For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

4:1.  “Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here.  And he turned aside, and sat down.”

Since the redemption of Ruth is the symbolic picture of the redemption of every sinner, few will have difficulty in seeing that this chapter sets before us typologically the work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.  The gate was the place of city government, reminding us that it was God in His governmental wisdom Who first planned our redemption, and then provided for it at Calvary.

The kinsman, as already noted, represents the law, and the revelation of his inability to redeem Ruth is the symbolic disclosure of the truth that the law can redeem no one.

4:2.  “And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here.  And they sat down.”

The picture continues to be of divine government, for ten is the number of God in government, as twelve is of those under that government; and their being elders or governors of the city confirms that the scene foreshadows the operation of God’s government at Calvary.  The fact that the other kinsman, and these ten elders sat down at the Boaz’ command, reminds us that all things are under the dominion of the true Boaz, the Lord Jesus Christ.

4:3.  “And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s:”

We noted at the beginning of our study of this book that Elimelech is a type of Adam, so that the parcel of land to be redeemed is clearly a type of this earth, lost to man through Adam’s rebellion, as that parcel of land had been lost to Elimelech as a result of his rebellion in leaving the land of Canaan to go to dwell in Moab.  Its being Naomi, the representative of genuine spiritual life, who was selling the land, teaches us that the blessings of the new spiritual life are available only to believing men and women.  Man’s refusal to trust Christ as Savior compels the new spiritual life to “sell” those blessings to another, that is, give them to those willing to give up the world.

4:4.  “And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants and before the elders of my people.  If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee.  And he said, I will redeem it.”

In this we see the symbolic announcement of the truth that the law has been given every opportunity to show whether it can redeem the inheritance lost by Adam, and as the sequel reveals, it can’t.

4:5.  “Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.”

The redemption of the field could not be apart from the redemption of the heir also, for of what value was the field without one to till it and enjoy its fruits?  And so with the earth.  To redeem the earth, but not also the man to whom God had given it, was pointless.

4:6.  “And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, let I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.”

The kinsman might redeem the field, but he couldn’t redeem Ruth to whom it belonged by right of inheritance.  The lesson is that the inanimate earth has never broken the law.  It was under the curse, not because it had disobeyed, but because the man to whom God had given it had sinned, as it is written in Ge 3:17 “And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast ... eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake....”  The lesson being taught in this kinsman’s inability to redeem, is that no one can be redeemed by lawkeeping.

How the man could have marred his own inheritance isn’t revealed, but it is probably related to the fact that the kinsman-redeemer, while buying the land, wouldn’t actually own it, but would only hold it in trust for the son that would be born as a result of his marriage to the widow whose land needed to be redeemed.  He would, in fact, be reducing his own estate by the cost of the land he would redeem, and by the expense of supporting the widow he would be required to marry, as well as the children resulting from that marriage.

4:7.  “Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel.”

4:8.  “Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee.  So he drew off his shoe.”

For the law governing redemption see Dt 25:5-9.  The significance of the removed shoe is generally taken to be that it signified the renunciation of the man whose shoe was removed, to all claim to the ground in question.  In other words, he gave up his right to walk on it, and transferred that right to the man who would pay the redemption price.

4:9.  “And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.”

This takes us typologically to Calvary, for there the true Boaz redeemed both the inheritance and the heir with His own precious blood, see 1 Pe 1:18-19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb with out blemish and without spot....”

As the elders and the people were witnesses of Boaz’ redemption of Ruth and the inheritance, so were the elders and people witnesses when the type was fulfilled, and Christ paid the redemption price at Calvary, for they stood around the cross mocking and taunting even as He died to make salvation available to them.  Its being said that he had bought all that had belonged to Elimelech and Chilion and Mahlon, declares the truth that Christ has redeemed all that had belonged to Adam and his two “sons” - the Jews and the Gentiles.

“... of the hand of Naomi.”  Inasmuch as she represents true spiritual life, his having purchased the land from her teaches the truth that Christ alone can bestow that eternal life which Naomi represents.

4:10.  “Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.”

