Posts Tagged With: Pentecost

The Heart of Shavuot

Today on Renewed Radio

This morning, Dr. Deb Wiley and Kisha Gallagher spoke with special guest, Dr. Hollisa Alewine of The Creation Gospel about the heart of the Torah and Shavuot (Pentecost). Where does the idea of “fire” on Shavuot originate? How are fire and water related? What message are we to learn from the traditional seven ushpizin (guests) that visit with YHWH’s people as they sit in their sukkot, and how does this connect with Shavuot? All these questions are answered and much more on Hebrew Nation’s Renewed.

Chag Sameach!

Listen for free for one week on Hebrew Nation Radio’s podcasts:

http://hebrewnationonline.com/hebrew-nation-morning-renewed-6/

Categories: Creation Gospel, Moedim | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Know Your Place

The Spirit of Shavuot

After reading this past week’s Torah portion, B’midbar,[1] and celebrating the fourth Biblical festival of Shavuot (Pentecost), I began to think about our various “positions” before YHWH. The Mussar middah (character trait) humility has at its core the question of a person’s proper place. A balanced person neither thinks too highly of himself nor too lowly. Likewise, he or she doesn’t focus too much on self or on the faults of others. This sounds so simple, but the issue of humility is a great struggle for most of us. (Me included!)

signIn parsha B’midbar, YHWH described not only the placement of each individual tribe as they camped, but also outlined the order in which they would travel and go to war. The tribal leaders were named and the duties of the priests for the movement of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) were established. YHWH is very specific and organized. There was no question as to one’s duty or placement in the body of Israel. Today, instead of “knowing our place”, we seem to be all over the place in both physicality and deed; each thinking his way, interpretation, or understanding is higher or better.

This creates confusion, not unity. Instead of being united like the believers at Shavuot in Acts Chapter 2, we seem to be more scattered and divided like they were after Messiah’s last Passover and subsequent crucifixion. Using this as a model, we know that Yeshua’s desire was for them to come back together as one people at Shavuot. This is why the risen Messiah told them during the days of the Omer count to go to Jerusalem and WAIT for the promise of being “clothed with power from on high”.

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  (Luke 24:49 NASB. See also Acts 1:4)

We all know what happened next.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (Acts 2:1 KJV)

When we fully come into the Spirit of Shavuot, we know our proper estate. Can you even imagine how glorious the unity of the people was? Look at what their actions produced; it’s eerily similar to when God spoke the Ten Words to the people standing at the base of Mt. Sinai at an earlier Shavuot:

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  (3)  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  (4)  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4 KJV)

So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.  (17)  And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  (18)  Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.  (19)  When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. (Ex. 19:16-19 NASB)

YHWH descended Mount Sinai in fire at the giving of the Ten Commandments and the people trembled. Later He descended in fire again, but this time, instead of manifesting on a mountain, the fire sat upon the people. Like the mountain, the people were not consumed. In both cases, the Word of YHWH went forth like FIRE at the feast of Shavuot!

The people in each of the above examples were unified. I dare say that their theology was NOT what united them. It’s difficult to find two people that have the same opinion on any given matter. Jews have a saying to express this: “two Jews, three opinions”. So what did unite the people? Or better yet, what CAN unify us?

The two most memorable Shavuot festivals have at their heart two great leaders. And there is one trait that both are said to possess that I find most fitting for us to focus on within the theme of unity. Moses is called the most humble man on earth.[2] Later, the one like unto Moses[3] is also called humble.[4] By following Moses’ and Yeshua’s example, it’s not our theology and opinions that binds us into one accord. Rather, it’s our willingness to “know our place” or live in a state of humility.

The Humility of Shavuot

“Always seek to learn wisdom from everyone, to recognize your failings and correct them. In doing so you will learn to stop thinking about your virtues and you will take your mind off your friend’s faults.”Cheshbon ha-Nefesh by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Satanov.

If there is one thing that I notice more than anything on television, the blogosphere, and social media, it is that our focus is continually on the faults of others. I see very little introspection and meekness. As Rabbi Menachem mentions in the above quote, it is by seeking to learn wisdom from EVERYONE that we are enabled to really see our own failings and correct them.

