Ruth is a gentile, a widow of a Jew and Naomi is her Jewish mother-in-law. She is from Moab where Naomi and her family have stayed for some years. In the passage of time, Naomi's husband and two sons all die and she is left with two daughters-in-law. Naomi decides to return to her home in Bethlehem but urges her daughters-in-law to stay behind in Moab. Here is Ruth's famous confession whereby she identifies with Naomi, her homeland, Israel and her God, Jehovah. Note that in verse 17 that she makes an oath unto death.
16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
Ruth's attitude is friendship, devotion and service to Naomi. The name 'Ruth' means friendship or friend, and that is just what she is to Naomi. Naomi means pleasant or 'my delight' and can easily speak of Israel, the pleasant land.
Numbers 14:8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
Naomi's attitude is somewhat sour, however, after her time spent in Moab. She has this to say:
Ruth 1:20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
Her problem is not just that she is a widow, but that she has no heir. Both her sons have died while in Moab, and there is no one to claim the inheritance of her dead husband, Elimelech. Moab by the way, means of the father, who is my father or seed of the father. Elimelech, is a combination of two words. Eli which is God and melech which means king. So Elimelech is translated, God is King or God is my King. It could easily mean the God/King or even the kingdom of God!
By the end of the story, her fortunes are reversed through Ruth's marriage to Boaz. Ruth 4:9-10
9 And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.
10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
Ruth 4:17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
You can see there are two issues that Boaz is resolving here. One is the inheritance from Elimelech, and the other is raising up the heir. These two are closely related. It's interesting that Pharez and Judah are mentioned here. It helps form part of the allegory.
Ruth 4:12 And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.
Judah had two sons who died without an heir. This meant that there would have been no heir to the tribe of Judah, no King of the Jews! Judah eventually laid with his daughter in law and produced the heir, Pharez. Allegorically the first two sons who died, speak of the first two kingdoms of Judah, one which was destroyed by Babylon and the second destroyed by Rome. It took the seed of the father, [Moab], the seed of the father, Judah, to come and produce the heir.
This bears a loose correspondence to the two sons of Naomi who died without heir. They also represent the two kingdoms of Judah who would have inherited from Elimelech.
To produce the heir is described as 'to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance'. For purposes of the allegory, the name of the dead is Jesus. HE is the God/King who died. He had no heir in the flesh.
Isaiah 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
His spiritual inheritance is his people, all whom the father has given him. As Ruth gives birth to a son, so the church will give birth to the man-child. This is the end time church or company of saints who will bring in the end time harvest. This is raising up the Name of Jesus upon all those who are to be saved!
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