Boaz was likely born to Salmon and Rahab during the years that Joshua led the conquest of Canaan. After Joshua and his contemporaries died, “another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel”. During the period of the Judges, “the Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshiped the Baals and abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt” (Judges 2:10–12, CSB).
It was during those dark days that the Bible’s favorite love story unfolds. Here’s the opening scene... “During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to stay in the territory of Moab for a while. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion” (Ruth 1:1–2, CSB).
The romantic story continued with a tragic interlude: “Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, died, and she was left with her two sons. Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth.” (Ruth 1:3–4, CSB).
Tragic circumstances continued as Mahlon and Chilion also died. This left three widows: Naomi and her two Moabite daughters-in-law. Orpah returned home to her family, but Ruth pledged: “Wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried” (Ruth 1:16–17, CSB).
With nothing to keep her in Moab, Naomi, with her faithful widowed daughter-in-law, returned to Bethlehem.
“Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side. He was a prominent man of noble character from Elimelech’s family. His name was Boaz” (Ruth 2:1, CSB).
In order to comprehend this love story, one must understand the laws pertaining to the land as a perpetual inheritance and the laws related to the family redeemer. (Read Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 25.) Under the Old Testament Law, a close family member was obliged to buy back a family member from debt-slavery and to restore ownership of the land to the family. Boaz was the close relative that served as the family redeemer.
It might have been love at first sight. It could be a Hallmark Movie... here’s the finale. Boaz purchased Elimelech’s land and rescued Naomi from poverty. Better yet, he fell in love with Ruth, the Moabite widow, and took her as his bride. Then they all lived happily ever-after. The end...
But there’s a catch! The Mosaic Law said, “No Moabite may enter the Lord’s assembly; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, may ever enter the Lord’s assembly... Never pursue (a Moabite’s) welfare or prosperity as long as you live” (Deuteronomy 23:3–6, CSB).
Boaz, the son of Salmon and Rahab, was a half-breed Hebrew/Canaanite. He married a Moabitess. So how in thunderation did Boaz and Ruth end up in the Lord’s genealogy?
You’ve got it! Grace!