Everyone? Even the heathen, pagan, atheist, and cult follower? Most would squawk that these lost souls have no wisdom. Is this true? The last time I checked, they too were made in the image of God. While they may need redemption, they too are a holy soul and YHWH cares greatly for them. Pride is what causes us to assume that we have nothing to learn from these precious ones.

But this is also true of those that we interact with from the redeemed. Just because Joe Schmoe doesn’t think, believe, or act out his walk with YHWH exactly like you do, doesn’t mean that you are better than him or that he doesn’t have something yet to teach you. Again, it’s PRIDE that keeps us from gathering together. I’ll give you an example from my own life.

Years ago, I was part of a congregation in FL. The local Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) church allowed us to meet in their building. I personally don’t think or believe like SDAs. Other than obeying the Sabbath, I thought I didn’t have much in common with these folks. One day, the SDA group asked us to join with them to break bread. To be honest, I didn’t really want to go. My prideful little self secretly thought, “What could they possibly teach me at this point?” I know you’ve never had a thought like that about a person or group, but I freely admit my debauchery to you anyway. 🙂

FootwashingLong story short, I went… begrudgingly. The meal was fine. It was more or less a communion service in their fellowship hall. Since I associate communion with Passover, I felt that the meal wasn’t quite “accurate”. (More pride.) Then something odd happened. The people rose from their seats and began to break off for a foot washing ceremony. Without anyone leading, spontaneous songs and hymns began to flow from the lips of these people. A sweet Spirit entered our midst and I think my mouth hung open, lol.

Married couples went to one room. Singles of the same sex went off into two other areas (children included). A sink and a stack of basins were in each room for us to gather water. One spouse sat while fresh, warm water was poured over the other’s feet. Song and praise continued to flow throughout the building. It was one of the most touching experiences I’ve ever had in my life. The water was just water, but it felt like SO much more than that.

It was SO much more than that! YHWH humbled me in a way that day that I will NEVER forget. Washing someone else’s feet is the epitome of humility. But I honestly believe it takes even MORE humility to have someone else wash YOUR feet.

Feet are the lowest part of our bodies. Since they are what touch the earth and because they are what carry our every weight and burden, they are likened to our nephesh (soul/flesh). They are our beast (of burden). And they get dirty. They, more than any other part of us, need frequent washings. You can walk around in the dirt all day and your hands can remain clean, but not your feet.

Some of you may know that I’m a licensed manicurist. I give pedicures (wash, clean, and manicure of the feet) all the time. I actually enjoy it. I consider it a privilege to care for a person in this way that is often difficult for them to do for themselves. But without soap, sweet ointments, or even toenail polish, the foot washing that I gave and received at that little SDA church has stood out as the best of the best.

Having my feet washed in the presence of YHWH and His people nearly overwhelmed me. The chip on my shoulder fell off the minute the water touched my toes. This is the Spirit of Shavuot. I wanted to separate myself out like the disciples did at Passover and Unleavened Bread, but Abba wanted me to humble myself and gather together with His people in one accord and one place.

Shavout isn’t about perfect doctrine or halachah. It is one of the pilgrimage feasts and as such, it is literally a FOOT festival. You must tame your feet and direct them to Jerusalem to receive the promise of the Father. The journey will make your feet both tired and dirty, but when you arrive, true disciples will be there with fresh water and songs of praise on their lips. Better yet, YOU will be there happy to wash the grime and mud off of your neighbor’s feet.

The heart of the commandments is LOVE. And there is no better way to express the love for your brother than to wash his feet. In a sense, this humble act says; let me wash the dirt from your lower nature. I know walking through life gets your soul muddy. I understand. I too, have a dirty nephesh. Let me refresh you. Allow me to care for you by meeting a need we all share regardless of our theology or lack thereof. I love you anyway. Let me learn something from you. You matter to me.

