Ruth 4

 

1 “Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there:” -  Hewent up,”

for the city stood, as it still stands, on a ridge (see on ch.1:1; 3:6). “And sat there,”

on one of the stones, or stone benches, that were set for the accommodation of the

townsfolk. The gateway in the East often corresponded, as a place of meeting, to

the forum, or the market-place, in the West. Boaz had reason to believe that his

kinsman would be either passing out to his fields, or passing in from his threshing-

floor, through the one gate of the city - “and, behold, the kinsman of whom

Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down

here. And he turned aside, and sat down.”  Boaz called his kinsman by his name;

but the writer does not name him, either because he could not, or because he

would not. The phrase “such a one,” or “so and so,” is a purely idiomatic

English equivalent for the purely idiomatic Hebrew phrase פְלֹנִי אַלְמֹנִי.

A literal translation is impossible. The Latin N.N. corresponds.

 

2 “And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down

here. And they sat down.”  Boaz wished to have a full complement of

witnesses to the important transaction which he contemplated.

 

3 “And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the

country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother

Elimelech’s:  Boaz, it is evident, had talked over with Ruth the entire details

of Naomi’s plans, and could thus speak authoritatively. Naomi, we must

suppose, had previously taken Ruth into full confidence, so that Boaz could

learn at second- hand what in other circumstances he would have learned from

Naomi herself. The verb which we have rendered “has resolved to sell,” is literally

has sold,” and has been so rendered by many expositors. The Syriac translator

gives the expression thus, “has sold to me.” The subsequent context, however,

makes it evident that the property had not been sold to any one, and consequently

not to Boaz. The perfect verb is to be accounted for on the principle explained by

Driver when he says, “The perfect is employed to indicate actions, the

accomplishment of which lies indeed in the future, but is regarded as dependent

upon such an unalterable determination of the will that it may be spoken of as

having actually taken place: thus a resolution, promise, or decree, especially a

Divine one, is very frequently announced in the perfect tense. A striking instance

is afforded by Ruth (v. 3) when Boaz, speaking of Naomi’s determination to

sell her land, says מָכְרָה נָךעמִי, literally, ‘has sold’ (has resolved to sell. The

English idiom would be ‘is selling’)” (‘Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in

Hebrew,’ pp. 13, 14). In King James’s English version the verb is thus

freely rendered “selleth.” Luther’s version is equivalent — beut feil, “offers

for sale;” or, as Coverdale renders it, “offereth to sell.” Vatable freely

renders it as we have done, “has determined to sell” (vendere decrepit) so

Drusius (vendere instituit). The kind family feeling of Boaz, shining out m

the expression, “our brother Elimelech,” is noteworthy. “Brother” was to

him a homely and gracious term for “near kinsman.”

 

4 “And I thought” – or “And I said to myselt” – This  is a primitive phrase to

denote internal resolution. There is a point where thought and speech coalesce.

Our words are thoughts, and our thoughts are words - “to advertise thee, saying,”

I will uncover thine ear, that is, “I will lift the locks of hair that may be covering

the ear, so as to communicate something in confidence.” But here the phrase is

employed with the specific import of secrecy dropped out. It is thus somewhat

equivalent to “I will give thee notice;” only the following expression לֵאמֹר, i.e.

 to say, must be read in the light of the undiluted original phrase, “I will uncover

thine ear to say.  The whole expression furnishes the most beautiful instance

imaginable of the primary meaning of לֵאמֹר. The thing that was to be said

follows immediately, viz., “Buy it” – Acquire it, or Buy it. It is as if he had

said, “Now you have a chance which may not occur again.”  “ before the

inhabitants,” - It is added, in the presence of the inhabitants. This, rather than

the assessors,” is the natural interpretation of the participle (הַיּשְׁבִים). It is

the translation which the word generally receives in the very numerous instances

in which it occurs.  There was, so to speak, a fair representation of the inhabitants

of the city in the casual company that had assembled in the gateway - “and before

the elders of my people.” -  And in presence of the elders of my people. The natural

aldermen,” or unofficial “senators,” whose presence extemporized for the occasion

a sufficient court of testators. “If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it:” -  If thou wilt

perform the part of a kinsman, perform it. The translation in our King James’s

English version, and in many other versions, viz., “If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it,”

 is somewhat out of harmony with the nature of the case. Naomi was not wishing

Elimelech’s estate to be redeemed. It was not yet in a position to be redeemed.

