About Jesus Steve Sweetman
And Ruth (ch. 1:1 -
Verse 1 states, "in
the days the judges ruled there was a famine in the land".
This tells us that the events we see in the book of Ruth took
place some time during the rule of the judges, as seen in the book of
Judges. This is why our
English Bible's place the book of Ruth just after the book of Judges.
Jewish Bibles place Ruth in a group with Ester, Songs of Solomon
and other such books.
The famine described here
is unknown to us. We don't
really know when this famine took place.
Some suggest that it took place in the life and times of Gideon.
In Judges 6:3 and 4 we see that Gentile pagans had ravaged parts
of Israeli occupied Canaan. Part of the ravaging was
destroying their crops. We
don't know this for sure if this ravaging caused a famine, and
especially this famine, but it sure could have.
It has been said, and I
haven't counted, that there are 13 famines mentioned in the Bible, all
of which are due to God's judgment.
Was this famine God's judgment?
We don't know. There
is not enough said about it to draw any such conclusion. That
being said, because we know God judged Israel
many times during the time of the judges, this might well have been an
act of judgment.
As I've just said, in
Judges 6:3 and 4 we note that Israel
was devastated by pagan attacks that affected their agricultural based
economy. If you understand
the nature of the book of Judges, you will know that this particular
devastation was God's judgment. So,
many Bible teaches feel that this famine in Ruth was due to God's
We see the city name of
Bethlehem of Judah mentioned in verse 1.
There was more than one town named
It's my thinking that
right away, here in verse 1, we have some hint that this story has
something to do with the Lord Jesus Christ, because we see the town of
Also in verse 1 we see
that a man and his wife, along with two sons left
This family then, left
Bethlehem of Judah for a place that was not in famine.
This place was east of the
Some suggest that it was
not God's will for this family to leave just because things got tough in
and around Bethlehem. They suggest this family
should have hung in and prayed for repentance for Israel. They also suggest that all
the tragedy that took place in this family proves this, and they might
well be right. If it means
anything, many of the Jewish rabbis believed that it was not God's will
for this family to leave their home land.
Verse 2 states the name
of the man, his wife, and his two sons.
The wife, Naomi, is key to the book of Ruth.
Her husband's name was Elimelech, and beyond chapter 1 we see
little of him. They had two
sons, named Mahlon and
Kilion. Israelis didn't name
their children when they were first born.
They named them at some later point when they could see what kind
of people these children were, because, names were to reflect the nature
of people. Israelis didn't
just name their babies after important people or because they liked the
name. Mahlon means
"pleasant", while Elimelech means "God is king".
"Ruth" means "a friend". "Orpah"
means "youthful freshness".
Ruth and Orphah were the wives of Mahlon and Kilion.
Verse 2 says that this
family was "Ephrathites".
Some teach that Ephrath was the former name of
In verses 3 to 5 we read
that in a span of 10 years, both Naomi's husband and two sons died.
Prior to the death of her two sons, they married two Moabite
wives, something a good Israeli would never think of.
Some suggest that they died because they married pagan women.
They suggest that God judged them.
I don't believe we can conclusively say that, but I tend to
When it comes to
Elimelech's death, it appears from the story line that he most likely
died as a middle aged man.
Deuteronomy 7:1 to 3
lists seven nations, or, ethnic peoples, that Israeli men were not to
marry. Most Bible teachers,
but not all, say that these seven ethnic groups are representative of
all pagan people. I tend to
agree. If this is so, what the two sons of Naomi did was outside of
God's will. Some don't say
this because the Moabites aren't mentioned in the list of seven in
Deuteronomy 7:1 to 3.
I think if you read
Exodus 34 and other such passages you will come to understand that God
told Israelis not to marry any pagan peoples.
They were to stay within their own people of
In verses 6 and 7 we see
that the Lord was now blessing
In verses 8 and 9 we note
that on the way home, Naomi thought it was best for her two
daughter-in-laws to return to their Moabite home to marry a Moabite man.
She then kissed the girls. A
kiss in those days and in that culture was either an act of saying hello
or good-bye. Naomi was
simply saying good-bye, which made all three very sad.
That would be expected since they had been together for quite
In verse 10 the girls
said that they didn't want to go home.
