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Ruth: The Most Famous Adoption in the Old Testament

Written by Gary North on September 29, 2014

This is only book in the Bible that you can say is exclusively heartwarming.

The story of Ruth’s decision to accompany her mother-in-law back to Israel is the story of the biblical covenant. It is the story of a shift in allegiance: from the gods of Moab to the God of the Bible.

Back in 1954, the year that rock and roll first made its presence felt on Billboard‘s hit parade, there was a love ballad by Les Paul and Mary Ford. It was titled Whither thou Goest. It was short — eight lines, repeated twice. It was a reproduction of the most famous covenantal oath in the Bible, although millions of listeners may not have recognized this. This oath was an affirmation of what the lyrics identified as “love’s story long ago.” It was, indeed, but not in the way that the song implied. It was the love story between a daughter-in-law, her mother-in-law, and the God of them both.

The story of Ruth is the story of adoption. It was the story of inheritance. The model of inheritance was God’s adoption of Israel, as His bride (Ezekiel 16).

In the Bible, marriage is a form of adoption. The husband adopted his bride, who came into his house as his daughter, but also as his bride. This is why Boaz, who married Ruth, called her his daughter.

I explain this here.

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4 thoughts on “Ruth: The Most Famous Adoption in the Old Testament

  1. Phillip the Bruce says:

    Who was Ruth's mother-in-law? It's a trick question. Many people have heard of her first mother-in-law, Naomi, but don't remember that after Boaz married her she had a new mother-in-law – Rahab.

  2. Phillip the Bruce says:

    That's assuming, of course, that Rahab was still alive. Scripture does not say.

  3. I notice the song leaves out the "..and your God will be my God" part. That's the most important line in the text.

  4. Huh? I thought that a mother-in-law was a mother-in-law whether alive or not. Am I missing something?