah to go to live in Moab. What can you find in these verses that supports this view?



Some scholars compare Elimelech's move to Moab to the accounts of the patriarchs leaving the Promised Land to temporarily live in other places during times of trouble. We will briefly study a couple of these stories. a. Read Genesis 12:1. Why did Abram move to Egypt?

b. Read 1 Timothy 5:8. Was it wrong for Abram to go to Egypt?

c. Read Genesis 13:1-2. What was Abram's condition when he left Egypt to return to Canaan?

d. Read Genesis 46:1-4. Why did Jacob move his family to Egypt? What was the condition of his descendants when they left Egypt centuries later?

e. How did Elimelech's family fare during its sojourn in Moab?


Elimelech means "my God is King." The meanings of his sons' names are less certain. Some scholars claim that Mahlon and Kilion might be related to the Hebrew root words meaning "to be sick" and "to come to an end" respectively. a. Read Judges 21:25a. In light of this verse and the fact that the book of Ruth is set in the period of the judges, what might we conclude about Elimelech?

b. If those scholars who believe that Elimelech's move to Moab was a violation of the covenant with the LORD are correct, what nuance does the meaning of his name add to the context of the first few verses of Ruth 1?

c. In light of the tragedy that unfolds in the first few verses of Ruth, what does Elimelech's name teach us about God and His ways?


d. What might be concluded from the possible meanings of Mahlon and Kilion?


Read Deuteronomy 7:1-4. a. Why did God forbid the Israelites to intermarry with the Canaanites?

b. Does this passage forbid intermarriage with Moabites? What about Deuteronomy 23:3?

c. Read 1 Kings 11:1-5. What happened to Solomon in his old age? Did he marry Moabite women?

d. Read 2 Corinthians 6:14-15. Why is it dangerous for a Christian to marry a nonChristian? Does this text mean that God will not bless such a marriage?

e. Based on the answers to the above questions, do you think Mahlon and Kilion should have married Moabite women? Explain your answer.


The book of Ruth, like every other Old Testament book, is full of revealing textual symmetries called chiasms. Look at the following chiastic outline for verses 1-6. A verse 1a: Famine B verses 1b-2: Movement C verse 3: Loss D verse 4: Gain C' verse 5: Loss B' verse 6a: Preparation for Movement A' verse 6b: Food a. What is the explicit cause of the food in A'? What does symmetrical structure of these verses imply about the cause of the famine in A?


b. What is the direction of the movement in B? In B'?

c. The theme of emptiness and fulfillment runs throughout the book of Ruth. How does this theme fit into the chiastic architecture for Ruth 1:1-6?

d. What is the loss in C? In C'? Who is most affected by these losses? These losses bracket the gain in D, the central emphasis in the chiasm. What was gained? Who benefited most from this gain? What does this gain foreshadow for the rest of the story?

e. What does A' portend for Naomi? What sacramental reality is the writer of Ruth directing us to in A'?


What does the symmetry of verses 1-6 teach us about our pilgrimage as baptized children of God living in this world ruined by sin?


Lesson 9: Orpah's Choice (Ruth 1:6-14)



Re-read Ruth 1 and give special attention to verses 6-10. a. Why did Naomi decide to go back to Bethlehem?

b. What was the direct cause of the new situation in Bethlehem that prompted Naomi to return there?

c. Could she have remained in Moab?

d. Why did Orpah and Ruth go with her?

e. Why did Naomi urge her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab? How did they respond?



The Hebrew word hesed is the central theme of the book of Ruth. The word first appears in Ruth 1:8 where it is translated as "kindness" by the NIV. Hesed is an act of sacrificial loving kindness and faithfulness that one person demonstrates to another--especially to the poor, defenseless, and lowly--that goes beyond the requirements of law or obligation. Human hesed is a reflection of divine hesed, God's unconditional grace, mercy, and love through Jesus Christ. a. Read Exodus 15:13 (the NIV translates hesed in this verse as "love"). How is the LORD's love characterized in this verse? What other attribute is connected to God's love in this passage?


b. Read Psalm 118:1 (the NIV translates hesed as "love"). What does the psalmist say about the LORD's love? Now read verses 6-7 of this psalm. What benefits come to believers as a result of God's hesed?

c. Read Micah 6:8 (the NIV translates hesed as "mercy"). According to Micah, how do God's people know to practice hesed with one another? What other concepts does the prophet link to hesed?

d. Read Romans 8:32. What is the most perfect expression of God's hesed?


Based on the brief analysis above, answer these questions about the concept of hesed as it is used in Ruth 1:8. a. How had Orpah and Ruth demonstrated hesed to Naomi?

b. What do their acts of hesed tell us about their faith?

c. Does Naomi's prayer for the LORD to grant hesed to Orpah and Ruth mean that God's blessings are rewards for good works? Explain your answer.


Ruth 1:9 introduces the notion of menuhah (translated as "rest" by the NIV). The word denotes not just a physical resting place but the security, permanence, and peace that result from when one's needs are met. a. Read Joshua 21:43-45. Where is Israel's menuhah located? What is its source?

b. Read Psalm 132:13-16. Who dwells in the place of rest? What is the relationship between this menuhah and Christian worship?


c. Read Isaiah 11:10. Who is the Root of Jesse? To whom does He offer rest?


Reflect on menuhah as it is used in Ruth 1:9. a. Where did Naomi see Orpah and Ruth finding their rest?

b. Why could they not find their rest with Naomi?

c. How does Naomi's prayer for menuhah for her daughters-in-law point forward to the church's rest in Christ?



Re-read Ruth 1:11-13. a. What was Naomi's purpose in asking the questions recorded in these verses?

b. What can we conclude about Naomi from her statement in verse 12?

c. In what way was Naomi's situation "more bitter" than that of her daughters-in-law?

d. What was Naomi doing from a legal point of view in urging her daughters-in-law to return to Moab?


Focus now on verse 14. The author of Ruth never explicitly condemns Orpah for her return to Moab. On the contrary, he portrays her in a positive light. When compared to Ruth though, Orpah falls short of the mark. Respond to the following questions.


a. In what way did Orpah make the "right" choice?

b. In what way did Orpah make the "wrong" choice?

c. Evaluate Orpah's decision in terms of the Hebrew concept of hesed.

d. What are the similarities between Orpah and Lot's wife?

e. Read Luke 8:4-8 and 11-15. Using this famous parable, explain why Orpah gave way to Naomi's arguments and returned to Moab.


