Archive for February, 2014

Noahide Laws

The Babylonian Talmud (dated to 300 CE) lists seven laws which God gave to the Children of Noah (B’nei Noach):

Acknowledge that there is only one G-d who is Infinite and Supreme above all things. Do not replace that Supreme Being with finite idols, be it yourself, or other beings. This command includes such acts as prayer, study and meditation.

Respect the Creator. As frustrated and angry as you may be, do not vent it by cursing your Maker.

Respect human life. Every human being is an entire world. To save a life is to save that entire world. To destroy a life is to destroy an entire world. To help others live is a corollary of this principle.

Respect the institution of marriage. Marriage is a most Divine act. The marriage of a man and a woman is a reflection of the oneness of G-d and His creation. Disloyalty in marriage is an assault on that oneness.

Respect the rights and property of others. Be honest in all your business dealings. By relying on G-d rather than on our own conniving, we express our trust in Him as the Provider of Life.

Respect G-d’s creatures. At first, Man was forbidden to consume meat. After the Great Flood, he was permitted – but with a warning: Do not cause unnecessary suffering to any creature.

Maintain justice. Justice is G-d’s business, but we are given the charge to lay down necessary laws and enforce them whenever we can. When we right the wrongs of society, we are acting as partners in the act of sustaining the creation.

Reference:  Chabad Universal Morality

The Talmud states that the instruction not to eat “flesh with the life” was given to Noah, and that Adam and Eve had already received six other commandments.

Jewish scholar Maimonides (13th century) taught that gentiles may have a part in the world to come (Olam Haba) just by observing Noahide law.

But Jews are obligated to observe the whole Torah which is comprised of 613 commandments.

– Tom Irvine

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Naomi, Ruth & Boaz

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld: Ruth in Boaz's Field, 1828

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld: Ruth in Boaz’s Field, 1828

The Book of Ruth begins with the story of Elimelech who married Naomi.

They and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, moved from Bethlehem to Moab, because their was a famine in their homeland.

The sons married Moabite women.  One son married Orpah, and the other married Ruth.

Elimelech and his two sons died later. Naomi then decided to move back to Bethlehem. She told each of her daughters-in-law to return to her own mother’s home. Orpah did so.

But Ruth said “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s in Bethlehem, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.

Ruth went to glean ears of corn in Boaz’ field.

Gleaning was the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after the harvest.  In some cases, farmers would leave the corners of their fields unharvested for the benefit of the gleaners who were poor.
(Leviticus 19:9-10, Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:19

Boaz was kind to Ruth.

Ruth then returned to Naomi and gave her the barley that she had gleaned.

Naomi reminded Ruth that Boaz was their family goel.

The goel – sometimes translated kinsman-redeemer – had a specifically defined role in Israel’s family life.

· The kinsman-redeemer was responsible to buy a fellow Israelite out of slavery (Leviticus 25:48).

· He was responsible to be the “avenger of blood” to make sure the murderer of a family member answered to the crime (Numbers 35:19).

· He was responsible to buy back family land that had been forfeited (Leviticus 25:25).

· He was responsible to carry on the family name by marrying a childless widow (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).

Naomi instructed Ruth as to how to petition Boaz to exercise his responsibilities as her goel.

“In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.” And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do.”

Ruth followed this plan.

Now it happened at midnight that Boaz was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. And he said, “Who are you?” So she answered, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”  (Ruth 3:8-9)

But Boaz had a kinsman who a closer relative, or goel, to Ruth than himself. Boaz asked this kinsman to purchase or redeem a pracel of land which had belonged to Elimelech and that Naomi was selling.   This deal also required that the kinsman take Ruth as his wife to raise up children in behalf of Elimelech.

Boaz recognized that this kinsman had the first right to redeem the land and marry Ruth. But the kinsman declined. So Boaz himself redeemed the land and married Ruth.

Ruth and Boaz had a son Obed, who became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Our Savior Jesus Christ was a descendent of David. Jesus is sometimes referred to as the “Son of David.” (Matthew 1:1)

Boaz thus revived the name and seed of Elimelech who was dead.

Boaz foreshadowed Jesus Christ who has redeemed us from death with his blood atonement.

As Boaz married Ruth, Christ takes the church as his bride.

* * *

– Tom Irvine

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