A Love Story
By Ron Graham


This love story is embedded in the eighth book of the Old Testament, in a little four chapter book called Ruth. Three Levitical laws are shown being practiced by the people in this book. The first is the law of gleaning (Leviticus 23:22), the second law is the law of redemption (Leviticus 25:25) and the third law is the law of Levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5- 6). These three laws were built around the love a man should have for his fellow man. That’s what God is really all about.


Our story begins with a man by the name of Elimelech, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem Judah.  Elimelech owned land in Bethlehem Judah, but because of a famine in that land he moved his wife, Naomi, and their two sons to the country of Moab to sojourn there. Sojourn in the Hebrew has a few different meanings, applicable here is the following: To abide, dwell in, dwell with, remain, inhabit. In other words Elimelech had no intention of returning to Bethlehem. As a matter of fact, we learn later on in our story that Elimelech indeed sold his inherited property before he and his family left Judah.


Elimelech and his family settled in Moab. Moab was a pagan Gentile nation and God forbade Jews to mingle with Gentiles. Elimelech should not have moved to Moab. Soon afterward Elimelech died, leaving Naomi and her two sons to fend for themselves. When Naomi’s two sons were old enough they married Moabite women. Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah. They dwelt there in Moab for ten years and both Mahlon and Chilion also died. We aren’t told anywhere in the book of Ruth why Elimelech and his two sons died but we know from studying the law of Moses the Israelites weren’t to leave their land or marry outside of their own people. Presumably, God took them because of their disobedience. Also to leave their inherited land and move to a land that was so pagan and full of idolatry would also be a form of disobedience.  


Naomi, the wife of Elimelech lost her husband and her two sons apparently within just a few years of one another, and then she was left with two Moabite daughters-in-law.

Now word came to Naomi that the famine was over back in the land from which they came, Bethlehem Judah, so Naomi decided to go back to the land of her birth. Naomi’s two daughters-in-law decided to leave Moab and go with Naomi. After setting out on their journey, somewhere between Moab and Bethlehem Judah, Naomi turned to her two daughters-in-law and told them to return to their mother’s house, but they refused. Then Naomi said “Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? [are] there yet [any more] sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? go [your way]; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, [if] I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; Would ye tarry for them till they were grown?” Ruth 1:11-12. 


After some tears Orpah did as she was told and returned to her mother’s house. Ruth on the other hand refused to part from Naomi. Ruth’s response to Naomi “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,Ruth 1:16. Eventually, Naomi relented and they continued on their journey to Naomi’s homeland. Here we need to take notice that Ruth has told Naomi that the God she worships will be the God Ruth will worship from then on. Ruth is still a gentile but no longer a pagan worshipping many false gods. Something that is evident here is that both of Naomi’s daughters-in-law loved Naomi. Neither of these two young women wanted to return to their mother’s homes, they were both adamant about staying with Naomi. This says a lot for Naomi and her love for these two Moabite women.   


Now when Naomi and Ruth arrived in the city of Bethlehem Naomi’s old neighbors recognized her and they gathered around her to welcome her back home. They tried to greet her and treat her kindly but Naomi wouldn’t have any part of it, and proceeded to tell them not to call her Naomi any longer that they should call her Mara. In the book of Ruth as well as throughout the entire Bible name changes have a specific meaning. Naomi means “My delight” but Mara means “bitterness”. We can all understand the pain Naomi must have been feeling. She left Bethlehem with a complete family, a husband and two sons, and she returned with one daughter-in-law and no sons or husband, and both women were desolate; they had no livelihood to speak of.


At this point in the book, almost as a side note, we are told that Naomi had a wealthy relative by the name of Boaz and he was a land owner. Now Ruth tells Naomi that she is going to go out into the field and do some gleaning. Here we get a picture of the law of gleaning. “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,” Leviticus 23:22 We’re not told whether Ruth knew gleaning was a levirate law or not. It’s possible since Naomi was familiar with the law she might have explained it to Ruth on their trip back to Bethlehem. At any rate Ruth headed out to the fields and where did she end up but in one of Boaz’s fields. Now Boaz had been away from home and when he returned to his home he noticed a young maiden gleaning in one of his fields whom he didn’t recognize. Boaz proceeded to question one of his servants about this maiden, and this servant told him, “She is the Moabitess that came back from Moab with your relative Naomi”.


Boaz was a wealthy man and his countenance was that of a gentle and kind man. After speaking to his servant about Ruth he ventured out into the field where she was gleaning and Boaz spoke to the young maiden. He told her to remain in his field until the end of harvest, and to attach herself to his handmaidens. Boaz went on to explain to Ruth that he has already spoken with the young men working for him and told them to leave her alone, not to touch her. Boaz also told Ruth to help herself to the water that had been brought up from the well by the young men. When Ruth heard Boaz and realized how kind he was being toward her she immediately bowed herself to the ground. She questioned him as to why he was being so nice to a total stranger. To which Boaz replied “…It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and [how] thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore,” Ruth 2:11.


Then Boaz invited Ruth to come to his house and eat with the rest of the workers. So Ruth ate until she was full, then she put a little of the food away to take to Naomi when she finished the days gleaning. While Ruth was out in the field gleaning Boaz had a conversation with his reapers and commanded them they weren’t to touch Ruth. Then he commanded them they were to leave some handfuls of the grain for Ruth to pickup; Boaz wanted to make it as easy as possible for Ruth to fill her sack. At this point in our story it’s plain to see that with just the little knowledge he had of Ruth, Boaz was smitten. 


