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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #7

Let's ponder the short Book of Ruth found in the Old Testament this week.

Here's the background: 
"Many years had passed since the Israelites had crossed the Jordan and formed a loose tribal confederacy in the central highlands of Canaan.  As they established their own settlements, they gradually discarded their nomadic traditions and adopted an agricultural way of life.  Yet their position remained precarious.  The northern tribes were almost constantly at war with those walled cities that remained under the control of the Canaanites, and they frequently had to defend themselves against invasions by people from the east:  the Ammonites and Midianites.  In contrast, Judah, which occupied a rugged plateau in the semiarid lands west of the Dead Sea.  Normally, the land was fertile enough to sustain fields of wheat and barley, grape vineyards, and groves of olive and fig trees.  But occasionally the rains failed, the crops withered and there was famine.  During one such disaster, a Judean man named Elimelech, who lived in the town of Bethlehem, fled the land with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.  The family traveled to Moab, a kingdom on the eastern borders of the Dead Sea.  The distance was not great--perhaps 30 or 40 miles along the edge of the inland sea."  (Great People of the Bible and How They Lived, p.236)
So Elimelech and his family goes to Moab because of famine.  The sons marry Moabites, Ruth  and Orpah.  Elimelech and sons die and Naomi decides to go back to Bethlehem.  Ruth expresses her loyalty and devotion to Naomi by going with her.  Naomi hopes for Ruth to re-marry and refers to the levirate marriage practice (Deut.:25:5-10) and instructs Ruth how to go about it.  Ruth proposes to Boaz (a kinsman).  Boaz takes Ruth to wife.  Ruth bears Obed, through whom came David the king.

*Interesting tidbit:  The word kinsman translated in Hebrew as go'el (also redeemer)The function of a go'el was to make it possible for a widow who had lost home and property to return to her former status and security and to have seed to perpetuate her family.  Hence, it's easy to see why the later prophets borrowed the word redeemer from the social laws of Israel and used it to describe the functions of Jesus Christ who would become the Divine Redeemer.  Think of what He does to restore us to proper status with God, and to give us future security and eternal seed.

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