The Last Word in the Book of Ruth

The Last Word in the Book of Ruth

The story of Ruth does not end with the narration of Boaz and Ruth’s son, however. The last part of the book is a genealogy. There are genealogies elsewhere in the Bible, but they occur either at the beginning of books (like in 1 Chronicles and Matthew) or they occur between narratives (like in Genesis or Luke). The book of Ruth is the only place in the whole Bible that ends with a genealogy. A genealogical ending, therefore, is the surprising climax of the book. 

During the period of the judges, there is a wonderful story of providence and marriage, yet the union of Boaz and Ruth is not the most important part of their story.

When the judges ruled, the Israelites experienced spiritual upheaval. According to the book of Judges, the people imitated the idol worship of the dispossessed Canaanites. In response to such high-handed rebellion, the Lord would raise up an adversary to judge them. When the people turned from wickedness and called upon the Lord, he then raised up a judge to deliver them. The problem, however, is that after their deliverance, the people were still drawn back into rebellion.

The story of Ruth and Boaz takes place in the context of the book of Judges (Ruth 1:1). Amidst the cycle of rebellion there is a story of providence and hope.

The beginning of Ruth’s story is that there is a famine in the promised land. An Israelite named Naomi, from Bethlehem, traveled to Moab with her husband and sons. During the years that followed, her sons married Moabite women, and her husband and sons died, leaving Naomi and her widowed daughters-in-law.

Ruth insisted on returning to the promised land with her mother-in-law (Ruth 1:16–17). Living in her new home in Bethlehem, Ruth was prepared to work hard. She gleaned in a field that “happened” to belong to Boaz—a man in Naomi’s extended family. As events unfolded, Boaz treated Ruth with protection, respect, provision, and hospitality (Ruth 2–3).

Naomi knew that if Ruth married Boaz, their future would be secure. Boaz would be fulfilling his role as a “kinsman redeemer,” someone who could act to bring redemption or restoration to a situation of distress and loss. A public scene at the city gate led to witnesses confirming the role that Boaz would fulfill (Ruth 4:1–12).

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