The Reading: Ruth 1:14-19, 4:13-22
“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife (4:13) RSV
The third ‘notorious’ woman in Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus is Ruth: “Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth” (Matthew 1:5). Not only was Ruth a Moabitess, that is a non-Jew, but Boaz was the son of a prostitute, Rahab by name!
Yes, Boaz was the son of Rahab the harlot who hid the spies in the land of Canaan. This remarkable lady of faith married an Israelite called Salmon. No doubt she brought up her boy to be non-judgemental and inclusive. After all she had been included despite her past and being a Canaanite. Thus when Boaz met Ruth, the foreigner, gleaning in his field, he did not reject her. Indeed he was able to respond to her modesty and her beauty.
Ruth had come from Moab where her mother-in-law, Naomi, had lived with her husband, Elimelech, because there had been a famine in Israel. Whilst there, her two sons had married two local girls, Ruth and Orpah. But after Naomi’s husband and two sons died she returned home.
At first the two widowed daughters-in-law wanted to go with her, but only Ruth stayed the course. She memorably said: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (v.16). She was a true proselyte and left her old land, people and beliefs, accepting the people of God and their beliefs.
Ruth arrived in Bethlehem with her embittered mother-in-law, but her beauty of spirit and her hard work started to transform the situation. Finally the wealthy farmer Boaz spotted her, and romance ensued. He was willing to marry her and take on responsibility for Naomi. They made a noble and exemplary couple. In due course they produced a son, Obed. And later a grandson appeared who was to be called, Jesse, and finally a great-grandson called David!
Thanks you Lord that you look not on the outward appearance or background, but on the heart. Renew my heart and put a right spirit within me. Amen.
1 How did Ruth benefit her mother-in-law, Naomi?
2 Which foreigner returned to give praise to God?