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To the City Gate and Back (2)
II. THE MARRIAGE OF BOAZ TO RUTH (Ruth 4:13-17)
Victor M Eskew
II. THE MARRIAGE OF BOAZ TO RUTH (Ruth 4:13-17)
A. The Couple (Ruth 4:13)
1. Matrimony (Ruth 4:13a)
So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife…
a. In those days, men took women as wives, while women were given in marriage by their fathers (Matt. 22:30).
b. The fact that she became his wife indicates her improved status. Previously, she was described as “a stranger” (Ruth 2:10) and a handmaid (Ruth 2:10). Now she is a wife.
1) The impossible (Ruth 1:11-13) is made possible.
2) A plan (Ruth 3:1-5) comes to pass.
3) A promise (Ruth 3:9-11) is fulfilled.
4) The unknown (Ruth 4:1-6) is now known.
2. Motherhood (Ruth 4:13b)
…and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.
a. “Went in unto her” is an idiom for having sexual relations (Gen. 16:4; 29:23, 30; 30:3-4; 38:2, 9, 18).
b. The Lord enabled her to conceive.
1) This statement is consistent with Ruth 4:11-12.
2) Previously, she had not conceived in her relationship with Mahlon.
3) Ruth became one of several women who had once been barren, but were later blessed with very prominent sons: Sarah (Gen. 16:1; 21:1-2), Rebekah (Gen. 25:21), Rachel (Gen. 29:31; 30:22), Manoah’s wife (Judg. 13:3), Hannah (I Sam. 1:2, 5, 19, 20), and Elizabeth (Luke 1:7, 13, 24).
c. She gave birth to a son
1) Block: “In a world characterized by famine, barrenness, and death, there is birth, new life” (as quoted by Stewart, 176-177).
2) “It is significant that the child born is male so he can inherit the family estate and carry on Mahlon’s name” (Stewart, 177)
3) The story could end here, but it does not. There are more lives that will be affected by the birth of this child than just the lives of Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi.
B. The Commendations (Ruth 4:14-15)
1. Introductory Remarks
a. The attention now turns from Boaz to Naomi.
b. The women in this section had seen Naomi when she returned to Bethlehem. They saw her affliction. That affliction has now been turned into a blessing. They give four commendations in these two verses.
c. Sakenfeld: “In a reprise and reversal of 1:19-21, the women of Bethlehem are again pictured in conversation with Naomi. This time, however, they women speak while Naomi listens; this time, the words are of joy rather than calamity; this time, Ruth is highlighted rather than ignored” (as quoted by Stewart, 177).
2. First, there is PRAISE given to God (Ruth 4:14a)
And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee without a kinsman…
a. The women ascribe praise to God: “Blessed be the Lord.” They see His hand in all that has come to pass in the life of Naomi.
b. They remind Naomi that the Lord has given her a “kinsman.”
1) One might think this refers to Boaz, but actually it refers to the child. Some translations actually translate the term as “grandson.”
2) “On the day the child was born, Naomi would, from that day on, have a kinsman that is a grandson; someone upon whom she could depend for the rest of her life. For a woman bereft of all save the love of a daughter-in-law, this was no small thing for God to have done for her” (Peipman, 291).
3. Second, there is PROMISE to the son (Ruth 4:14b).
…that his name may be famous in Israel.
a. The desire was that “his” name be on the lips of all mankind.
b. This blessing could refer to either the Lord or to Obed.
c. Peipman believes the phrase refers to the Lord. She states: “They are saying, what God has done, is a great thing and because of it His name will be famous not only in Bethlehem but in the entire country of Israel. God wants to be known for His wonderful acts towards the children of man. He is to be praised for them, even as the women of Bethlehem have praised Him” (291).
d. Others think that this refers to Obed and is an echo of the blessing ascribed to Ruth previously by the men (See Ruth 4:11). The woman wanted the child’s name to be known just as Ruth’s name would be known.
4. Third, there is PEACE for Naomi (Ruth 4:15a).
And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age.
a. Naomi had come back from Moab in bitterness of soul (Ruth 1:20-21). This child, however, was going to bring peace and comfort to Naomi’s life.
b. This child would do two things for her:
1) Stimulate Naomi: a restorer of thy life
a) The word is found throughout the book and means to “return.”
b) “Perhaps the author is making a play on words. In 1:21, Naomi claimed the LORD had ‘brought [her] back empty. Now, He is “bringing back’ her soul” (Stewart, 178).
c) “Obed would reinvigorate the joy and happiness that she had lost due to the tragedies in her life. He would reignite the spark in in her life, which is a common effect that children have on grandparents” (Stewart, 178).
d) Obed would bring her back to where she was before the disastrous move to Moab.
