Ruth 4:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 4:17, NIV: The women living there said, 'Naomi has a son!' And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth 4:17, ESV: And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth 4:17, KJV: And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth 4:17, NASB: And the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, 'A son has been born to Naomi!' So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ruth 4:17, NLT: The neighbor women said, 'Now at last Naomi has a son again!' And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.

Ruth 4:17, CSB: The neighbor women said, "A son has been born to Naomi," and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

What does Ruth 4:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

As Naomi holds her grandson in her lap, her friends worship God and give the boy a name with an ambiguous meaning. Some sources say it means "worshipper" while others say it means "servant." Either is appropriate; the women worship God because Obed will serve Naomi in her old age.

The story is about Naomi, so questions abound. Did Naomi raise him as her son? Did Naomi and Obed live in a separate house, or did they live with Boaz and Ruth? Did Boaz have other sons to inherit his significant estate? Did Ruth have other sons to care for her? The records in 1 Chronicles don't mention other sons (1 Chronicles 2:12) but perhaps the passage is just about David's line. If there were no other sons, Obed would inherit all Elimelech's and Boaz's property even if he was raised as Elimelech's son.

The storyline isn't about the inner workings of ancient Hebrew inheritance law. It's about God's covenant faithfulness to a widow of Israel. And yet, the possible "greater purpose" is revealed here and in the next few verses.

Obed eventually married and had a son named Jesse. Jesse raised sheep around Bethlehem. He had eight sons and two daughters (1 Chronicles 2:12–16; 1 Samuel 16:10–11; 17:12). Three of his sons served in King Saul's army and were present when Goliath challenged the Israelites (1 Samuel 17). It was Jesse's youngest son, David, who defeated Goliath. Years later, David became king (2 Samuel 2:1–4; 5:3).

Boaz is descended from Perez, the son of Judah (Ruth 4:18–21). Before Jacob died he prophesied that Judah would rule over his brothers (Genesis 49:9–12). Israel's first king, Saul, was from the tribe of Benjamin. Scholars think Samuel drafted the book of Ruth. That would suggest that it is more than a sweet story, more than a romance, even more than an account of God's care for a destitute widow. It's possible Samuel used storytelling to legitimize David's kingship over Saul's.

For us, it means even more. Centuries later, two of David's descendants became the adoptive father (Matthew 1:6–16) and the mother (Luke 3:23–31) of Jesus. Naomi, who returned to Bethlehem with nothing (Ruth 1:20–21), raised a child born in the line of her Messiah.

It is also interesting to note that Boaz's mother was Rahab (Matthew 1:5), a Gentile from Jericho who saved the Israelite spies and then became part of the Israelite community (Joshua 2; 6). The reality that salvation is for both Jew and Gentile is hinted at even in the genealogical line of Jesus (Galatians 3:8–9), and particularly in Boaz.