If we think about Moses and Yeshua, didn’t they do exactly this? Both dealt with imperfect and challenging people. Both humbled themselves and SERVED the people. They knew their place. Instead of calling fire down from heaven to destroy those with dirty feet, they tenderly washed the people.[5] The result was a fiery Word in the mouth of Israel.

Since Shavuot is about the Bride receiving her ketubah (Torah Covenant) and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, I thought it would be fitting to conclude with the words of Abigail, a bride of King David. Let’s see what wisdom this model bride can teach us:

woman-kneeling-in-prayerWhen the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they spoke to her, saying, “David has sent us to you to take you as his wife.” She arose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, Behold, your maidservant is a maid to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” (1Sam. 25:40-41)

Abigail was a humble bride; one any king would desire. She proved this through the selfless action of foot washing. Shavuot beckons us to ask: “What do I do with the feet of those I encounter? Do I step on their toes? Do I turn my nose up at their grime? Or do I bow down low and tenderly wash them clean?” May we become a maidservant like Abigail. When the King comes to take us as His Bride, may we know our place as ones who wash the feet of His servants!


[1] Numbers 1:1- 4:20. B’midbar literally means “in the wilderness”.

[2] Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth. (Num. 12:3)

[3] “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me [Moses] from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” (Dt. 18:15)

[4] “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mat. 11:29-30)

[5] Ex. 19:10-11; John 13:5-13

Categories: Moedim, Mussar, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

B’har

(Revised from 2013)

Mount Sinai summit view4

Lev. 25:1- 26:2

The name of this week’s portion is B’har. It literally means “on mount” or “on the mountain”; this is where YHWH spoke to Moses. This portion begins with the mitzvah of the Sabbatical years for the land and the counting of years until the Yovel or Jubilee year. This count is strikingly similar to the yearly counting of the Omer that leads to Shavuot (Pentecost). Both counts add up to 7×7 or 49 with the holy day proclaimed the next day (with Shavuot) or year (with the Yovel). Yovel’s 50 year cycle is a much larger picture of Shavuot’s 50 day cycle. While the counting of the Omer begins following the Sabbath after Pesach and culminates 50 days later at Shavuot in the spring months, the beginning count for the Sabbatical years that culminates with the Yovel (Jubilee) begins on Yom HaKippurim[1] (Day of Atonements) in the fall. [Lev. 25:9]

This “counting” connection between the Yovel and Shavuot is no coincidence. The Scriptures are almost begging us to ask more questions and mine out the answers. After a close inspection, a common theme begins to emerge from the excavation. That theme is FREEDOM. At first glance, Shavuot may not appear to contain the thematic element of liberty. After all, the direct commandments associated with Shavuot are linked to the wheat harvest and the waving of leavened loaves.[2] It commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai and our in filling of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Thus, we can see the relationship of liberty begin to emerge.

Pesach is well-known as the “Festival of our Freedom”. And it should be as it marks Israel’s undeserved redemption from slavery and oppression. However, we must not make the mistake of assuming that Pesach is the end of our journey or salvation. On the contrary, Pesach and our exodus from Egypt and all it represents is only the beginning of our “renewed life” with our Holy Redeemer. All the moedim (feast days) are intrinsically connected to one another and are designed to be recurring appointments or rehearsals with our Creator. They are guide posts that light our path as we follow the Mashiach. We have a weekly illumination in the Shabbat, a monthly light in the New Moon, 7 yearly celebrations in the moedim, 7 year markers in the Sabbatical years, and every half of a century we are released in the Yovel (Jubilee). Many believe that these “cycles” are Ezekiel’s great “wheel in the middle of a wheel“. I imagine them to be akin to the planets circling the sun, each on their own elliptical or the electrons encircling the neutron of an atom.

Shavuot is deeply connected to Pesach by way of the counting of the Omer. It IS the culmination of our freedom on Pesach. Ancient Israel, and we as their descendants, are not truly “free” until we receive the Torah. It is as it were, our ketuvah (wedding vows). The picture is repeated in the Brit Chadashah (N.T.). We are redeemed by YHWH’s unmerited favor (grace) by the blood of the Lamb, but then we are to wait (count) until the feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) to receive our instructions (Torah) and be filled with the Ruach HaKodesh in order to carry out our Master’s will. We must accept or say “I do” to the Covenant. We are set free from the bondage of sin and death (Egypt) so we can choose the easy “yoke” of the One True Master.

