Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Echoes of Genesis & Echoes of Christ in Ruth

Daniel Block writes, 

"In the book [of Ruth] we hear numerous echoes from and allusions to the narrative of Genesis (Gen 2:24; 12:1 in Ruth 2:11; Gen 12:10; 26:1 in Ruth 1:1; Gen 19:30-38 in Ruth 3:1-9; Gen 24:27 in Ruth 2:20). Many have noted that the only two occasions in which the narrator attributes specific actions to Yaheweh are Ruth 1:6; 4:13. Remarkably, both references to Yahweh giving "bread" (lehem) in Ruth 1:6 recalls Genesis 3:16 [sic 3:19], where Adam is promised "bread" (lehem) as a reward for hard work in a fallen world. Ruth 4:13 and Genesis 3:16 are linked by the rare nominal forms of the root hārȃ ("conceive, be pregnant"), hērāyôn and hērôn, respectively. It appears from the use of the 'ēlleh tôlědôt formula in Ruth 4:18 that the book of Ruth is to be interpreted as a continuation of the narratives of Genesis, where the formula occurs eleven times. Specifically, by reducing the genealogy to ten entries, the author presents the lineage of David as the third phase of history, preceded by phases that extend from Adam to Noah (Gen 5), and Noah to Terah (Gen 11:10-26). Remarkably, the four patriarchal generations are omitted from this scheme. Furthermore, by identifying Boaz as the seventh link in the chain, the author recognizes in him a watershed of human history, analogous to the periods represented by Enoch (Gen 5:21-24) and Peleg (Gen 10:25). (D.I. Block "Ruth 1: Book of" Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Writings and Poetry [Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 2008] p.680)
1. This strong redemptive historical bent to the Book of Ruth should not surprise us. All of the Old Testament even with his various genres has a strong redemptive-historical emphasis. To miss it is to miss the ultimate purpose of Scripture.

2. It would seem then that Ruth understands the actions in the book as part of what establishes the line of David and continues the notions of the "seed" so prominent in Genesis. In Ruth we have a small linking of the promises made to David in 2 Sam. 7 to the promises made to the people of God in Genesis.

3. Naomi's sojourning is a type of exile where, like Israel's history, she forsakes the covenant and her covenant heritage. She has little hope of restoration except that the grace of God whereby YHWH keeps his hesed (Ruth 2:20). Naomi breaks the covenant. It takes a Moabite woman to show Naomi an example of hesed within the covenant community. As Ruth converts to the covenant God (Ruth 1:16; 2:12) she begins to see the even greater hand of YHWH and how YHWH keeps his unconditional covenant promises despite Naomi forsaking her inheritance. Naomi through her sin and God's hand of judgment is all but dead with respect to the covenant heritage--but God in Ruth 'resurrects' the line of Naomi.

4. A major point of the book then is the Hesed of Ruth and YHWH. On the one hand, Ruth is like Tamar in Genesis 38. Ruth is more righteous and keeps hesed while Naomi does not. Yet in this story, as in the story of Tamar, we see that God uses woman who should have been outside of the covenant to actually preserve the seed and ultimately the line of David. 

5. In the end of the book, while Ruth's hesed is an important theme--ultimately as Ruth keeps hesed we see the greater hand of God keeping his hesed. This is crucial for the book. As we look at Ruth at the end, we look past the example of Ruth and see the hand of God and the person of Jesus in that Ruth's actions preserve the line of David. God is being faithful and providing a Savior to his people. He is faithful to Naomi and despite her covenant breaking he provides a 'redeemer' to preserve her and her promised inheritance. Even more in Christ, God provides a covenant keeper on our behalf who can fulfill the requirements of the covenant as a Second Adam. Christ is the fulfillment of the "seed" promise in Genesis 3:15 and Ruth points us in that direction.

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