Although this is a matter of dispute, some scholars have proposed that Orpah's name is related to the Hebrew word denoting the back of the neck. If this is true, how does Orpah's name illustrate her choice to return to Moab?


When people hear the Word of God, why do some come to faith in Christ and others do not?


Lesson 10: The Confession of Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 1:15-22)



Re-read chapter 1 of Ruth. Then go to Ruth 1:14b. The word "clung" in this verse is the NIV translation of the Hebrew dabaq. a. Read Genesis 2:24. The Hebrew word dabaq is translated by the NIV in this passage as "be united to." How is the situation in this verse different from that in Ruth 1:14b? How is it similar?

b. Read Deuteronomy 13:4. Dabaq occurs in verse 20 where the NIV translates it as "hold fast to." What did Moses urge the people of Israel to do? What light does this text shed on Ruth's decision to stay with Naomi?

c. Read Proverbs 18:24. In this verse, dabaq is translated by the NIV to "sticks closer." How is this verse an appropriate mirror to the "partnership" of Ruth and Naomi? Who is the friend described in the second part of verse 24?


A form of the verb "return" is used in verse 15. This is not the first time we have encountered this word in Ruth. Words related to the common Hebrew root shub (to return) are found twelve times in Ruth 1. The NIV translates these as "return," "go back," or something similar. What is the author of Ruth's purpose in using this word so frequently?


Elimelech's migration to Moab and his sons' marriages to Moabites were not explicitly condemned by the writer of Ruth. However, the fact that these questionable actions on the part of covenant people of the LORD are followed by the frequent repetition of the word "return" is suggestive. a. What are some of the ways that "return" might be understood in Ruth 1?

b. What caused Naomi's return to Bethlehem? What does this teach us about repentance?


c. What is suggested by Orpah's return to "her people and her gods?"



Study verses 16-18 and consider the following chiastic outline of this passage. A verse 16a: Ruth breaks her silence B verse 16b: Ruth calls on Naomi to stop C verse 16c: Ruth vows faithfulness to Naomi in life D verse 16d: Ruth vows faithfulness to the people of Israel D' verse 16d: Ruth vows faithfulness to the God of Israel C' verse 17a: Ruth vows faithfulness to Naomi in death B' verse 17b: Ruth calls on the LORD to witness A' verse 18: Naomi falls silent a. What does Naomi say that finally forces Ruth to break her silence and speak for the first time in A? What does this suggest about her faith?

b. Explain how Ruth's vows in C and C' are examples of hesed?

c. In the ancient world, a proper funeral and burial were considered absolutely essential. What risk was Ruth taking by pledging to be buried with Naomi?

d. In most commonly used English language translations of the Bible, Ruth 1:17 is translated to say that death is the only thing that separate Ruth from Naomi. However, many experts in biblical Hebrew have put forward convincing arguments that this verse says something quite different. Robert Hubbard, the author of an indispensable commentary on Ruth, translates Ruth 1:17b as: "...if even death itself separates you and me." Assuming this translation is accurate, what did Ruth actually confess? How does this affect our understanding of Ruth's declaration of faith?

e. Why is Ruth's promise as recorded in verses 16-17 appropriate for a man and woman to repeat at a Christian wedding? How do Christian wedding vows involve the idea of hesed, that is, sacrificial love and service to one's spouse?



How did Naomi react to Ruth's confession? What does this teach us about our lives as Christians?


Lutheran scholar John Wilch observes the following in his commentary on Ruth: "To trust God's comforting promises and guidance in His Word, despite our troubles and ignorance of the future, is to exercise faith." a. Read the words of Christ recorded in Matthew 10:37-38. How does this passage help illuminate Ruth's exercise of her faith?

b. Ruth 1:16-17 is one of the most magnificent confessions of faith recorded in the Bible. Another one is found in the book of Habakkuk. Read Habakkuk 3:17-18 and compare Habakkuk's words to Ruth's. How do the prophet's words reflect Wilch's observation about faith?


Think about the respective decisions of Ruth and Orpah. Review your answers to Question 76 above concerning Orpah and her choice. Then answer the following questions about Ruth and her choice. a. In what way did Ruth make the "wrong" choice?

b. In what way did she make the "right" choice?

c. Evaluate Ruth's decision in terms of the Hebrew concept of hesed.

d. What are the similarities between Ruth and Abraham?

e. Read Luke 8:4-8 and 11-15. Why did Ruth refuse to be parted from Naomi?



Read John 6:66-69. What did many of Christ's disciples do? Why? Why did Peter and the Twelve stay with Jesus? How does this text help us better understand Ruth's commitment to Naomi and Naomi's God?



Find Bethlehem on the map in Appendix A. Read Ruth 1:19-22 again. a. Why did the women of Bethlehem greet Naomi's return with such a stir? Was this stir one of excitement, shock, or something else? Explain your answer.

b. The name Naomi means "pleasant" or "lovely." Why did Naomi change her name to Mara when she returned to Bethlehem?

c. According to Robert Hubbard, the Hebrew construction in verse 22 makes it clear that both Naomi and Ruth "return" to Bethlehem (although the NIV obscures this by saying that Naomi "returned... accompanied by Ruth"). How can Ruth, a Moabite woman who has never been to Israel, "return" to Bethlehem?


Think about Naomi's complaint in verses 20-21. a. In what ways had Naomi been emptied? Had she been left completely empty?

b. What from the text of Ruth 1 shows that although Naomi was embittered and hurt she still trusted in the LORD?

c. Read John 9:1-3 and Romans 8:28. Why does God permit suffering in our lives? Now read Romans 8:35-39. What has God promised to us Christians who endure suffering and the other affects of sin to the very end?


d. Read Philippians 2:5-11. How had Christ been emptied? What was the result of His being emptied?


Why did Naomi make no mention of Ruth in her words to the women of Bethlehem? Why did the women seem to take no notice of Ruth? Do we Christians ever act like Naomi or the women of Bethlehem? Explain your answer.


The author refers to Ruth as "the Moabitess" in verse 22 and does so again in later parts of the narrative. Why is Ruth's racial identity important? Does racism exist in the Christian church? Does it exist at St. Paul's? Explain your answers.




Lesson 11: The Fields of Boaz (Ruth 2:1-13)



Review the section of Lesson 7 that deals with the barley harvest. a. Why was the festival of First Fruits celebrated by the people of ancient Israel?

b. What did First Fruits teach Israel about the Messiah who was to come?

c. What happened before Ruth could enter the Promised Land? What does this teach us about Christ's work? Why is it significant that Ruth "returned" to Bethlehem during First Fruits? What does this teach us about Christ's work?