In verse 11 Naomi tried to persuade them to go home, but only had
half success. One daughter
left. The other, Ruth,
stayed with Naomi.
In verses 12 to 14 we see
how Naomi really felt at this point.
She felt bad. Verse
14 says that she thought the "Lord's hand was against her".
She was too old to find another husband, and even if that was
possible, and even if she could have children at such a late time in
life, the two girls couldn't wait around for her sons to grow old enough
to marry. Naomi had the
Levirate Marriage in mind when she was saying these things. You can
certainly understand why Naomi would feel this way.
The question arises.
Was Naomi expressing the reality of her situation as God viewed
it? Was her family
experiencing the discipline of the Lord?
There are some Bible teachers that say "yes".
Her family really did experience God's discipline.
Other say "no".
They say that she was simply feeling bad.
If you believe it was not God's will for Naomi's family to leave Bethlehem, then you would probably feel that God was in deed disciplining Naomi's
family. I tend to believe
that Naomi's thinking was correct. She
and her family were being disciplined by the Lord.
In verse 14 Orpah left while Ruth stayed.
is where the names of these two girls comes into play.
"Orphah" means "youthfulness".
Youth tend to think one thing one day and another the next day.
This might well have been the case with Orphah.
"Ruth", on the other hand was loyal and stuck with
Naomi through thick and thin, as her name implied.
"Ruth" means "a friend".
In verses 16 and 17 we
see Ruth's commitment to Naomi. Ruth
told Naomi that where she went she would go.
Naomi's God would be
her God. Naomi's people
would be her people. Ruth
says that nothing will separate her from Naomi but death, and where
Naomi is buried, so shall she be buried.
These were covenantal words. They expressed what the Law of Moses
stated when a Gentile wanted to become an Israeli.
Gentile converts to Judaism were to forsake all that made them
who they were. They were to
live as Israelis, as if they were born into an Israeli family.
This is another one of those verses I will return to when I
finish this commentary. It's
another hint to the type, the model, the spiritual significance to this
If you think of what Ruth
says here, her words express exactly what a person should express when
becoming a Christian today. One
must give all of who he is to Jesus, just as Ruth gave all of who she
was not only to Naomi, but to
another aspect when thinking of today's world here.
When one becomes a Christian, he isn't just united with Jesus, he
is also united with all other Christians.
Our commitment to Jesus should be seen in our commitment to other
Christians, but that's not always the case.
I've mentioned before
that Ruth was in the lineage of Jesus as seen in Matthew 1:5.
The words that she just spoke proves to me that she is a good
candidate to be in the lineage of Jesus.
In verse 18 we see that
Ruth's covenantal words convinced Naomi to let Ruth come along.
This is one of those relationships we see every so often in the
Bible where the bonds of covenant are strong.
Again, the words that Ruth speaks to Naomi are covenant words.
In verse 19 Israeli Naomi
and Moabite Ruth, make it back to
In verses 20 and 21 we
see Naomi express her feelings to the people of Bethlehem. She is still feeling
really down. She told them
to call her Mara because she is returning home empty, devastated by the
hand of the Lord. She wanted
to be called "Mara". "Mara"
means "bitter". This
too is significant when we talk about the typological significance of
the book of Ruth.
In verse 21 we note that
Naomi's family left
Note in verses 20 and 21
the reference to the "Almighty". That's
"Shaddai" in Hebrew. Many
believe the word "Shaddai" means "breasted one".
The term "Shaddai" is often preceded by the word
"El', the generic name for god.
Thus, when you see "El Shaddai" this name might well
suggest the motherly and nourishing nature of God.
Some actually believe that God is both male and female, that is,
if you want to place or see God on a human level.
This might well be why male and female were created in God's
image, because He is both.
Verse 22 ends chapter 1. Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem during barley harvest, which is around the time of the Feast of Pentecost.
we get into chapter 2 I believe I can safely say that Naomi was a godly
woman. It's my opinion,
although there is no exact textual proof, that it was Elimelech's idea
to move away from Judah, not Naomi.
I think that she would have probably wanted to stay in
last thought. Naomi the righteous, lived and had to follow
Elimelech, the unrighteous to