Tuesday, June 24, 2008
In all, the book of Ruth is a wonderful story, and it speaks volumes about God's love for his people and his faithfulness to them. Not only that, but it speaks of Jesus, the Messiah, a descendant of Boaz and Ruth, and our "family redeemer." If you have not done so, I would encourage you to go read Ruth this week.
Nevertheless, there are some puzzling things in Ruth, some unavoidable questions that make this ancient book perplexing for contemporary readers. Here are some of the questions that arise while reading Ruth (questions that are answered in follow-up articles are linked):
- When was the “time of the judges”? When did Naomi and Ruth live?
- Where were Judah and Moab?
- Why was Ruth working behind the other harvesters in the field?
- In Ruth 2:20, Why was it significant to Naomi that Boaz was “one of our family redeemers”? What was a family redeemer, anyway?
- What was going on with Ruth uncovering Boaz's feet and lying down (3:4, 7-14)?
- What exactly was Ruth asking Boaz to do (3:9)? Again, why did she mention that he was her “family redeemer”?
- Why did Boaz have to take the offer of marriage to the other relative (3:12-13)?
- Why did Boaz go to the town gate (4:1) to settle this business? Why did he call for "ten leaders from the town ... to sit as witnesses" (4:2)?
- Why did Boaz bring into the equation Naomi's property that was for sale (4:3-4), and why did he mention it first?
- Why did the purchase of Naomi's land include an obligation to marry Ruth (4:5)?
- Why, after hearing of the obligation to marry Ruth, did the other man change his mind about purchasing Naomi's land (4:6)? Why would marrying Ruth endanger his own estate?
- What was the sandal transfer custom (4:7-8) all about?
- Why was the birth of Obed, Boaz's and Ruth's son, a source of blessing and redemption for Naomi?
- Why did Naomi nurse the baby as her own?
- Why does Ruth end with a genealogy? Kind of a strange way to end the story, isn't it?
- Yes, it's a beautiful story, but what meaning does it have for me?
In the next few days we'll be looking at the study materials for the book of Ruth in the NLT Study Bible and seeing how it deals with these questions. Please note that I haven't doctored the list (and I'm inviting you to contribute your own questions) — this is a real list that a group of readers came up with on their own. So it should be an interesting test.
As you read the book of Ruth, are there other questions that perplex you?