Read Ruth chapter 2 and review your answers to Question 59. a. What information about Boaz from verse 1 is repeated in verse 3? Why do you think the writer of Ruth repeats this information?

b. Why do you think Naomi stayed behind when Ruth went out to glean?

c. We noted that Ruth is called "the Moabitess" in Ruth 1:22. Why do you suppose is she explicitly identified as a Moabite again in Ruth 2:2 and 6?

d. What dangers did Ruth risk by going out to glean?

e. What did the foreman tell Boaz about Ruth?



Did Ruth need permission to glean? What does her asking permission reveal about her?


Re-read Ruth 2:4. a. How did Boaz and his workers greet one another?

b. What does this tell us about the people in Bethlehem, or at least the community of Boaz and those who worked in his barley fields?

c. What do these words tell us about God and our everyday work?

d. At three points in the Divine Service, the pastor addresses the congregation using the Boaz's blessing from verse 4. The congregation responds with "And with thy spirit" or "And also with you." When in the liturgy does this Salutation and Response occur? Why?



Review Ruth 2:8-13. a. What do we learn about Boaz from the way he addressed Ruth in verse 8?

b. What things had Boaz heard about Ruth?

c. What favors did Boaz grant to Ruth?


d. What motivated Boaz's generosity?

e. How did Ruth respond to Boaz's generosity? What does this teach us about how we should respond to God's blessings to us in Christ?


Re-read Ruth 2:12 and answer the following. a. What metaphor for God's loving protection is used in this verse?

b. This metaphor is found in several places in the Old Testament. Read the following passages and explain what they teach us about God and His relationship with those who trust in Him. i. Exodus 19:4.

ii. Psalm 63:7.

iii. Jeremiah 48:40.

c. Read Matthew 23:37. What do Christ's words in this verse add to our understanding of Ruth 2:12?


In verse 13, Ruth described herself as lower than one of Boaz's serving girls. What does this reveal about Ruth? What can we Christians learn from this?


The Hebrew expression ish gibbor hayil occurs in Ruth 2:1 where it is translated by the NIV as "a man of standing." Gibbor hayil can mean many things, including a mighty


warrior, a property owner with the means to arm himself and defend his town against attack, a rich man, someone held in high esteem by his community, or an honorable man. a. What in Boaz's words and actions that we have encountered so far in Ruth 2 justifies the author's description of him as gibbor hayil?

b. You may have already guessed that Boaz is a type of Christ. We will explore this typology in more detail in upcoming lessons. What do the words gibbor hayil tell us about Christ and His work?


Let us conclude with a final consideration of the barley fields of Boaz as depicted in chapter 2 of Ruth. a. How are the fields of Boaz a fitting metaphor for the Christian church?

b. What might the field workers symbolize? What might Ruth as gleaner symbolize?

c. What can we at St. Paul's do to ensure that "gleaners" and "Moabites" are welcome here at our church?


Lesson 12: Blessed to Be a Blessing (Ruth 2:14-23)



The portion of Ruth 2 we studied in the previous lesson covers the period of a single day from dawn to midday. In this lesson we will finish the chapter and trace out the remainder of the day. Re-read chapter 2. Then go back and concentrate on verses 14-17. a. What is the significance of Boaz's invitation to Ruth to join him and his workers at their noontime meal?

b. What does Boaz's meal of bread and wine vinegar bring to mind?

c. What additional kindness did Boaz show Ruth?

d. How do Boaz's favors in these verses exemplify the concept of hesed?

e. What did Ruth still have to do once she was finished gleaning and threshing?


Commentators observe that the ephah of grain Ruth threshed would have resulted in enough bread to last a couple of weeks or even more. What does this amount tell us about Ruth's industriousness? What does it tell us about Boaz's generosity?


Read Luke 15:1-2. What did Jesus do that so disgusted the Pharisees and teachers of the law? In what way were Boaz's actions similar?



Answer the questions below on Ruth 2:18-20.


a. What did Ruth share with Naomi?

b. Why did she share it?

c. Why was Naomi so surprised by what Ruth had brought back?

d. What do Naomi's words of blessing in verse 19 and 20 tell us about her faith?


Think about the middle part of verse 20 ("He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead"). Note that the word translated by the NIV as "kindness" is the familiar Hebrew word hesed. a. Who is the subject of this sentence?

b. What did Naomi mean by hesed to "the living?"

c. What did she mean by hesed to "the dead?"

d. What hesed does God show the living and the dead? Why does He do this?


In addition to bringing our attention back to the theme of hesed, Ruth 2:20 is an important one because it specifically links the concept of the goel (translated by the NIV as "kinsman-redeemer") to Boaz. a. Why is it significant that Naomi called Boaz "our close relative" rather than "my close relative?"


b. Naomi identified Boaz as a goel, a member of her husband's clan who could be called upon to exercise the laws of redemption. What needed to be redeemed and why?


Consider the following questions on verses 21-23. a. Why is Ruth again called the Moabitess in verse 21?

b. What additional privilege did Boaz grant to Ruth?

c. What is the author's intent by pointing out at the end of verse 23 what should be obvious, namely that Ruth was lodging with Naomi?


Read Genesis 12:1-3. According to verse 3, what was promised through God's calling of Abram? Explain how this promise is being fulfilled in the Ruth 2.


Read 2 Corinthians 8:9. a. How does this text describe Christ's death on the cross for the world?

b. What "riches" have we received as a result?

c. Now read 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. How did the Macedonian Christians respond to what Christ had first done for them?

d. How were Boaz's acts of hesed a reflection of God's grace through Christ?


e. How is what Ruth did for Naomi a reflection of God's grace through Christ?


How should we baptized Christians treat our neighbors, especially those in need?


We noted in the previous lesson that the barley fields of Boaz is an apt metaphor for the church (see Question 95). a. Describe how what transpired between Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi in Ruth 2 gives us an image of our lives as Christians inside and outside of the church.

b. How can we as members of St. Paul's emulate the good works of Boaz and Ruth in Ruth 2?


Lesson 13: Naomi's Audacious Plan (Ruth 3:1-8)



Chapter 2 of Ruth ends with a mention of the wheat harvest. As we saw in Lesson 7, the important religious festival called First Fruits officially inaugurated the wheat harvest. Review Question 61 from Lesson 7 and answer the following. a. What did the wheat harvest and the festival of Weeks signify to Israel?

b. How did Weeks foreshadow the events of the first Pentecost in Acts 2?

c. How are the festival of Weeks and its fulfillment in Acts 2 connected to what we have read so far in the book of Ruth?



