Lesson Passages: Ruth 3:10-13a,9-10,13,17
August 26, 2012
Accepting Responsibility (Ruth 3:10-13a)
Acting with Integrity (Ruth 4:1-4a)
Embracing a Secure Future (Ruth 4:9-10,13, 17)
Focus on This Goal: To help adults carry out God –given moral responsibilities
Scripture 1: (Accepting Responsibility (Ruth 3:10-13a)- 10 Then he said, “May the Lord bless you my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before, because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say, since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.12 Yes, it is true that I am a family redeemer, but there is a redeemer closer than I am. 13a Stay here tonight, and in the morning, if he wants to redeem you that is good. Let him redeem you. But if he doesn’t want to redeem you, as the Lord lives, I will.”
Verse 10- Following the advice of Naomi, therefore, Ruth offered herself in marriage to Boaz. Boaz had been observing Ruth as she worked dependably to provide for Naomi. As far as he was concerned, Ruth was outstanding! Granted, his way of expressing his feelings might seem a bit reserved compared to today’s standards.
Boaz said, “May the Lord bless you, my daughter.” This blessing, however, was strongly based on Ruth’s upright behavior. He called her his daughter because she was younger than he and because he was in the position of having to take care of her. Moreover, in ancient Israel people often showed affection by using family terms.
Boaz praised Ruth’s positive actions: “You have shown more kindness now than before, because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor.” The kindness Boaz referred to was not toward him but rather was the devotion Ruth showed to Naomi.
Ruth labored long hours in the fields to provide for Naomi. Furthermore, instead of favoring her natural desires as a young woman and going after some young man who was attractive to her, Ruth was willing to be married to an older man out of her sense of responsibility toward Naomi. If Ruth had gone
after some other man, the property and family line of Elimelech would have been lost forever.
Verse 11- Boaz’s words show great humility as well. We might simplify what Boaz was saying as: “Being willing to marry me takes a lot more moral commitment than working all day out in the field!” In other words, He didn’t regard himself as a great catch for a young woman looking for a husband.
Nevertheless, Boaz promised to do as Ruth wished. He added: “All the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.” This was a way of reassuring Ruth, equivalent to saying, “Everybody who knows you knows what a wonderful person you are!” The implied point was that Ruth should have no doubt that Boaz was ready to take her offer. To him, she was a great catch!
Verses 12-13a- Although Boaz was willing to take Ruth as his wife, the matter was not yet settled. He pointed out that there was another man who, from the standpoint of Israelite legal practice, had the right to marry her first. He explained the situation to Ruth: “Yes, it is true that I am a family redeemer, but there is a redeemer closer than I am. Stay here tonight, and in the morning, if he wants to redeem you, that’s good.”
Boaz could not marry Ruth unless the closer male relative passed on the opportunity. Boaz’s words reveal two things about his character. First, he was careful about following the law and yielding to what, in the custom of the day, was the other man’s right. Second, Boaz was concerned primarily for the well-being of Naomi and Ruth.
If in fact this relative would take care of them, then all was good. In other words, Ruth’s and Naomi’s future care took priority over what Boaz personally wanted. It is clear from the text that Boaz desired to marry Ruth. Naomi saw as much and accurately predicted that Boaz would deal with the legal matter as quickly as possible. Likewise, although we have good reason to conclude that Boaz genuinely loved Ruth, he accepted that his first duty was to the family.
Scripture 2: (Acting with Integrity (Ruth 4:1-4a)
1 Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz called him by name and said, “Come over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. 2 Then Boaz took 10 men of the town’s elders and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down. 3 He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, is selling a piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4a I thought I should inform you: Buy it back in the presence of those seated here and in the
presence of the elders of my people. If you want to redeem it, do so. But if you do not want to redeem it, tell me so that I will know, because there isn’t anyone other than you to redeem it, and I am next after you.”
Verse 1- Boaz began the process of settling the matter by going to the gate of the town. Then as now, every city had its center of commerce and law. In modern cities, the courthouses and office buildings are typically located downtown. Ancient Israelite cities usually had very narrow streets and often did not have a large central forum area. Therefore, the city gate served as both the principal marketplace and courthouse, right at the entrance to the city. This was a good location since everybody entering the city would pass through there.
Verse 2- When Boaz saw the closer relative come through the gate, he asked him to come over for a business matter. Then Boaz took 10 men of the city’s elders and had them sit down as a court. These men would serve to witness the proceedings and effectively to notarize any legal agreement.