The Yovel (Jubilee) is like Shavuot but on a grander scale. In fact, if you read Leviticus 25 carefully, you will see that what the Sabbatical years and the Yovel actually proclaim is YHWH’s ownership of not only Israel (those that have entered into covenant with Him), but of the whole earth! Think about this for moment. Every 7 years the “land” is to remain fallow; it is a Sabbath for the LAND. If these “sabbaticals” are kept, it leads to the release of MAN. All debts are forgiven and all those found in bondage are released. Property reverts back to the original owner, because no one really owns the land but YHWH (Lev. 25:23). We are only stewards. This is another testimony that YHWH is the Master; we are the servants. No other celebration declares YHWH’s ownership of not only “us”, but of the “earth/land” more than the Yovel.

Ps. 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.

YHWH’s ownership makes Him our King and we are His subjects. Isaiah 61 speaks about the Yovel and its theme of freedom. Is it any wonder that Yeshua our Redeemer spoke these very words in Luke 4: 18-21?

Isa 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; (2) To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, (3) To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

I hope you noticed the agrarian imagery used by Isaiah in reference to us. Somehow, we are intrinsically linked to the “land”. And if we meditate on this for a while, we remember that mankind was birthed from the dust of the earth. This is why the Yovel deals so intimately with both mankind and the land. When we are obedient to the Covenant, the land produces abundantly. When we are disobedient it resists us. So much in fact, that if we remain in rebellion, the land eventually spits us out into exile and captivity (bondage). Certain sins directly affect the land such as incest, bestiality, offering your children to Molech [abortion], and homosexuality. (Lev. 18) Why? Because all these actions profane the name of YHWH. They are the opposite of His character.

If our obedience proclaims His ownership and Kingship, then these sins are in reality proclaiming a false deity (HaSatan). We are currently in the Omer count leading to Shavuot. As we count, we should be reminded of the Shemitah (7 year Sabbatical year) and its count to our great release in the Yovel. Our thoughts should be on the King and His Kingdom and not on our own selfish desires and lusts. Our desire should be to march with perseverance toward a more obedient lifestyle. This will not “redeem” our souls, but it will bless our lives. (Remember the picture from paragraph 5?) If we are the King’s subjects, then we must walk and live by the decrees of the Kingdom (Torah); this shows us to be true followers.

John 15:8-10 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (9) “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. (10) “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

Lessons from the Hebrew Pictographs

The Yovel (Jubilee) begins with a loud shofar blast on Yom Kippur. Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew defines Yovel as trumpet, cornet, ram’s horn, horn, ram’s, and Jubilee (as marked by blowing of horns). Literally, this special holy day that comes only once every 50 years is named for the instrument in which it is announced.[3] What is the trumpet blast to remind us of? Once again we see a connection with Shavuot. At the original exodus, the children of Israel traveled for about 50 days until they reached the base of Mt. Sinai (at Shavuot). When YHWH gave the 10 Words (Ten Commandments), He told Israel:

Ex. 19:13 “Not a hand is to touch it, but he shall certainly be stoned or shot with an arrow, whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, let them come near the mountain.”

The Hebrew word for trumpet in this verse is not shofar or a Ram’s horn, but yovel. As a side note, it is important to know that many of the Sages believed that the Yovel was simply another name for a ram’s horn or shofar; in fact, we see the word yovel translated as such throughout the Tanakh. In Hebrew, yovel consists of a yod, bet, and a lamed. The last two letters, bet and lamed, form the Hebrew root word “val” that means ‘to flow’. It has the idea of the flowing of any substance. (i.e. imagine uncorking a bottle of oil and releasing its contents to flow forth; the flow of the oil coming out is “val“) Since the flow of something is often also the emptying of a container, val also means to come to nothing, flowing away, or none.[4]

The first letter, yod, means the hand, a deed, or work. If we put these two pictographs together from the word Yovel, we get “the hand or deed that causes release. This a perfect picture of the function of the biblical Jubilee or Yovel. Remember how we discussed that the theme for both Shavuot and Yovel was FREEDOM or liberty? The Hebrew word for liberty is “deror”. It is used in several passages that speak about the Jubilee, including Isaiah 61. As we’ve just seen, Yovel is also a release (of those in bondage).