Read Ruth chapter 3. Then go back and carefully re-read Ruth 3:1-4. a. Where was Boaz going to be on this particular evening?

b. What was the goal of Naomi's plan?


Look at the NIV's textual footnote on Ruth 3:1. Re-read Ruth 1:9 and review your answers to Questions 73 and 74 above. The word "home" in Ruth 3:1 is the NIV translation of the Hebrew manoah, a word derived from the same root as menuhah, a key word and concept in Ruth 1:9 where the NIV translates it as "rest." a. What did Naomi pray for in Ruth 1:9?

b. What did Naomi plan to do in Ruth 3:1?


c. What does this link between Ruth 1:9 and 3:1 teach us about the way God answers prayer?


Think about Naomi's instructions in verse 3. a. What three things did Naomi tell Ruth to do?

b. What was Naomi's purpose is having Ruth do these three things?

c. Read 2 Samuel 12:18-20. What prompted David's actions in verse 20? What insight does this add to our understanding of what Ruth did in Ruth 3:3?

d. Read Leviticus 8:5-12. What is described in this passage? How does this text inform our interpretation of Ruth's actions in Ruth 3:3?


Answer the following questions on Ruth 3:4-6. a. Ruth pledged to obey Naomi's instructions regardless of the consequences. What does this reveal about Ruth? Now read Luke 1:38. How were the Blessed Virgin Mary's circumstances and words similar to Ruth's?

b. Identify the words and phrases in these verses that could be understood as sexual euphemisms. Why do you think the author of Ruth used this suggestive vocabulary?



Re-read verses 7-8 and answer the following questions. a. Why did Boaz spend the night at the threshing floor?


b. Why was he in good spirits?

c. How did he know there was a woman lying at his feet?


Naomi's strategy was dangerous for both Ruth and Boaz. a. What was the danger to Ruth?

b. What was the danger to Boaz?

c. Was Naomi's plan sinful? Explain your answer.

d. Where was God in Naomi's strategy?




Lesson 14: Conversation at the Threshing Floor (Ruth 3:9-18)



Briefly review Ruth 3:1-8. How is the situation between Ruth and Boaz as we left it at the end of verse 8 reminiscent of the story of Lot and his daughters?


Read Hosea 9:1 and review your answer to Question 62b. What kind of disaster is possible in the impending encounter between Boaz and Ruth?


Now read Ruth 3 again, this time concentrating on verses 8-13. How does the "recognition scene" depicted in verses 8-9 recall the creation of Eve from Adam's rib in Genesis 2:21-22?


Ruth's Moabite origins have been emphasized a number of times in the text so far. Why is it in verse 9 Ruth did not identify herself as a Moabitess?


Examine Ruth's request in verse 9. a. What symbolic act did Ruth ask Boaz to perform? Why?

b. Compare Ruth's request to Ezekiel 16:8. What did the LORD do in this passage? What did this act signify?

c. Go back to Question 92 and review your answers. The Hebrew word kanap is used in both Ruth 3:9 ("corner of [the] garment") and 2:12 ("wings"). What does the linguistic connection between these two verses reveal about Ruth's request? What does it teach us about how God often answers prayer?



Lutheran pastor John Lawrenz points out in his commentary on Judges and Ruth that the goel was not required by Mosaic law to carry out the levirate law. Unless a kinsmanredeemer happened to also be the brother of a man who had died and left behind a childless widow, he would not be expected to marry the widow for the purpose of perpetuating the family line. Notice though that Ruth "proposed" marriage to Boaz in verse 9 precisely because he was a kinsman-redeemer. What is the connection between Ruth's request for marriage and Boaz's status as goel?


Give some examples of how Ruth's request in verse 9 was a bold and extraordinary one. What does Ruth's boldness in approaching Boaz (a type of Christ) teach us about how we may approach God?


Re-read Naomi's instructions to Ruth at the end of Ruth 3:4 and compare them to what Ruth actually did in 3:9. Did Ruth follow Naomi's instructions or not? Explain your answer.


Re-read Ruth 3:10-15. a. How did Boaz react to Ruth's request?

b. What new information did Boaz reveal? Did Naomi know about this?

c. Why was it important to Boaz that Ruth's presence at the threshing floor be kept secret?

d. How does the author describe the time just prior to dawn?

e. Where did Boaz go as day was breaking? Why did he go there?



Re-read verse 10. What did Boaz mean when he told Ruth that her request was a "kindness" (hesed in Hebrew)? What was Ruth's previous act of kindness that Boaz referred to? Why was her request to Boaz greater than this previous kindness?


Boaz commented that Ruth did not pursue younger men in Bethlehem. What does this tell us about Ruth's character? What does it tell us about her legal status? How does her legal status inform our appreciation of her act of hesed?


In verse 11, Boaz assured Ruth that he would do all she had asked for. a. Explain why Boaz agreed to carry out what is in essence a levirate marriage when neither law nor custom required him to.

b. When had Boaz previously gone beyond the letter of the law in order to fulfill the spirit of the law?

c. How was the saving work of Christ the perfect example of going beyond the letter of the law in order to fulfill the spirit of the law?


Re-read verse 11. Boaz told Ruth that all of Bethlehem recognized her as eshet hayil, "a woman of noble character." You may recall that in Ruth 2:1 Boaz was called ish gibbor hayil, "a man of standing" (see Question 94 above). a. What do these closely related expressions tell us about Boaz and Ruth?

b. What was the source of Ruth's nobility of character?

c. The phrase eshet hayil occurs only two other times in the Old Testament, in Proverbs 12:4 and Proverbs 31:10 (where it is translated by the NIV as "wife of noble


character"). Read Proverbs 31:10-31. List a few of the similarities between the woman described here and Ruth.


Although Boaz resisted succumbing to sexual temptation, it is clear from the language used in the text that the scene at the threshing floor was sexually charged. What does the reality of the temptation Boaz felt in his encounter with Ruth tell us about Christ and His work of active obedience?



Re-read Ruth 3:16-19. a. What was the purpose of the barley that Boaz gave to Ruth? What does this grain foreshadow? What is the significance of the six measure quantity?

b. What does the word "rest" in verse 18 bring to mind (see Question 107)?

c. At the end of chapter 3, what did Naomi tell Ruth to do? Compare her advice to Psalm 130:5. What do the words of Naomi and the psalmist teach us?


