A forest of hands went up at the meeting last night after Malcolm gave his talk on the Book of Ruth, and my hand wasn't called upon. So I now have four unused comments that I think I will post here in case anyone would like them.
In case anyone isn't familiar with the Book of Ruth, it tells of an Israelite couple and their two sons who have to leave Judah because of a famine and who have to 'reside as an alien in the fields of Moab'. Things do not go well with them. The husband and the sons die, and Naomi, the mother, is left alone, with her two Moabite daughters in law, Orpah and Ruth. She decides to go back to the land of Judah, and when her daughters in law say they want to come with her, she tells them that she should stay in Moab as they are young enough to remarry and have some children of their own.
However, Ruth refuses to leave Naomi and goes back to Judah with her. And there she agrees to a brother in law marriage so as to raise up children for her dead husband and for her mother in law.
In doing so, she becomes an ancestor of the Messiah. You will find her name in the genealogical tables for Jesus in the Book of Matthew: "Boaz became father to Obed by Ruth." - Matthew 1:5
And these are four things that I found very instructive when I re read Ruth, and would have commented on had I been called on, after reading the cited verses:
Ruth 1:11 "But Na′omi said: “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Do I still have sons in my inward parts, and will they have to become your husbands?"
I thought how unselfish Naomi was. She was returning alone. She had been away from the land of Judah for many years, and as a returned expat myself I know that the land you left is not the land you go back to. She would probably have loved to have had her daughters in law with, both for the journey and to help her when she got back. But she is thinking of them, and wants them to have their chance of marrying again and having children, which would be much easier for them in their own land, among their own people.
Ruth 1:16, "And Ruth proceeded to say: “Do not plead with me to abandon you, to turn back from accompanying you; for where you go I shall go, and where you spend the night I shall spend the night. Your people will be my people, and your God my God."
I wanted to compare this with Zechariah 8:23, which says: “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘It will be in those days that ten men out of all the languages of the nations will take hold, yes, they will actually take hold of the skirt of a man who is a Jew, saying: “We will go with you people, for we have heard [that] God is with you people.”’”
Ruth recognised that Jehovah’s spirit was with the Israelites, and we are here (in the congregation) because we too have recognised that this is where Jehovah's spirit is.
Ruth 2:20, ”At that Na′omi said to her daughter-in-law: “Blessed be he of Jehovah, who has not left his loving-kindness toward the living and the dead.” And Na′o‧mi went on to say to her: “The man is related to us. He is one of our repurchasers.”
This shows that Naomi had not lost her faith in Jehovah even though she had suffered tragedies. She saw Jehovah's hand reaching out to help her and to give her grandchildren, as any children Ruth and Boaz had would be considered to be the children of her dead son, because Boaz was a repurchaser.
Ruth 3:10 , "At that he (Boaz) said: “Blessed may you be of Jehovah, my daughter. You have expressed your loving-kindness better in the last instance than in the first instance, in not going after the young fellows whether lowly or rich."
I was going to mention Ruth’s unselfishness in choosing Boaz, who was not young, because of his being a repurchaser, to raise up a name for her dead husband and for her mother in law."