January 22, 2020

Jesus’ Ancestors (1:1-17) Part 8

Then there’s the story of Ruth. An entire, but brief, book of the Old Testament tells us about her. A Jewish man, Elimelek (“My God is king”), with his wife Naomi (“Pleasant”), migrate from Bethlehem to the region of Moab because of a famine. In Moab, shortly after, Elimelek dies. His widow is left with two sons and both marry Moabite women one of whom is Ruth. About ten years later both sons die leaving Naomi, Ruth and Orpah without male protection. The Bethlehem famine ends and Naomi decides to go back to her hometown and extended family. Orpah stays in Moab, but Ruth determines to accompany her and care for her. It’s at this point that Ruth, resisting Naomi’s entreaties to stay with her own Moabite people, makes the timeless statement: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ru. 1:16,17) So the two of them return to Bethlehem, Naomi changing her name to “Mara” (“bitter”), “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (1:20,21)

As it turns out (read Ruth for the fun, romantic account) Ruth marries Naomi’s wealthy relative Boaz. It’s a scandal because Ruth is a foreigner. Moab (descended from one of Lot’s daughters) is an enemy, “unclean”, an alien. But Boaz marries her nonetheless, and becomes the protector, the “kinsman redeemer” for Naomi and Ruth. Most importantly, however, the scripture tells us that Ruth bears a son to Boaz and Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, ‘Naomi has a son!’ And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Then harking back to Judah and Tamar’s son Perez, the Bible says,

“This then, is the family line of Perez:

Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron was the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon
Nahshone the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
Boaz the father of Obed,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of David.”
(Ru.4:18-22)

And as Matthew’s genealogy tells us, King David became the ancestral father of Jesus.

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