Lesson 15: Redemption (Ruth 4:1-10)



Read Ruth 4. a. Why was important legal business conducted at the town gate?

b. Why did Boaz gather the ten elders? Where else in the book of Ruth does the number ten show up? What is the significance of the number ten?

c. What did Boaz urge the nearer goel to do and why? How did the latter respond?


According to the NIV translation of verse 1, Boaz addressed the nearer goel as "my friend." The expression Boaz used is peloni almoni, a phrase that corresponds to the English idiom "so-and-so" and is the Hebrew generic name for a person whose real name is either unimportant or unknown. Since the other goel was a relative, Boaz would have known him and addressed him by his actual name. The writer of Ruth substituted the phrase peloni almoni for a particular reason. Based on what you know about the nearer redeemer, explain why the author labeled him with the Hebrew equivalent of John Doe.


Ruth 4:3 is the first mention of land that Naomi wanted redeemed. a. Why do you think the writer of Ruth postponed any reference to Elimelech's land until now?

b. What do you suppose had happened to the land in the past that resulted in Naomi's present request for its redemption?

c. Why had neither the nearer kinsman-redeemer nor Boaz acted to redeem Elimelech's land until now, several weeks after Naomi's return to Bethlehem?



There is an ancient textual problem associated with Ruth 4:5 that has been the subject of much dispute. Some scholars (including John Wilch and John Lawrenz, two Lutheran theologians who have written commentaries on Ruth) point to very persuasive evidence that the correct reading of this verse is: Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, I acquire the dead man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property." Re-read Ruth 4:5 and then carefully study Appendix C for a discussion of the textual problem. a. Why does the variant "I acquire" make the best sense in terms of explaining the refusal of the nearer goel to redeem?

b. What assumption about the laws and customs of ancient Israel undergirds the reading "you acquire"? What is the weakness of this assumption?

c. How does the reading "I acquire" help explain the necessity of the midnight meeting between Ruth and Boaz at the threshing floor?


According to verse 6, why did the other redeemer decline to redeem? In what ways do his actions parallel those of Orpah in Ruth 1?


Compare Ruth 4:1-10 to the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38. a. How does the nearer kinsman-redeemer's surrender of his right of redemption recall Onan's refusal to act as levir to Tamar (see Question 11)?

b. How does the nearer kinsman-redeemer's surrender of his right of redemption recall Judah's breaking of his word to Tamar (see Question 12)?

c. What was it about Boaz that made him so different from Onan, Judah, and the nearer kinsman-redeemer?




Consider Boaz's announcement in verses 9-10. a. How is the property to be redeemed described in verse 3? How is it described in verse 9? What is the reason for these rather different descriptions?

b. What reason did Boaz give for redeeming the land and marrying Ruth? How do these two actions exemplify the principle of hesed?

c. How did Boaz describe Ruth in verse 10? Why?


The marital status of Boaz and the near goel is never explicitly stated in the text. However, we can reasonably assume that both men were already married with children at the time Boaz agreed to marry Ruth. What allows us to make this assumption? Why is this assumption important for both the plot of the story and the theological theme of the book?


In his work as redeemer and savior of Ruth and Naomi, Boaz prefigured the work of Christ, Redeemer and Savior of the world. Use the table below to record a few of the parallels between Boaz (the type) and Christ (the fulfillment). Read the scriptural references and write a summary of the theological principle.



Theological Principle The work of the redeemer is necessary because people are trapped in a hopeless situation from which they are unable to save themselves.

Ruth 1:5

Romans 3:23

Ruth 2:1; 3:2

John 1:14 Hebrews 2:1415 Galatians 3:2829; Ephesians 2:19-20

Ruth 2:8-9; 14-16


Ruth 3:11-13; 4:9-10

Mark 10:45; John 10:17-18 2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Peter 1;19-19 Romans 9:3; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

Ruth 4:4-6

Ruth 4:6

Ruth 4:9

Hebrews 9:15

Ruth 4:10

Ephesians 5:23; Revelation 21:2


Lesson 16: The Benediction of the Witnesses (Ruth 4:11-12)



Review Ruth 4, particularly verses 9-12. a. Why did Boaz turn to the elders and other people present at the gate and declare, "you are witnesses?"

b. What did the people mean when they answered, "we are witnesses?"

c. Do you think there was more to the people's response than simply their act of official notarizing of Boaz's pledge to redeem Elimelech's estate and marry Ruth? Explain your answer.

d. In what way are we Christians witnesses to God's redemption through Christ?

e. The Greek word for witness is martyros. How do we usually understand the word martyr? What does martyrdom teach us about the seriousness of Christian witness?


Re-read the first part of the beautiful threefold benediction spoken by the citizens of Bethlehem who had witnessed the transaction at the town gate. a. What event is pictured in the words "the woman who is coming into your home" from Ruth 4:11? How do these words bring closure to the seemingly redundant observation in Ruth 2:23b (you may want to look at your answer to Question 101c above)?

b. Who were Rachel and Leah? How had they "built up the house of Israel?"


c. What did the people of Bethlehem mean when they prayed that the LORD would make Ruth to be like Rachel and Leah?

d. Why is it significant that the witnesses equated Ruth with Rachel and Leah, the two women who "built up the house of Israel?"

e. Consider the symbolism of the expression "house of Israel." Describe the "structural integrity" of this "house" during the time of the judges. Based on this, what else might be implied in the witnesses' prayer for Ruth in verse 11?


Consider the second part of the witnesses' benediction. a. What did the witnesses pray for Boaz?

b. How had Boaz already in part lived up to their hopes for him?

c. How did the people's second blessing point forward to David? To Christ?


Re-read the final part of the witnesses' three-fold blessing on Ruth and Boaz. a. What is the connection between the birth of Perez to Judah and Tamar (see Lesson 2 above) and the hoped-for offspring from the marriage of Boaz and Ruth?

b. Why do you think the people of Bethlehem drew attention to such a scandal in the history of Judah as the birth of Perez as something to be emulated?


c. By the law of levirate marriage, the first son born to Ruth and Boaz would be considered the son of Mahlon and therefore the heir of Elimelech's estate. At the end of verse 12, the witnesses seem to say that this son would in fact be the heir of Boaz. Explain this apparent contradiction.