It had not been alienated or sold. She wished for it not a redeemer, but a purchaser.

And as it was the right of a נֹאֵל or kinsman to redeem for a reduced brother, if

he was able and willing, the estate which had been sold to an alien (Leviticus

25:25), so it was the privilege of the same גואֵל or kinsman to get, if the

reduced brother was wishing to sell, the first offer of the estate. It would, in

particular, be at variance with the prerogative of the nearest of kin if some other

one in the circle of the kindred, but not so near, were to be offered on sale the

usufructuary possession of the family estate (Ibid. vs.23, 27). Hence Boaz

recognized the prior prerogative of his anonymous relative and friend, and said

to him, “If thou wilt perform the part of a kinsman, and buy the property, then

buy it.” It is added - “but if thou wilt not redeem it,” -  and if he will not. Note

the use of the third person he, instead of the second thou. If the reading be

correct, then Boaz, in thus speaking, must for the moment have turned to the

witnesses so as to address them.  That the reading is correct, notwithstanding

that some manuscripts and all the ancient versions exhibit the verb in the second

person, is rendered probable by the very fact that it is the difficult reading. There

could be no temptation for a transcriber to substitute the third person for the

second; there would be temptation to substitute the second for the third. The

unanimity of the ancient versions is probably attributable to the habit of

neglecting absolute literality, and translating according to the sense, when

the sense was clear. Boaz, turning back instantaneously to his relative,

says,  “then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside

thee; and I am after thee.” - Make thou known to me, that I may know, for

there is none besides thee to act the kinsman’s part (with the exception of myself),

and I come after thee.   The little clause, “with the exception of myself,” lies in

the sense, or spirit, although not in the letter of Boaz’s address, as reported in

the text. “And he said, I will redeem it.”  And he said, I will act the kinsman’s

 part. He was glad to get the opportunity of adding to his own patrimonial

possession the property that had belonged to Elimelech, and which Naomi, in

her reduced condition, wished to dispose of. So far all seemed to go straight

against the interests of Ruth.

 

5 “Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of

Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of

the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.”

Boaz distinctly informed his relative that if the land was acquired at all by

a kinsman, it must be acquired with its living appurtenance, Ruth the

Moabitess, so that, by the blessing of God, the Fountain of families, there

might be the opportunity of retaining the possession of the property in the line

of her deceased husband, that line coalescing in the line of her second husband.

It was the pleasure of Naomi and Ruth, in offering their property for sale, to

burden its acquisition, on the part of a kinsman, with the condition specified.

If there should be fruit after the marriage, the child would be heir of the

property,  just as if he had been Machlon’s son, even though the father

should have other and older sons by another wife.

 

6 “And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar

mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot

redeem it.”  The moment that Ruth was referred to, as the inseparable

appurtenance of Elimelech’s estate, a total change came over

the feelings of the anonymous relative and the spirit of his dream. He

could not,” so he strongly put it, perform the kinsman’s part. The

probability is that he already had a family, but was a widower. This being

the state of the case, it followed that if he should acquire Ruth along with

her father-in-law’s property, there might be an addition, perhaps a

numerous addition, to his family; and if so, then there would be more to

provide for during his lifetime, and at his death an increased subdivision of

his patrimony. This, as he strongly put it, would be to “destroy” his

patrimony, inasmuch as it might be frittered into insignificant fractions.

