The Women Who Carried God’s Royal Seed
The previous article in this series dug into the genealogy of Jesus through His mother, Mary. Luke records that genealogy. This article will delve into the ancestry of Jesus through his stepfather, Joseph. It is presented in the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. This genealogy is much easier to investigate because it proceeds through the lineage of kings descending from King David. There is a plethora of Biblical and extra-Biblical information about these kings available to the student of Biblical studies. However, we will limit our focus to a discussion of four women in this genealogy. They lived during and prior to King David (i.e. <1000 years B.C.). These were very ordinary women of the world who did not descend from the lineage of kings. It is intriguing they were even listed because Jewish and other ancient cultures did not normally note women in their genealogies. They believed individuals descended from the “seed of the man.” Therefore, they recorded their genealogies in this fashion. Other Biblical genealogies exclusively list men. Matthew was reared in a conservative Jewish culture and mentored by a conservative Jewish rabbi, Jesus Christ. Why did Matthew allow women to creep into the genealogy he recorded? For this reason, we know God has hidden special messages for His followers in Matthew’s record. The Holy Spirit obviously guided the pen of this author. We shall hopefully crack the door a bit, allowing the Light of God to enrich our understanding of His Word.
The four women Matthew named in Jesus’ genealogy were Tamar, Rahab and Ruth and Bathsheba -“her who had been the wife of Uriah. Why would God pick these women for Christ’s royal genealogy when He could have picked great examples of faith such as Sarah and Noah’s wife? Even Rebecca and Leah seem reasonable to include in Jesus’ lineage. The Books of Kings and Chronicles mention several women who mothered good Kings of Judah. But Matthew’s genealogy omits these “godly” women also. Why?
Two of these women “sneaked into” the Messiah’s lineage through levirate marriage—Tamar and Ruth. Levirate marriage provided for a woman whose husband died and she had not borne him any children. The wife would wed the next oldest son or closest male relative. Their son would continue the seed of the original husband.
Three of these women had serious sexual sins. One posed as a harlot. One was a harlot. And one was an adulteress. Now if a king desired a pedigree lineage to impress his subjects, wouldn’t he want to purge the individuals of questionable character?
Three of the four ladies were Gentiles. Tamar was a Canaanite. Rahab was an Amorite (also Canaanite) from Jericho; and Ruth was a Moabite.
Why did Matthew exclude other godly Jewish women? Why did he leave out three kings—Joash, Amaziah, and Azariah?
Genesis Chapter 38 provides the details of the life of Tamar. Judah married Bathshua (not to be confused with King David’s wife, Bathsheba). Judah’s first wife’s name was “a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua.” “Bathshua” means “daughter of Shua.” Their firstborn son, Er, married Tamar. “Er was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD killed him.” God apparently did not want the Messiah’s lineage to come through Er. Judah asked his next oldest son to marry Tamar as that would be appropriate to fulfill the law of levirate marriage. But Onan was wicked and prideful and God killed him also. “Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, ‘Remain a widow in your father’s house till my son Shelah is grown.’ For he said, ‘Lest he also die like his brothers.’” Tamar left to live in her father’s house. Judah’s wife Bathshua died thereafter.
And it was told Tamar, saying “Look your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife (Genesis 38: 13-14).
By this time Tamar felt Judah had determined to withhold his third son from her and she would not have any descendants. So she decided to pose as a harlot. Judah saw her with face covered and assumed she was a prostitute.
Then he turned to her by the way, and said, “Please let me come in to you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law [and that he would be committing incest with her]. So she said, “What will you give me that you may come in to me?” And he said, “I will send a young goat from the flock.” So she said, “will you give me a pledge till you send it?” Then he said, “What pledge shall I give you?” So she said, “Your signet and cord, and your staff that is in your hand” Then he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. So she arose and went away, and laid aside her veil and put on the garments of her widowhood. And Judah sent the young goat by the hand of his friend [Hirah] the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand, but he did not find her. Then he asked the men of that place, saying, “Where is the harlot who was openly by the roadside? And they said, “There was no harlot in this place” (Genesis 38:15-21).
The word harlot used by the Adullamite men was ‘Qedeshah.’ It means “holy prostitute.” Tamar had posed not as a regular prostitute but as a priestess of Ashtoreth. That pagan religion provided ritual prostitutes to serve the fertility goddess Ashtoreth. That makes Judah’s actions more detestable—he had participated in the pagan worship of the fertility goddess Asthoreth. Did God allow all that in Christ’s lineage?
