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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Thursday, March 05, 2009
Obed, son of Boaz or son of Elimelech?
In Ruth 1:1-2 we read, "Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there." - [NASB]

Ephrath, by the way, is just the older name for Bethlehem, so that an Ephrathite was just someone from Bethlehem in Judah. Don't let that confuse you.

A famine in Judah prompts Elimelech to move his family to the land of Moab. He dies in land of Moab but Noami, his wife, and his sons Mahlon and Chilion continue to live in the land of Moab. Both sons of Elimelech wed Moabite women (Ruth and Orpah), and they too die in the land of Moab. Naomi then hears that the Lord has blessed Israel in giving them food, and determines to return to Israel. She sends Ruth and Orpah away, each to the house of their respective father, but Ruth clings to her and refuses to leave her - choosing the land, and God of Naomi over the land and Gods of Moab.

When they arrive in Israel, Ruth sets out to provide for Naomi by going into the fields behind the harvesters and gleaning what they leave behind. She ends up gleaning the field one of her deceased father-in-law's closest relatives, a man named Boaz. Boaz has heard all that Ruth is doing for Naomi, and instructs Ruth to stay on his land where she will be protected, fed and treated well. Ruth does so, and for the rest of the harvest provides for herself and Naomi in this way.

When the harvest has ended, Naomi returns the favor by seeking provision for Ruth by instructing Ruth in how to present herself to Boaz. Naomi tells Ruth to go the the threshing floor after dark find out where Boaz is sleeping, uncover his feet and lie down. Ruth does as she is told, and when Boaz discovers her, Ruth declares that she is his close relative, and Boaz agrees to redeem her, if possible, since there is a closer relative whose right to redeem the wife of Mahlon, Elimelech's son takes precedence over his own.

The closer relation, upon learning that in order to redeem Elimelech's land, he would also have to redeem the wife of Elimelech's son (and according to the levarite law, raise up children for Mahlon who would then inherit the land), declined, and so Boaz redeems Ruth.

Then Boaz and Ruth are wed, she gives birth to Obed, and Naomi becomes the wet nurse, and we are told that this same Obed ends up being the father of Jesse, who in turn is the father of King David.

Reading through the genealogies of Christ, both in Matthew and in Luke, we see that Obed (King David's grandfather) is indeed listed as father of Jesse, and the grandfather of David. Yet here I stand a bit confused. You see, Obed is listed as the son of Boaz in both these genealogies, but what I would expect to find would be Obed listed as the son of Mahlon, the son of Elimelech - since according to the levarite law, Boaz redeemed Ruth in order to raise up a son for Mahlon.

Who wants to shed some light on this for me?

Update: I think I figured it out.

In order to understand it, pretend that Boaz was already married when he met Ruth, and already had sons. Were this the case, whatever sons Boaz had through his "normal" marriage - these would inherit the lands of Boaz, and whatever sons he had through the levirate marriage to Ruth - these would inherit the lands of Mahlon. The sons of Boaz through the "normal" marriage would be called the "sons of Boaz" and the sons of Boaz through the levirate marriage would be called the "sons of Mahlon".

I think anyone familiar with the law of levirate marriage can see that plain enough.

But Boaz did not have a another wife at the time, nor did he have an existing heir.

I was looking at this whole thing in this way: since Obed was Mahlon's rightful heir through the legitimate levirate union of Boaz and Ruth - legally speaking, Obed was the son of Mahlon.

That is clearly true. Obed was the legal son of Mahlon.

Here is where I was overlooking something that became obvious only after I saw it. I was so focused on obed as Mahlon's heir, I forgot that Boaz had land too.

What happens to Boaz's land when he dies? Does Boaz's land become the property of Elimelech's family when Boaz dies just because Obed is the legal heir of Mahlon's land?

The answer is, quite obviously, no. Because Boaz wasn't married, Obed becomes not only the heir of Mahlon, but the heir of Boaz as well. Obed is the legal son of both Mahlon and Boaz, but he is the natural son of Boaz as well.

So when I ask, why doesn't the NT genealogies call Obed the son of Mahlon? The answer is because even though he was legally the son of Mahlon, he was just as much, if not more, the son of Boaz, and it quite understandable that he is called by the more well known, and closer tie.

Problem solved, I think.

Labels:

posted by Daniel @ 2:17 PM  
20 Comments:
  • At 1:55 PM, March 06, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    No takers yet? I was hoping someone had the answers...

     
  • At 5:39 PM, March 06, 2009, Anonymous David Kjos said…

    Well, speaking as a father, I would say:

    You ask too many questions. Run and play, now.

     
  • At 2:09 PM, March 09, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    I think I figured it out. It seems obvious to me now, but that is how the rubiks cube seemed after I took a hammer to it the first time too.

     
  • At 6:35 PM, April 22, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I also have this question. It seemed like a very big deal to raise up an heir and then not list the name of the one that was suppose to receive the extension of his line.

     
  • At 11:19 PM, April 22, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anonymous, I had the same problem, it seemed like a very big deal to raise up an heir for Mahlon and then not list Mahlon as the father of Obed.