It could be Ruth’s Moabitish nationality that forms the ground, such as it is,

of the kinsman’s refusal. Elimelech’s misfortunes had been popularly ascribed

to his emigration to Moab; the death of Chillon and Machlon to their marriage

with Moabitish women.  This it was that had endangered their inheritance.

The goel fears a similar fate. He thinks that he ought not to take into his house

a woman, marriage with whom has already been visited with the extinguishment

of a family in Israel.” But if this had been what he referred to when he spoke of

thedestruction” of his inheritance, it was not much in harmony with the

benevolence which he owed to Boaz, and to which he so far gives

expression in the courtesy of his address, that he should have gratuitously

urged upon his relative what he declined as dangerous for himself. The

expressionsfor myself” and “for thyself” (לִי and לְך) are significant. The

anonymous relative does not conceal the idea that it would be only on the

ground of doing what would be for his own interest that he could entertain

for consideration the proposal of Naomi. He likewise assumed that if Boaz

should be willing to act the kinsman’s part, it would be simply because it

could be turned to account for his own interest. He did not know that there

was in Boaz’s heart a love that truly seeketh not her own” (I Corinthians

13:5), but in honor prefers the things of another.

 

“Lest I mar mine own inheritance.” How many do this? They have noble

inheritances, but in a multitude of ways they mar them.

 

  • THERE IS THE INHERITANCE OF PHYSICAL HEALTH. Most

precious; not to be gotten for fine gold. Yet how often it is injured by sloth

and sin, by intemperance and lust, or by the overtaxed brain, and neglect

of the simple economy of health.

 

  • THERE IS THE INHERITANCE OF A GOOD NAME. This too is a

priceless gift. More to be desired than gold, yea, than fine gold  (Psalm

19:10).  Character.  It takes years to win but it takes only a moment to lose.

How many a son has marred his inheritance! The “good name” (Proverbs

22:1) is irrecoverable in the highest sense. Forgiveness may ensue, but

the memory of evil lives after.

 

  • THERE IS THE INHERITANCE OF A RELIGIOUS FAITH. “My

father’s God.” Then my father had a God! There had been a generation to

serve Him before I was born! (Psalm 48:13; 78:4; Joel 1:3)  Am I to be

the first to break the glorious chain, to sever the great procession?

“One generation shall praise thy works to another.” How beautiful!

Is my voice to be silent, my thought to be idle, my heart to be COLD

AND DEAD TO GOD MY SAVIOUR?   Let me think of the unfeigned

faith of my grandmother and grandfather and my mother and

my father  and not MAR THE INHERITANCE THROUGH UNBELIEF!

 

7 “Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning

redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man

plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor:  and this was a

testimony in Israel.”  “And this was formerly a custom in Israel, on

occasion of surrendering rights of kinship, or of selling and buying land, in

order to confirm any matter; a man drew off his shoe and gave it to the

other contracting party. This was attestation in Israel. We give a free

translation. The custom was significant enough. He who sold land, or

surrendered his right to act as a kinsman in buying land, intimated by the

symbolical act of taking off his shoe, and handing it to his friend, that he

freely gave up his right to walk upon the soil, in favor of the person who

had acquired the possession. Corresponding symbolical acts, in connection

with the transfer of lands, have been common, and probably still are, in

many countries. No doubt the shoe, after being received, would be

immediately returned.

 

8 “Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew

off his shoe.”  On the instant that he said, “Acquire for thyself,” viz.,

the land with its living appurtenant, he drew off his shoe and presented it.

Josephus allowed his imagination to run off with his memory when, mixing

up the historical case before us with the details of the ancient Levirate law

(Deuteronomy 25:7-9), which were, in later times at all events, more

honored in the breach than in the observance, he represents Boaz as

bidding the woman loose the man’s shoe and spit in his face.” The actual

ceremony was not an insult, but a graphic and inoffensive attestation. Yet it

gradually wore out and was superseded. No vestige of it remained in the

days of the writer, and the Chaldea Targumist seems to have been scarcely

able to realize that such a custom could ever have existed.  He represents

the anonymous kinsman as drawing off his “right-hand glove” and handing

it to Boaz. But take note of the German word for “glove,” viz., Hand.

schuh (a hand-shoe).