And it came to pass, about three months after, that Judah was told, saying, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; furthermore she is with child by harlotry.” So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”
So she said: “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.” And she said, “Please determine whose these are—the signet and cord, and the staff.” So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.” And he never knew her again (Genesis 38:24-26).
Judah was quick to judge his daughter-in-law, but he had participated in two very serious sins—fornication and idolatry. These sins were now fully exposed to the family and community. Tamar had also participated in these sins and added lying to the list (she deceived Judah). It is interesting they never had sexual relations again, despite the fact she was now his wife. We do not know his character from that point forward, but Judah was certainly not an example of godliness. He sold his brother Joseph into slavery, committed sexual sin with a priestess of Ashtoreth, participated in idolatry and caroused while shearing sheep in Timnah. However, when Judah appears in Joseph’s house in the very next chapter of Genesis he is willing to replace his brother Benjamin in jail so his father, Jacob, would not be grieved at the loss of another of Rachel’s sons. Judah’s character appears to improve following his experiences in the previous chapter.
God likely allowed these circumstances to mold Judah as the father of two sons that came from this union. One of these sons would carry the “Seed” of God’s Son to the next generation.
Now it came to pass, at the time for giving birth, that behold, twins were in her womb. And so it was, when she was giving birth, that the one put out his hand; and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” Then it happened, as he drew back his hand, that his brother came out unexpectedly; and she said, “How did you break through? This breach be upon you!” Therefore his name was called Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand. And his name was called Zerah (Genesis 38: 27-30).
Zerah means “rising,” like the sun rising. But Perez means, “breach,” which is how he delivered. The lineage of the Christ child went through Perez.
God chose Tamar to carry His Seed. Tamar (as Judah acknowledged) was more faithful than he to the covenant of levirate marriage. Her action made Jesus’ genealogy legitimate as royal heir to God’s throne.
Joshua chapter 2 chronicles the story of Rahab. Israel is about to enter God’s promised land and conquer the territory of Palestine.
Now Joshua sent two men to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.” So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country. Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate. Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land. The terror of you has fallen on us, and all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.” Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, His blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window (Joshua 2:1-21).
Rahab was a prostitute. Likely, she entertained most strangers who came into the city of Jericho. Her reputation was well known to all. The king of Jericho knew where to find these foreigners (vs 3). Typically they would stay with Rahab when they came into that city. But she hid the Israelites and lied to allow them safe passage.
Rahab had heard of God’s miraculous works with His chosen nation Israel. She and the entire city of Jericho were fearful of an impending invasion. They knew God intervened on Israel’s behalf. Rahab knew God was going to give Jericho into their hands. She made a covenant with the spies to spare her and her family. Rahab reminded the spies, “I have shown kindness to you” (2:12). She used the Hebrew word hesed for kindness. It also implies commitment and loyalty along with kindness. The Israelites used hesed in describing God’s kindness, loyalty, and commitment to them. Hesed was the response God also expected from them to strangers in their land. In this case He expected hesed to be shown towards Rahab, and that is exactly what they did. We will revisit this Hebrew word for love and kindness later in the story of Ruth.
Why the scarlet cord in this story? Blood is colored scarlet. The blood covered the sins of Rahab and her family, as it did the night of the Passover when God spared the Israelites the death of their firstborn child. The blood of Jesus is the complete satisfactory payment for the sins of all who believe He is their Lord and Savior. The scarlet cord in this story reaches into time past to the Passover event. It also reaches forward into time future where it is knotted firmly at the Calvary’s cross.
After the annihilation of Jericho, Rahab and her family were assimilated into the Jewish nation. She married a Jew named Salmon. Salmon descended from Judah through Perez. Likely, Salmon was one of the two spies who initially met Rahab in Jericho. From their union came Boaz, the great grandfather of King David.
Why did God consider Rahab of such high esteem to include her in Christ’s genealogy? Rahab had not witnessed any of the great miracles God had performed for His people. She had merely heard of these miraculous works. But Rahab declared her faith in God and His plan. Jesus proclaimed to His disciple Thomas over a thousand years later: “Blessed are those who believe and yet have not seen.” The author of Hebrews 11 could have picked many godly women as “heroes of faith.” Yet he only recorded Sarah and Rahab in that chapter. “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace” (Heb. 11: 31).
