“Fatherless, Widow, and Stranger”: Spiritual Understanding of the Biblical Books of Esther and Ruth


“Fatherless, Widow, and Stranger”: 

A Spiritual Understanding of the Biblical Books of Esther and Ruth


It is far more than mere coincidence that the only two books in the entire Bible which are named after women, Esther and Ruth, also happen to provide historical accounts of women who are, respectively, “fatherless” (Esther) and “widows” (Ruth and Naomi, and Ruth was also a “stranger”). Why is that?  We can begin to find the answer by searching God’s word, the Bible, to find that in Psalms 68:5, God declares, “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, [is] God in his holy habitation.” Then in Jeremiah 49:11, “Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve [them] alive; and let thy widows trust in me.”  We also read in the New Testament in James 1:2, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Moreover, God classifies them together with the “stranger.”  In Deuteronomy 10:18, we read, “He (God) doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.”  and in Deuteronomy 27:19 we read, “Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.” 

In each of the two historical accounts provided in the books of Esther and Ruth, we will see God’s mercy and providence bestowed on those who would otherwise be entirely destitute and without any hope apart from God’s mercy alone.  Those two earthly, historically accurate, accounts of God’s mercy upon the destitute fatherless and widows (one, Ruth as a Moabitess,was also a stranger) were provided by God in the Books of Esther and Ruth to typify His magnificent salvation plan, in which God displays His eternal spiritual mercy, by grace alone, to destitute sinners who would otherwise be entirely without hope apart from the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Each book displays God’s mastery over time and space, involving supernatural ironies and challenges to faith, that glorify God in the process, and give us insights into Who God Is, and about His love for His saints, His Bride (the church), as made possible only through the intercessional sacrifice of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

A detailed exposition on the Book of Esther has already been produced that can be found here: https://bereansearching.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/an-exposition-of-the-book-of-esther/. In that exposition it is shown that Esther, as an otherwise destitute orphan, was established by God as a typological representation of the body of believers from throughout the world (both Jews and Gentiles) who would ultimately co-share in God’s Kingdom as the Bride of Jesus Christ.  Mordechai, Esther’s nearest living relative, served as a nurturing savior to Esther, and guided her and her people in a time of great affliction to safety from their mortal enemies.  Mordechai, who was eventually elevated to the right hand of the King in glory and honor, is shown in that exposition to have been clearly established by God as a typological representation of Jesus Christ.

But what about Ruth?  It has already been pointed out by another writer, Warren W Wiersbe,[1] that there are some amazing twists and counterpoints when the two books are viewed together from the purely historical perspective.  Wiersbe correctly points out in one example that first, “The Book of Ruth tells the story of a Gentile who married a Jew and became ancestress of the Messiah (Jesus Christ),” while, “The book of Esther introduces us to a Jewess who married a Gentile and was used of God to save the Jewish nation from destruction so that the Messiah (Jesus Christ) could be born.”

But what about the spiritual perspective as was already exposited for Esther?  Are there similar parallels that we might find in the Book of Ruth?  Indeed there are.

Dear reader, please read on. 

An Exposition of the Book of Ruth

(Another Book of Prophesy that Reveals God’s Magnificent Plan of Salvation

Through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ)

 The Book of Ruth is read every year to the assembled congregations of the Jewish people in their synagogues to the present day.  It is read as part of the celebration of the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot…The Feast of Weeks is the second of the three pilgrim festivals ordained in the Old Testament after Passover and before the end of the year Feast of Tabernacles). The Feast of Weeks is known by Christians as the Feast of Pentecost.  The feast is celebrated at the end of the barley harvest (or time of the “first fruits”) and it is the time of year when the most critical period in the Book of Ruth takes place, when Ruth meets Boaz, Ruth’s and Naomi’s kinsman-redeemer.  And just like the Book of Esther, the Book of Ruth has both an earthly (historical) and a Heavenly (spiritual) meaning, and hence it is also an historical “parable.”  While the Book of Ruth does provide an account of an actual period in history, it was nonetheless written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and it has been incorporated into God’s Word the Bible.  It is a vignette orchestrated by God in the first instance (historically) and written down as precisely crafted in the Bible in the second instance (spiritually) to fulfill God’s own purposes.

