Ruth 4

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Verse 13: So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. (NIV)

  • ”Take” is about taking the wife to the husband's house and beginning a family (Block 725).
  • Obviously, this is simplifying a considerable amount of time, at least nine months, but possibly more depending on how long it was until she conceived.
  • There was never any indication before this that Ruth could not conceive.
    • She just didn't have any children from her previous marriage. But this verse specifically says that God had to enable her to have a child.
    • This is a sign of their reversal of fortunes, that God is stepping in to make it all work out.
  • Delivering a son is not just a nice detail about the gender, but an important part of God providing because only a son could continue the dead men's line.
  • This is only the second time in the book that God directly intervenes (Hubbard 267).
  • This son is presented as evidence that God rewards love and faithfulness like that shown by Ruth.

Verse 14: The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! (NIV)

  • This is a definite contrast with the last time the women were brought into the story, when they didn't recognize Naomi and
  • Whose name is praised is in question, linguistically it could be God, Boaz, or the boy. In context, however, it is the boy, given the next verse.
  • This would be naming the boy born to Ruth the “goel” the kinsmen redeemer, not Boaz. This might be because there is no blood connection between the boy and Naomi, but he will still be in charge of taking care of her.
  • ”become famous” is more literally “may his name be called” throughout Israel, which is about keeping someone's name alive after death, to be remembered (Block 728).

Verse 15: He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” (NIV)

  • These are not wishes or prayers, but promises (Hubbard 272).
  • Naomi had no future without this child, it is truly the person who will give her food and keep her alive as she grows old. Not only is Ruth secure, through marriage with Boaz, but Naomi is secure now.
  • ”Seven sons” is not a statement about reality, but a reflection that seven sons was thought to be the perfect Israelite family (Block 729). Ruth and all the pain was better than a prefect family but no Ruth.
  • The irony here, and the proof of God using anyone, even foreigners, is that the women are right. Ruth, the daughter-in-law without any reason to be here other than love for Naomi, came through for Naomi's future where Naomi's own sons failed.
  • Love is apparently the reasoning behind why Naomi will be taken care of, more than duty or law (Hubbard 265).

Verse 16: Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him (NIV)

  • There is no indication if this was a permanent arrangement or not.
    • Obed might have been given to Naomi as her child to replace those she lost. This in effect makes the child legally Naomi's and the heir to her husband (Hubbard 263).
    • Or this could have been a symbolic act only, the loving act of a grandparent excited to see the future in their lap (Hubbard 264).
    • Regardless of legality or permanence, this is very symbolic that the child would take care of Naomi her entire life, that he would be her salvation in a very real sense.
  • ”Cared for him” is a term for “nurse” and implies guardianship (Campbell 165).

Verse 17: The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. (NIV)

  • ”The women living there” seems to indicate that Naomi is living separately from Ruth after marriage and that Naomi is living with some other women, presumably widows.
  • By saying that Naomi has a child, the author could be carefully making the case that the boy is fully Jewish because he was cared for by his Jewish grandmother, Ruth is out of the picture, but this is less likely (Campbell 165).
  • It is unclear why there is a delay in the naming of the child. This should have happened at birth.
    • This could be a writers privilege and the naming is held off to maintain the suspense for the reader because many would have recognized Obed from David's family tree.
    • This could also literally mean that the women got to name him and look after him, it's unclear.
  • This would of course be king David, and therefore in the line of Jesus. There has been no hint that this was coming until just now, so this would be a surprise to the original readers, prompting the genealogy that follows as proof.
  • Ancestors were important, and helped to define people.
    • By having a foreign ancestor, king David could be thought to be impure, but those book places Ruth, a foreigner, as a legitimate and worthy ancestor.
    • This discredits those people who emphasized racial purity in all, and spawned the idea that Ruth was written as a counter-argument for the racial purity movement of Ezra/Nehemiah.
    • This also takes God's behind the scene guidance in this story and makes it about providence and the guidance of entire nations. By calling up king David, the author is making this a bigger picture story about how God is guiding everywhere.

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