James could have chosen many people to demonstrate faith is proven by works. But he choose Abraham and Rahab. These two individuals demonstrated justification of faith by works. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? (James 2: 25). God highly esteemed Rahab for her faith and for her works. She lived out her faith without having to see a miracle from God. God esteemed her highly and rewarded Rahab by allowing her to carry the Seed of Christ’s royal lineage.
Bathsheba was “the wife of Uriah.” 2Samuel 11 records her story. Of the four women in Christ’s genealogy, she is the only Israelite. But she first married Uriah, the Hittite. He was a gentile who became a Jew and zealously fought for King David until his untimely death (orchestrated by King David). Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam, who was one of David’s thirty mighty men. Eliam was the son of Ahithophel—David’s counselor. Ahithophel’s home was Giloh, located in the mountains of Judah. Bathsheba was a Jewess. Judah’s first wife was Bath-shua. Bathsheba was probably named after her. In fact, Bathsheba is called “Bathshua” in IChronicles 3:5.
If she had been a virtuous woman it is unlikely she would have bathed on her roof in plain sight of King David. Likely, she was complicit in the adulterous affair. The Scripture reveals their first son died as an act of God’s judgment. Then Bathsheba had four additional sons—including Nathan (recorded in Luke’s genealogy of Mary and Jesus) and his younger brother Solomon. The royal lineage of Jesus tracked through Solomon and ended in His earthly father Joseph.
1Kings chapter 1 records Adonijah’s attempt to usurp the throne of King David. Adonijah was the fourth son of David and the oldest living son, since Amnon and Absalom had been killed.
So Nathan [the prophet] spoke to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, “Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king, and David our lord does not know it?” Come, please, let me now give you counsel and save your life and the life of your son Solomon. Go at once to King David and say to him, ‘Have you not, my lord, O king, sworn to your maidservant, saying, “Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne?” Why then has Adonijah become king?’ Behold, while you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.”
So Bathsheba went into the chamber to the king. (Now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was serving the king.) And Bathsheba bowed and did homage to the king. Then the king said, “What is your wish? Then she said to him, “My lord, you swore by the LORD your God to your maidservant, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne.’ So now, look! Adonijah has become king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know about it. He has sacrificed oxen and fattened cattle and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king, Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of the army; but Solomon your servant he has not invited. And as for you, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, that you should tell them who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise it will happen, when my lord the king rests with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be counted as offenders” (Kings 1:11-21)
And they would be executed. Immediately thereafter, Nathan the prophet entered the room and verified all Bathsheba had just said.
Then King David answered and said, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before the king. And the king took an oath and said, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress, just as I swore to you by the LORD God of Israel, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ so I certainly will do this day.” Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and paid homage to the king, and said, “Let my lord King David live forever!” (1Kings 1: 28-31).
Bathsheba remained loyal to King David for the rest of her life—and to the promise God had given to David—that her son Solomon would sit on the throne of Israel. The Davidic covenant was in jeopardy here. This was God’s promise to David that the Messiah would rule on the throne of David over Israel forever. Bathsheba alerted David that covenant was about to be broken. Bathsheba showed her loyalty to God and His covenant with David.
The Book of Ruth is considered one of the best short stories in the world, but it is not a mere story. It is a history of God touching the lives of His children. Only one other woman in the entire Bible, Esther, earned the privilege of having a Book chronicling her godly exploits.
Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth were all Gentiles. None of them were of Jewish origin. God obviously chose to include Gentiles in the lineage of His Son. Likely, this is because Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, not just those of His Jewish relatives. Ruth was a Moabitess—from the land of Moab. The boundaries of this ancient land lay within the current nation of Jordan. This land and its people took their name from their progenitor, Moab. He was one of two sons born through an incestuous relationship of Lot with his daughters. Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Thus the Israelites and Moabites were related through Abraham and his family. Yet the Moabites hated the Jews and fought against them. They did not provide food and water to the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt and opposed their entrance into the “Promised Land.” God commanded the Moabites could not worship in God’s assembly with His people. Yet God made an exception in Ruth’s case—likely because she married Boaz, a godly Israelite. She also converted to Judaism and worshipped the one true God. Of the four women in Jesus ancestry, Ruth demonstrated more qualities of godliness than any of the others. God used Ruth to teach believers subjects dear to His heart. We shall touch on several of these in the following section.