 

9 “And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are

witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and

all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.”

It is absolutely necessary that, at this part of the narrative, as well

as in several other portions, we read “between the verses.” Naomi, either

personally or by representative, must have appeared on the scene, to

surrender her territorial rights and receive the value of the estate that had

belonged to her husband. But the writer merges in his account these

coincidences, and hastens on to the consummation of his story. In the

twofold expression, “the whole estate of Elimelech, and the whole estate of

Chillon and Machlon,” there is a kind of legal particularity. There was of

course but one estate, but there was a succession in the proprietorship.

 

10 “Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I

purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his

inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among

his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.”

This, to Boaz, would be by far the most delightful part of the day’s proceedings.

His heart would swell with manly pride and devout gratitude when he realized,

amid all the cumbrous technicalities of old Hebrew law, that Ruth was his. And

he would rejoice all the more, as, in virtue of her connection with Machlon and

Elimelech, both of their names would still be encircled with honor, and might,

by THE BLESSING OF YAHVEH  be linked on distinguishingly and lovingly

to future generations.  Note the expression, “that the name of the deceased may

not be cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place.” The

people who assembled at the gate might on some future day be able to say,

This boy is the heir of Machlon and Elimelech, who once migrated to Moab.”

 

11 “And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We

are witnesses.” -  The people of the city in general, and the venerable elders

(Psalm 90:10 says “The days of our years are threescore and ten; and if by

reason of strength the be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and

sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”  In contemplating this about

the elders and their position in society, I am very thankful to be reaching this quota

of years as I am within three weeks of being 69 years old.  Certainly, God has

 been and is now, good, He is abundant in “goodness and truth!”  - Exodus 34:6 –

It is a great blessing to get old and like Job spoke, to “come to thy grave in a full

age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season” – Job 5:26 – it is a shame for

our culture to not honor the elderly.  We have been taught all our lives to respect our

elders – the Bible says “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and

honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God:  I am the Lord” –

Leviticus 19:32; it is a national disgrace for our school systems to be lax on

discipline which is directly related to respect for elders – this is quite a

contrast with the function of the elders in Ruth and Boaz’s time – no doubt

their deportment, self-discipline and purity were factors in their later

progeny, not the least of which were David, Mary and above all JESUS

CHRIST! -  CY – 2012) - in particular,  were pleased with every step that

Boaz had taken - “The LORD make the woman that is come into thine

house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel:”

They felt that he had acted a truly honorable part, at once in reference to Naomi,

and to Ruth, and to the nearest kinsman, and likewise in reference to themselves

as the representatives of the general population.  Blessings rose up within their

hearts, ascended into heaven, and came down — charged with something Divine

as well as something human and humane — in showers upon his head, and upon

the head of his bride. When they prayed that the woman who was the choice of

their fellow-citizen’s heart should be as Rachel and Leah, they simply gave

expression to the intensest desire that Israelites could cherish in reference to an

esteemed sister. When they spoke of Rachel and Leah — the mothers of Israel

as “building up the house of Israel,”  they first of all compared the people to a

household, and then they passed over from the idea of a household to the

idea of a house as containing the household. They added, more particularly

in reference to Boaz himself -“and do thou worthily in Ephratah,” -  Do thou

 manfully in Ephratah. (Compare “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit

you like men, be strong” – I Corinthians 16:13).  The expression is somewhat

peculiar, ringing changes on the peculiar and remarkable term that occurs both in

chapters 2:1 and in 3:11. The expression is עֲשֵׂה־חַיִל. The people meant, Act

thou the part of a strong, substantial, worthy man.” They added, in a kind of

enthusiastic exclamation, “and be famous in Bethlehem:” Proclaim thy name in

Bethlehem. They had, however, no reference to any verbal proclamation, or tribute

of self-applause. The spirit of ideality had seized them. They meant, “Act the noble part –

the part that will without voice proclaim in Bethlehem its own intrinsic nobleness.”