Verses 3-4a Boaz got down to business and informed the man of Naomi’s situation. His presentation was straightforward and factual: “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, is selling a piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.” When the closer relative declared his wish to redeem the property, Boaz added that the deal also included the responsibility to take care of Ruth and to raise up a son to carry on Elimelech’s name. Boaz gave the man a fair and open opportunity to take the land and to marry Ruth
Scripture 3: (Embracing a Secure Future (Ruth 4:9-10,13,17)
9 Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. 10 I will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his home. You are witnesses today.”
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13 Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
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17 The neighbor women said, “A son has been born to Naomi,” and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
A male relative who served as a family redeemer was required to provide for the widow and her son until the son came of age. Then the son inherited the property of his mother’s deceased husband and became responsible for taking care of her. The son’s biological father had no legal claim to the property or to financial support from the young man, since legally he was the son of the deceased man.
In Ruth 4:4-8, the unnamed family redeemer was willing to obtain the property when it appeared that it would be no more than a financial matter. He was prepared to take Naomi into his home, care for her until her death, and then take full possession of the property. Either he had not heard about Ruth or had not made the connection that redeeming the property meant marrying Ruth. Since, as he supposed, there were no living heirs to the line of Elimelech, logically there would be no surviving heirs to the property.
When the relative heard about Ruth, however, he pulled back. Not only would he be required to father a son by her, raise the son, and then see the property move out from his control, but he also would have had the turmoil of bringing a new wife into his household. If nothing else, the financial strain of caring for Naomi, Ruth, and the potential son would have made life harder for him to provide for his own children and to preserve his own inheritance. The relative therefore deferred to Boaz.
Verses 9-10- One question could be, “Why would Boaz enter into a seemingly bad contract?” He showed that he understood the legal situation when he said to the onlookers: “You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. I will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, to carry on the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his home.”
We can clearly see four things about Boaz. First, he was relatively well-off, a prominent man with land and workers. Thus he was not concerned about the financial strain of caring for the new family. Second, he was not a young man. It may be that he was a widower. If so, he had no concerns about bringing discord into his home. Third, he was either in love with Ruth or certainly held her in high esteem. His motivations were therefore personal rather than financial.
Fourth, Boaz may not have had any sons of his own. Evidence for this possibility is the fact that Obed, the son Ruth gave birth to, is referred to as Boaz’s son in the genealogies; We might expect that Obed would have been called the “son of Mahlon” since one purpose of the family redeemer practice
was to preserve the name of the deceased man. Why is Obed never called the “son of Mahlon?” The most logical explanation is that Boaz made Obed his heir, and this explanation likewise would suggest that Boaz had no other sons by a prior marriage.
As heir to Boaz’s estate, Obed went by the name of “son of Boaz” Thus, the estates of both Boaz and Elimelech were preserved for the family in the person of Obed. The men of Bethlehem responded to Boaz by pronouncing a blessing on Ruth and Boaz, using the names of the matriarchs of Israel (“Rachel and Leah”) and of the matriarch of the tribe of Judah (“Tamar”). This was a word of proof from the community, and the blessing also effectively brought Ruth into full membership in the covenant community of Israel, since they were treating her as a woman who could be grouped with Rachel, Leah, and Tamar.
Verse 13- Then God Himself blessed the couple’s union: the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women of Bethlehem then added their voices: “Praise the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today.”
Verse 17- They also made sure that everyone in the community got the news: “A son has been born to Naomi.” Biblical Hebrew has no word for grandson, and that is why the child was referred to as Naomi’s “son.” It may seem unusual to us that the local women, and not the boy’s parents, named the child. The name Obed means “servant.” A longer form of the name is “Obadiah,” which means, “servant of the Lord.”
Possibly the women called the newborn Obed out of a sense that the boy had been sent by God to care for Naomi. They stated as much when they declared, “He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age”. The underlying message was that after Naomi suffered a time of bitter sorrow, joy and security had finally come. She was back among her people, living in a good home, and she had someone to take care of her in later years.
[God is so very good to His own! The book of Ruth is full of rich rewards for those close to the heart of God. I greatly value my personal relationship with our Heavenly Father, because He has blessed me all of my life. We are not worthy of the blessings of God, but when they come they are so wonderful.
All praise, and glory, and honor is due Him.] Wayne Clemons, Teacher
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The Southern Baptist Convention 2012