The events described in the Book of Ruth occurred approximately 1,150 B.C. Naomi married Elimelek (meaning “my God is King”). The book opens with this couple leaving their home in Bethlehem (the “house of bread”) with their sons Mahlon (“sickly”) and Chilion (“weakly”). A severe famine had occurred and no bread could be made because there was no rain to water the spring grain crops. Their family travelled to Moab to ride out the famine. However, shortly after arriving there Elimelek died. Their two sons married Moabite women, then they also died within ten years of arriving in that land. This might have been expected, considering the meaning of their names. Naomi’s value in that culture declined sharply with the death of her husband. Her sons were the only source of her security. When they died she was destitute and without hope in a foreign land. Her social status was less than a slave at that point in her life. Her only option was to return to Bethlehem. That is exactly what she did. Hunger drove her home, as she had heard God had come to the aid of His people there. God had commanded Israel to care for the poor, widows, orphans, and strangers in their land. Naomi had hope she might be the recipient of this kindness. Naomi initially travelled with both daughters-in-law, but later asked them to return to their own people when she felt she could make it the rest of the way. Naomi desired to give the girls an opportunity to make a new life in their own culture. Orpah returned to Moab, but Ruth made a faith commitment to stay with Naomi. Ruth desired the Jewish people and their God. She returned to Bethlehem with Naomi.
The Hebrew word ‘hesed’ is used multiple times in the Book of Ruth. It refers to a covenant of kindness, loyalty, love, and commitment that one shows to another. Hesed refers to Ruth’s covenant relationship with her mother-in-law. Naomi used hesed to describe the love Ruth had shown her.
And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to your mother’s house. The LORD deal kindly (hesed) with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me (Ruth 1: 8).
“Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz” (Ruth 2: 1).
Boaz was the son of a godly father and mother—Salmon and Rahab (who were discussed earlier in this article). Boaz was rich, of high social standing and a godly man, as well. He position in society was light years higher than Ruth. Yet, Boaz manifested ‘hesed’ (kindness, love, compassion and loyal commitment) to Ruth and Naomi, when they returned from Moab. They were poor and Ruth was an alien to this culture. Boaz made sure they were fed and cared for. He showed them mercy.
Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness (hesed) to the living and the dead!” (Ruth 2: 20).
Boaz repeatedly spoke of the ‘hesed’ love Ruth had shown Naomi. But he also praised her for heaping ‘hesed’ kindness upon himself.
Then he [Boaz] said, “Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness [having gone above and beyond in hesed] at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich” (Ruth 3: 10).
Ruth and Boaz married and God rewarded them with a son, Obed. God’s ‘hesed’ kindness touched both of them. Obed’s name means “servant.” Ruth and Boaz wove the characteristics of godliness, compassion, and mercy into their son. He likely “served” God and his parents wonderfully. Obed cared for his grandmother, Naomi, until her death, as well.
Understanding the ‘hesed’ love and compassion of Ruth and Boaz helps us appreciate God’s ‘hesed’ love.
“For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20: 6).
The Hebrew term hesed is in the later part of this verse, signaled by the word “mercy.” God shows mercy to thousands.
“Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy (hesed) for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut. 7:9).
This verse parallels the meaning of the previous one in Exodus. “Hesed” is expressed here as mercy and keeping covenants.
But God, who is rich in mercy (equivalent to hesed), because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness (hesed) toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2: 4-7).
When hesed describes the relationship between God and man, it portrays the abundant grace of God. He blesses His chosen with the riches of His kindness and mercy. This conforms His church into the image of Christ’s body on earth.
Like Tamar and Judah, Ruth married the older Boaz via levirate marriage. Ruth’s husband had died. The closest male relative should have married her, but did not. Boaz was her next closest relative and he chose to marry Ruth. She was a godly woman who did not stoop to prostitution or other sins to achieve her goal. She submitted to the God of Israel and His leading, as she proclaimed to her mother-in-law Naomi: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1: 16).
Tamar worked through a similar problem, but she used her own devious plan to accomplish her goal. God richly rewarded Ruth by allowing her the privilege of becoming the great grandmother of God’s chosen King David, through which the royal genealogy of Christ would proceed. God also blessed Ruth by allowing her story to be recorded in the pages of Scripture.
Boaz became Ruth and Naomi’s kinsman redeemer. The Mosaic Law allowed for a close relative to purchase a family member out of slavery, to buy the land of a relative in poverty, and to redeem the family name by means of a levirate marriage. Naomi and Ruth were poor widows of lower social status than slaves. Naomi owned the land of her deceased husband Elimelek. Boaz bought Naomi’s land with enough money to take care of her for life. Under Mosaic law, that land would ultimately revert to Naomi or her descendant in the year of Jubilee. This indicates the great monetary sacrifice Boaz made to fulfill his role as kinsman redeemer. He also redeemed Ruth by levirate marriage and gave her a son, Obed, who continued the lineage of her first husband. Obed received the land inheritance of Ruth’s first husband—the land Boaz purchased.
God orchestrated Boaz’ life as a type (picture) of His Son Jesus. Boaz lived out a panorama of events that would set the stage for Christ’s marvelous sacrifice for us. We are sinners, without the promise of heaven, eternal covenants or even a relationship with God. We live in spiritual poverty. No normal human can pay the satisfactory price for the sins of mankind. Such a human would also be a sinner. God’s prefect righteousness and holiness would never accept the payment of a blemished sacrifice. But Jesus was the spotless Lamb without sin who could make that atoning sacrifice. Jesus became our “kinsman Redeemer.” He was human and therefore related to every man, woman, and child who ever lived in this world. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and He married us as the Body of Christ. The pomp and circumstance of that wedding is revealed in the last book of the Bible. The Book of Ephesians describes marriage between a believing husband and his wife. God intends that union to reflect the marriage of Christ with His church. The marriage between Ruth and Boaz perfectly mirrors that spiritual relationship.
The Book of Deuteronomy provides an interesting sideline to this story.
None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog (Gentile) into the house of the Lord your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord, your God (Deut. 23: 17-18).
No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord, because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you (Deut. 23: 2-4).
The first point is that Moabites and Ammonites could not enter the Jewish assembly of worship in the tabernacle or the temple. Ruth was a Moabite, but she left her gods and culture to become a Jew when she traveled to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi. Recall the above noted quote from Ruth: “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1: 16). Ruth was permitted to enter into worship of the one true God, as a Gentile converted to Judaism.
However, verse 2 and 17 of the above Deuteronomy passages are even more intriguing. They specify the sons and daughters of Israel could not be cult prostitutes. Neither could they bring the income of prostitution nor the wages of Gentiles into God’s house. Tamar posed as a cult prostitute generations earlier and Judah entered into sexual union with her. Tamar was not a daughter of Israel, and neither the temple nor the tabernacle existed at that time. Furthermore, the law had not been given. But of even greater interest is the same verses specify that no illegitimate child or his descendants to the tenth generation could enter into the assembly of the Lord. Perez was an illegitimate son of the union of Judah and Tamar. Salmon was the sixth generation descendant of Perez, and Boaz the seventh generation descendant. His son, Obed, was of the eighth generation, and Jesse the ninth generation of that lineage. None of these descendants could enter God’s assembly. Fortunately, most lived during times when the tabernacle and temple did not exist. Lo and behold, King David was the tenth generation from Perez. The tenth generation descendant was redeemed from the curse of not being able to enter into God’s assembly of worship. This makes it easier to understand David’s zeal to build God’s temple. It sheds light on his frolicking in the streets of Jerusalem in undergarments when the Levites brought the Ark of the Covenant into town. The Jews later argued Jesus’ credentials as Messiah were inadequate, because Salmon married a Canaanite harlot, and their son Boaz married a Moabitess. The Torah (Deuteronomy) had singled these out as illegitimates, as noted above. But David and his descendants were legitimate members of God’s assembly since the ten generations had passed.
Naomi brought Ruth back to her hometown, Bethlehem—“the house of bread.” She had left during a famine some years earlier. Now she had returned to the land of her ancestors from the tribe of Judah. Bethlehem was her home. Ruth and Boaz married in Bethlehem and gave birth to Obed, “the servant.” Several generations later David worked the fields of Bethlehem tending his sheep. He was the seventh son of Jesse, the son of Obed. David subsequently became Israel’s greatest king. From David’s lineage many generations later, the babe Jesus was born in a lowly stable in Bethlehem. His parents did not live in Bethlehem, but were required to return to the homeland of their ancestors to be numbered in a census decreed by the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. God gifted His only Son Jesus, “the Bread of Life,” to mankind. He was born in “the House of Bread”—Bethlehem. His destiny was to lay down His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He will ultimately rule the world with an iron scepter as the Lion from the tribe of Judah.