    Had Boaz been married already and had he had sons from this previous marriage, those sons would be the heirs to the properties of Boaz, and the sons of Boaz through Ruth would be the sons of Mahlon.

    But since Boaz didn't have a wife or any heir at the time he took Ruth, their child (Obed) was not only the heir to Mahlon through this marriage - but he was also the heir to Boaz since Boaz had no heir. Had there been other siblings, perhaps they could have divided the land, but with only Obed, He became the sole heir of both Boaz and Mahlon. Yet only one name could show up in the genealogy - and the writers of scripture used the name of Boaz over Mahlon, because while Obed was the legal son of Mahlon, he was also both the legal, and the physical son of Boaz - thus the name Boaz had a greater claim to being in the genealogy.

    Obed had two legal fathers, Boaz whom he was the heir of, and again, Mahlon, and through Mahlon Elimelech. But even though he was the heir of Elimelech through Mahlon - yet that doesn't erase his claim to being the heir of Boaz - for it is not as if Boaz had to give his inheritance to a stranger just because Obed was legally the son of Mahlon.

    If that straightens it out.

     
  • At 3:11 PM, April 23, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Have you found any other place that addresses this issue?

     
  • At 4:29 PM, April 23, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    I talked to a few people about this, pastors I know - and none had any insight on the situation; of course I checked online and in books and though I found a fair bit concerning levirate marriages, the bulk of that was directed at defining whether or not this union was in fact considered a levirate, etc.

    I spent some time in prayer, and study, and after some time it dawned on me that I was so preoccupied with the fact that Obed was Elimelech's heir, that I never even considered the fact that he was also the heir of Boaz. It wasn't like *because* Obed was the rightful heir of Elimelech through the levirate union, that Obed had no claim to the inheritance of Boaz. With no other contender, Obed was the closest living relative to Boaz, so that even though he was the heir of Elimelech, he also was the heir of Boaz.

    Obed was a rather peculiar case, as the firstborn of Boaz, he was entitled to his "birthright" - (if his inheritance was to be split amongst siblings, he was to be given a double portion). As the firstborn of Boaz, he was to be consecrated to the Lord (and consequently redeemed) - as Boaz's son. Even if a man had two wives, one loved, and the other a unloved wife (perhaps from a levirate union?) the first born, even if born of the unloved, still got the inheritance (c.f. Deut 21:15-17) - which is to say, there is a sort of rare situation here, if Boaz did not have two wives - his marriage to Ruth did not cause his own inheritance to evaporate - someone had to be the heir of Boaz, and that ended up being his physical son through this levirate union.

    Scripture doesn't record any other children from this union, and Rabbinic tradition even claims that Boaz died shortly after the marriage took place. It seems that there were no other heirs, and so I concluded, that this was why the authors of scripture entered the genealogy this way: They (being more familiar with levirate unions) recognized that although Obed was the legal heir of Elimelech, but that didn't mean that Obed was disqualified from being the son of Boaz - as though he had to be one or the other.

    I was looking for the either/or scenario, and that was why I missed the both/and scenario. When I saw it, I saw it, but I haven't found anyone else who articulated it that way - however scripture does record Boaz as the Father of Obed, and that is what this understanding I have laid out yeilds, and it does so (I hope) without doing injury to either the text, or the notions of the levirate union - though it is a little jarring at first to our preconceived notions of either/or.

    If that helps.

     
  • At 10:09 PM, April 23, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yeah, I get it! Thank you for taking so much time on this with me. Maybe this wouldn't be important to most people, but for some reason I wanted to know what was going on. I don't know a lot about the Jewish law, so I thought it might be a matter of knowing the law or maybe how the nation was running during the time of the judges. Again, thank you so much for digging into this with me.

     
  • At 1:58 AM, April 24, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon - no problem. When I first looked at this, I also thought it must be a matter of the law or something - I mean, shouldn't Obed be listed as the son of Mahlon or Elimelech? Why wasn't he? Perhaps it is something about the law that I don't get? But I thought I got it (head tilt)?

    So because I, not unlike yourself, was not satisfied with, "it works but I don't know how", I prayerfully meditated on it, studied it, and continued to do so until it made sense.

    I am glad you stuck with it until it did. Praise the Lord for when he opens our understanding, no one can close it again.

    Grace and peace.

     
  • At 8:16 PM, October 06, 2009, Blogger Otto said…

    Good for you, Daniel. Keep asking questions, because only then will you get answers! Sometimes we ask questions that other people consider silly, but the answers that we get from the Lord are often astounding.

     
  • At 12:50 PM, December 26, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    WOW, THANK YOU! I was studying the lineage of Jesus this day and had the same issue. I read this blog and the answer does make sense. Something to ponder, anyways.

