A STUDY OF RUTH
Commentary by Dr. Mark G. Cambron
This Book is in the time of the JUDGES. It is the account of Ruth, a Gentile, married to a Jew. Although the time of the Judges was characterized with apostasy, yet there were a few who were true to Jehovah. The name RUTH may mean a Rose.
I. Ruth Receives Grace (1, 2)
A. Out of the Land of Moab (1)
B. In the Field of Boaz (2)
II. Ruth Receives Rest (3, 4)
A. At the Feet of Boaz (3)
B. Into the Line of the Messiah (4)
Our record begins in the time when the Judges governed the land. A terrible famine hit the land of Israel; so much that a certain man of Israel, Elimelech by name, of the town of Bethlehem left Israel and went to sojourn in the land of Moab (judged) with his wife and his two sons.
The name of this man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, descendants of Ephraim, sons of Joseph, living in Bethlehem in Judah.
Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there.
Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband died, and she was left with her two sons.
And these two sons of Israel took for themselves Moabite women to wife; the name of one was Orpah, and the name of the other was Ruth. They lived there about ten years.
Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was bereft of her two sons and her husband.
Then she arose with her two daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for the report was that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food.
So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her hoping to return to the land of Judah.
For a few minutes Naomi stopped and talked to her two daughters-in-law suggesting, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May Jehovah deal kindly with you.” The Moabites had the curse of God upon them, but now that curse is about to be removed (Deuteronomy 23:2).
“May Jehovah grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” She then kissed them and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they both refused to go saying, “No, but we will surely return with you and to your people.”
But Naomi insisted, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they should be your husbands.”
Verses 12 - 13
“Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say, I have hope if I should even have a husband tonight, and also bear sons, would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is harder for me, than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone from against me.”
Verses 14 - 15
They lifted up their voices and cried out again, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Then Naomi said emphatically, “Behold your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”
Verses 16 - 17
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may Jehovah do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”
When Naomi saw Ruth was determined to go with her, she said no more.
So the both went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came about when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was stirred because of them, and the women asked, “Is this Naomi?” Remember, Ruth herself had been married ten years — over ten years to be away!
Verses 20 - 21
And Naomi said to them, “Do not call me Naomi (pleasant); call me Mara (bitter) for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but Jehovah has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since Jehovah has witnessed against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth, the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
It was at Barley Harvest when Israel attacked the people who lived in the Promised Land. Barley harvest speaks so much of judgment.
Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech whose name was Boaz.
And Ruth asked of Naomi permission to glean in the field. The Word of God tells us that gleaning after the harvest was reserved for the poor, the widows, and for the orphans, and she and her mother-in-law could certainly qualify the Law’s permission.
Ruth added the possibility that she might find one owner of the field that might result in more than reaping — “whose sight I may find favor” — in other words, “I am looking for a husband.” “Go, my daughter.” Neither daughter-in-law nor mother-in-law could guess what God had for them.
So she parted and went and gleaned in the filed after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. Oh, how many “happens” we have had in our lives, where God set Himself to answer our prayers.
As a wealthy and watchful man works among his employees, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May Jehovah be with you.” And they replied to him, “May Jehovah bless you.”
Immediately Boaz asked his servant in a confidential tone, “Whose young woman is this?”
And the servant in charge of the reapers answered and said, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab.” Who among all those that dwell in Bethlehem didn’t know who she was.
And just at the right moment, Ruth had asked, “Please let me glean after the reapers among the sheaves.” “Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.”
Verses 8 - 9
Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.”
Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner (Hebrew- “nokriy”).”
Verses 11 - 12
And Boaz answered and said unto her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you didn’t previously know. May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge” (Psalm 91:4).
Then she sweetly said, “I have found favor in your sight, my Master, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like your maidservants.”
And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers. And he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.
Verses 15 - 16
When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. And also, you shall purposely (on purpose) pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”
So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley (1 bushel and 3 pints).
She knew why and rejoiced in it. And she took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.
Her mother-in-law then asked her, “Where did you glean today, and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.”
And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed of Jehovah who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead.” Again Naomi said to her, “The man is our relative. He is one of our closest relatives.”
The Ruth the Moabitess said, “Furthermore, he said to me” — what could he add to whatever he had — “You should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.”
And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, lest others fall upon you in another field.”
So she stayed close to the maids of Boaz, in order to glean until the end of Barley Harvest. The wheat follows closely. And she lived with her mother-in-law. Oh, the perfect work God works in the hearts of His children.
