Jesse (Lk 3:32-3:32)

“The son of Jesse,

The son of Obed,

The son of Boaz,

The son of Sala,

The son of Nahshon.”


τοῦ Ἰεσσαὶ τοῦ Ἰωβὴδ τοῦ Βοὸς τοῦ Σαλὰ τοῦ Ναασσὼν


This is pretty much the same as Matthew, chapter 1:5-6, as the genealogies almost match here.  Luke said that David was the son of Jesse (τοῦ Ἰεσσαὶ), the son of Obed (τοῦ Ἰωβὴδ), the son of Boaz (τοῦ Βοὸς), the son of Sala (τοῦ Σαλὰ), and the son of Nahshon (τοῦ Ναασσὼν).  The genealogy at the end of Ruth, chapter 4:18-22, goes from Judah to David.  Nahshon was a famous warrior prince of Judah, especially in Numbers, chapter 7:12.  Nahshon was the father of Salma or Salmon (Σαλμών), the direct male ancestor of King David, and all of the kings of the Kingdom of Judah.  Sala or Salmon was the father of Boaz with Rahab his wife.  Boaz was the father of Obed with Ruth his wife.  Obed was the father of Jesse.  Jesse had 7 sons with King David the youngest son.  Ruth was a Moabite non-Jewish widow.  She traveled to Israel with her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi.  There she then married Boaz in a beautiful love story in the biblical book of Ruth.

My Understanding of Ruth

What a wonderful love story! This lady named Ruth from Moab turns out to be the grandmother of King David. Thus, she is part of the lineage that leads to Jesus of Nazareth. The setting is the time of the judges when there is no king in Israel. Apparently there were hard times in Bethlehem. This book had been made into a film, The Story of Ruth, a couple of times. Other biblical stories like Noah and the Ten Commandments have become movies also.

Why is this book here in the Bible? In the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Ruth is found among the writings (Ketuvim) in particular among the five scrolls or Five Megillot with the Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. In the Christian Bibles it is found among the so-called histories, after the Book of Judges. This, of course, follows the place that it had in the Greek Septuagint and Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. So for many Christians, this is a semi-historical book. There had been some thought that it was written by the prophet Samuel, whose two books with his name come next in the Christian Bible. However, it is probably a post-exilic composition from the 6th to 4th century BCE.

Naomi with her husband and two sons moved to Moab. This is strange since it was not clear that Moab and Israel were on good terms. Her two sons married Moabite women, which would have been forbidden in Israel. However, the two of them along with Naomi’s husband died. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem. So Ruth, the Moabite wife of one of the sons, went with her. There is a beautiful little chant of Ruth about going wherever Naomi went as they came back to Israel.

Now we have two widows living in Bethlehem who are not rich. One was this foreigner Ruth.   She went out to glean the fields, picking up the scraps of grain that fall to the ground at harvest time. She was allowed to take them for herself. Everyone noticed Ruth. There she met Boaz, the man who owned the land. He was a man of God, very upright. He also was a relative of Naomi’s late husband. It is never clear what kind of cousin he was. Apparently there was another unnamed person, who was a closer relative.

Naomi decided to try and lure Boaz at the harvesting time. She sent Ruth, all dressed up with her finest garments to go the threshing floor when Boaz was asleep. They had a discussion of what was to happen. Boaz decided to solve the problem by going to the town elders and asking if the closest relative would exercise the law of levirate to take care of Ruth and Naomi. He said no, so that Boaz agreed that he would marry Ruth and take care of Naomi. The story ended happily when Boaz and Ruth were married. They had a child who would be the father of Perez, the father of David.

Thus this outside Moab woman would have a role in the royal lineage of Israel. In fact, Moses had married a non-Israelite. This moving story of a foreign woman taking on an important role in Israel was a continual reminder of the freedom of Yahweh to choose whomever he wants to be a leader.

A son is born to Ruth (Ruth 4:13–4:17)

“So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, Yahweh made her conceive. She bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi.

‘Blessed be Yahweh,

Who has not left you this day without next of kin.

May his name be renowned in Israel!

He shall be to you a restorer of life.

He will nourish you in your old age.

For your daughter-in-law who loves you,

Who is more to you than seven sons,

Has borne him.’

Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom. She became his nurse. The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying. ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse, the father of David.”

Boaz and Ruth got married and had a son. Naomi then became his nurse. The women of the village gave the child the name of Obed, which means son born to Naomi. They also sang a son to Yahweh to thank him for giving next of kin or inheritors to Naomi. The love between Naomi and Ruth is further developed since the daughter-in–law, Ruth, loves her more than 7 sons. In reality, it is Naomi’s grandson who would become the grandfather of King David, thus giving this Moabite Ruth a special standing.

Setting the scene (Ruth 1:1–1:5)

“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. A certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab. He went with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech. The name of his wife was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died. She was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives. The name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.”

This is a nice simple story that focuses on a single family, not the grand theme of a country or nation. The setting for this romantic story is the time of the judges before the kings came to be, sometime over a thousand years before Christ. This book was probably written a few hundred years later after this oral story was repeated over and over again, maybe even written by a woman. The famine was a common theme in the Bible as Abraham, Jacob, and many others experienced this lack of food. Naomi and her husband with their two sons were from Bethlehem in the tribe of Judah, about five miles south of Jerusalem. They went to Moab, which is east of the Jordan, the place where the Israelites were not treated well. The Israelites believed that the Moabites could trace their origin to Lot, the nephew of Abraham, in Genesis, chapter 39, since Lot had an incestuous relationship with his daughter that led to the birth of Moab. The Moab territory had a mixed relationship in Israelite history as the Moabite women had enticed the Israelites to follow them in worship. Although Elimelech and Naomi were from the tribe of Judah, they were also descendants from Ephraim, as Ephrathites. The two son’s names have a meaning of weak and consumption. In this story all the men, Naomi’s husband and two sons, die.