While in Hebrew these two words are not etymologically related, their meaning or function most certainly is. Both yovel (Jubilee) and deror (liberty) come from root words that carry the idea of a substance that is free-flowing, like a release of fluid, sound, or the abstract “freedom”. We use this very imagery in English when we sing “Let Freedom Ring!” The sound waves flow forth like the yovel blast. All of this speaks to a build up of pressure just before the “release”. In other words, there is a FORCE behind our release! (The Holy Spirit!)

When the time on YHWH’s calendar is just right … BAM! In my opinion, the fact that these two words are often used in conjunction and that they have similar meanings only adds to the significance of the flow of freedom. When man is free to move about or FLOW without the restraint of sin and bondage, only then can (s)he truly be free to seek and follow the King of Heaven and Earth. The flow or sound waves created by the shofar announce the return of our King and our complete redemption. May we have ears to hear it!


[1] Creation Gospel Students should make the connection immediately. All the moedim find their source in the 4th branch, the festival of Shavuot. The Day of Atonements is the epitome of a “clean slate”; therefore, it is quite fitting that the Yovel (Jubilee) begins at this crucial point. This day is ruled by the Spirit of Daat, the knowledge of sacrificial love. What better picture of this loving knowledge is there than a “return”? How many of us fantasize about going back and doing things all over again —- but this time better? This is the Yovel. (Lev. 25:10, Neh. 1:8-9, Is. 44:21-22)
[2] Interestingly, Shavuot’s wave offering is the ONLY offering in the entire feast and sacrificial system where “leavening” is not only allowed, but commanded. (Lev. 23:17) Is this not a picture of us? We ARE what is leavened.
[3] Likewise, this is the case for Yom Teruah or the Feast Day of Blowing (Trumpets).
[4] Some further Scripture examples are Isa.53:7 Isa.55:12 Jer.31:9.
Categories: Moedim, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Biblical Role of Women Part VI

Role of Women Main Page 

Please see Part I, II, III, IV, and V for the best context.

Ruth

There is only one woman in the Bible that is specifically called an eshet chayil. That woman is Ruth, the Moabitess. If it has been a while since you’ve read the book of Ruth, please take the time right now to read its four short chapters. This will refresh your mind about the context of her extraordinary life.

“Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence (eshet chayil). (Ruth 3:11)

The book of Ruth may be a small book, but it has great significance for people of faith. There are many thematic nuggets we could explore within its few pages. The following list is only a sample.

  • Integrity & Kindness
  • Protection & Prosperity
  • Repentance & Redemption
  • The Feast Cycle (harvests)
  • Torah of Widows/Poor & Kinsmen Redeemer
  • Torah for Strangers/Sojourners (They also are in Covenant)
  • The Lineage of King David & Messiah Yeshua
  • Blessings over Children
  • Return from Exile & Restoration
  • Allusions to Wedding Feast of the Lamb

Ruth-Wordled-ESVWith all these rich themes, is it any wonder that the Book of Ruth is read during YHWH’s feast of Shavuot (Pentecost)? Creation Gospel students will recognize the significance immediately: Shavuot falls on the central (main) branch of the menorah. As such, it encompasses the whole. Shavuot stands as the “servant” to all the other moedim (feasts). A careful read of Ruth will demonstrate this fullness. We will try to stay focused only on those themes that directly link Ruth to an Eshet Chayil. With so many treasures in this book, that is going to be difficult!

What’s in a Name? רוּת

The meaning of Ruth (Rut) is usually referred to as a friend. But, the Hebrew root for Ruth is the word for shepherd or to tend a flock. It has the idea of a neighbor or companion, often an intimate companion.

