Meeting Boaz and Ruth
“Anava!” the voice said. “It has been a long time!”
I turned to see a tall middle-aged man standing there with his lovely wife and young son.
“Boaz, my friend!” I exclaimed. “It is truly good to see your face again! And this must be your wife, Ruth, and your son, Obed.”
“How did you know?” he asked with a surprised look.
“I know many things about you,” I said. “God has revealed much to us. I had heard that the famine in Judah ended and knew that Ruth would come to you shortly afterward. I want you to tell me what has happened with you in the past twenty years. But first, please introduce Ruth to Sipporah.”
Sipporah and Rebekah had already looked up from preparing the meal outside the sukkah. “Sipporah, this is my wife, Ruth.”
“It is good to meet you,” Sipporah said. “Come into our Sukkah. We are guests of Rebekah, Nathan, and Eleazar.”
Rebekah continued preparing the meal, but the rest of us were soon seated comfortably. “Is Naomi well?” Sipporah asked Ruth.
“We buried Naomi last year,” Ruth said. “She died happy and fulfilled, knowing that Obed was the legal heir of the family estate in Bethlehem. 89 We are taking care of him until he is grown, and, of course, since he is our natural son, we are happy to have him with us.”
“Was it difficult for you to give him up when he was born?”
“Not really,” Ruth replied. “Naomi lived with us, so we were all in the same house. Elimelech’s inheritance is still in the hands of others, because the year of Jubilee does not arrive for another ten years. Boaz could redeem it early, but since Obed is still young, we are in no hurry. Obed will come of age at the time of our seventh Jubilee in this land, and at that time he will be able to return to his inheritance.”
“That seems to be a wise decision,” Sipporah said. “When Obed is old, his eyes will see his grandson anointed as king of Israel. He is indeed one of the blessed ones in Israel.”
“How is it that you know the Moabite language?” Ruth asked. “You speak it with no accent, as if you had been born next door to my father’s house in Moab.”
“We have both been given the gift of tongues,” she replied. “We speak our own native language, but everyone hears our words in their own language. 90 So Rebekah hears in Hebrew, but you hear in Moabite, because that is your native tongue. This ensures that all are able to understand what is said, insofar as language is concerned.”
“Of course, their ability to truly understand spiritual meanings depends upon the condition of their hearts. So even if they hear the words in their own language, it does not mean that they will understand the message. People still need the gift of interpretation of tongues. To understand the word of God, everyone needs spiritual discernment.”
“That is an amazing gift,” Ruth said, and even Rebekah was quite astonished at this. “How did you get this gift?”
“That is a long story,” Sipporah said. “The language barrier, as you know, began long ago when God confounded the languages of the builders at the Tower of Babel. 91 The gift of tongues is a reversal of that confusion and division, for God intends in the end to reunite mankind in this way. My husband and I have been given this gift so that we might travel long distances to teach the word of God without hindrance. For this reason, we were able also to talk to the Philistines in Timnah.”
“You recall,” I interrupted, “how God taught Joseph seventy languages in one night so that he might approach Pharaoh and talk with him face to face.”
“Yes, that is part of our oral traditions,” Boaz replied. 92 “It was a law in Egypt that ambassadors could climb only as many steps as the number of languages that he knew. Joseph was able to climb all seventy steps and speak with Pharaoh face to face.”
“God has given my wife and I a greater gift,” I said, “for we speak all languages and not just seventy. Is it any harder for God, in one night, to teach a man a thousand languages than to teach him seventy?”
“With God, all things are possible,” Boaz replied, and Ruth agreed. “Yet I wish that God would give us all this gift. It would make it much easier to fulfill the calling of Abraham.”
“That day will come as the Kingdom of God progresses,” Sipporah said, “but men and women today are not yet ready to receive it. There is a certain blindness upon Israel that came upon the nation when they refused to hear God’s voice at Mount Horeb.”
“When Israel refused to hear the word in their own language,” I explained, “a veil came over their hearts, 93 preventing them from truly understanding His law—even though since that time God has spoken to them in their native tongue. They are held accountable for the word and are judged by it, even though they are unable to understand.”
“For example,” I said, “Nathan told me just a few moments ago how Eli rejected Rephah’s word from the Lord. Since the High Priest represents the heart of Israel as a whole, he manifests great dullness of hearing. Very few have eyes to see and ears to hear the word of God, even if they memorize the entire Torah.”
“I understand that,” Boaz said. “In my own case, some criticize me for marrying Ruth, though she knows the heart of Yahweh better than her critics. She crossed the Jordan long after Israel did under Joshua, but because she did this by faith, God honored it. 94 Yet some have even sought to overthrow me as the prince of the tribe, thinking that I have disqualified myself. Fortunately, my brothers saw her great faith and supported me and refused to agree with them.”
“When men reject the word of God and disagree with any part of His plan,” I replied, “they become blind in that area of understanding. This, then, distorts their understanding in other areas of truth, so they soon can no longer see the world as God sees it. Their assumptions soon become fixed as foundation stones, and only a great upheaval can dislodge them from their foolish traditions. In the end, as Moses said, God will send a nation whose language you shall not understand 95 to judge Israel for their refusal to hear the prophecies that had been spoken in their own language.”
“The Philistines are fulfilling that word even now,” Boaz said.
“That is true,” I agreed, “but it will only get worse in the future. Even so, God will use this judgment to turn the hearts of His people. Their heart idolatry must be overthrown in order for them to hear the word of the Lord clearly and without distortions. God will use foreign nations to accomplish His purpose.”
“All things work together for good,” Ruth said quietly. 96
“That is correct,” I said. “I recall that your nation was born of incest, 97 and thus it came under the curse of the law for ten generations. 98 But you are the tenth generation from Abraham’s nephew, and God opened your eyes to be cleansed from that generational curse.”