The special emphasis upon his having purchased Ruth to be his wife, reminds us that the Church, which Ruth represents, has a unique place of nearness to Christ above the redeemed of all other ages.  The reference to her having been a Moabitess, and therefore excluded from entering the congregation of Israel, see Dt 23:3-6, declares that as she was brought in by grace, so have we, sinners of the Gentiles, also been brought in by grace which we can’t even begin to measure.

A special truth is also taught in the fact that while the child that would be born of this union would be counted as the son of the dead Mahlon, he would not, in fact, be of Mahlon’s blood line, but of that of Boaz.  As Mahlon had been unable to perpetuate his line literally, so had we in our natural state been unable to perpetuate our lives spiritually.  Like the dead Mahlon we were spiritually dead; but as those once dead in trespasses and sins, we have been raised up as a new creation, no longer of Adam’s blood line, but of the line of Christ.  It is He Who has begotten us.  The new life within us is His, and this is declared in that the new line of which Boaz was the father, ultimately culminated in the birth of Christ.  So is it with us.  We shall stand one day conformed to the image of Christ, as it is written, “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” (Ro 8:29).

The reference to the name of the dead not being cut off from among his brethren “and from the gate of his place” may be meant to remind us that we will reign with Christ, for as noted already the gate was the place of government.

Boaz’ calling upon them to be witnesses of the transaction reminds us that when the type was fulfilled Pilate called upon Israel and her leaders to be witnesses of a very different event.  In Mt 27:24-25 we read, “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.  Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.”

4:11.  “And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses.  The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:”

That which foreshadowed the redemptive work of Christ evoked a very different response from the witnesses, as is recorded in this verse.  As Rachel and Leah had been the mothers of those who became the fathers of the nation Israel, so did the witnesses here invoke the blessing of fruitfulness upon the union of Boaz and Ruth.  How bountifully God has responded to the invocation!  That marriage eventually resulted in the incarnation of the great kinsman redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And do thou worthily in Ephratah” has been translated as “earn fame, grow mightily, prosper.”  Ephratah, meaning ash-heap: place of fruitfulness, is simply another name for Bethlehem; and for the spiritual significance of the seemingly contradictory meanings, see comments on 1:2.

“Be famous in Bethlehem” expresses the wish that his fame be associated also with the more popular name for the city; and history bears witness to the remarkable degree in which both wishes have been fulfilled, for since Boaz is a type of Christ, what is written of him, points ultimately to his great Antitype.  Bethlehem or Ephratah will be eternally associated with the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ - with His “fruitfulness” and with His coming to earth as the true Bread Who came down from heaven to give life to the world.  In regard to His fruitfulness, only eternity will reveal the extent of the great harvest that will result from the sowing of that one “corn of wheat.”  And as for His fame, it will endure eternally.

4:12.  “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.”

Pharez was an ancestor of Joseph the husband of Mary the mother of Christ.  Tamar the mother of Pharez means a palm tree, but since the palm tree speaks of righteousness, the reference to Pharez points to the righteousness that would mark the One Whom Boaz represents.

4:13.  “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.”

As the wife of Mahlon, Ruth had obviously been barren: she had no children, but now as the wife of Boaz she bears a son.  This is the symbolic declaration of the truth that there is spiritual fruitfulness only in union with Christ.  That son’s name was Obed meaning serving, and reminding us that one of the first fruits resulting from conversion is a willingness to serve the Lord, one obvious aspect of that service being a diligent spreading of the Gospel.

4:14.  “And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.”

This reminds us that Boaz was kinsman-redeemer to Naomi also, and as noted in the introduction to our study of this book, she is a type, not only of genuine spiritual life, but also of the nation Israel which will yet be saved in the Tribulation.  The Lord whom Boaz typifies, is the Kinsman-redeemer of both Jew and Gentile, but it is significant that it is not until after the redemption of Ruth that the redemption of Naomi is mentioned.  The spiritual lesson is that Israel’s redemption will not come until after the rapture of the Church typified in the union of Boaz and Ruth.

The statement “that his name may be famous in Israel” seems to relate to Obed, but since he was in reality the son of Boaz, and therefore the extension of the life of Boaz, the truth being presented is that God’s ultimate purpose for every believer is that Christ be reproduced in us.

4:15.  “And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.”

Inasmuch as Obed was but the extension of the life of Boaz, he too is a type of Christ, so that the spiritual truth being taught here is that it is Christ Who will yet be the Restorer and Nourisher of Israel.  The love of Ruth for Naomi typifies the love which the Church ought to have for Israel, because rebel though she is, that nation is dear to the heart of God.  Its being said that Ruth was better to Naomi than seven sons, is another way of saying that in this faithful daughter in law, Naomi had found fullness of blessing, for seven is the number of perfection or completeness, and sons were considered the greatest blessing that could come to any Jewish parents.

The reference to Ruth’s having borne him is to remind us that we too are responsible to reproduce Christ in our daily living.

4:16.  “And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.”

This points to the soon coming day when the remnant of Israel will be led to see that the Jesus they crucified two thousand years ago is their Messiah, and they will embrace Him as their great Kinsman-redeemer.

4:17.  “And the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”

Obed was held to be as much the son of Naomi as of Ruth, but inasmuch as he was the one through whom both their lives would be perpetuated, the spiritual lesson is that Christ is the One through Whom alone the lives of all men, Jews or Gentiles, can be perpetuated.  Jesse means of him who is, and as Obed’s son, points to the truth that Obed speaks of Christ as the eternally existing One, that is, He is God.  The spiritual truth being taught in the reference to David as the third link in this genealogical chain is that Christ will yet come in resurrection glory to reign as God’s anointed King.

4:18.  “Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron.”

4:19.  “And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,”

4:20.  “And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,”

4:21.  “And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed.”

4:22.  “And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David”

Verse 18 obviously begins a new section which traces the line of David back to Pharez, the genealogy as given here consisting of ten links, the number of God in government, and reminding us that it is He Who works all things according to the counsel of His will as it is written in Eph 1:11, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”  It is clear that the purpose of this genealogical fragment, from which many names are omitted, is to establish Christ’s title to the throne of David.  The reference to Tamar, and Pharez the son she bore to Judah (see Genesis chapter 38) has special significance in this connection, for apart from the birth of Pharez and of Obed, the genealogical line of Christ would have been broken.  It is interesting also to note that Bethlehem was the birthplace, not only of Obed, but of David, and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pharez means a breach; Hezron enclosed: arrow of song: division of song; Ram high; Amminadab people of the willing giver; Nahshon a diviner; Salmon raiment: a garment: clothing; Boaz in him is strength; Obed serving; Jesse of him who is; David beloved.

Pharez a breach, was so named because of the peculiar circumstances attending his birth as recorded in Genesis chapter 38.  At birth the hand of his twin brother Zarah had come out first and was then withdrawn, but not before the midwife had bound a scarlet thread upon it, saying, “This came out first,” Ge 38:28, his birth not actually occurring until after Pharez had been born.  Genesis 38 comes in as a parenthesis interrupting the continuity of the history of Joseph, and the birth of Pharez also came as an interruption, as it were, in the record of the birth of Zarah.  But why?  Because it is clear that Zarah is a type of Israel; and Pharez, a type of the Church, the calling out of the Church coming as an interruption in the continuity of the history of Israel.  Zarah’s hand which came out first, represents what might have been two thousand years ago: Israel, but for her unbelief, could have had the millennial kingdom then.  Christ must first die at her hand to make atonement for sin; but as Acts 3 makes very clear, God was willing to count that crime an act of ignorance which He was willing to forgive if she would but repent and believe in Christ as her Savior Messiah, see Acts 3:19.  Her acceptance of Christ as her rightful King would have provoked the wrath of the Romans, and triggered the seven years of the now still future Tribulation, at the end of which Christ would have returned in power and glory to deliver her and usher the believing remnant of Jews and Gentiles into the millennial kingdom after His judgment of Isarel and the nations which would have resulted in the banishment of the unbelieving of them into hell.

It is to be remembered that the gospel preached by the Lord and His disciples was not the same as the gospel which we preach today.  It offered the earthly blessings of the millennial kingdom as the reward of believing faith, while the gospel of this Church age offers heavenly blessings as the reward of believing faith.  Not one word of Scripture would have been altered, for the Church is not directly mentioned in the OT Scriptures; and it is to be remembered that when the Tribulation does come, the world stage will be set exactly as it was at the time of Christ’s first advent.

The premature appearance of Zarah’s hand, and its being bound with the scarlet thread as it was withdrawn, pointed symbolically to what occurred two thousand years ago.  The nation which he represents, withdrew through unbelief into the womb of time, having failed to recognize that the time of her visitation had come; nor will she come forth until the travail pains of the Tribulation will have produced the new believing nation represented by the believing remnant of that era, and fulfilling the type of Zarah’s birth after that of Pharez.  In the meantime, however, the “scarlet thread,” symbol of Christ’s blood, remains bound upon her hand as announced by their own words to Pilate, “His blood be on us, and on our children,” Mt 27:25.  The birth of the Church, as represented by the birth of Pharez following the withdrawal of Zarah’s hand, took place on the day of Pentecost, and following the Rapture of the Church, God will resume His dealings with Israel.

These closing verses therefore focus attention on the line that would eventually produce not only David, but David’s greater son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hezron means enclosed: arrow of song: division of song.  Enclosed reminds us of God’s protection of the godly line which eventually produced Christ, while the song reminds us of the joy which attended His birth, and which has filled the hearts of believers down through the years since then, and which will continue eternally.

Since arrows are mentioned frequently in Scripture in connection with God’s execution of judgment, a further reason for singing on the part of believers is the assurance that in a soon coming day the Lord Jesus Christ will execute judgment which will vindicate His redeemed, and punish the evil deeds of those who have persecuted Him and His people.

Whatever other truth may be connected with division of song, one thought certainly suggests itself: the joy of the Church will yet be shared by the new believing Israel that will emerge from the Tribulation judgments.

Ram, meaning high, scarcely needs comment.  The One Who has come forth from that godly line is He of Whom it is written, “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high,” Isa 52:13, His exaltation being further described in the NT, “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Php 2:9-11.

The lesson of Amminadab, meaning people of the willing giver, is also easily read.  Those who constituted that godly line which produced the Lord Jesus Christ, were all people of God, of Whom it is written, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” Jn 3:16.

Nahshon means a diviner, and in the present context is clearly to be understood in a good sense, as for example in relation to Joseph of whom we read, “Is not this it (the cup) in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth?” Ge 44:5, and, “Wot (know) ye not that such a man as I (Joseph) can certainly divine?” Ge 44:15.

Divination is the attempt to foretell the future, or acquire knowledge, by supernatural means.  One method of divination used by the Egyptians was hydromancy, the interpretation of signs in water. 

God had communicated with Joseph through dreams, and it is possible that He may perhaps, have communicated with him also through hydromancy, using the same medium by which the Egyptians allegedly received knowledge from their demon gods, to impart true knowledge to His servant.  Where Scripture is silent however, speculation is unwise.  Whatever the meaning of Joseph’s words, it is unlikely that he was lying in regard to the cup, and it may have been used in a manner not disclosed, to bring him revelations from God. 

Salmon here means raiment: a garment, and again the spiritual lesson is easily read.  Those of the godly line from which Christ came, were clothed in the garment of His righteousness, as are all believers.

Since we have already studied Boaz, meaning in him is strength, there is no need to repeat those details here.

Obed, meaning serving, scarcely needs comment.  Those who comprised the godly line were all God’s servants, reminding us that we too have been saved to serve.

Jesse means of him who is, with my subsistences as a possible second meaning.  Clearly the “Him” here refers to God, the eternally existing I AM.  All in the godly line were “of Him” not just physically, but also spiritually, as are all men of faith.

David, meaning beloved, is universally recognized as a figure or type of the true David, the Lord Jesus Christ, so it is fitting that this short geneaology should end with the one who so clearly sets Christ before us as God’s anointed King.




     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough