The book of Esther begins with the story of Elimelech of Bethlehem, his wife Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion. During times of famine in Judah, the family travels to Moab and settle where Elimelech dies, leaving his wife a widow and two sons without a father. The two sons meet and marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. After ten years, Naomi’s two sons die leaving Orpah and Ruth without children. Naomi decides then that it is time to return to her homeland where the famine is over and God has blessed the people with food. She tells her daughters-in-law to return to their families and to remain in Moab because she had no other sons to offer them. Orpah returns to her family but Ruth refuses to return stating,
From this point on, the two women travel to Moab and Ruth goes to a field to glean. (Glean-the act of collecting the scraps from a farmers field after it has been harvested.) Ruth 2:3 says “and, as luck would have it, it was the piece of land belonging to Boaz, who was of Elimelech’s family.” It’s hard for me to grasp the concept of ‘luck’ being used in the Bible. I’m surprised it doesn’t say: and, as God would have it.
The concepts of luck or chance don’t appear very often in the Bible; in fact we’ve only seen them used a few times:
- Ecclesiastes 9:20 ends in, “For the time of mischance comes to all.”
- 2 Chronicles 18:33 states, “then a man drew up his bow at random and hit the king of Israel..”
The book of Proverbs 16:33 states “Lots are cast into the lap; The decision depends on the Lord.” The side print states that the ‘casting of lots’ was a means of divination where names or “yes” and “no” would be written on stones, which were shaken until one fell out. I find it similar to the concept the flipping of a coin or drawing of the short straw. Here, I interpret the writer as saying, “call it luck or chance or anything you want to call it; but in the end, the Lord decides the outcome.” Naomi thought the same in the situation, although the author says “as luck would have it” Naomi believed the coincidence to be the work of God and in Ch4:14, the women in the town agree, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not withheld a redeemer from you today!”
The book of Ruth ends explaining the geneaology of the newborn child, Obed. The child, being the son of Boaz, relative of Elimelech, is a direct relative of Naomi and she became its foster mother. Obed has a son named Jesse and Jesse bears a son named David. (King David)
The story of Naomi and Ruth reminds me of Deuteronomy 25:5.
“When brothers dwell together and one of them dies and leaves no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married to a stranger, outside the family.“
Although I do not promote marrying multiple times within a family, let alone, marrying your brother’s wife (or late husband’s brother;) I interpret this passage to have a deeper meaning. When a person is left without children to take care of him/her, it is the duty of his/her family to care for them and support them in their time of need. I believe that because of Ruth’s faithfulness and dedication to her mother-in-law, the Lord blessed them during a time of need and their name was passed to a new generation.