See Lesson, Josh--Samuel, typical history.
Introduction: (1) "Who can find a virtuous (noble) woman?"
(Pro 31:10,29; cp Rth 3:11). (2) A parable of the Kingdom: the Book of Ruth
links work of Joshua (Savior, leader, paving way) with work of Samuel and David
(preparation, Kingdom). An ideal example of individual living, in midst of
wickedness (ie Jdg 17; 19), of true faith in quietness and confidence (Rom
8:28). (3) Ancestry of David, esp link with Moab. (4) Lessons of redemption: see
esp Rth 4:6-9. (5) Read at Pentecost: Rth 2:23n. (6) "Seek first the kingdom of
God" (Mat 6:33); spiritual concern leads to material benefits.
IN THE DAYS: Heb denotes always a time of trouble,
ending in blessing and deliverance. Found in Gen 14:1; Rth 1:1; Isa 7:1; Jer
1:3; Est 1:1; 2Sa 21:1.
WHEN THE JUDGES RULED: Heb "shaphan" = to judge,
discern, regulate, direct, as deputies of Yahweh, the real king (Jdg 8:23).
Then, however, many revolted against his rule (note Jdg 17:6; 18:1; 21:25: no
king in Isr). A nation engrossed in a selfish indifference to God at best, and
criminal wickedness at worst.
RULED: May mean "began to judge" (as in 2Sa 15:10). In
which case, like Jdg 17-21, Ruth's story belongs to the generation soon after
FAMINE: Lit "hunger": to punish Isr's sins (Psa 105:16;
Lev 26:18-20), and their failure to worship (Joe 1:10; Mal 3:8-11; Amo 4:6-10;
Pro 3:9,10). Typ famine of word (Amo 8:11; Mic 3:6).
BETHLEHEM IN JUDAH: "House of bread and praise". Same
as Ephratah = place of fruit (Gen 35:18-20). A small village (Mic 5:2), but in
very fertile area. The land of life and blessing. Birthplace of Benjamin (Gen
35:18-20), David, and Jesus.
WENT TO LIVE FOR A WHILE: Note Rth 1:2,4. Three steps
in a gradual deterioration (cp Psa 1:1). As in Abraham's experience, leaving the
land of promise was a mistake (Gen 12:10).
IN THE COUNTRY OF MOAB: "Sometimes we gaze across the
great gulf that divides the ecclesia from the world and see how green the
pastures of Moab are. Sometimes we look around us in what should be the house of
bread and see little or no sustenance. In our moment of weakness, the temptation
may be great to forsake the house of bread. But don't be fooled for a minute.
Death and ruin await. The death of which I speak won't be financial, but
MOAB: Sig "son of a father" (related to Lot's incest:
Gen 19:37). Hostile to Israel (see Isa 15; 16n; Num 22:7; 25:1-3). Prohibited
from Isr' congregation (Deu 23:3). Land of sin and death. With later Jews, sym
spiritual sons of a "father the devil" (Joh 8:44). "Let my outcasts dwell with
you" (Isa 16:4n).
Would this sojourning in Moab be possible after Jdg 3:29,30?
The early part of Jdg 3:14 has been suggested.
ELIMELECH: Sig "My king is El" or strength. Israel as a
theocracy. Elsewhere, men whose name includes "melech" were men of
NAOMI: Sig "pleasantness or favor", Israel as a
covenant people, the wife of God (Isa 54:5; all of Song).
MAHLON AND CHILION: Sig "sickly" and "wasting". Two
divisions of Israel in captivity.
EPHRATHITES: "Fruitful". Sig Israel as God's vine, but
producing no fruit (Isa 5:1-4).
Irony: the family goes to Moab to be safe, but all men die!
see Pro 16:33.
ELIMELECH... DIED: Sig Kingdom overturned (Eze
SHE WAS LEFT: Israel in dispersion, widowhood: Isa
47:9; Lam 1:1,2. But ultimately to return in joy. Ct Isa 54:4.
A further backward step: marriage with alien: Deu 23:3; Ezr
9:2; Deu 7:1-3; Neh 13. Thus Israel absorbed foreign customs, teachings, and
gods. "May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD; may the
sin of his mother never be blotted out" (Psa 109:14): the rabbis refer this
curse to Rth 1:4!
ORPAH: Sig "back of neck": 2Ch 29:6; Jer 2:27; 19:15.
Those who refuse Truth, or become apostate from Truth.
RUTH: Sig "tender, comely". "My dove, or my friend" in
Song 1:9,15; 2:2,10. Wife of Mahlon (Rth 4:10), but perh wife first of Chilion
and then of Mahlon by Levirate law (Deu 25:5-10). Sym Gentile ecclesia drawn to
Naomi's (Israel's) hope. The wild olive: Rom 11:7.
ABOUT TEN YEARS: Like Lot, Gen 19:9, finally settling
down in the land of the alien. (Notice: Ruth is childless for 10
A foreigner in a hostile land: 2Ki 13:23; 17:20.
THE LORD HAD COME TO THE AID OF HIS PEOPLE: Or
"visited" (as in Luk 1:68). God's guiding providence in giving them the bread of
life (Christ: Joh 6:33).
PREPARED TO RETURN: Lit, "returned". All three began
(Rth 1:10). Orpah "turned back" (Isa 55:7).
Like the prodigal son, Naomi remembered her father's house
while in a far country: Luk 15:13,17.
YOUR MOTHER'S HOUSE: Those who follow Christ must leave
house of mother: Eph 5:31,32.