The table below, like the one in Question 135, illustrates some of the typological parallels between Boaz and Christ. Read the scriptural references and write a brief statement that summarizes the theological principle typified by Boaz and fulfilled by Christ. Boaz Christ Theological Principle

Ruth 4:11a

1 Peter 2:5

Ruth 4:11b

Philippians 2:911; Revelation 5:12 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Ruth 4:12a

Ruth 4:12b

Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14




Lesson 17: The Theology of Genealogy (Ruth 4:13-22)



Re-read Ruth 4 in its entirety. Answer the following questions on verses 13-17. a. Compare Ruth 1:4-5 to Ruth 4:13. How long was Ruth married to Mahlon? Why did she not have children by him? Why did Ruth have a child by Boaz?

b. What similarities can you find between Ruth 1:6 to Ruth 4:13? What do these similarities teach us about God and how He works in our lives?

c. Who participated in the naming of Ruth's child? What is unusual about this?

d. Look closely at the women's song of praise in verses 14-15. i. Who is the goel or kinsman-redeemer referred to in these verses?

ii. According to the women, what will this goel do?

iii. What did the women mean when they said Ruth was "better to [Naomi] than seven sons?"

iv. In what way were the women speaking prophetically to us?


The name Obed means "servant" or "worshipper" and is probably a shortened form of the name Obadiah, "servant/worshipper of the LORD." What is the connection between the child's name and the role he fulfilled as he grew older (see Question 141d above)? In what ways did Obed prefigure Christ?



Ponder this seemingly obvious question: Whose son was Obed? Explain your answer.


Examine the overarching chiastic structure of the book of Ruth proposed in Appendix D. Using examples from the text, describe how the four chapters of Ruth tell the story of the emptying and filling of Naomi.



The genealogies preserved in the book of Genesis are called toledoth in Hebrew (often translated in English versions of the Bible as "generations" or "account"). Genesis is in fact divided into ten distinct toledoth (Genesis 2:4, 5:1, 6:9. 10:1, 11:10, 11:27, 25:12, 25:19, 36:1, and 37:2). This same word is used in Ruth 4:18 where it is translated by the NIV as "family line." Study the genealogies that begin in Genesis 5:1, Genesis 11:10, and Ruth 4:18. a. Who was the first generation of the Genesis 5 genealogy? Who was the final generation? How many generations are listed in all?

b. Who was the first generation of the Genesis 11 genealogy? Who was the final generation? How many generations are listed in all?

c. Who was the first generation of the Ruth 4 genealogy? Who was the final generation? How many generations are listed in all?

d. What is the significance of the number of generations in these three toledoth? Where else in the book of Ruth have we encountered this number (see Question 127b above)?

e. Consider the first and final generations of these three genealogies. What did the first generation have in common with each other? What did the final generation have in common with each other?



Compare the toledoth of Adam in Genesis 5 and Perez in Ruth 4. a. Who was the seventh generation of the toledoth of Adam?

b. What was unusual about this man?

c. Who was the seventh of the toledoth of Perez?

d. How were the seventh generations of these two genealogies similar to each other?


Why does the genealogy at the end of Ruth 4 begin with Perez instead of Judah?


Read Genesis 3:15. a. Based on this passage, what is the purpose of the detailed genealogical records preserved in Genesis?

b. What is the purpose of the genealogy at the end of the book of Ruth?

c. Look over the genealogy of Christ recorded in Matthew 1. What is the connection between Matthew's genealogy and the one that concludes the book of Ruth?


If Obed was considered to be the son of Mahlon for the purpose of preserving Elimelech's family and inheriting the ancestral estate, why was he listed as the son of Boaz in the genealogy of David and Christ (see Appendix B)?



Compare Ruth 1:1a to the last word of Ruth 4. a. How do these two passages serve to bracket the narrative of the book of Ruth?

b. In what way do they describe the working out of God's plan of salvation in Christ?

c. In what way do they reflect our lives as baptized children of God?


Lesson 18: The Gospel According to Ruth (Ruth 1-4)



Discuss what the book of Ruth teaches us about the following: a. The hidden God.

b. Racism and the church.

c. Marriage.

d. Baptism.

e. Resurrection.


Boaz acted to redeem Ruth and Naomi with determination and swiftness. a. How did he know that his actions were in accord with God's will?

b. How do we know that the things we plan and do are in accord with God's will?

c. Consider Martin Luther's advice to Philip Melanchthon, his fellow reformer: "Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly." How can this advice help and encourage us when we are faced with a decision, choice, or task and are unsure how to proceed in a God-pleasing way?



Readers of the book of Ruth often extrapolate a "romance" from the text. a. Explain the concept of romantic love as understood in our culture.

b. How does the reader know that Boaz loved Ruth?

c. How does the reader know that Ruth loved Naomi?

d. Read John 3:16. How do we know that God loves us?


Robert Hubbard summarizes the book of Ruth in this way: "God uses the faithfulness of ordinary people to do great things." a. What great things were accomplished in the book of Ruth?

b. How was God the source of the faithfulness that resulted in these things?

c. What encouragement can we ordinary Christians get from the book of Ruth as we live day to day lives of imperfect faithfulness?


Old Testament Israel is often understood to be a type of the church (see Question 8 above). In what ways can Ruth also be seen as a type of the church?


As we have previously seen, Ruth's alien origin is an important motif in the book. She came from Moab, a country that was one of Israel's most detested enemies. As the descendant of the shameful union between Lot and his daughter, the people of Israel would have looked down on her with contempt. Why did God allow a Moabite to be


incorporated into His chosen people? Why did He go even further and make her an ancestress of the Messiah?


What kind of suffering did Ruth and Naomi experience that is similar to what you or someone you know has gone through? What does this show us about the nature of human suffering. What does the book of Ruth teach about the comfort that God offers in our suffering?


Some authors believe the name Ruth is related to the Hebrew word for "friend." However, Old Testament scholars have demonstrated that the name probably originates from the Hebrew word for "to drink one's fill [of water]." Dr. John Wilch suggests the following as good candidates for the meaning of Ruth: "fullness," "refreshment," or "overflowing." a. Give examples that show how Ruth lived up to the meaning of her name.

b. Where did Ruth receive the strength and willingness to live as a person of "fullness" or "refreshment?"

c. What can we 21st century American Christians learn from Ruth and the way she lived out her faith in the Triune God?


The name Boaz has been the subject of a lot of research. The scholarly consensus is that it likely means "In him is strength." a. To what or whom does the meaning of this name refer?

b. How did Boaz live up to the meaning of his name?

c. Read 2 Chronicles 3:17. What did Solomon name the northern bronze pillar that stood in front of the Temple of the LORD? Why do you think he did this?



Who is the central figure of the book of Ruth? Explain your answer.