After Ruth finished gleaning for the day in Boaz’s field, she returned to Naomi who was amazed at her bountiful harvest. She questioned Ruth as to where she had gleaned, and received this great amount of barley. Ruth explained her day to Naomi and Naomi in turn explained to Ruth that Boaz, the owner of the field where she gleaned, was a close relative.


Naomi, aware of what was happening, advised her daughter-in-law to remain in Boaz’s field until the end of barley harvest and the wheat harvest. At the end of the harvest Ruth returned to Naomi with all she had gleaned. What we see beginning to take shape here are two more Levitical laws, that of a redeemer (for Naomi’s land) “If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away [some] of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold,” Leviticus 25:25. And also the law (Levirate marriage) that an heir to the land of Elimelech may be brought forth and conceived through Ruth. 


Naomi explained to Ruth what would happen next pertaining to the harvest, that Boaz and his servants would be up on the threshing floor winnowing the wheat and when they were finished they would celebrate the completed harvest. Naomi tells Ruth “Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee” basically to get herself dolled up, go out and get her nails done, a new hairdo, and splash on some Chanel No. 5, then to get up to the threshing floor where Boaz and his reapers would be. She then should wait for them to finish their eating and drinking and to watch where Boaz laid down to sleep and then she should go quietly and lie down and uncover his feet. Naomi explained to Ruth that Boaz will know what this means and he will tell her what she was to do next. So Ruth agreed and did as she was told.


After getting herself ready, Ruth made her way up to the threshing floor then waited for the men to fall asleep, after which she found Boaz and lay down and uncovered his feet. It was about midnight when Boaz awoke and noticed a woman was laying at his feet. Boaz asked “Who [art] thou”? The woman answered, “I [am] Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou [art] a near kinsman.” Ruth 3:9. 


Boaz knew exactly what she was asking of him that he would marry her and together they would raise up an heir for the land of Elimelech. Boaz explained to Ruth that he was willing to perform the act of kinsman redeemer, but that there was a relative closer than he and he must confront this other man with the prospect of performing the act himself. If this other relative would become the kinsman redeemer then so be it, but if he refused then Boaz would do it. He then told her to lie down and he covered her with his skirt. He told her to wake up before dawn and leave so none of his servants would see her there on the threshing floor.


Side note:

(Now before you jump to any immoral conclusions this is only a question and answer period. She is asking him to become the kinsman redeemer for herself and Naomi, and he is giving her his answer. There is nothing sexual happening here.)


Ruth awoke before dawn and readied herself to leave, Boaz gathered six measures of barley for Ruth to take with her and give to Naomi. When Naomi saw this gift from Boaz she understood it’s meaning to be that Boaz had accepted the request from the two women that he should fulfill the law as their kinsman redeemer. Naomi explained to Ruth that Boaz wouldn’t rest until he completed the task at hand. 


Boaz confronted the closer relative with the proposition brought forth by the two women, Naomi and Ruth. The closer relative agreed to redeem the land for Naomi. Then Boaz explained that he would be expected to marry Ruth, the Moabitess, to raise up an heir for the land that was redeemed for Naomi. This new information was a shock to the closer relative and he declined and made it clear that he could not redeem the land for Naomi and marry Ruth, because it would’ve created a cloud on his own inheritance. So Boaz agreed to redeem Naomi’s land and marry Ruth, and had the whole city of elders sanction his intent. Here we see the third law is demonstrated in the book of Ruth (The Law is of God) realized and that is the law of Levirate marriage. “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. And it shall be, [that] the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother [which is] dead, that his name be not put out of Israel,” Deuteronomy 25:5, 6. In this case it wasn’t the husband’s brother, but Boaz was a close relative which was also legitimate.


This whole love story is a picture type of Jesus Christ who is our kinsman redeemer. Jesus came to redeem Israel but Israel declined his offer by basically rejecting Jesus as their Messiah.


Side note:

(In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 12 we read where the nation of Israel rejects Jesus and beginning in chapter 13 Jesus only speaks to them in parables so they can no longer understand because they’re eyes were blinded to the truth.)


Jesus then turned to the gentile nation and made the offer to them and they accepted him as their savior. Boaz is a picture type of Jesus Christ in that he became the kinsman redeemer to Naomi and Ruth. Remember that earlier we learned that Ruth was a Gentile, a Moabitess, although she told Naomi that Naomi’s God would be her God, this didn’t make her a Jew. Ruth is a picture type of the Gentile nation who would become the bride of Christ. Naomi is a picture type of Israel in that the Jews have their land back but they are still living in rebellion because they haven’t acknowledged Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus became our kinsman redeemer when He became fully man; only then would He be able to redeem us because only a man could be our near kinsman, but only God could be the once for all sacrifice. Just like Boaz marring a Gentile and taking upon himself the position of kinsman redeemer, Jesus Christ symbolically married the Gentile Church and became the Church’s groom, metaphorically speaking of course, and our kinsman redeemer. Our God and our Creator has now become our redeemer through His shed blood on that cross at Calvary. A huge sacrifice for God, Boaz also had to sacrifice because according to Levirate law Jews weren’t to marry outside of their race. If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish community would have a funeral for the Jew and consider them dead. It was thought that to even enter the house of a Gentile made a Jew unclean before God.



Side note:

(A short genealogy, Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David which is the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Boaz was the son of the prostitute Rahab and Ruth married him anyway).


It took a perfect God to enter his creation and become a perfect man so he could save his rebellious children who are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. The first time He came He died for His creation. Are you a part of the body of Christ? Jesus is only your kinsman redeemer if you will accept Him into your life. Will you be an heir to His Kingdom? Or will you refuse you inheritance?


God bless you all,


Ron Graham




Email:  twotug@embarqmail.com