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The Book of Ruth tells the story of the Ruth and Naomi relationship, her love for her mother in law, and the love and loyalty that not only existed between them but that Ruth had for Naomi’s people.
It is a story of friendship, family and redemption. This redemption comes in the form of a relative of Naomi’s named Boaz. It is through him that we see the role of kinsman redeemer played out and see what this means to us as believers.
So let’s look further into the love and friendship of Ruth and Naomi and explore this book of the Bible that is one of my favorites.
Who Are Ruth and Naomi?
Ruth and her sister in law Orpah were married to two brothers, the sons of Naomi and Elimelech. They were Moabite women and their husbands were of the Tribe of Judah who had left Bethlehem to live in Moab in order to escape the famine.
Moab was NOT a good place. It was definitely not a place where good, God-fearing people like Naomi, Elimelech and their sons would want to be. But they were there to escape this famine and felt they had few options.
Eventually, Elimelech dies and Naomi is left in the care of her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion whose names ironically mean sick and wasting away. I say ironically because that is exactly what happens; they get sick and die.
After losing her husband and her two sons “Sick and Dying”, Naomi makes the difficult decision to return to Judah because she had heard that the Lord had seen His people, looked favorably upon them and had provided them with food. The famine had ended and it was time to return to her own people.
But she has these two Moabitess daughters in law. Because Ruth and Orpah are Moabite women, she tells them to return to the homes of their families so they can find husbands among their own people.
Naomi expressed some degree of guilt toward the young women, believing that the hand of God was against her. She believes, in a bitterness that is reminiscent of Job, that God was somehow against her and that the young women would have a better life away from her.
After some protest, Orpah kisses her mother in law goodbye and leaves for her family’s home. But Ruth refuses to leave Naomi.
Ruth tells Naomi in a line that has become famous:
Ruth – Embracing the God of Israel
What is significant about Ruth desiring to stay with Naomi and saying “your God will be my God” is she made this choice even after Naomi stated that she believed that God was against her. Ruth was willing to accept whatever fate the Lord would assign her.
Had Ruth returned to her family, she would have also been returning to her family’s gods. So this was more than just choosing to stay with Naomi. It was a choice to stay with her God and a faith that what Naomi believed about God’s punishment was not the case. In many ways, Ruth’s faith in the Lord of Israel was greater than Naomi’s at that point in time.
In verse 17 she uses the actual Name of Adonai, known as the Tetragrammatron or unspoken Name of Adonai. She uses the Name of HaShem signifying that she was accepting Him as her very own.
Arrival in Bethlehem
When Ruth and Naomi arrive in Bethlehem the Bible tells us in verse 19 that the people in town were excited! The women asked “Could this be Naomi?”, which meant ‘pleasant’.
But Naomi wasn’t having it. In a fit of despair, Naomi rebukes her townspeople.
Naomi didn’t quite feel her name suited her and instructed them to refer to her as Marah, which means bitter:
We see the word ‘Marah’ elsewhere in scripture in the bitter waters of Marah.
The Ruth and Naomi Relationship Led to Naomi’s Kinsman Redeemer Boaz
The Ruth and Naomi relationship was like mother and daughter. Ruth cared for Naomi like a daughter would and went right to work to care for her mother-in-law.
In Torah, in Leviticus 23:22 has Adonai instructing His people:
So, as Leviticus commands in the Law, this was done in these fields. Ruth goes out into a field to glean some grain behind the workers and we learn this field is owned by a man named Boaz, who is a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband.
He takes a liking to Ruth because of how kind Ruth had been to Naomi and how she had stayed with her and accepted her as her family and worked hard to make sure they had food in their home.
Because Boaz was closely related to Naomi, he was a potential go’el, which means ‘redeemer’. A kinsman redeemer is a relative who, according to Jewish law, has the right to act on behalf of a relative who was in danger or needed vindication.
We see this in the case of a relative of someone who is killed and has the right to avenge the death of their relative. The term ‘avenger of blood’ is often used. They may also redeem property for a relative who was destitute or receive restitution for a relative who has died.
The year of yovel mentioned here is the Year of Jubilee, which occurs every 50 years, following 7 cycles of shmita or 7 Sabbatical years.
This was Mosaic law which again states in Leviticus (here in the ESV):
Now there was actually a relative who was more closely related to Naomi and Ruth but Boaz says that if the relative is willing to be the redeemer then so be it, but if not, he would step in and be that redeemer.
We see in the Book of Ruth that the relative chooses not to be the redeemer since it would mean marrying Ruth and he was not willing to put his own inheritance at risk, so Boaz becomes Kinsman Redeemer and marries Ruth, redeeming Naomi’s land as well.
Ruth and Naomi’s bond led not only to the redeeming of all Naomi possessed, it led to Ruth and Boaz, it led to them having a son named Obed. This same Obed would go on to be the father of Jesse who was the father of King David, an ancestor of our own Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus.
Jesus Our Redeemer
The Ruth and Naomi relationship led to the redeeming relationship of Boaz and Ruth and led to our own Redeemer. Jesus redeemed us from the punishment of sin, which is death. His sacrificial death upon the cross paid the price that was ours to pay.Jesus redeemed us from the punishment of sin, which is death. His sacrificial death upon the cross paid the price that was ours to pay. Click To Tweet
Boaz redeemed Naomi’s lineage by giving her a descendant, Obed, who was now Naomi’s own son. She became a foster mother to him and he would care for her in her older years, as was the duty of a son. Boaz and Ruth gave her the son she lost but they gave her more than that.
They gave her life. They gave her hope and joy. They restored it all to her. The Ruth and Noami relationship was one of love, loyalty and ultimately redemption for all mankind.
Ruth did not have to stay with Naomi. She could have returned to her own family. But these two widows continued on together and cared for each other until God gave Naomi what was lost.
Ruth chose her family. She chose to remain with the woman her husband could no longer care for. And God provided!
And Jesus provided that redemption for us.
God stepped in and redeemed that which was lost to Naomi and Jesus stepped off Heaven’s throne and redeemed that which we lost, OUR inheritance.
The Ruth and Naomi Relationship – Two Widows Who Changed the World
Ruth and Naomi’s relationship resulted in change for the world.
Because of Ruth’s faithfulness to her mother in law, Ruth and Naomi gave something to all of us; they gave us our Savior.
Ruth’s simple act of love and kindness not only provided redemption for Naomi but for us all.
Ruth chose to reject the gods of her family and accept the God of Israel.
When we reject the gods of this world and choose to follow Jesus, we too are redeemed.
The Ruth and Naomi relationship resulted not only in the family of our Messiah, they are the very picture of choosing; choosing family, choosing God, choosing redemption over the things this world offers.
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Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
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