If we stop and consider Ruth’s story, we can deduce that she was indeed a shepherdess of Israel. It is her lineage that birthed King David and Messiah Yeshua, both of whom were notable shepherds. When we think of the relationship that a shepherd has with their sheep, this notion becomes even more apparent. A (good) shepherd guards, feeds, and leads their flock. They are willing to seek out the “lost” and they will fight against dangerous predators. This sounds like the traits of an ezer or an eshet chayil, does it not?

Ruth is the only woman to receive the title eshet chayil by name in scripture. She received this designation BEFORE she was a mother and while she was a poor destitute widow, and a stranger (alien) in Israel. Ruth forsook her birth place and family to join with the God of Israel and His people. Once she made this commitment, she never wavered. Her diligence caught the attention of a wealthy relative — one that could change her and her mother-in-law’s life. That relative was Boaz. It was he that declared that Ruth was an eshet chayil.

RuthAndNaomiThe circumstances surrounding this encounter and proclamation however, are quite risqué. Naomi instructs Ruth in a secret seduction plan to attract Boaz. Both Ruth and Naomi were already aware that Boaz favored Ruth. This could be seen when Boaz told Ruth to only glean from his fields[1]. Naomi, the admitted bitter woman, wanted to secure the future of her beloved daughter-in-law. The favoritism that Boaz showed Ruth must have provoked Naomi’s heart to “push/guide”[2] Boaz to do the right thing—– offer them redemption.

ruth boaz2But Naomi’s plan was anything but orthodox. Ruth risked her reputation and future by approaching Boaz in the middle of the night. Her actions were a reversal of cultural norms. Ruth pursued Boaz. It is usually the man that pursues the woman, even in today’s world. Essentially, she got all dolled up and offered herself to Boaz in a secret proposal.

It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” Then he said, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence –eshet chayil. (Ruth 3:8-11)

Boaz knew exactly what Ruth was asking of him. Perhaps he had already considered proposing to Ruth. However, what Naomi and Ruth did was courageous and Boaz knew it. This is why he calls her an eshet chayil. She was not only an upright woman in the eyes of the people and YHWH, but she was willingly to battle (in her own feminine way) for what she desired.

I believe Ruth’s brazenness only added fuel to the fire of Boaz’s growing fascination for her. He could clearly see her attentiveness in the care of her mother-in-law. It takes a special kind of woman to CHOOSE to care for a bitter person. He could also see her strong work ethic. She was driven and steadfast. These things revealed Ruth’s heart. And when Ruth came to Boaz in the night —— well, let’s just say that the depth of her passion was revealed. Boaz probably couldn’t wait to become her husband!

The very next day Boaz seeks out the one person who could thwart their plans — a kinsmen that was closer to Naomi by blood than he was. But when this other man discovers that he will not only have to redeem the land but also marry Ruth, he concedes to Boaz. I imagine that Boaz was rejoicing on the inside at this news.

ruth boazTake note of the process Boaz goes through to acquire Ruth. He scrupulously follows the Torah (instructions/law) of YHWH. In other words, unlike fallen Adam, Boaz puts YHWH before the woman. As much as he may desire her, he faithfully obeys the proper course of action. Boaz was functioning in his “redeemed” purpose. And by the looks of things, he had no problem with allowing Ruth to function in her purpose as ezer. He realized that he had found an eshet chayil!

An eshet chayil, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. (Pr. 31:10)

While all this is true, Ruth’s actions and intentions could be distorted very easily. Based on some carefully placed Hebrew idioms, there are those that have concluded that Ruth’s actions were anything but holy when she approached Boaz in the middle of the night. Was Ruth acting as a righteous woman or a harlot in this scene? There is a fine line to consider when it comes to discerning her role. Please ponder on the thoughts of Dr. Hollisa Alewine on this matter.