“Your husband must wait longer,” I continued, still speaking to Ruth, “for he is still bound by the generational curse that Judah incurred when he sinned with his daughter-in-law, Tamar. 99 Boaz is only the seventh generation from Judah, and Obed the eighth, so the anointed king is hindered for a few more generations. Yet the promise of God will surely be fulfilled in Obed’s grandson.”
“Sin has consequences that affect others,” Boaz said, “often for many generations. If men knew how their actions would affect later generations, they would surely be more careful.”
“That is true,” I replied. “But this lack of understanding is part of the blindness upon Israel. They may know the words of the law, but their eyes are dim, and they do not see the full picture. But your eyes are blessed, for they are able to see, and God has opened your ears to hear the deep things of God.”
“Obed, too, seems to have blessed ears,” Boaz said. “He has his mother’s gift of music, even at such an early age. He hears what others do not hear.”
Nathan then stood up and said to Boaz, “I have a song for you, a song that my father taught me many years ago.” With that, he picked up his harp and sang in his melodic voice:
Courage sings its silent tune,
From words and cries writ deep inside,
Where angels’ voices weep and croon,
With songs that bridge the great divide.
An opus to life are songs of truth,
In language of love and accent of joy;
Earthly ears, no more uncouth,
Hear songs of peace with no alloy.
They echo their amen reply,
And rise to do the healing dance,
Down halls of hope in mansions high,
To see the end—the great romance.
Heaven proposes, earth responds,
Angels on high and saints below
Bear witness to the marriage bonds,
And universal pageant glow.
When we regained our composure and ability to speak, Sipporah spoke, saying, “There is something about your harp that transcends explanation. No doubt you have great musical skill, but I sense that there is something more built into those harp strings, something divine, some heavenly gift that you have not yet revealed to us.”
Nathan caressed the harp for a moment in silence. “When I was a child, my father fashioned this harp with skillful hands and a prayerful heart. I remember how he used to talk to God and to the harp as he worked. I was very young, of course, and did not understand what he was doing until later when he gave it to me and taught me how to play.”
“Perhaps you were unaware that I had a little sister who was born when I was just three years of age. She was born in the morning and died on the seventh day. We named her Simchah, Joy. My father finished building his harp on the day she died, and he played it as he prayed for her. When she died, he wept over her, and his tears fell upon the harp. I believe that he wept the tears of God, and so I call this harp Abidamah, ‘My Father’s Tear.’ When we buried her, his tears watered seeds of joy.
“From that day forward, Abidamah has been anointed with heavenly emotion, revealing the joyful heart of our heavenly Father. Its music waters seeds buried deep within the hardest of hearts, dispels all depression, and drives away all evil spirits that lurk nearby.
“There is certainly something supernatural about this harp,” I said. “I believe we all feel it. Life is not measured by years, but what enduring thing is left behind. Your father was a blessed man, for he built things that endure. Such builders never die. Those who fail to build such things cannot break the bands of mortality, for time gnaws at all earthly things, and soon all of our earthly works are gone.”
“See too what one small child can accomplish in a single week!” Sipporah added. “Simchah’s purpose in life was to draw the Father’s heart from heaven and to imprint it within this harp. Without her, the harp would have been just another fine harp in Israel. But because she lived a week on earth, the harp was impregnated with divine joy.”
“Unending tears dry out the soul,” Nathan said, “but when my brother Eleazar was born the next year, my father’s heart was comforted and my mother found joy again. Then after two years had passed, you came to visit us the first time. I do not know if you recall, but I was asked to find good pasture for Pegasus. I took him to the special place where the grass grows greenest—the field where Simchah is buried. There Pegasus told me of my mission as the harp’s caretaker. This is how I know that, for a season, I must bring joy to the world.”
“Only for a season?” Boaz asked.
Turning to Boaz, Nathan said, “At the proper time, I will give Abidamah to you, so that your son may learn to play it, as well as his son and his son’s son. This harp is a gift for the king.”
“It will be a fine gift from Ephraim to Judah!” Boaz exclaimed. “I am deeply grateful, especially now that I know what this means to you. The memories embedded in Abidamah will yet have their say, for in the hands of a prophet a harp is the voice of unsilenced heavens.”
Nathan responded, “As the Creator spoke the word, the stars sang, giving shape to each new creature by a unique ode of joy. Music is a stream of life that heals the broken hearted. The voice of this harp causes many to be hugged by joy, kissed by love, and comforted by hope.”
The meal was soon ready, and as there was plenty of food, Ruth and Boaz ate with us.
We visited until the evening, sharing the word and the revelation of the Spirit, until the lateness of the hour forced Boaz and his family to depart to their own tent. The morning would bring a new day, the first day of Sukkoth, and there would be ceremonies to observe at the Tabernacle. The first portion of the law would be read and also discussed in each sukkah with appropriate prayers to God.
Nathan’s tent had plenty of room for all of us to sleep—except, of course, for the horses, who remained outside, and Sippore, who preferred to perch on a limb of a nearby tree, where in the morning her songs might comfort all who mourn.
- Ruth 4:17. Obed was the biological son of Ruth and Boaz, but was the legal son of Naomi and her dead husband, Elimelech, according to the law of inheritance and sonship in Deuteronomy 25:5-10.
- Acts 2:6
- Genesis 11:6-9
- Book of Jasher 49:14
- 2 Corinthians 3:15
- Ruth 1:16, 17
- Jeremiah 5:15; Deuteronomy 28:49
- Romans 8:28
- Genesis 19:31-37
- Deuteronomy 23:2
- Genesis 38