His name is...


Yep, we've gotten some looks of "Where in the world did you come up with than name?" and plenty of people saying, "Oh...that's an interesting name."

Where did the name come from?  Well the Bible of course.

From the book of Ruth to be specific.  If you aren't familiar with the story I'd suggest that you go and read the book of Ruth, it won't take long.  But I'll give you a short rundown of what occurs.

The account begins with Elimelech and his wife Naomi, who had moved to Moab while Israel was in the midst of a drought.  While they are there, their sons Mahlon and Chilion take Moabite wives; Mahlon marries Ruth and Chilion marries Orpah.

Then tragedy strikes; Naomi's husband Elimelech dies. Then both of her sons die.  So Naomi was left without her husband and sons, living in a foreign land, with only her daughters in law with her.  And remember that at this time women weren't able to work as they do now, they had few rights, and the prospects for a widow with no sons to support her were not good.

Knowing the rough road that lay ahead, Naomi decides to head back to her homeland of Bethlehem in Israel and also tries to convince here daughters in law to leave her and go back to their families.  Naomi urges them to go back to their home families, find new husbands, and not to worry about caring for her.  After some urging, Orpah leaves.  But Ruth will not.  She famously says, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

According tot he Levitical law, widows and orphans and those in legitimate need were able to glean from the fields whatever was left behind as the harvest took place.  This was a way in which God provided for those who were in need, but they still worked to receive the benefit.  So Ruth went out each day and gleaned from the fields. 

One day Boaz, a wealthy landowner and relative of Elimelech, saw Ruth working in the fields.  Seeing how hard Ruth was working, Boaz took notice of her and asked who she was.  Then he went to her and this exchange takes place...

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” 10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” 13 Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.”

Another Levitical law was that of "Kinsman Redeemer," in which when a woman is widowed the closest relative is to take her as a wife and after she gets pregnant and bears a son, that son is legally regarded as the son of the deceased father.  As Kinsman Redeemer Boaz would gain the property of Naomi, but would also be obligated to provide for both Naomi and Ruth and if Ruth should bear a son, the son would be regarded as a legitimate heir of Elimelech, therefore Boaz stood to gain absolutely nothing while taking on a great deal of responsibility.

In the end Boaz does indeed take Ruth as his wife and they have a son named Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David.  Yes, that David.  And from the line of David would come the true Kinsman Redeemer; Jesus Christ.

Boaz functions as a type of Christ.  The actions of Boaz point forward to the actions of Christ, who saw us in our pitiable place, had mercy on us, and took us as His own.  He gained nothing from it and gave everything.  Boaz typifies Christ as the groom to His people, the church.

Naomi, after Obed is born, praises God with these words that remind us of the great Redeemer Jesus; Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!  He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age.

So why did we name our son Boaz?  Because Boaz was a stand up dude.  And now I'm noticing an opportunity to tell the story of Christ when someone asks about the name or is unsure where it came from.

Some cool notes about the names in the book of Ruth.

Elimelech comes from the Hebrew EL and MELECH and means My God is king.
Naomi means "pleasantness" or "sweetness," though after her husband and sons had died she said not to call her Naomi, but instead Mara, which means "bitter."
Mahlon means "sickly" and Chilion means "wasting away."  Perhaps such uninspiring names are due to the being born in the midst of a drought.
Orpah comes either from the Hebrew for "Gazelle" or "Neck" as in "stiff necked."  It may be that because she didn't go with Ruth and Naomi, but remained devoted to her false gods that the name took on the meaning of "stiff necked."
Ruth seems to have a meaning of "female companion," which certainly would be fitting considering how she was a companion to Naomi and later as a wife to Boaz.
Bethlehem means "house of bread," which is ironic because Elimelech and his family left Bethlehem because of a drought.  However, it was in Bethlehem that the true Bread from Heaven came more than a thousand years later when Jesus was born there.
Obed seems to come from the Hebrew word for slave or servant.  Perhaps the parents wanted their son to have the willingness to serve others that Ruth and Boaz had both demonstrated, but I think the greater reason for the name is that the descendant of Obed, Jesus, would come to be the slave of all.

One more cool note about the name Boaz

When Solomon built the temple He named the two pillars "Boaz" and "Jachin."  I believe that these two pillars direct us forward to the true temple, Christ Jesus.
 Boaz becomes great grandfather to David and ancestor to the line of kings that follows.  Christ Jesus is the true King eternal and fulfillment of the promise of one who would come from David's line and rule forever.
Jachin was the head of priests in David's day.  Christ Jesus is the true High Priest who serves as intercessor for us and who has offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for us.


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