Ruth Chapter One
This book is most favored by the romantics among us. But just like The Song of Solomon it is a typology of God’s love for, in this case, the Gentiles. For Ruth is, or rather was, the ultimate Gentile.
“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none belonging to them shall enter the assembly of the LORD for ever; Deut. 23:3
Her entire clan was never to be forgiven. Never to be allowed in. Condemned for all time to be on the outside. Yet here she is the great-grandmother of King David, the predecessor of Messiah.
The names of everyone mentioned in the Bible have meaning. So it is with the book of Ruth.
Naomi means beautiful, pleasant, delightful, but she renames herself Mara which means bitterness.
Her husband’s names Elimelech means my God is king.
Mahlon means fat, and his brother Chilion means annihilation.
Chilion’s wife, Orpah her name means to flee, or turn ones back.
Ruth means friendship.
The hero of the tale is Boaz which means strength or swiftness.
Their son is Obed meaning servant, or worker.
The events of the book, would have happened around 1100 B.C. The book’s author is unnamed, however many believe that it was Samuel, who after meeting the family, heard the family tradition and wrote it down. This is not without evidence, as the Hebrew in 1&2 Samuel is very similar to the Hebrew in Ruth. At any rate it does read like a remembered family tradition. The other next of kin is not named, so as not to embarrass that side of the family. The other daughter-in-law is called Orpah, “the one who turned back”. This seems more of a title than an actual name. It is as if the recounting of the story happened sometime after those of who the family tail is about had gone to “Sleep with their father,” as the Bible puts it. Then someone just said, “Oh what was her name? You know, the one that turned back.” So her name became Orpah, the one that turned back.
1In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years; and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was bereft of her two sons and her husband. Then she started with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was, with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find a home, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave you or to return 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 will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has afflicted me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husbands, a man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. Ruth 1
“Entreat me not to leave you or to return 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 will I be buried.
Many weddings includes these words in the vows of the wife. They should not be spoken lightly, as wedding vows are a binding contract made before God and witnesses.
The family history begins as the barley harvest starts on First Fruits, which is the first day of the week in the Passover week [Lev. 23:9 -14]. A little over a thousand years later, on the very same day, Messiah rose from the dead.
Naomi arrived apparently with nothing, but a daughter-in-law. They only thing they seem to have is a parcel of land [Ruth 4:3]. But there is hope. There is a man of means, Boaz.
Two laws are about to come into play, the law of the kinsman redeemer [Lev 25:25-50] and raising up children for a brother [Deut. 25:4-10]. Naomi knows that these are her only hope. Ruth only know she loves her mother-in-law and her mother-in-law’s God.