Perhaps the most important of God’s purposes was to convey in one short, four chapter, historical account some critical elements of His magnificent salvation plan.  The message of the Book of Ruth is the same Gospel message that can be found everywhere else in the Bible, as it focuses on the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The only difference is that, each time Jesus is interwoven and revealed as having been otherwise hidden in the Bible, we can learn more about Him and God’s Gospel plan through Him (which glorifies God in the process).  However, to truly “see” Jesus (to believe with our hearts and not just our minds), we must have our spiritual eyes opened by God.  Given that this can indeed be the case, then another purpose for God having provided us with the Book of Ruth is that it will edify and strengthen the faith of the saints (the believers).

So where do we “see” Jesus in the Book of Ruth?   As an introduction, let’s first briefly look at the seven named persons in the order of their appearance, and then the plotline:

1) Elimelech: The Jewish husband of Naomi, who’s name means, “my God is King” who led his family away from Bethlehem-Judah on a sojourn to Moab during the time of the Judges and who suffers an untimely death in Moab.

2) Naomi: The wife of Elimelech, and the mother of his two sons, who becomes a widow in Moab. A Jewish woman whose name means, “my God is Sweet(ness)”.

3) Mahlon: The first named son of Elimelech and Naomi, whose name means “sickness” who married Ruth, a Moabitess woman after his father died, and then himself suffers an untimely death.

4) Chilion: The second named son of Elimelech and Naomi, whose name means “consumption.” who married, Orpah, a Moabitess woman after his father died, and then himself also suffers an untimely death.

5) Orpah: The Moabitess wife (soon widowed) of Chilion, whose name means “her neck(?)”.

6) Ruth: The Moabitess wife (soon widowed) of Mahlon, whose name means, “satisfied.” (Ruth is also a “stranger” in Israel)

7) Boaz: The rich kinsman redeemer of Elimelech’s Jewish family born in Bethlehem, (the “House of Bread”), whose name means “in him is strength”, and who married Ruth (the then Moabitess widow), and who ultimately became the great grandfather of King David (and a direct line ancestor/progenitor (from David’s son Nathan through to Mary) of the Lord Jesus Christ).

8) The unnamed servant of Boaz who was set over the reapers: the person who served as headmaster of the maidens and who gave the account of Ruth’s actions to Boaz.

9) Obed: The son of Boaz and Ruth, whose name means “servant”, “worshipper”, or “follower”

Obed is representative of all of God’s children who become saved through the marriage of Jesus Christ and his church. All believers who are the children of God are also servants, worshippers, and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It could not be any other way. This name was no accident, as I trust that you have now learned that none of the names of persons recorded in the Bible were ever accidental or incidental.  They each carry an intended meaning that is carefully woven into the tapestry of God’s Magnificent Salvation Plan.

The Plot:

The story of Ruth begins in the day of the Judges, about the time of Eli, and just before Samuel during a time of famine in the land.  The famine evidently led Elimelech to choose to move to Moab in search of sustenance.  We read early in Chapter 1 that Elimelech soon died, and then his sons, Mahlon and Chilion, each took wives from the women from Moab (Ruth and Orpah respectively), which was another grievous sin in contradiction to God’s edict as stated in Deuteronomy, Chapter 23.  The next thing we read is that both of the two sons soon die and also leave behind no children (no heirs).

Naomi fully realized her state of destitution (according to the Bible, Naomi was a “widow indeed”, having been made bereft of both her husband and her children and any hope of livelihood) and decided to return to Bethlehem, because she had heard that, by the grace of God, there was again bread available.  The immediate reaction from her daughters-in-law, was that they would accompany her.  Nonetheless, Naomi warned them of the hazards and hardships with respect to finding a husband, etc. (e.g., as Moabites, they would be treated like lepers in Israel), and then she instructed her daughters-in-law to return to the homes of their husbands to find “rest”.  Orpah went back, sadly, but Ruth stood fast and, despite one last admonition from Naomi, made it clear that she would stay with Naomi until death, and finished with this statement, “….thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

The two returned together to Bethlehem, and were greeted by the townspeople who wondered what had happened to Naomi (she was entirely alone except for Ruth “the Moabitess”, a “stranger” in the land of Israel).  Naomi made the point of saying that she had come back home out of the land of Moab entirely empty, and moreover, that they should no longer refer to her as Naomi (“sweet”) but rather Mara meaning “bitter” because, “the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.”

