And so we come to the final chapter of the Book of Ruth which recounts the tale of the romance of great-grandparents of king David of Israel, the ancestors of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, God the Son. In chapter 1 we saw how Naomi brought Ruth, her daughter-in-law, to the Land of Promise after the deaths of both their husbands. The story continued in chapter 2 where we witnessed the meeting of Boaz and Ruth as she and her mother-in-law struggle to make ends-meet. He is kind to her. In chapter 3 Ruth goes to Boaz late at night to ask him to take up their cause and redeem her and her mother-in-law. The story concludes in chapter 4.
The tale of Ruth and Boaz’s love and God’s orchestration was put to verse by John Bunyan (1628-1688), the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress and of many other poems, books and tracts.
RUTH – CHAP. IV.
And Boaz went up to the city gate,
And after a short space, while there he sate,
The kinsman of whom he had spoke, came by,
To whom he said, Ho, [‹1.6›] such a one, draw nigh,
And sit down here. He came and sat him down.
Then he took ten men, elders of the town,
And caused them to sit down. Then to the man
That was of kin, thus he his speech began,
Naomi, said he, who not long since sojourn’d
Among the Moabites, is now return’d;
And doth intend to sell a piece of ground,
The which Elimelech our brother own’d.
And now to give thee notice, I thought fit,
That if thou pleasest, thou may’st purchase it.
In presence of these men assembled here.
Then if thou wilt redeem it, now declare
Thy mind, but if thou wilt not, then let me,
For thou art next of kin, and I next thee.
Then said the kinsman, I will it redeem.
Boaz reply’d, if good to thee it seem,
To buy it of the hand of Naomi,
Thou also art obliged the same to buy
Of Ruth the Moabitess, wife o’ th’ dead;
On his inheritance to raise up seed.
The kinsman said, I cannot do this thing
Myself, lest I an inconvenience bring
Upon mine own inheritance, what’s mine
By right, therefore I now to thee resign.
Now this in Israel did a custom stand,
Concerning changing and redeeming land;
To put all controversy to an end,
A man pluck’d off his shoe, and gave his friend;
And this in Israel was an evidence,
When e’er they changed an inheritance.
Then said the kinsman unto Boaz, do
Thou take my right. And off he pluck’d his shoe.
Then Boaz to the elders thus did say
And to the people, all of you this day
Appear for me as witnesses, that I
Have bought all of the land of Naomi,
That was Elimelech’s or did belong
Either to Mahlon or to Chilion:
And Ruth the Moabitess, who some time
Was Mahlon’s wife, I’ve purchas’d to be mine,
Still to preserve alive the dead man’s name
On his inheritance, lest that the same
Should in the gate where he inhabited,
Or ‘mongst his brethren be extinguished:
Behold, this day, my witnesses you are.
Then all the people that were present there,
And elders said, We are thy witnesses:
May God this woman thou hast taken bless,
That she, like Rachel, and like Leah be,
Which two did build up Israel’s family:
And thou in Ephratah exalt thy name,
And through the town of Bethl’hem spread thy fame;
And may the seed which God shall give to thee
Of this young woman, full as prosperous be,
As was the house of Pharez heretofore,
(Pharez, whom Tamar unto Judah bore.)
So he took Ruth, and as his wife he knew her,
And God was pleased, when he went in to her
To grant the blessing of conception,
And she accordingly bare him a son.
Then said the woman, Blessed be the Lord!
Bless thou him Naomi, who doth afford
To thee this day a kinsman, which shall be
Famous in Israel; and shall be to thee
As the restorer of thy life again,
And in thy drooping age shall thee sustain:
For that thy daughter-in-law, who loves thee well
And in thy sight doth seven sons excel,
Hath born this child. Then Naomi took the boy
To nurse; and did him in her bosom lay.
Her neighbours too, gave him a name, for why,
This son, say they, is born to Naomi:
They called him Obed, from whose loins did spring
Jesse, the sire of David, Israel’s king.