06 May 2010

May 6

Reference links:
Old Testament

The story of Ruth is a great story. Although I disagree with the claim that the whole Bible is great literature, independent of its religious significance, parts of it definitely fall under that category. Ruth is one of those parts.

To provide for herself and Naomi, Ruth goes to glean grain from a field that is being harvested. Deuteronomy mentioned gleaning. This tradition helped to support orphans and widows by allowing them to take from the fields that which remained after the initial harvest.

Ruth gleaned from the field of Boaz, a relative of her decreased father-in-law. Boaz looks kindly upon her because of what she has done for Naomi. She gleans his fields for the rest of the harvest because of his kindness and because he reassures her that she will be safe there.

At the end of the harvest, Naomi decides that Ruth must be provided for and that Boaz seems likely to take on the roll of provider:
One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”
Ruth does as Naomi says, and Boaz seems quite pleased:
“The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”
The language in this passage communicates many things. It lets the reader know that Ruth is younger than Boaz, enough younger that she could be expected to look favorably upon younger men. We learn that he is proper, and wants to do what is right. However, he also expresses that he cares for Ruth when he says, "then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself!"

Boaz talked to the closer relative, and of course, ends up winning Ruth. I find their the conversation between Boaz and his kinsman highly entertaining. Here are the highlights:
Boaz: You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.
Kinsman: All right, I’ll redeem it.
Boaz: Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow.
Kinsman: Then I can’t redeem it because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.
Boaz: You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife.
He's a crafty one, that Boaz.

The Book of Ruth ends with a genealogy that goes from Perez, son of Judah through Boaz down to King David. It is another one of those genealogies that is possible, but not likely. Let's do some math. The Israelites spent 400 years in Egypt and 40 years wandering the dessert. According to the internet, 40 years seems to be a commonly agreed upon length for the amount of time Joshua led the Israelites, although no one really justifies that claim. That means that at least 480 years passed between the Israelites going to Egypt and the story of Ruth (that assumes that the story of Ruth happened at the very beginning of the period of the judges and that the time that Naomi spent in Moab despite the fact that her husband died there and her sons married and then died there).

According to Genesis, Hezron son of Perez son of Judah was already born when the Israelites left for Egypt. This means from the time the Israelites arrived in Egypt to the time of this story, there were six generations. That of Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nashon, Salmon, and Boaz. This means that each man must have been, on average, 80 years old, when they gave birth to the relevant son. Possible? Maybe. Likely? No.

New Testament

Super short reading from John today. Jesus miraculously and remotely heals a boy who is dying. However, he is kind of a jerk about it.
There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die.
Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?”
The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.”
Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.
The official is trying to save his dying child! He is not asking Jesus to perform a miracle just so he can gawk. It is, in my opinion, cruel of Jesus to say such a thing to someone whose child is dying. Jerk.

Psalms and Proverbs

So apparently the psalm that ended so abruptly yesterday is a history lesson. I am glad we are readying this now and not while we were reading Deuteronomy, since that was all recap. Today's review recounts how the Israelites ended up in Egypt and then how God sent the plagues against the Israelites. The last lines of today's part crystallizes even more than the original account how terrible the tenth plague was:
Then he killed the oldest son in each Egyptian home,
the pride and joy of each family.