Early in this Bible study we examined the phenomenon of Canaanization in Israel during the time of the judges (review Lessons 3, 4, and 5). We saw that Israel had been so utterly corrupted in faith, morals, and ethics that the nation chosen by the LORD to be His unique and holy people had become indistinguishable from the pagan inhabitants of Canaan. How is it that faithful believers in the Triune God such as Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz were able to exist in such times? How is this a source of great comfort to us as Christians living in the times we do?


Let us conclude this study of Ruth with a final consideration of the concepts of the goel (the kinsman-redeemer) and redemption. Read the passages below. Explain what they teach us about Christ, our divine goel, and His work of redemption on our behalf. Show how these passages might also connect to the narrative of the book of Ruth. a. Isaiah 54:4-8.

b. Job 19:25-27.

c. Titus 2:11-14.

d. Hosea 13:14.

e. John 1:29.


Psalm 71:22-23.


Appendix A: Israel in Canaan



Appendix B: An Abbreviated Genealogy of Jesus Christ



(Genesis 19:30-38)

MOAB * (Genesis 38:6-30) * * PEREZ * * HEZRON * * RAM * * AMMINADAB * * NAHSHON * * SALMON AND RAHAB * (Joshua 2 and 6:25) * * BOAZ AND RUTH * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * (Ruth 4:13-22) JUDAH AND TAMAR OBED JESSE DAVID AND BATHSHEBA * * * JESUS CHRIST

(2 Samuel 11)


Appendix C: The Problem of Ruth 4:5

The interpretation of the book of Ruth is seriously affected by a textual problem in Ruth 4:5. It is beyond the scope of this Bible study to discuss the relevant issues in a way that does full justice to this difficult problem. Only a summary of the problem and the preferred solution are presented here. When the Hebrew Scriptures were first written down, only consonants were used. Vowels, verse and paragraph divisions, and special marks to show how the text should be chanted were added by Jewish scholars of the Middle Ages known as the Masoretes. The resulting Masoretic Text (MT) is the most important Hebrew edition of the Old Testament canon that exists. The MT is widely used as the primary basis for the exegesis of the Old Testament and for translations of the Bible into English and other languages. The Masoretes occasionally came across words that they believed had been copied incorrectly. Out of reverence for the text that they had received, they faithfully recopied these words even when they believed the consonants were wrong. They annotated these instances with suggested corrections in the margins of the text. These cases resulted in two possible readings of the problematic text, one in the main body and one in the margin. The verb "acquire" in Ruth 4:5 is one of these cases. The version in the main body of the MT reads "I acquire." The variant in the margin that the Masoretes added reads "you acquire." Most versions of the Bible, including the very important and influential Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, follow the sense of the MT's marginal variant "you acquire." Almost every English translation of the Bible in common use accepts "you acquire" as the correct reading as well. Here are the two variant readings of Ruth 4:5 side-by-side with the differences in italics: Main Body of the MT Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, I acquire the dead man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property." Margin of the MT Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man's widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property."

Most Old Testament scholars agree with the marginal reading "you acquire." However, the minority who contend that"I acquire" is the correct reading are supported by compelling arguments. The evidence that the majority reading of "you acquire" is the preferred variant rests to a large degree on the presumption that the laws of redemption and levirate marriage were commonly combined. Scholars who hold to the majority reading assume that there must have been a practice in ancient Israel that called on a goel who redeemed the property of a deceased man to act as levir and marry the widow. Based on this premise, Boaz's words in Ruth 4:5 are a reminder to the unnamed nearer kinsman-redeemer that if he intended to buy back Elimelech's land, he must also agree to marry Ruth in order to produce a son who would carry on Elimelech's family line and inherit the land. When confronted with this, the nearer goel refused to redeem claiming that to do so would "endanger [his] own estate" (Ruth 4:6). What did he mean by this? The explanation usually given is that if the nearer goel married Ruth and she bore a son, then by the law of levirate marriage her son would be considered the legal offspring of Mahlon. As the heir to Mahlon, this son would inherit Elimelech's estate. The nearer kinsman-redeemer would have to invest a considerable amount of money to buy the land only to have to hand it over to the


son of Ruth. This would "endanger [his] own estate," that is, dilute what he would bequeath to his heirs (since although it is never explicitly stated in the text, both the nearer goel and Boaz must have already been married with children). When the anonymous goel realized this, he surrendered the right of redemption to Boaz. Here are some observations on the majority view: 1. Deuteronomy 25:5-6, the text that establishes the law of levirate marriage, and Genesis 38:810, a narrative about a particular application this law, are both clear that the one obliged to marry the widow was the brother of the dead man. The one reference to levirate marriage in the gospels confirms that the responsible parties were brothers of the deceased (see Matthew 22:23-28, Mark 12:18-23, and Luke 20:27-33). Scholars who hold to the majority reading of "you acquire" assume that close male relatives such as uncles, nephews, and near cousins could be called upon to fulfill the levirate law. However, there are no texts in the Old Testament that extend the responsibilities of the levir to relatives beyond the brothers of the dead man. Furthermore, the divine law handed down to Moses never combined the law of levirate marriage with the law of land redemption. The actions of Boaz in Ruth 4 are the only known instance of the two separate practices being brought together. 2. The nearer kinsman-redeemer was taken by surprise when told that marriage to Ruth was integrally connected to the redemption of Elimelech's land. He was eager to redeem the land because he saw an opportunity to add to his own real estate holdings. However, the idea of marrying Ruth seems never to have crossed his mind. This indicates that a law or custom requiring the goel to also act as levir was unknown to him. Since the elders at the gate did not speak up at this point, such a law or custom was apparently unknown to them as well. It is difficult to imagine that the nearer goel and other leading men of Bethlehem would have been ignorant of such an important social institution if it existed. On the other hand, if there was no law or custom combining redemption and levirate marriage, then the nearer kinsmanredeemer would have refused to marry Ruth when Boaz insisted on it and the elders of the town would have supported his refusal. 3. If Ruth had been entitled to a levirate marriage with a kinsman-redeemer, she could have openly requested it soon after the return to Bethlehem. The social laws and customs of Israel were executed in the full light of day because they involved the concerns and interests of the entire community. There would have been no need for Ruth to approach Boaz in the middle of the night to secretly ask for marriage. 4. It is hard to fully accept the explanation that the nearer goel declined to marry Ruth because to do so would "endanger [his] own estate." It is evident by the end of the book that Obed, the son of born of the marriage between Ruth and Boaz, fills many roles. He is the son of Naomi's in order to bring comfort to her in old age; he is the son of Mahlon for the legal purpose of preserving the family of Elimelech; he is the son of Boaz for the purpose of establishing the true lineage of David. One must conclude then that had the unnamed kinsman-redeemer married Ruth, a son born of that union would also have been reckoned as his. He would have therefore suffered no damage to his estate since this son would have been his true heir. 5. If there had been an Israelite custom that combined the duties of goel and levir, Naomi, the widow of the dead property owner, would have been the one to be married, not Ruth. Why then was Ruth the object of the levirate marriage? One must assume that Ruth had been substituted for Naomi, probably because Naomi was beyond her child-bearing years.