Then Naomi, her mother-in-law, said unto her, “My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee that it may be well with thee?”
“And now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnoweth barley at the threshing floor tonight.”
[In the harvest, the first thing that is done is the gathering of the seed. Then the seed must be crushed out of the protective hulls, and this is done by the oxen who treadeth out the (seed) corn (grain). And in God’s law, it is said, “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.” As the ox walks round and round threading the grain from the hull, the beast can stop and eat what ever amount he wants.
Now when this is done, all the trodden out seed (grain) is then gathered, and when the wind begins to blow, then the grain is lifted high, and the wind blows away the chaff. Then all that is left is the grain of harvest.]
“Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
“And it shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.”
To which Ruth agrees, “All that you say I will do.”
So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her.
When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down, at the heap of grain. And she came secretly and uncovered his feet and lay down.
And it happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward, and behold a woman was lying at his feet.
And he asked, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” This is one kind of a proposal that Israel knew.
Then he said, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.
“And now my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.
“And now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
“Remain this night, and when morning appears, if he will redeem you, well; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as Jehovah lives. Lie down until morning.”
So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another, and he said, “Let it not be known that woman came to the threshing floor.”
Again Boaz said, “Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it.” So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it upon her. Then she went into the city.
And when Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi said, “How did it go my daughter?” And Ruth told Naomi all the man, Boaz, had done for her.
Then Ruth said, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, “Do not go to your mother-in-law empty handed.”
Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know the matter turns out, for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.”
Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there. This is where much of the city’s business is carried on, and especially the judges met here to decide God’s will in all matters.
Yes, Boaz was ready for the appearance of his near kinsman, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so Boaz said to him, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And the near kinsman turned aside and sat down.
And Boaz took ten men. The Jewish way of carrying on business whether personal or spiritual is through the minion. They had to have at least ten men to have a meeting in the synagogue. [The Christian minion is only two or three — “where two or three are met together in my name,” said the Lord Jesus, “there am I in the midst of you.” These ten men were of the elders of the city, “Sit down here. So they sat down.”
Verses 3 - 4
Then Boaz said to the closest relative, “Naomi who has come back from the land of Moab has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. So I thought to inform you, saying, ‘Buy this land before those who are sitting here, and before the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem (buy it back) it, but if not, tell me that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am after you.’” And he said, “I will redeem it.”
Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.”
And the closest relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I jeopardize my own inheritance. Redeem it for yourself; you may have my right of redemption, for I cannot redeem it.” He had said, first of all “I will redeem it,” but now he says “I cannot redeem it.” He was settled already in his marriage, and what is mine will last for eternity, but should I take Naomi and Ruth, my own land shall suffer with too many heirs.
There was the custom (in the book of the Law) that if a piece of property with others (such as Naomi and Ruth) in consideration, that the man who could redeem it, but refused to, then the closest relative would take off his shoe and let the one who wanted to redeem (buy back) the property plus Naomi and Ruth walk in his shoes.
This is such a picture of the Christian’s redemption. We cannot pay for our redemption, so we take off our shoes, and the Lord Jesus then walks in them, the “just for the unjust.” He took our place. He paid for sins by His death, burial and resurrection.
So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal.
The turning to the elders, Boaz said, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.
“Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased be not cut off from his brothers or from the gate of his birth place; you are witnesses today.”
And all the people who were the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May Jehovah make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel. And may you achieve wealth in Ephratah and become famous in Bethlehem.
“Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez, and Bethlehem be noted by its citizens.”
“May you have many children by this new wife of yours.”
Ruth’s bareness was over. The LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
The women of the city then said to Naomi, “Blessed is Jehovah who has not left you without a Redeemer today, and may his name (Boaz) become famous in Israel.
“May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you and is better to you than seven sons has given birth to him.”
Ruth’s life was beautiful to everyone with whom she came in contact. The curse upon her (as a Moabite) had been removed.
Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap and became his nurse.
The neighbor women gave him his name, Obed, (which means “serving”) saying, “A sons has been born to Naomi.” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, who was the father of David.
Now these are the generation of Perez: “To Perez was born Hezron, and to Hezron was born Ram, and to Ram was born Amminadab, and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, and to Nahshon was born Salmon, and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz was born Obed, and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse was born David.”
“And to David was born the Lord Jesus Christ.”