Ruth 4

Right, there is a commercial element to the custom that a widow like Naomi would be married of to the nearest relative. Her son or husband, not sure, had a small patch of land, so the benefit of marrying her would be getting the land which the relative would buy from her as a kind of dowry.

Boaz meets with the closest relative who is initially keen to get the land. But when he realises marrying Ruth might be in the bargain, he relinquishes his claim.

This seems to be from the risk of watering down his estate.The relative already has a wife and children it seems. So Ruth would be a polygamy of convenience. But If Ruth had children, they would battle his existing children from his first marriage for his estate, and he didn’t want that. So he’s happy to relinquish the land to avoid that mess.

Cue romantic ending! And now the reveal. Why is this charming and heartwarming story in the Bible? How does it advance god’s master plan for the salvation of mankind?

From the disaster period of the judges, where the covenant and blessings of God were squandered over and over by the increasingly nasty and corrupt Israelites, this beautiful seed was planted.

Ruth is the grandmother of king David. She has a son,  Obed who has a son, blah blah.

David is probably the means by which this story made it in. It contains a key fact that he, the line that would lead to Christ, is part gentile. In harry potter terms, he’s a mudblood. So this story of faith, kindness, loyalty and virtue set the stage for Israel’s greatest, most Christ like king, and starts a theme of salvation for all.

Ruth encountered the true God and that was it. She is perhaps the grandmother of us all, a believer, a child of grace.

Is this a prettied up version of grandma’s romance viewed though rose coloured glasses? Maybe, a bit, but considering the squalor that surrounds it in the last chapters of judges, it’s not like the Bible can’t face the ugly stuff. The fact remains that David’s grandmother was a widow from Moab, and there is an inherent story of tolerance and acceptance in that fact which supports a story like this.

Praise God for love, praise God for mercy to refugees from other countries, respect and dignity. Praise God for simple, absolute faith. That gives god material he can work with in ways we can’t imagine

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