God’s Word for You (Friday, Jun 16, 2017)

A Daily Devotion by Pastor Tim Smith

Ruth 4:18-22 The line of the Savior

18 So this is the account of Perez:

The word “account” in Hebrew is toledoth, just like the ten “accounts” in Genesis. Perez was one of the five sons of Judah, and therefore the people of Judah would want to know which of the family lines of Judah would be traced. Perez was one of the two sons born after Judah’s first wife died, when he unknowingly fathered twins through his widowed and disguised daughter-in-law (Genesis 38:12-30). The accounts of the births of Perez and Obed are connected thematically since they are both concerned with the levirate law.

    Perez was the father of Hezron,
19 Hezron the father of Ram,
    Ram the father of Amminadab,

Hezron was the older of the two sons of Perez, and should not be confused with another Hezron who was the son of Reuben (Genesis 46:9; Exodus 6:14). This is the first mention of Ram. His name is probably an echo of Aram, one of the grandsons of Noah through Shem (Genesis 10:22). There is another Ram who is the family head of the Buzites through whom Elihu is descended in Job (cp. Job 32:2), but it’s not clear how or whether Job’s Ram is related to the son of Shem (or is, as I suspect, the same man) or this Judahite Ram later in the days of the Patriarchs. Together with his son Amminadab, this Ram is commonly found in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, which picks up this entire list both for Jesus’ legal descent through Joseph (Matthew 1:3-5) and his physical descent through Mary (Luke 3:31-33). We will discuss this more in our devotions on the Gospel of Luke.

20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
    Nahshon the father of Salmon,

Nahshon’s sister Elisheba was the wife of Aaron the high priest (Moses’ brother). It was Elisheba who was the mother of Nadab and Abihu and of Eleazar and Ithamar (Exodus 6:23). This detail also helps us to understand the chronology of the genealogy a little more clearly; those sons were part of the younger generation of the Exodus, and Eleazar and Ithamar survived to serve as priests during the days of Joshua. Eleazar’s death is recorded as the final verse of Joshua (Joshua 24:33). Eleazar’s son Phinehas was high priest during the first century or so of the period of the Judges (cp. Judges 20:28).

21 Salmon the father of Boaz,
    Boaz the father of Obed,
22 Obed the father of Jesse,
    and Jesse the father of David.

Salmon is almost always spelled this way (Σαλμὼν, Matthew 1:4) but sometimes Sala (Σαλὰ, Luke 3:30), which is also the Greek spelling of Shelah who was another ancestor (Luke 3:35). If there are no missing generations, then the jump from Salmon to Boaz would be more than one hundred years (depending on when in the period of Judges this story falls). Although this is not impossible, it seems likely that Nahshon was a grandfather to Salmon, or Salmon a grandfather to Boaz (or both).

From here, our author shows that he was living many years later, in the days of David’s kingship. If he had lived earlier, then there would be no reason to mention David, the youngest son of the obscure Jesse.

Sometimes it is maintained that this book asserts David’s right to sit on the throne of Israel, since foreign families are mentioned in the law: “The third generation of children born to them may enter into the assembly of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 23:8). However, that law excludes Moabite descendants “even down to the tenth generation” (Deuteronomy 23:3). So does that make David’s reign invalid? There are three factors to consider:

  1. Moses’ prohibition seems to apply to the Moabites and Ammonites of that generation, not to later ones, “for they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 23:4).
  2. No one contested David’s reign at all based on his parentage.
  3. Later kings had wives who were of foreign birth, and their first-generation sons were uncontested based on parentage. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was the son of an Ammonite women (1 Kings 14:21,31; 2 Chronicles 12:13).

Another point to consider in this genealogy is that there are ten names from Perez to David. Ten is a thematic numeral in the Bible quite often associated with completeness. Here the number is not actually referred to, so we should tread carefully, but the descent to David is clear. From David came the kings of Judah, and ultimately the King of kings, our Lord Jesus Christ. Ruth’s story has shown us a portion of Jesus’ story, which is the story of God’s love. It is the story of how God personally came down to earth, took on human flesh through this family line, and became the Redeemer of all mankind to rescue us from the impossible burden of our sins. Jesus our Redeemer gave us the certainty of eternal life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithPastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.


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