Reading through the Bible together

Saturday, December 8, 2012

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Although Deuteronomy 25: 7-10 describes a ceremony of shame involving a near kinsman who will not take a dead man’s wife, Boaz’s actions are gentle.  He graciously asks for the other man’s shoe to seal the agreement.  Instead of renaming that near kinsman “him that hath his shoe loosed,” the story tactfully allows no mention of his name in recognition of God’s leading in his decision.  Our Lord’s kindness works ill for no one. 

The conclusion is unique for two reasons.  First, on the birth of Ruth’s child, all the women congratulate Naomi.  That seems strange until we remember how the narrative started with her bitter hopelessness.  Entitling this story The Book of Naomi might have been equally fitting.  

Second, the rhythmic pattern of ending each chapter with a wealth of barley now blossoms into a human harvest, the lineage of David.  That leads, as anyone who has studied prophecy knows, to Christ Our Lord.  Unlike the usual expression in love stories: “and they lived happily ever after,” the story of Ruth lifts the reader's mind upward with the promise of the coming Messiah.  No other short story in literature ends that excitingly, or with such a burst of prophetic joy.

Jan Haluska

Southern Adventist University