However, the Old Testament contains no evidence to support this kind of "widow-forwidow" substitution. 6. Finally, if there actually was a requirement by law or custom for the nearer goel to perform levirate marriage, his refusal to do so should have resulted in his public shaming as described in Deuteronomy 25:7-10 (refer to Question 50 in Lesson 6). As can be seen from the above observations, it is difficult to make adequate sense of the narrative by following the variant "you acquire." The arguments that support "I acquire" as the correct reading are more convincing and lead to a much more cohesive understanding of the story. 1. The fact that the nearer kinsman-redeemer was taken by surprise when Boaz mentioned Ruth is evidence that he never expected levirate marriage to enter into the negotiations over redemption of the land. The assumption that a goel could be called upon to marry a widow is questionable to say the least. 2. If the nearer kinsman-redeemer would not have been expected to act as levir to Ruth, why did he decline to redeem the land when marriage to Ruth was brought up? The only satisfactory answer is as follows: Boaz informed his anonymous relative that he (Boaz) was going to marry Ruth ("I acquire the dead man's widow") to fulfill the levirate responsibility ("in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property"). Boaz intended to do this even though the levirate law did not require it of him and he was going to do it whether or not the nearer goel redeemed the property in question. The nearer goel realized that if he purchased the property, he would have to hand it over to the first son born of Boaz and Ruth since this child would be considered the legal son of Mahlon and the rightful heir to Elimelech's land. He knew that his right to the land's usufruct was likely to net only a couple of harvests at most before he was compelled to return the land. The nearer kinsman-redeemer therefore had little realistic chance of recouping the cost to redeem the property. This is why he said in Ruth 4:6, "I cannot redeem [the land] because I might endanger my own estate." 3. Why did Boaz agree to perform levirate marriage when it was not required by either law or custom? Because he was a man of hesed. As one who loved the LORD and understood and valued His undeserved grace, Boaz in turn treated others with kindness and loyalty that went beyond the letter of the law. In Ruth 2, Boaz's understanding of hesed led him to far exceed what was required by the law of gleaning. In Ruth 4, this same understanding of hesed moved him to come to the rescue of a family in danger of extinction by acting as levir to that family's only hope, Ruth the Moabitess. 4. If Naomi wanted to find a husband for Ruth and considered Boaz to be a favorable match, she could have approached him on Ruth's behalf. In addition, Ruth 3:10 suggests that Ruth, an adult foreigner without a male guardian, was free to marry any bachelor in Bethlehem who would be willing to have her. However, she could not publically approach Boaz, a married man, without appearing to be a prostitute or immoral woman. How does one explain Naomi's plan for Ruth to go to Boaz at midnight while he slept at the threshing floor? The best way to explain Naomi's risky strategy is that she wanted Boaz to not simply marry Ruth in order to provide her with a home and security. She wanted Boaz to marry Ruth for the specific and more important purpose of producing a son to preserve the family line and inherit Elimelech's estate. Naomi was driven by her desire to preserve her husband's family and her sense of shame and failure in not being able to do it herself (as she was post-menopausal). Naomi hoped Boaz would agree to


stand in as levir to Ruth even though he was not required to by the law of levirate marriage. She also hoped Boaz would be willing to redeem Elimelech's land but she could not bypass the nearer goel who had the right of first refusal. Such a complex and dangerous proposal could not be made in public before the elders at the town gate. Naomi's purpose in orchestrating the secret meeting was to ascertain if Boaz was truly the man of hesed he appeared to be. How much would Boaz sacrifice in order to save Elimelech's family? Would he be willing to find a way to outmaneuver the nearer goel in order to redeem the family's ancestral land? Would he consent to levirate marriage with Ruth, the marginalized foreign woman from Moab, so that a son would inherit the land and save the family from dying out? The events of Ruth 3 and 4 were Boaz's emphatic affirmative answers to Naomi's questions. Chapter 3 shows his commitment to save Elimelech's family from extinction by promising levirate marriage to Ruth. Chapter 4 shows his commitment to save the family's land by fulfilling the law of redemption. Boaz was indeed a man who understood and practiced hesed. By his self-sacrificing actions, he ensured the continuation of Elimelech's family and the future coming of David and David's greater Son, Jesus Christ. The explanation of the minority reading "I acquire" therefore makes the best sense of the facts presented in the story of the book of Ruth.


Appendix D: A Possible Chiastic Structure of the Book of Ruth

A Naomi is emptied (Ruth 1:1-5). Story begins in the days of the judges. Death of Naomi's husband and sons. No future for the family. Ten years end in tragedy.

B The hopeless widows return to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:6-22). Orpah lacks hesed and departs. Naomi and Ruth are committed.

C A temporary solution for the family (Ruth 2:1-23). Beginning of the barley harvest. Ruth leaves Naomi to glean in the fields of Boaz. Ruth requests permission to glean. Boaz demonstrates hesed to Ruth. Ruth returns to Naomi with grain. The LORD shows present hesed to the family through Boaz. ** CENTRAL FOCUS OF CHIASM ** The LORD promises future hesed to the family through Boaz. C' A lasting solution for the family (Ruth 3:1-18). End of the wheat harvest. Ruth leaves Naomi to meet Boaz at the threshing floor. Ruth requests marriage and redemption. Boaz demonstrates hesed to Ruth. Ruth returns to Naomi with grain.

B' The hopeful widows are taken care of in Bethlehem (Ruth 4:1-12). The nearer kinsman-redeemer lacks hesed and departs. Boaz and Ruth are committed.

A' Naomi is filled (Ruth 4:13-22). Story ends with David. Birth of Obed. Great future for the family. Ten generations end in triumph.

Adapted from A. Boyd Luter and Richard O. Rigsby. "An Adjusted Symmetrical Structuring of Ruth." Journal of the Evangelical Theology Society 39/1, (1996): 15-31.



Kinsman - Redeemer

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