“Feet in Scripture are sometimes used as a euphemism for genitals. To lie with a man can also be used as a euphemism for intercourse. Spreading one’s skirt over a woman carries the same implication. Lest we think Ruth was inviting something improper, be assured that sometimes a foot is just a foot! The duality and ambiguity of the expressions is what is important because it inserts the question mark as to Ruth’s virtue. Boaz clearly vindicates her righteousness, and the people and elders at the gate affirm it.”[3]

The duality that Dr. Alewine brings up is an often overlooked theme in the Scriptures. There are many cases where the actions of a righteous person appear to be portraying the contrary. Generations before Boaz, Judah is placed in a similar situation with a woman from Canaan[4].

Ruth, Tamar, and Rahab

When Boaz was at the city gates before the elders claiming his right of redemption for Naomi and Ruth, the elders blessed Boaz’s obedience.

All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. “Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.” (Ruth 4:11-12)

The elders draw our attention back to Boaz’s forefather, Judah. What is so reflective about the people’s blessing is that Tamar, like Ruth, sought redemption from her kinsmen. But Judah refused to give her what was rightfully hers. If you will recall, Tamar had married two of Judah’s sons but they died before producing an heir. Judah promised his youngest son to Tamar when he came of age. However, when the time came, Judah didn’t keep his promise. Tamar ended up tricking or manipulating Judah to get him to do what he should have done all along: obey God’s Word.

tmarTamar accomplished her kinsmen redemption by deceiving Judah. She dressed up as a prostitute and seduced him. Later, when Judah learned she was pregnant, he wanted to have her burned alive. However, when she proved that Judah was the father of her growing womb —- he declared her more righteous than himself. As a result, Tamar secured the lineage of the Tribe of Judah. It is through the line of Tamar’s firstborn, Perez, that Boaz, Oved, Jesse, David, and eventually the Mashiach (Messiah) would come.

It came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was named Perez. Afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah. (Gen. 38:27-30)

Thus far, we have uncovered two women in the ancestry of Mashiach (Messiah) that have questionable identities. And the book of Ruth points to both. This dichotomy between a harlot and a righteous woman runs deeper still. There is another harlot/righteous woman in Mashiach’s line: Rahab.

rahabRahab was an Amorite of the city of Jericho. She was an innkeeper and a supposed prostitute that had heard great stories about the God of Israel. When the Israeli spies came to her city, she placed her allegiance with them and YHWH by helping the spies escape safely. When the Israelites came back to take Jericho, she let down a scarlet cord from her window. The men of Israel recognized this sign and she and her family were spared. They joined Israel as sojourners. Later, Rahab marries an Israelite named Salmon, who became the father of Boaz[5].

Now we have found three women connected to the Book of Ruth and the Messiah that appeared to be doing the actions of a harlot. Yet, we know that in the end they are each really righteous. Since we have already explored this same dichotomy of a harlot and a righteous woman (wisdom) in the Book of Proverbs, a question arises.

What is YHWH teaching us in this duality? Dr. Alewine has this to say:

“Because the Revelation harlot is a woman, and perhaps because it is too easy to dismiss a troublesome woman with bad names or a bad reputation, we would do well to study the foundational roles of women in the Torah. Sometimes a troublesome woman who appears to be a harlot is a virtuous woman [eshet chayil] led by the Holy Spirit, she guides [ezer] men who stray back into the straight path.”[6] [brackets and bolding are mine]

Stay tuned. In Part VII, I hope that we can bring all these revelations together and make them applicable to our lives today.

 


 

 

[1] Read all of Ruth 2.

[2] I hope you didn’t miss that these are the actions of an ezer and an eshet chayil.

[3] Alewine, Hollisa, PHD, The Scarlet Harlot & The Crimson Thread. London, KY: The Creation Gospel Publishing, 2012, p. 162.

[4] This is speaking of Tamar. Though the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that she was from Canaan, the majority of scholars and commentators deduce that this was indeed the case. Judah himself married a Canaanite woman and had a Canaanite friend. This and the fact that Judah was most likely residing in Canaan, all point to Tamar’s Canaanite ancestry. (Gen. 38)

[5] Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. (Mt. 1:5)

[6] Alewine, Hollisa, PHD, The Scarlet Harlot & The Crimson Thread. London, KY: The Creation Gospel Publishing, 2012, p. 54.

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