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As we continue navigating ourselves through the scriptures we enter our next book, Ruth. This book takes place just before the people of Israel will demand of God and king to rule them on earth like the other people around them. Ruth sets up the lineage of one of the most famous kings, David, and later we see her as one of the ancestors of Jesus. She becomes this significant figure in Biblical history and yet for most of us we focus on the story in light of Boaz and the relationship between them.
The book of Ruth is quite short. Ruth is the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Noami, her husband, and two sons left Israel and moved into Moab. In Moab, both of Naomi's sons married women from Moab and not of Israelite descent which was uncommon for God's chosen people. Noami's husband passes away and so do both of her sons. The Noami tells her daughters-in-law that she will be going back to Israel with family and that each of them should return to their own families. Ruth claims Naomi as her family and chooses to join her back to Israel.
Once they return to Israel we are introduced to a character named Boaz. He is a wealthier man from Israel who is related to Naomi. Both Ruth and Naomi see him as a prospect for marriage to help get them out of poverty. During this time women who were unwed would be among the poor because women would not be allowed to do much without a man. So, they found a way to please him and in doing so set Ruth up to marry him. Naomi instructed Ruth on how to properly ask for Boaz's hand in marriage. The scene is set and Naomi's plan works out. After consulting those around him, Boaz takes Ruth as his wife and they give birth to the grandfather of King David.
There are a few parts of this story that really stick out as odd and fascinating. First, there are very few books centered on a woman of the Bible because of their status at the time, so seeing the author focus on her is just awesome. Second, it was often frowned upon for the Israelites to take women from alien nations as their wives. Boaz was risking a lot by looking to marry Ruth instead of an Israelite woman. Third, the foreshadowing of Jesus uniting the Israelites, and the gentiles can be seen through the relationship between Ruth and Boaz.
Ruth is an inspiration for many about finding the right man to marry and that can be very true. But limiting Ruth to a love story dilutes who she was for us. She is the ancestor through which Jesus our savior would later come. It is because of her love of Naomi and wanting to her do well that she left her home country to some place new and likely scary for her. She stepped out of her comfort zone for someone she loved. More than that she sacrificed herself for the good of Naomi. The marriage brought not only security for Ruth but for Naomi as well. Ruth was used as a way for Boaz to purchase Naomi's land and thus offer shelter, food, and other needs to them as family. This was all due to Ruths's desire to know the God of Namoi and of Boaz.
In Ruth 1:16 we see her say to Naomi, “Do not urge me 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." Ruth's faith was marked by the love she showed to Naomi and the way she looked at Boaz as her redeemer. May we like Ruth be marked by the love we show those around us and the way we look to Jesus as our redeemer.
For more info on the book of Ruth check out the video below: