RUTH - CHAPTER 4
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
“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
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.
“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
“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.
“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,
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.
“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
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.”
“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
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto
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
“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
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.
“Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron.”
4:19. “And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,”
“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
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
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.