 

12 “And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto

Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.”

Pharez’s descendants, the Pharzites, were particularly numerous, and hence the

good wishes of Boaz’s fellow-townsmen (see Numbers 26:20-21).

 

 

The Bridal of Boaz and Ruth (vs. 1-12)

 

  • THERE WERE SOME OBSTACLES IN THE WAY. There were

none, indeed, in Boaz’s heart; it was full of pure esteem and love for Ruth.

There were none in his financial circumstances; he was able to provide

amply for her comfort, and for all his own necessities and conveniences.

There were none in his physical condition; he had been temperate in all

things, and was in the enjoyment of health and strength. Neither were there

any obstacles in Ruth’s heart. It had already sought for refuge under the

wings of Boaz’s protection and sympathy. Nor were there any in her

physical, intellectual, or moral condition. She was exceptionally “capable”

in every respect, and eminently virtuous and good. She was filled, and had

for long been filled, with the love “that seeketh not her own things”

(I Corinthians 13:5).  Although reduced in circumstances, she really belonged

to the very class in society in which Boaz himself was moving. Nor were there

obstacles on the part of Boaz’s friends on the one hand, nor on the part of Ruth’s

one precious friend on the other. The obstacles were technical, arising out of

the legal prerogative of a third party. Boaz set himself, in full concert with

Ruth and Ruth’s mother-in-law, to deal with these obstacles.

 

  • BOAZ DID NOT LOITER OVER THE MATTER, or protract the

proceedings unfeelingly from day, to day, week to week, month to month,

and even year to year, until “hope deferred” (Proverbs 13:12) ate out every

atom of enthusiasm from his own spirit, and made the heart of Ruth grow

sickalso.  He took steps, without a single day’s delay, to get his prospects

and the prospects of Ruth righteously settled (see vs. 1-4).

 

  • Yes, “RIGHTEOUSLY SETTLED?” For it was not so much the

simple settlement as the righteousness of it that he longed for. He would

not gratify his desire to obtain Ruth — greatly as he esteemed, prized, and

desired her — if he could not get her righteously and honorably. Hence the

forensic scene in the gateway of the city.

 

  • It is AN OLD-WORLD PICTURE that is drawn in the narrative,

unveiling to view the grave, solemn manners of primitive but WELL

MANNERED TIMES!  The city had but one gate, through which,

therefore, every one who went out or came in must needs pass. It would

hence become the principal place of concourse for the townsfolk. It was

the place of primitive marketing and bartering. It was the place of primitive

judicature. It was, as it were, the senate-hall or parliament-house of the town.

The elders and fathers “did congregate” there, in the presence of the casual

public, to discuss the incidents-that were transpiring, or the topics that were

interesting the public mind. It was the place of morning and evening

lounge. Boaz was careful to be early in the morning at this gateway, and

immediately on arrival he took steps to secure a judicial settlement, if

needed, and, at all events, a complete attestation of the facts of any nuptial

arrangement that might be made. The people would begin to assemble

leisurely. They would salute one another courteously. Every one would be

of staid demeanor. There would be no rush, or push, or panting haste. The

true Oriental likes to be self-possessed and leisurely. Some would be

passing out, some passing in; but all would be ready to pause and hail one

another respectfully. Kindly salutations would be directed to Boaz, and

returned. It would be manifest from his countenance, from the tones of his

voice, from his entire demeanor and manner, that he meant business that

morning. See him as he moved about, stable, yet elastic, and wound up. He

invites certain venerated fathers to be seated on the stone benches set in a

row at the base of the city wall, as he had an affair to transact which he

wished them by their presence to attest. Other citizens, meanwhile, one by

one, would be arriving on the scene, some of them younger men and some

older. They are grouped about. They feel that something unusual is in the

air.  At length there is a full conclave, and Boaz opens his case with his

kinsman. It was this: — Naomi, who had so recently returned from the

land of Moab, was now unfortunately in such reduced circumstances that

she had resolved to sell the property which had belonged to her deceased

husband. Now then was the opportunity of the nearest kinsman. In virtue

of being the nearest in kinship, he was entitled to the first offer of the

property. “Buy it, therefore,” said Boaz, “before the inhabitants, and before

the elders of my people. If thou wilt act the part of the nearest kinsman (as

thou art entitled to do), then act it, and buy the property” (v. 4). The

kinsman seemed glad that he should have such an opportunity of adding to

his patrimonial estate, and accordingly, in presence of the elders and other,

inhabitants, he heartily said, “I will act the kinsman’s part.” As he thus

spoke there would, in all likelihood, be murmurs of applause round and

round. Who could object to the kinsman getting the estate if he should

offer to pay a liberal price to the reduced widow? It was, in its own little

sphere of things, quite a crisis. Deep-drawing interests, affections, and

desires were trembling in the balance. Boaz looked grave. But it was

evident to perceptive eyes that he had not yet unfolded the whole case to

view. After the briefest possible pause he resumed, and said, in the

presence of the judicial conclave, “In the day when thou buyest the land

from Naomi, thou must buy it not from her only, but from Ruth also, as

prospective heiress; and more, thou must buy it with Ruth at present upon

it, as its inalienable appurtenant, in order that the name of her deceased

husband may, by the blessing of the God of Israel, descend with it in the

line of her posterity (v. 5). It was only for a moment that the fate of the

gentle Moabitess trembled in its scale. The kinsman was not prepared to

accept the property on Naomi’s terms. He feared that new interests would

spring up to fritter into insignificant patches the property which he already

possessed. Hence he said to Boaz, in the presence of the elders and the

other citizens, “I cannot act the part of the nearest kinsman; do thou it,

Boaz, in my room” (v. 6). Boaz would triumph in his heart; and so, when

she became informed of the decision, would Naomi; and so would Ruth.

But some legal formalities required to be observed ere the renunciation of

the prerogative attaching to the nearest kinsman became absolutely binding

in law. “This,” says the writer, “was formerly a custom in Israel on

occasion of surrendering rights of kinship, or selling and buying land, in

order to confirm every matter. A man drew off his shoe and gave it to the

contracting party. This was attestation in Israel” (v. 7). Accordingly, the

nearest kinsman in the case before us drew off his shoe and tendered it to

Boaz, in testimony that he therewith resigned all right to walk upon the

ground in question (v. 8). After this formality had been completed, and

Boaz had courteously, in presence of the assembled witnesses, returned the

symbolic shoe, he seems to have sent for Naomi and Ruth, and to have

finished with them, in the presence of the people, the arrangement which

was the most momentous into which he had ever entered, and which

promised to be big with blessing to others as well as to himself. It was not

only a marriage settlement; it was a bridal ceremony. The antique benisons

of the elders and the other citizens fell round him thick and fast (vs. 9-12),

and that blessing which maketh rich, and to which no sorrow is added,

the blessing of the God of families and of all family love, descended and

crowned the union.

 

13 “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in

unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

14 And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which

hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be

famous in Israel.”  Of course it is Ruth’s son who is the kinsman referred to, the

nearest kinsman, still nearer than Boaz. The kinsman was given, said the

women, “this day,” the day when the child was born. The expression which

we have rendered, “who has given thee a kinsman,” is, literally, “who has

not caused to fail to thee a kinsman.” The sympathetic women who had

gathered together in Boaz’s house were sanguine, or at least enthusiastically

desirous, that a son so auspiciously given, after most peculiar antecedents,

would yet become a famous name in Israel.  It is obvious that the kinsman

specified was the one who, as they said, had been given, or had not been

caused to fail, “that day.” He was, moreover, the one of whom they went on to

say, “May his name become famous in Israel, and may he be to thee a

restorer of life, and for the support of thine old age” – (See next verse).

 

15 “And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of

thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is

better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.” The number

seven suggested an idea of fullness, completeness, perfection. The whole

inhabitants of the city knew that Ruth’s love to her mother-in-law had been

indeed transcendent, and also that it had been transcendently returned.

 

16 “And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse

unto it.  17  And the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, There is

a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of

Jesse, the father of David.”  Obed,” if a participle of the Hebrew verb db"[;,

naturally means serving, or servant. No other derivation, apparently, can at present

be assumed. Josephus gives the participial interpretation as a matter of course, and

Jerome too. If the objective correlate of the servitude referred to were Yahveh, then

the word might be equivalent to worshipper. If the name, however, as seems to be

the case, was imposed first of all by the matronly neighbors who had come to mingle

their joys with those of the mother, and of the grandmother in particular, then it is not

likely that there would be an overshadowing reference, either on the one hand to

servitude in relation to Yahveh, or on the other to servitude in the abstract.

Something simpler would be in harmony with their unsophisticated,

impressible, and purely matronly minds. It is not at all unlikely that, in

fondling the welcome “New-come,” and congratulating the overjoyed

grandmother, they would, with Oriental luxuriance of speech and Oriental

overflow of demonstrativeness, speak of the ‘lad’ as come home to be a

faithful little servant to his most excellent grandmother. The infirmities of

advancing age, aggravated by anxieties many, griefs many, bereavements

many, toils many, privations many, disappointments many, had been one

after another accumulating on “the dear old lady.” But now a sealed

fountain of reviving waters had been opened in the wilderness. Might it for

many years overflow! Might the oasis around it widen and still widen, till

the whole solitary place should be blossoming as the rose! Might the lively

little child be spared to minister, with bright activity and devotedness, to

the aged pilgrim for the little remainder of her journey! The word which

the sympathetic neighbors, with not the least intention to propose a real

name, had been affectionately bandying about, while fondling the child, was

accepted by Boaz and Ruth. They would say to one another, “Yes, just let

him be little Obed to his loving grandmother.” Naomi, soothed in all her

motherly and grandmotherly longings and aspirations, would seem to have

yielded, resolving, we may suppose, to train the child up to be a servant

of YAHVEH!

 

18 “Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,

19  And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,

20  And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,

21  And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,

22  And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.”

 

This is the genealogy of King David, and it is therefore an integral part

of the genealogy of King David’s GREAT DESCENDANT, HIS “LORD”

AND OURS!  As such it is incorporated entire in the two tables that are

contained respectively in Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38).  Some of the

names are somewhat Grecised and otherwise modified in those New

Testament tables. Instead of Hezron we have Esrom; instead of Ram we

have Aram; instead of Nahshon we have Naason; instead of Boaz we have

Boos; in I Chronicles 2:11 we have Salma instead of Salmon. It has been keenly

debated by chronologists and genealogists whether we should regard the list

of David’s lineal ancestors, given here and in (Ibid. vs.10-12), as also

in Matthew 1:3-5, and Luke 3:31-33, as complete. It is a thorny question to

handle, and one not ready to be finally settled till the whole Old Testament

chronology be adjusted. It is certain that in the larger tables of our Lord’s

genealogy there was, apparently for mnemonic purposes (Matthew 1:17),

the mergence of certain inconspicuous links (compare Ibid. v. 8); and it would

not need to be matter of wonder or concern if in that section of these tables which

contains the genealogy of King David there should be a similar lifting up into the

light, on the one hand, of the more prominent ancestors, and a shading off into the

dark, on the other, of some who were less conspicuous. It lies  on the surface of

the genealogy that the loving-kindness and tender mercies of Yahveh

stretch far beyond the confines of the Hebrews, highly favored though

 that people was. “Is He,” asks St. Paul, the God of the Jews only? Is He

not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.”  (Romans 3:29)

 

 

Little Obed (vs. 13-22)

 

A birth, and in particular a first birth, in the homes of the “excellent of the

earth” is always an interesting and exciting event. What multitudes of

beginnings there are in childhood! What multitudes of buds and beautiful

rose-buddings! What possibilities and uncertainties! What wonderful

littlenesses of hands and feet, and other organs, all so marvelously

harmonized and complete! What wondrous and wondering eyes, looking,

and still looking, as if they would really read your very heart! What

winsome smiles and early recognitions!