In the second chapter of Ruth, we immediately learn of Naomi’s “kinsman” by marriage, Boaz, a “mighty man of wealth.”   And Ruth suggests that she go out humbly as a beggar to glean the fields of “corn” (likely the barley) owned by Boaz and she also describes her hope of finding “grace” in his eyes.  Indeed after working hard in the fields after humbly asking the headmaster of the reapers for permission to glean, Boaz comes from Bethlehem and takes notice of her.  He asks the details from the headmaster and then goes to Ruth and though she be a “stranger” in Israel, Boaz calls her “Daughter”, and tells her to stay close to his maiden reapers and not go to any other fields. He also tells Ruth that the men won’t harm her, and that she may have of the water that the men will bring for the reapers to drink.

Ruth responded by throwing herself to the ground and bowing before Boaz, and humbly asking him why he had shown her such grace, given that she was a stranger? Boaz responded with the statement that he was fully aware of the kindness she had shown to Naomi and the fact that she had left behind all her family to come to a live with people she had never known before. Boaz blesses her in the name of the God of Israel, under whose wings she had come to trust.

Ruth was overwhelmed and thanked Boaz and spoke of his amazing kindness in treating her as though she was one of his maiden reapers. Boaz added that at lunchtime she could sit and eat with the reapers as well. Later she did eat with the reapers and was full.  After she left to go back to gleaning, Boaz took the additional step of telling his men reapers not to hinder or prevent Ruth from gleaning in any way, and moreover to deliberately drop handfuls of harvested grain to the ground that Ruth could pick them up.  That evening, Ruth was able to have her apron filled with a large amount (an “ephah”) of barley.

Ruth took the barley home to Naomi, who after being filled, asked Ruth in whose fields she had gleaned and who it was that had shown her such kindness.  When Ruth told Naomi it was Boaz, Naomi immediately replied, Blessed be he of the LORD, and that Boaz had not forgotten the living and the dead, and that Boaz was a relative and hence a near kinsman (the same word as “redeemer”).  Naomi said that it was good that Ruth obey Boaz in all as he had told her to do.  Ruth did so.

In the third chapter, we learn that Naomi has a plan by which if Ruth properly prepares herself, and then goes into the threshing floor at night when Boaz is sleeping after a harvest dinner, she might make clear to Boaz that she is available to have as a wife by the rule of kinsmanship by laying at his feet.  Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions and, about midnight, Boaz was startled and woke up and asked who she was. She replied that she was Ruth and, in essence, asked him to do the service of a kinsman in marrying her.  Boaz immediately blessed her for her showing kindness to him (as he was evidently an old man) and that it was clear she was also interested in the duties of raising children in the name of Elimelech. He also said that everyone in Bethlehem knew that she was a virtuous woman (a requirement for a Godly wife according to Proverbs 12:4 and 34:10). While stating his willingness to fulfill her request, he cautioned her that there was a nearer kinsman who was entitled to a first right of refusal.  If that man accepted Ruth, then so be it, otherwise Boaz would be happy to marry Ruth. The chapter ends with Boaz providing her with six measures of barley as a gift for Naomi.  When Ruth brings the barley in the early morning to Naomi, Naomi instructs Ruth to be patient and sit still.  It is clear to Naomi what Boaz intends to do…and that Boaz will not rest until he finishes the business before the day ends.

In the fourth and last chapter, Boaz went to the gate of the city and calls to the man who is the nearest kinsman, and also calls ten elders of the city to be witnesses to the ensuing discussion, upon which the twelve men sat down together.  When the nearest kinsman is asked by Boaz if he would be willing to serve as a kinsman redeemer for the dead relative, Elimelech, and to purchase from the hand of Naomi some land in Judah previously belonging to Elimelech, the man said yes. But then Boaz said whenever the kinsman purchases the land, he must also fulfill the duties of the near kinsman redeemer and marry the widow of the line to raise up children in the name of the deceased.  That meant the kinsman must marry Ruth, “the Moabitess.”  That was the deal breaker, and the man ceremonially refused to accept his nearest kinsman opportunity and passed it to Boaz.  Boaz announced to all who were in hearing that this day he would serve as the kinsman redeemer for Elimelech and his two sons.  Moreover he made clear that they would all be witnesses to his intent to purchase as part of that inheritance, Ruth “the Moabitess” to be his wife, in order to raise up children as an inheritance in the name of the dead men. The people in the city rejoiced at this, and offered many blessings pertaining to the tribe of Judah.  Subsequently, Boaz and Ruth were married and had a son, named Obed.  Naomi was able to hold the baby boy in her arms.  The women proclaimed that Ruth was to Naomi better than seven sons. Obed grew up to become the father of Jesse, who became the father of King David…hence Ruth and Boaz were genealogical ancestors, through Davids’ son Nathan down to Mary, of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we compare this historical account with the rest of the Bible, we can find some amazing and unequivocal parallels between the following:

1) Boaz with the Lord Jesus Christ (as the Kinsman Redeemer of all believers, who otherwise, apart from God’s intervening grace, would have remained “widows indeed”)

2) Ruth “the Moabitess” with the body of believers (the remnant from the Gentile nations; as an in-grafted Jew of the eternal Israel) and hence representative of the church, the eternal bride of Jesus Christ. (Who would have otherwise remained destitute (estranged from a husband) and under the curse of God as a stranger in Israel, as God frequently reminds us through His repetitive use of the term “Moabitess”)

3) Naomi with the remnant of the Nation of Israel, who repent and come to God on His terms and who are saved by the grace of God to also have an equal inheritance in the eternal Israel, and hence who, by redemption, are also a full partaker in the eternal spiritual marriage with Jesus Christ.

4) The unnamed servant of Boaz (who was set as headmaster over the reapers) with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit provides a watch, and guidance, and intercession for the believers while they are here on Earth while they work in the fields of humankind.  The Holy Spirit Communes with Jesus and intercedes for the believers with God.  In Romans 8:26, we read, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

5) Obed, as the first born son of Boaz by Ruth, with all believers who are the result of the marriage between Jesus and His church, hence his name means “servant” and “worshipper.”

6) Elimelech, as a type, or figure, of Old Testament National Israel, which rejected the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, and who fell into spiritual adultery and sin as typified by his leaving Bethlehem and moving to Moab and with his sons going on to marry Moabitish women.

It is Jesus Christ who is the believers’ Kinsman Redeemer.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem (the “House of Bread”), and Jesus specifically announced that He was the “Bread of Life” in John 6:47.  Jesus established the New Covent symbols of bread and wine to represent His Body and blood.   It is Jesus of Whom we must be partakers to have eternal life.  Jesus is also the Mighty Man of Wealth.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem (just as Boaz was) and Jesus is described as the Lion of Judah…He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords…the cattle on a thousand hills belong to Him…He is the Creator of the Universe!  Jesus shows grace to destitute sinners as typified as widows throughout the Bible, who humbly come as supplicants for that grace.  Moreover the believers are chosen from a remnant of the world, both Jew and Gentile, and are viewed by God as true “Jews” (the true believers in Christ, the Messiah, please see Romans 2:28-29) and will find rest in Him.  We also know that the believers are referred to throughout the Bible as the Bride of Christ (and Jesus Christ is also God).  That bride is described in the Bible with the attributes ascribed to Ruth (e.g., virtuous).  Jesus Christ imputes His righteousness to sinful mankind and in God’s sight all the believers become virtuous as described in Proverbs 31:10.

Biblical Validation of the Ruth Exposition: Taking a Closer Look by Expository Reading

The preceding review was not written with any presumption that this author understands every nuance of the Book of Ruth.  No one (other than God Himself) can ever claim the ability to plumb the depths of the riches of God’s word, the Bible.  However, this writer is confident that if we humbly, faithfully, approach the Bible with no other pre-suppositions than that God is the sole author of the Bible, then we can begin to see by that faith (albeit as through a glass darkly) the truths that God has hidden within His word.  As we have already learned, there is much more to the Bible than meets the “physical” eye, and it’s not just an intellectual exercise. The Bible itself uses such terms such as “mystery” and “dark sayings” to describe how it has been uniquely crafted by God in a magnificent, and yes, even a mysterious way, whereby He has deliberately veiled or hidden the true spiritual meanings of its passages from those whom He has not given the “spiritual eyes and ears.”  The following is this writer’s best effort to explain that hidden truth.

Chapter 1: As was stated earlier, the story of Ruth took place in the day of the Judges, about the time of Eli, and just before Samuel during a time of famine in the land.  The famine evidently led Elimelech to choose to move to Moab in search of sustenance.  It would seem then that Elimelech had made a particularly bad decision in response to the famine that God had sent.  Elimelech had turned his back on the essence of all true sustenance, the House of Bread, and instead turned to the world as is typified by Moab.  And God uses famines as punishment for His people when they turn from Him and put His words behind them. Moreover, and more importantly, famine is used by God to represent something else “spiritually.”  We read in Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:”. When we fail to seek the Lord first, and fail to trust in Him alone, and instead look to the world for our help in times of trouble; God will send a famine of the hearing of His Word (as is found in the Bible) and we will suffer spiritually as a result.

Moreover Moab was a foreign territory that was inhabited by a people whom God had cursed, as we read in:

“Deuteronomy 23:3-6, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:  Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee. Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee. Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.”  (Remember also that both Moab and Ammon were the sons of Lot, after his wife became a pillar of salt during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Lot’s Daughters assumed that they were the only people left on the earth, and so they decided to get their father drunk so they could lie with him and conceive children by him…Moab and Ammon were the result of those incestuous acts.  See Genesis 19:30-38). [SIDE NOTE: It is also interesting that if one does a careful review of the geneology from Jacob (who was the son of Isaac, and who was also the same generation as Moab, the son of Lot, and Isaac’s Cousin) down to Boaz, the number of generations can be shown to be nine (see Mathew Chapter 1: 2-5 and Mark 3:32-34).  However, Ruth was young enough to be the daughter of Boaz, so she would have been of the next generation…the tenth generation.  It would therefore seem that God was showing us that His curse on Moab stopped with Ruth’s generation.]

We read early in Chapter 1 that Elimelech soon died, and then his sons each took wives from the women from Moab (Ruth and Orpah respectively), which was another grievous sin in contradiction to God’s edict as stated in Deuteronomy, Chapter 23.  The next thing we read is that both of the two sons soon die and also leave behind no children (no heirs).

Naomi fully realized her state of destitution (according to the Bible, Naomi was a “widow indeed”, having been made bereft of both her husband and her children and any hope of livelihood) and decided to return to Bethlehem, because she “had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.”  The immediate reaction from her daughters-in-law, “Surely, we will return with thee unto thy people.”  Nonetheless, Naomi warned them of the hazards and hardships with respect to finding a husband, etc. (e.g., as Moabites, they would be treated like lepers in Israel), and then she instructed her daughters-in-law to return to the homes of their husbands to find “rest”.  Orpah went back, sadly, but Ruth stood fast and, despite one last admonition from Naomi, said,  “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

After the death of the Naomi’s husband and two sons, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem because she had heard of God’s showing mercy to His people and His provision of bread to them there.  Initially, the daughters-in-law both sought to accompany Naomi back to her people in Bethlehem.  Naomi is recorded as having nonetheless instructed her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, to return to the homes of their husbands to find “rest”.   This is particularly significant because Naomi did not use any other word other than “rest”.  She was uttering a biblical, spiritual, truism. Isn’t it to the house of Jesus that we go if we truly seek rest from both our sins and our enemies?  Absolutely!  Remember how Jesus said, Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Naomi could have used other language… but she didn’t.  God the Holy Spirit moved Naomi to say “rest” so that it would harmonize with the rest of this historical parable (and the rest of the Bible) to convey important spiritual truths.

But there is another important spiritual aspect of this admonition by Naomi.  In Luke 14:25-27, we read that great multitudes began to follow Jesus Christ and then Jesus turned and gave them a similar admonition, “and there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

 Many people hear the gospel call and are intrigued, at least initially.  However, once it becomes clear that the true nature of the gospel is such that we are called upon to make a choice, to follow Jesus and abandon all else: friends, family, and self…then the number of followers dwindles quickly and most go back to the enticements of their old world. We are instructed to put God first in our lives as stated in Matthew, 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness…” We must be willing to put all cherished worldly things and sins into the trash bin. We must truly repent (turn back to God, rather than stay fixated on the enticements of the world) and not go backward.  We must be fully committed to serving God in order to achieve eternal life. “Many are called but few are chosen.”(Matthew 22:14)

Ruth typifies those who recognize their destitution and desperate need of finding the bread of life by “grace”, which the underserved favor of God.  The two, Naomi and Ruth, returned together to Bethlehem, and were greeted by the townspeople who wondered what had happened to Naomi (she was entirely alone, except for “Ruth the Moabitess”).  Naomi made the point of saying that she had come back home out of the land of Moab entirely empty, and moreover, that they should no longer refer to her as Naomi, meaning “sweet”, but rather Mara, meaning “bitter” because, “the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.”  It is no accident that Mara is the same as Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the New Testament.

The final key piece of information provided is that this was the time of the beginning of the barley harvest (which not coincidentally happens to also be the same time as Pentecost, the Feast of First Fruits, which was also when the New Testament church was instituted with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit).

Chapter 2: In the second chapter of Ruth, we immediately learn of Naomi’s “kinsman” by marriage, Boaz, a “mighty man of wealth.”   And Ruth suggests that she go out humbly as a beggar to glean the fields of “corn” (likely the barley) owned by Boaz and she also describes her hope of finding “grace” in his eyes.  But then we are led to believe that by “happenstance” she came into the fields of Boaz…but the reality is that it was in God’s plan and that it is now clear that this was exactly as God purposed (e.g., In John 6:44, Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:”).  Next we see that Boaz “came from Bethlehem.”   Next we read that Boaz greets the reapers with “The LORD be with you” and the reapers respond with “The LORD bless thee.

When Boaz notices Ruth, and then asks the reapers this question, “Whose damsel is this?” The person in charge of the reapers responded, “…It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.” The key points here are that the servant reminds us quickly, twice, that Ruth is a “Moabitess”…a person who is an outcast, and from a God cursed people.  We, by nature, are all God cursed people.  We are all descended from Adam, but who by God’s grace alone, like Ruth, can find salvation through the intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ as typified here by Boaz as our Kinsman Redeemer.  Also it was made clear that she was a diligent worker and worked in the fields all day as a gleaner.

With respect to “gleaning”, God set down specific laws as found in the following Bible verses:

Leviticus 19:9&10, “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.”

Leviticus 23:22 “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.”

Moreover, in Deuteronomy 24:17-21 we read,  “Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge: But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.”

This is a picture of the fact that we (who have the gospel of salvations through Jesus Christ (and the fruit of the blessings of God) because He has saved us) are to have a concern for those who are still aliens, as orphans and widows, and to provide the necessary spiritual food for those who are without but come seeking for spiritual nourishment.

An interesting parallel can be found in Matthew Chapter 15 where we read in verses 22-28: “And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”  There we see an unsaved person, from a Gentile nation, outside of the people of God (corporately speaking), call upon Jesus as “Lord” and admit that she is no better than a dog, but yet asks if it might be that she (like a dog) might glean some crumbs from her Master’s table. And Jesus showed her grace. Like Ruth, we see another picture of someone who humbly gleans of the spiritual bread to become born again by the grace of God who would have otherwise remained a stranger, orphan, or widow.

Boaz came from Bethlehem just as Jesus came from Bethlehem.  Boaz was of the Tribe of Judah, just like Jesus.  Boaz said, “The LORD be with you,” to the reapers, and the reapers responded with “The LORD bless thee.”  Isn’t this exactly what God says to the believers the reapers in the world?  See for example, in Luke 10:2 “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest,” …However we also know that in the Parable of the Sower, in Matthew 13:39, Jesus said, “the reapers are the angels.” The fact is that “angels” in the original Greek text can also be interpreted as “messengers,” and both the angels of God (from Heaven) and the believers on earth are both considered as being God’s “messengers”.   And don’t we say with all our heart like the Psalmist of the Old Testament, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, [bless] his holy name.”?  Of course we do if we are believers and therefore among God’s reapers and messengers.

In verse…. He knows us Romans 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Ruth was a “stranger”, but Boaz called her, “My Daughter”!

In Chapter 8, beginning at verse 1, we read, “Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?

Imagine that! Boaz knew he was speaking to a “Moabitess”, a widow and a stranger, and yet he showed loving kindness to her, to the point of calling her his daughter!  Does this sound at all familiar?  It should, because that is exactly how God views His elect.  While we were yet strangers, through Jesus’s intercession, we become the children of God.   This is what we read in Ephesians 2:19, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”

(Still a work in progress)

 Conclusions

We also see that God has provided some interesting factual insights regarding Himself in the Book of Ruth.  We can see that Jesus was descended (through Mary’s line through David, See Mathew 6:5) via an incestuous relationship (through Ruth, hence Moab, hence Lot with Lot’s daughter).  We are also reminded of another somewhat seamy point when we are provided this verse, “And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.” Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah and she played the harlot (prostitute) to entice Judah in order to conceive Pharez by him. Moreover, the mother of Boaz (Booz in the New Testament) was named Rahab (Rachab in the New Tetament), and Rahab is the name of a harlot whom Joshua (Jesus) saved, when the city of Jericho was destroyed, see: Joshua 6:17. Even David was both an adulterer and murderer. These sordid historical issues were all included in the Bible by God deliberately to show us how God was willing to clearly and unequivocally associate Himself with sinful mankind from every possible perspective (and yet he Himself knew no sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21) in order to take the believers’ places on the cross and for what would have otherwise been an eternity in Hell.  Jesus came to save sinners.


[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed: An Old Testament Study- Ruth And Esther, SP Publications, Inc, 1993 (ISBN 1-56476-067-7)

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