Ruth, the Moabitess in Israel

I am a Ruth.  I am blessed to be a Ruth.  I am thankful to be a Ruth.  I would not change my status of being a Ruth.

Traditionally, the book of Ruth is read during the days of the omer.   This is because the setting is during the barley harvest in Bethlehem.  Ruth gleans from the fields until there is a fruitful harvest. Her story is a type and shadow of the two leavened loaves of bread representing the kingdom of heaven that are waved at Shavuot. The account of Ruth is a perfect illustration of the Jew (Naomi) and the non-Jew (Ruth)  being grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel (together)  and bringing forth the glory of Messiah Yeshua (Obed)  through a kinsman-redeemer (Boaz).

Ruth’s story begins in Moab where her husband, her brother-in-law and father-in-law have all died.   Her mother-in-law, Naomi,  decides to return to her homeland in Judah.   Ruth decides to go with her mother-in-law back to Bethlehem in spite of Naomi’s discouragement.

“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

Ruth states profoundly and explicitly that Naomi’s God will be her God and Naomi’s people will be her people. Ruth makes a conscious choice to leave behind all of her pagan ways and customs and go to the new ‘promised land’ in Israel.   She will live as a foreigner in an unknown land with unfamiliar customs and people.

Once in the land, the two widows have to find sustenance.  Naomi understands the culture – both Biblically and traditionally –  of her people and gives explicit instructions to Ruth about gleaning in the fields behind the workers.  Ruth follows the instructions exactly as she is given them because she has chosen to become part of the commonwealth of Israel.   She doesn’t whine or complain or suggest other means of finding food.  She simply obeys Naomi, the Jew, the natural-born citizen.

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Through her obedience, she is blessed in the field as she gleans.  She also meets the owner of the field who gives her special treatment and provision.     She learns that Boaz is her mother-in-law’s kinsman-redeemer.  This means that Boaz is Naomi’s nearest male blood relative.   As was the Biblical custom, he was the ‘redeemer’ qualified to marry Naomi in order that she might have a child so that she would not lose her land inheritance.

Again, Naomi gives Ruth some very explicit, but interesting instructions.  Ruth replies, “I will do whatever you say.” Again, Ruth does not question the woman with whom she has chosen to live nor the culture in which she has chosen to make her own.   She puts on special perfumes, heads off to the barley threshing floor, and sleeps at Boaz’ feet.  When Boaz awakens, he covers Ruth with the corner of his garment.  By doing this, he was responding to her by saying, “I will be your covering.”

The next day he meets with ten elders, what is known as a minyon,  at the city gates to find out if there are closer relatives that could be Naomi’s  kinsman redeemers.  Since there are none that are free to redeem Naomi, and because of Naomi’s age, he marries Ruth.   They have a son they name Obed who becomes the grandfather of King David.

Ruth is an example to those of the nations that there is blessing and reward in being part of the Olive Tree of Israel.    Though she only ‘gleaned’ from the field, the ‘harvest’ of her life  is our Messiah, Yeshua.

©June 6, 2011, Tent Stake Ministries

 

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