Ruth and Pentecost
The Jews divide the Old Testament into sections: the law (Torah), the Prophets, the wisdom literature, and the megilloth. This last section is comprised of the five festival scrolls, which are read in the different festival seasons. The Song of Solomon is read on Passover. Lamentations is read on the 9th day of the month of Av, because the Temple was destroyed on that day, both in 585 BC, and 70 AD. Ecclesiastes is read during the Feast of Tabernacles, and Esther is read on the Feast of Purim. The Book of Ruth is read during Pentecost. The reason is the setting of the story occurs during this time.
So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest (Ruth 1: 22).
The barley harvest began after the wave sheaf offering was made, the day after the Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Now, Ruth and Naomi returned to Israel just as the barley harvest began.
So she stayed close by the young women of Boaz, to glean until the end of the barley harvest, and the wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law (Ruth 2: 23).
Israel celebrated the wheat harvest at Pentecost. Ruth harvested both barley and wheat during this fifty-day period following the Passover. Early in that time period Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem from Moab. Boaz found them and ultimately married Ruth and redeemed both Naomi and Ruth as their kinsman redeemer.
Ruth came from a gentile nation into the land of promise. She met Boaz—a type of Christ. Boaz married Ruth, who became a picture of the church—the “Bride of Christ”, as described in the Book of Ephesians. The Church was born on Pentecost, the same time the Book of Ruth is read to the Jewish nation.
No human would have numbered these four women in the genealogy of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Yet God found endearing qualities of faith and godliness in each of them that portray His greater plan for humanity. Many sermons have extolled the virtues of these women, bringing glory to God and new life to His people. But this author has been particularly touched by the story of Ruth. A summary of the events in her life lends a fitting conclusion to this article.
Ruth and Boaz lived out their lives portraying God’s covenant ‘hesed’ love and mercy. They demonstrated a godly marriage that pictures the relationship of Christ with His church. Boaz sacrificed greatly to redeem Ruth and Naomi. He set the stage for the greatest sacrifice of all times. Jesus gave His own life to pay for the sins of all mankind. He is our kinsman redeemer—the only perfect human who can atone for the sins of mankind.
Ruth came to Bethlehem during the fifty days preceding the Feast of Pentecost. She and Boaz married (possibly during that feast). She became a wonderful picture of the bride of Christ (the Church), also born in this world on Pentecost.
Boaz invoked the presence of God in all his relationships. What were his first words in this book? “God is with you!”
Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” (Ruth 2: 4).
What was the Lord Jesus’ name mentioned in Matthew 1: 23, Isaiah 7: 14 and Isaiah 8: 8-10? Was it not Immanuel, which means, “God with us?” Jesus was God in a human body, Who lived in this world and connected with many people during His short life. He is still in this world making connections with lost souls, washing them clean and pure with His atoning blood. He is still with us. He is Immanuel! Do you know Him?
 Matt. 1: 3
 Matt. 1: 5
 Matt. 1: 6
 Genesis 10: 15-18
 Genesis 38:6
 Genesis 38:7
 Genesis 38: 9-10
 Genesis 38:11a
 John 20: 29
 2Samuel 11: 14-21
 2Samuel 12: 15-23
 Luke 3: 23-32
 Matthew 1: 6-16
 2Samuel 3: 4
 2Samuel 13: 28-29
 2Samuel 18: 14-15
 John 1: 29
 Deut. 23: 3-4
 Ruth 1: 6
 Deut. 24: 17-18; Exodus 22: 22
 Ruth 1: 16
 Leviticus 25: 47-49
 Leviticus 25: 23-28
 Deuteronomy 25: 5-10
 John 1: 29; Revelation 5: 5-9
 Revelation 7: 9-15; 21: 2-4
 Ephesians 5: 22-32
2Samuel 6: 5, 14-16
 John 1:29
 Revelation 5: 5; Genesis 49: 10; Hebrews 1: 8; Revelation 19: 15