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Old Testament Survey

Ruth




Key Verses

1:15-17
3:11-13


Key Chapters

Chapter 1
Chapter 4


Key Concepts

Kinsman
Redeem


Thoughts for Reading

The lesson here is the need for a kinsman-redeemer.
Can you described Jesus Christ as your kinsman-redeemer?


Title

This is another book named after its principal character. In line with Jewish tradition, it is reasonable to ascribe authorship of the book of Ruth to the prophet Samuel (or Nathan).

Setting and Date

The setting of the book captures the period of the judges. The attitude of the Law towards foreign marriages (Deut. 23:3) allows for an early date of writing during Samuel&s life. This dates the book’s writing to a time during the early Monarchy (c. 1000 B.C.). The Book of Ruth offers no direct identification concerning its date. Ruth does site its setting with the time of the Judges ("when the judges judged" - 1:1), and probably occurred toward the end of the period. The time when the "judges judged" is also the time when two other accounts from the Bethlehem Trilogy occurred. Since the genealogy given in chapter 4 is only three generations before David, this tends to date the setting fairly late in the period of the judges.

Ruth is one of two books in the Bible named after a woman. Can you name the other?

The Bethlehem Trilogy

Three stories, two at the end of Judges and Ruth make up what is frequently referred to as the Bethlehem Trilogy. All three events occur in or near Bethlehem, the City of David, the birth place of Christ. The placing of these stories within the literary structure of the Bible helps to sharpen the contrast between obedience and disobedience. The first two are the stories of Micah and the Levite (Judges 17, 18) and of the Levite and His Concubine (Judges 19-21). From God’s point of view, the two episodes show the depravity of the Israelites, including the ancestors of Saul.

Micah establishes his own religion with his own priest, a Levite from Bethlehem. Micah loses his priest to the people of Dan as that tribe migrates north away from the land God gave them. This migration occurs because they did not drive out the inhabitants of the land and so did not have enough room. The Danites figured this idea of a private priest would help in their migration. Compromise is seen here at its finest.

In the case of the Levite and his concubine, the concubine left him and ran home to daddy. The concubine’s home was in Bethlehem. Eventually, the Levite went after her. One night of the trip home was spent in a town of Benjamin. The Levite stayed there because they were part of the “family.” He intentionally did not stay at Jerusalem, which was still in the hands of the Jebusites at this date, since they were not part of the tribes. But, the men of this town of Benjamin wanted sexually relations with the Levite. His host sent out the concubine instead. The abuse of the men killed the concubine. A war ensued in which the other tribes attacked and fought with Benjamin, killing all but six hundred Benjamite men.

Ruth is a breath of fresh air in this trilogy. The account focuses on the loyal ancestors of David, and the faith of a Moabite in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Naomi is from Bethlehem and most of the story is set in this town.

Ruth creates a diamond-like sparkle against the backdrop of Israel in the time of Judges. It also looks forward to the coming of Christ in several ways. A simple outline of the book is:

Jesus in Ruth

The Hebrew term translated kinsman-redeemer is goel. The term most properly simply means “a close relative.”

The entire point of this story is to show the ancestry of David being faithful to God during a period of apostasy and to paint a picture of the work of Christ. Boaz is the “kinsman-redeemer,” the one who under the Law could save family and property (Lev 25; Num 35; Deut 19; 25). Ruth becomes a picture of the church, the Gentile taken into the community of God. Boaz is the Savior who accomplishes this bonding.

The kinsman-redeemer must:

What a wonderful picture of the work of Christ this short book of the Bible represents.

Has your redeemer saved you?

 

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December 7, 2019

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