Ruth - Ancestor of Jesus

Profile of Ruth, Great Grandmother of David

Ruth in the Bible
Ruth Takes Away the Barley by James J. Tissot. SuperStock / Getty Images

Of all the heroes in the Bible, Ruth stands out for her virtues of humility and kindness.

She is featured in the book of Ruth, even though many Bible scholars claim Boaz or even Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, are the lead characters of that story.  Still, Ruth emerges as a chaste woman, a welcome contrast to the ugly behavior in the book of Judges, which precedes her account.

Ruth was born in the land of Moab, a border nation and frequent enemy of Israel.

  Her name means "female friend."  Ruth was a Gentile, which would later become a significant symbol in her story.

When famine struck the land of Judah, Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, journeyed from their home in Bethlehem to Moab for relief.  Elimelech died in Moab.  Mahlon married Ruth in Moab while Kilion married Ruth's sister Orpah.  After about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion died.

Ruth, out of love and loyalty to her mother-in-law, accompanied Naomi back to Bethlehem, while Orpah stayed in Moab.  Eventually Naomi steered Ruth into a relationship with a distant relative named Boaz.  Boaz married Ruth and took her in, rescuing her from the sad life of a widow in ancient times.

Remarkably, Ruth abandoned her lifelong home and her pagan gods.  She became a Jew by choice.  She is one of only five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (along with Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Mary) in Matthew 1:1-16).

   

In an age when childbearing was seen as the highest honor for women, Ruth played a key role in the coming of the promised Messiah.  Jesus' Gentile ancestors, like Ruth, showed that he came to save all people.

Ruth's life seemed to be a series of timely coincidences, but her story is really about the providence of God.

  In his loving way, God orchestrated circumstances toward the birth of David, then from David to the birth of Jesus.  It took centuries to put in place, and the result was God's plan of salvation for the world.

Accomplishments of Ruth:

Ruth watched out for her aging mother-in-law, Naomi, as if she were her own mother.  In Bethlehem, Ruth submitted to Naomi's guidance to become the wife of Boaz.  Their son, Obed, was the father of Jesse, and Jesse fathered David, Israel's greatest king. Ruth became one of only five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Ruth's Strengths:

Kindness and loyalty permeated Ruth's character.  Further, she was a woman of integrity, maintaining high morals in her dealings with Boaz.  She was also a hard worker in the fields, gleaning leftover grain for Naomi and herself.  Finally, Ruth's deep love for Naomi was rewarded when Boaz married Ruth and gave her love and security.

Hometown:

Moab, a pagan country bordering Canaan.

Life Lessons:

  • Humility is a wise attitude because God sees and God rewards.  Ruth did as she was told, trusting Naomi and God.
  • Doing the right thing is not always easy but is the best way to honor God.  Ruth made her choice and never looked back.
    • God's providence is a thing of wonder.  In the end, Ruth experienced the lovingkindness of both Boaz and her heavenly Father.

    References to Ruth in the Bible:

    The book of Ruth, Matthew 1:5.

    Occupation:

    Widow, gleaner, wife, mother.

    Family Tree:

    Father-in-law - Elimelech
    Mother-in-law - Naomi
    First husband - Mahlon
    Second husband - Boaz
    Sister - Orpah<
    Son - Obed
    Grandson - Jesse
    Great grandson - David
    Descendant - Jesus Christ

    Key Verses

    Ruth 1:16-17
    "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 anything but death separates you and me." (NIV)

    Ruth 4:13-15
    So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: "Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth." (NIV)

     

    Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.