For context, read Ruth 2-4
Despite Naomi’s overwhelming grief and bitterness, she looked to the welfare of her daughter-in-law. In order to understand this narrative, we need to understand 2 different Old Testament laws. The first is the Mosaic law found in Leviticus 19:9-10
, which commanded that the harvest should not be reaped to the very corners of the field and that harvesters should not gather the gleanings that have fallen to the ground. Those were to be left for the poor and needy. The very situation Naomi and Ruth find themselves in.
The second is called a Levirate marriage involving a “guardian redeemer” and is discussed in Deuteronomy 25:5-6
. This principle stated that if a man died without a child as an heir, a surviving brother could marry the widow in order to preserve the inheritance, the family name, and to financially care and support the widow. If no brothers were available or willing, then the next nearest eligible relative was able to be the “redeemer”.
Naomi and Ruth needed a redeemer. But first, they needed food. So, Ruth went out to glean in the fields to pick up the leftover grain. She just so happened to enter a field that belonged to a relative on Naomi’s husband’s side named Boaz. And Boaz noticed Ruth. In fact, her reputation had preceded her. He had heard of her selfless act to leave her family in Moab to take care of Naomi. So Boaz treated her with extreme kindness and gave her more than he was required by law. It appears that he was smitten with her.
When Naomi heard that Ruth had been in Boaz’s field, she praised God. Boaz was a close relative! So Naomi began hatching a plan that would ensure Ruth was provided for. One night, she sent Ruth to the threshing floor where she knew Boaz would be and told her to lie down at his feet. It was a custom in Israel that a servant lie at the feet of their master, so this is not as bizarre as it seems to us. When Boaz noticed her, she asked him to be the redeemer of her family.
Boaz told her that he was willing but that there was another man who was closer in relation who had the first rights. He needed to give him the first chance. But Boaz wanted to marry Ruth, so he was clever in his presentation of the facts to this man in the hopes that he would turn down the offer. At the town gate, Boaz approached the man and asked him if he wanted to buy some land from Naomi to redeem it. The man agreed as acquiring land seemed like a good thing. But then Boaz informed him that if he redeemed the land, he would also acquire Ruth as a wife and that the estate would remain in the name of her dead husband. Because of the possibility of endangering his own inheritance, the man decided to decline. He passed the right to redeem Naomi’s land and her son’s wife to Boaz!
And so, Boaz was able to marry Ruth and she eventually gave birth to a son. Naomi was ecstatic to be a grandmother. It seemed like such a happy ending already. But then we read on. We read the genealogy and find a rich thread in the story that Naomi and Ruth would not have ever known. Ruth’s son was named Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David. King David! But that’s not the end of the story either. From reading Matthew 1:5
, we know that we can trace Jesus’s genealogy back through King David to a woman named, Ruth. Another foreign woman included in the genealogy of Jesus!
Sisters, the WORD about women in the story of Naomi and Ruth is that God cares about us enough to provide a Redeemer. We see God’s provision for those in desperate circumstances in the gleaning laws. We see His heart to care for women left widowed in the Levirate law. But it’s when we trace the genealogy and see Jesus that we really understand His provision. In Boaz, we see a picture of Jesus. But Jesus is a Redeemer that doesn’t just redeem our husband’s name and property and save us from poverty but One who redeems us from the penalty of our sin and makes us right with our Father. His is the ultimate story of redemption. ReflectWhen you look back over your life, can you see how much God cares for you by how He has provided for you?