KINDNESS: See Rom 11:22.
REST: Menuchah: rest, safety, shelter, esp with husband
(cp Rth 3:1n).
A compliment to Naomi's character. Willingness to leave
comforts of home, for a new and strange land. Type of one's declaration at
The motives of every professed disciple must be tested. The
depth of our conviction must be measured not just by what we grasp, but by what
we are prepared to let go of.
Going back: Lot's wife had looked back (Gen 19:26). But
Rebekah left her father's house, and did not look back (Gen 24:52-61). Cp
teaching in Mat 10:37-39; Luk 9:57-62; 1Ki 19:19-21.
The LM provided for Levirate marriage (with kinsman of
deceased husband: Deu 25:5; Gen 38:26; Mat 22:24), but they were Moabites,
presenting a great difficulty (Rth 4:5,6; Deu 23:3).
Naomi's desire for future welfare of
BITTER: "Mar": sw Rth 1:20. Same construction as threat
of Sodomites upon Lot, who sojourned among heathen also (Gen 19:9).
HAS GONE OUT AGAINST ME: Naomi recognizes God's hand of
providence in daily affairs. Adversity is to punish an erring child: see Lam;
Psa 103:13,14; Heb 12:5-11.
Kiss: peace (Isa 9:6; Eph 2:14), pardon (Luk 15:20),
submission (Psa 2:12), marriage (Hos 2:9,10), friendship (1Sa 20:41), affection
Orpah's conviction was such that she was willing to leave --
she did begin the journey! But she was not truly ready to "let go". Bethlehem
was in her eye, but Moab was still in her heart! Her heart pulled her body back:
to the land of false gods and false hopes, and death.
"Both of them had an affection for Naomi, and therefore set
out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the hour of test came;
Naomi most unselfishly set before each of them the trials which awaited them,
and bade them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their Moabitish
friends. At first both of them declared that they would cast in their lot with
the Lord's people; but upon still further consideration Orpah with much grief
and a respectful kiss left her mother in law, and her people, and her God, and
went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself
up to the God of her mother in law. It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord
when all is fair, and quite another to cleave to them under all discouragements
and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the
practical cleaving to the Lord, which must show itself in holy decision for
truth and holiness, is not so small a matter" (CHS).
// Joh 6:66-68.
"Are you sure you want to go? Be sure about your
YOUR SISTER-IN-LAW IS GOING BACK: Fulfilling the
meaning of her name. The Kdom is gained only thru trial and probation.
GOING BACK TO... HER GODS: Baal-Peor, Chemosh! (Josh
24:15) -- and the prospect of a husband.
Forsaking of country, people, religion, and hope. Gentiles'
acceptance of Christ involves a like separation (Act 15:14; 2Co 6:17). Turning
from idols (1Th 1:9,10).
YOUR PEOPLE WILL BE MY PEOPLE: Abrahamic covenant: Gen
17:7,8. Cp Exo 3:6,7; Jer 32:37,38; Eze 11:20. By this stmt, Ruth shows she has
become the dau of Abraham! Cp Rom 4:12,16,17; Gal 3:8,9; Heb 11:8.
AND THERE I WILL BE BURIED: And she could have added,
'And there I will be resurrected!'
MAY THE LORD DEAL WITH ME: Ruth meant it! She seals her
vow with an oath taken on the covenant name of Yahweh! An irrevocable oath. "May
the LORD deal with me" ref to the sacrifice over which an oath is taken: ie,
'May I be put to death!' See Lesson, Covenant-victim, the.
A notable event. Return of Naomi, destitute and alone, except
for one Gentile companion. Sig return of Israel from suffering, accompanied only
by well wishes of Gentile ecclesia.
UNTIL... BETHLEHEM: At least 50 miles, journey of 3
days. Crossing 2 rivers: Arnon (Isa 16:2) and Jordan.
STIRRED: Great excitement: cp 1Sa 4:5; 1Ki
CAN THIS BE NAOMI?: In other words, "Is this THE
Naomi?", ie the one we once knew. Such a change!
MARA: Sig "bitterness", as in Rth 1:13n; Exo
ALMIGHTY: Shaddai, from rt to be strong, as in "to
destroy" (Pro 11:3; Psa 17:9; Isa 13:6; Joe 1:15). Another rt is "shad", sig
"breast", thus to nourish (ie Gen 49:25; Job 22:25). "Behold goodness and
severity of God" (Rom 11:22).
"The divine name Shaddai, by which she chose to acknowledge
the rebuke of God, may have been used in ironic allusion to its meaning in the
promises to the fathers about a multitudinous seed (Gen 17:1,2; 28:3; 35:11;
etc). But in the poetical books 'Shaddai' also means 'Destroyer'. Perhaps that
is what Naomi meant.
"There is a marvellous dramatic irony about this, for, had she
but known it, Naomi returned more full than when she went out. How could she
realise that every word of God's glorious promises to Abraham was going to be
fulfilled through this helpless but devoted stranger returning with her from
Moab? At this moment she saw herself only as an undefended prisoner-at-the-bar,
with the powers of the universe arrayed against her both as counsel for the
prosecution and as a judge on the bench: 'The Lord testified against me, and the
Almighty hath afflicted me!' But before very long she was to marvel at the work
of God on her behalf" (WJR).
Cp return from captivity: Jer 25:5; 31:21; Lam 3:40.
BARLEY HARVEST: Time of Passover. Thus remembering the
first deliverance (see Jer 16:14,15).