 

  • LITTLE OBED WAS A FORTUNATE CHILD. He had three great

privileges. He had a good father, a good mother, and a good

grandmother.  From his birth he would be cradled in love.  The three-

fold love of Ruth, Boaz and Naomi! What a blessing! His father was one

of the most upright, most honorable, most gracious of men. His mother

was “one among a thousand” (Ecclesiastes 7:28).  She had a large

heart, full of singular affection and self-denying devotedness. His

grandmother was a woman with bold outline of character, but with a

capability of yearning and attachment unfathomably deep.

 

  • If little Obed grew up, as is likely, IN THE FEAR AND FAVOR OF

GOD, then what was long afterwards said of Timothy might by some one

be said of him, “I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in

thee, which dwelt at first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother

Eunice, and I am persuaded in thee also” (II Timothy 1:5).

 

  • GREAT WOULD BE THE REJOICINGS OVER OBED’S BIRTH.

Ruth would think of Machlon and rejoice.  Naomi would think of Elimelech

and rejoice.  Boaz would think of both of the deceased and rejoice that

their names  were not to be cut off among their brethren.  That instead of

being a terminal link in the genealogical chain, might now have a place in

the line of future generations.  Naomi would rejoice because her deepest

desires had been brought up into the light, and crowned with the blessing

of the Almighty. No longer was He the embitterer of her lot (ch.1:20).

 Her name was true, and not to be exchanged for Mara. She was herself

again Naomi, for “SWEET IS JAH.” His character is “sweet,” HIS

THOUGHTS, HIS FEELIGNS, HIS PLANS, HIS WAYS, ALL

ARE “?SWEET.”

 

  • HIS NAME WOULD BE BEAUTIFULLY SIGNIFICANT TO HIM

IN PROPORTION AS HIS MIND UNFOLDED AND EXPANDED.

He would have various ministries to fulfill. A ministry to his grandmother. A

ministry to his mother. A ministry to his father. A ministry to his

dependents. A ministry to his friends and neighbors, and countrymen in

general. Above all, he would have a ministry to the God of his fathers and

of their children’s children. It would be his business to be OBED in all

relations. Even Jesus, out of all compare the greatest of his descendants,

became OBED, and took upon Himself “the form of a SERVANT”

(Philippians 2:7), and took far more than the form; He came “not to be

ministered unto, but to minister AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE A

RANSOM FOR MANY(Matthew 20:28).

 

  • It was the hope of the congratulatory matrons who fondled the

welcome child, that he would be to his grandmother “a restorer of life”

and “a nourisher of her old age” (v. 15). High is the privilege of children

and grand-children thus to brighten to the aged the evening of life, when the

long shadows are stretching far away. Happy they who are “Blessed with

this privilege!”

 

  • What a charm is thrown over infant life by the action of Obed’s

great descendant (Matthew 1:5,16) in reference to children. Jesus

Christ said,Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid

them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

He took them up in His arms, laid His hand upon their heads, and

blessed them (Mark 10:14-16). At another time He called a little child

to Him and set him in the midst of His ambitious disciples, and said,

“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall

not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-3). In

this love for little children Jesus, as in so many other respects, was

“THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD  (Colossians 1:15).

He shows us exactly what is the heart, and what are the heart affections,

of God. Such as was the visible Jesus in feelings and character,

such is the invisible God. He, therefore, He, even He, is a lover

of little children, without distinction or exception.

 

 

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