5. Fourth, there are PLAUDITS for Ruth (Ruth 4:15b).
…for thy daughter in law, which loved thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
a. “Ruth has become the heroine of the story; nobody would be celebrating without her sacrifices of love. Naomi, grieving her personal losses, ignored Ruth’s value when she first returned to Bethlehem (1:21). She may have even viewed her daughter-in-law as a liability. At the end of the story, however, the women joyously proclaim what an asset Ruth truly is to Naomi” (Stewart, 179).
b. “Which loved thee” highlights all of the good things Ruth had done for her mother-in-law since she committed herself to her (Ruth 1:16-17).
1) Godly love is characterized by covenant loyalty, rather than fleeting emotions or empty words (I Cor. 13:4-7; I John 3:17-18).
2) “Ruth exhibits the kind of love commanded by God under His covenant with Israel; she shows the Israelites what truth love is” (Stewart, 180).
c. Better to thee than seven sons
1) One is better than seven
a) Seven was one of the ideal, perfect numbers among the Jews.
b) Ruth’s love rose above a perfect love.
c) See I Samuel 1:8
Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? And why eastest thou not? And why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?
2) A daughter-in-law is better than sons.
a) Sons were treasured for their contributions to the family.
b) Things the sons did:
- Buried their parents – Ruth would bury Naomi (Ruth 1:17)
- Take care of parents in old age – Ruth gleaned (Ruth 2:1-23)
- Continue family name – Ruth gave birth to a son (Ruth 4:13)
3) Moabitess better than an Israelite
a) Foreigners were usually looked down upon.
b) Ruth was accepted as a proselyte (Ruth 1:16, 2:12) and was truly “a woman of excellence” (Ruth 2:11; 3:11).
C. The Caregiver (Ruth 4:16)
And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became a nurse unto it.
1. Contact: took the child
2. Cuddling: laid it in her bosom
3. Cared for: became a nurse unto it
1) Strong (539): to build up or support
2) Thayer: to support, uphold, nourish
b. Perhaps she played the role of both nurse and educator, constituting a role between parenthood and babysitter.
D. The Choice (Ruth 4:17)
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.
1. The Neighbors
a. These ladies lived in the vicinity where Ruth gave birth to Obed.
b. They had been eagerly anticipating the birth of this child and immediately came to the home to rejoice with Naomi.
2. The Notification: “There is a son born to Naomi…”
a. They did not have the advances of modern science that we do. The sex of the child was not known until he was born.
b. A son was exactly what was needed to keep Elimelech and Mahlon’s name alive in Israel. Again, we see the providence of God at work.
c. Why is Naomi credited with the birth of a son?
1) She was the one redeemed by this birth.
2) The ladies came in and saw Naomi holding this child.
3) A grandparent is always said to have had a child when a grandchild is born.
d. “Korpel also points out that there are several legal fictions in this chapter:
1) Boaz become a kind of son/redeemer to Naomi (4:9);
2) Boaz becomes a husband/redeemer to Ruth (4:10);
3) Mahlon becomes Obed’s virtual father (4:10);
4) Obed becomes the virtual son/redeemer to Naomi (4:14);
5) Ruth replaces the sons of Naomi (4:15);
6) Naomi becomes Obed’s virtual mother (4:17)”
(as quoted by Stewart, 183-184).
3. The Name
a. The name being given by the neighbors is unusual.
1) Most of the time the children were named either by the mother or the father.
2) The only other example that we find in Scripture of neighbors attempting to name a child is at the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-66).
1) Meaning: servant
2) It is related to Obadiah which means: “the servant of the Lord.”
3) Three possible reasons for the name:
a) Obed commemorates the service Ruth rendered to Naomi (4:15).
b) Obed would act as a “servant of the Lord” to take away Noami’s bitterness and redeem her family estate (1:20-21; 4:10).
c) Obed would become a servant to Naomi in her old age (4:15).
4. The Notoriety: “…he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”
a. The word “father” has several meanings in the Biblical text. One of them is ancestor. Obed was the ancestor of Jesse.
b. Obed is made famous because he was the father of David.
“The whole section ends with the climactic news that this child became the father of Jesse, the father of David. It needs to be seen that all the prayers and blessings of this section have their true fulfillment with David. He is the one who ultimately receives renown in Israel and is the true focus of the exhortation to Boaz to do worthily in Ephrathah and give him a name in Bethlehem” (as quoted by Stewart, 185).