After studying the book of Judges, especially with the material recorded in chapters 17-21, the book of Ruth is so refreshing, like a breath of fresh air! This 4 chapter book tells how Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons left Bethlehem in time of famine for the fields of Moab, sojourning there for ten years. The sons married women of Moab, Ruth and Orpah. Elimelech and both sons died. When Naomi determined to return to Bethlehem, Ruth made the choice to go with her. She said,
Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever 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. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me (Ruth 1:16-17).
The text narrates how Ruth met and married Boaz, describing Ruth as a hard worker, showing kindness to her mother-in-law, and known throughout the town as a virtuous woman, and depicting Boaz as equally magnanimous, walking in the fear of the LORD. But the real reason Ruth is in the Bible does not become apparent until the closing verses. Starting with Judah’s son Perez as his beginning point, the writer informs us:
Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron. 19 Hezron fathered Ram, who fathered Amminadab. Amminadab fathered Nahshon, who fathered Salmon. Salmon fathered Boaz, who fathered Obed. And Obed fathered Jesse, who fathered David (Ruth 4:18-22).
Ruth is thus seen in the lineage of the Messiah! Her story is one link in the chain of God’s Old Testament promise to bring Christ into the world to accomplish His great redemptive work. Matthew begins his gospel record with the genealogy of Christ, including Ruth: “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse” (1:5).
Our photo, taken on the NW shore of the Dead Sea, looks across to the mountains of Moab, Ruth’s home.
OT Moab is today the territory of Jordan.
Click image for larger view.