    Here is my question...Are we sure that the "Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah" is a double way of saying they were from Bethlehem? It seems redundant. Ok, I was wondering what relationship Boaz had to Elimelech? Boaz was from the Tribe of Judah. If the scripture means to identify Elimelech ("my God is King") as a descendant of Joseph through Epharim, well that would be curious in deed since it has long been the belief of Jewish scholars that there would be two Messiahs ...one being called the SON OF JOSEPH...and the other being called the SON OF DAVID. I personally feel that Jesus is both, the son of Joseph being His first coming and the son of David referring to His second coming but what if He was actually the son of BOTH JOSEPH (son of Jacob) and son of David. NOTE: SON means descendant. in other words, the scripture seems to point out that Jesus was very UNIQUELY qualified as Messiah as no other could be. Anyone have any comments???

     
  • At 4:49 AM, December 27, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon, In Genesis 35:19 we learn that the "old" name for the city of Bethlehem was Ephrath (c.f. Genesis 35:19, - " So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem),"). In other places in scripture, the term Ephrathite is used where we might be inclined to say, "Bethlehem-ite" (c.f. 1 Samuel 17:12 where Jesse, the son of Obed is called an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah ). It isn't really all that redundant to say, Bethlehem- Judah, rather it is just like saying New York-New York. The former names the city, the later the state, or in the case of Bethlehem-Judah, the city and the kingdom.

    Given that the word "Ephrathite" refers to a citizen of Bethlehem, and not to an Ephraimite (a citizen of Ephraim), I don't think it would be very healthy to entertain any speculations that depend upon the phonetic similarities of completely different words. which is to say, if the foundation is ruined, I (personally) wouldn't build any speculation on it.

    I hope that helps.

     
  • At 9:33 AM, October 31, 2010, Blogger Rick said…

    Daniel, I just came across your web site this morning as I am reviewing the story of Ruth as I am giving a sermon on it this morning.

    I believe you are correct in believing Obed to be a true son of both according to Jewish law.

    Best weshes,

    Dick (Rick) Mann

     
  • At 8:34 PM, March 27, 2011, Blogger Rausch family blog said…

    I am soooo glad you wrote this post! I was just reading Ruth and had the exact same question. When I Googled: "How could Obed be the son of Boaz?" your post came up. Thank you! It was driving me nuts! Makes a lot of sense. Thanks again!
    Jessie

     
  • At 10:26 PM, March 27, 2011, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jessie,

    I am glad it helped, and glad I wrote it because it gave me that opportunity.

    Dan

     
  • At 1:15 AM, July 09, 2012, Blogger Brian Chan said…

    Hey Daniel,

    My wife is leading a Bible study on Ruth and we actually came upon this same question.

    My initial thoughts was that Ruth must have had another son, where the first son belonged to Mahlon, and then Obed must have been the second son, to fit in with Levirate law (Deut 25).

    But my wife pointed that cannot be the case since Obed is considered Naomi's son in Ruth 4:17.

    So I searched online and found your blog. I think you're right. Obed is both Mahlon AND Boaz's son.

    I found another post that agreed with your view.

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f54/according-levirate-marriage-whose-son-obed-57316/

     
  • At 11:04 PM, August 19, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks Daniel. I needed the eye-opener.

     
  • At 6:19 PM, August 17, 2016, Blogger michael wellborn said…

    Does the levirate law apply to a marriage concerning a moabite, according to law, union to a moabite was forbidden anyway rite? Therefore you are outside the realm of that law anyway. Sounds legit lol

     
  • At 6:54 AM, August 18, 2016, Blogger Daniel said…

    Michael,

    Keil and Delitzsch, in their commentary on Ruth 1:1-5, say, “Marriage with the daughters of the Moabites was not forbidden in the law, like marriages with Canaanitish women (Deut. 7:3 - You shall not intermarry with them [i.e the Canaanites] giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons,); it was only the reception of Moabites into the congregation of the Lord that was forbidden (Deut. 23:4 [3 Eng.]).” In their commentary on Deut 23:1-8 they define the assembly of the Lord as “the covenant fellowship of Israel with the Lord”.

    The restriction of Deuteronomy 23:3-24 (“No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever, because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.") would not necessarily (according to that understanding) apply.

    Not withstanding others are satisfied with simpler explanations. Ruth, in rejecting her nation, people, and their gods, was no longer of that nation, and so the restriction was relaxed. In the same way as 1 Cor 6:9 says no sinner shall inherit the Kingdom of God - yet sinners do inherit the Kingdom when they turn in faith and obedience to God through Christ.

    Still others are satisfied with a simpler explanation- it was an exception that God graciously allowed.

    Others note that a Benjaminite named Shaharaim fathered sons in Moab (1 chronicles 8:8) suggesting either that this affirms the notion that marriages were legitimate, or that perhaps Ruth was a descendant of one of these Bejaminite sons.

    One thing is certain - no one at the time seems to have questioned the legitimacy of those marriages, and David was chosen by God to be King. It is clear that God did not regard David as being barred from entering into the assembly. The rest of it is just our trying to understand that in the context of the former texts.


     
  • At 2:22 PM, September 26, 2016, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you so much! I was trying to understand this.

     
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