Chiasm in Ruth

Chiasm in Ruth

Just spotted this via Discerning ReaderChiastic structure of Ruth. Stuff like this makes me go all tingly – the beauty of the text.

A (1:1-5) Emptied: family/home/provision; lost husband and 2 sons; no future; this section contains 71 words in Hebrew

B (1:6-22) Hopeless widows go back to Bethlehem; 1 gone (Orpah); 2 committed (Naomi, Ruth)

Sub-chiasm in Chapter 1:
a (6-7) First steps back to Judah where God has provided

b (8-13) Naomi persuades her daughters-in-law to leave; Naomi is bitter

c (14a) Orpah leaves, tearfully parted because of “death” (nonbinding choice)

Lesson: You either give up in hard times or recommit to the Lord and his unseen providence

c’ (14b-17) Ruth recommits “till death do us part” (Gen. 2:24) (binding choice)

b’ (18-21) No more persuading, but Naomi is still bitter

a’ (22) Last steps, arriving at Bethlehem for the harvest

C (2:1-23) Setting: beginning of harvest. Issue: immediate provision (see Deut. 24:19-22)
Ruth leaves Naomi; Ruth’s request; Boaz shows concern/generosity; Ruth returns to Naomi

Chapter 2 is a sub-chiasm:
a (1-3) Introducing Boaz, the channel of God’s grace

b (4) Gracious, kind greeting by Boaz: “Yahweh be with you!”

c (5-7) Ruth identified by the head worker and her extraordinary request for grace

d (8-10) Ruth’s question: “Why have I found grace?”

d’ (11-13) Boaz’ answer: “God is repaying your faithfulness and your faith.”

c’ (14-16) Boaz’ extraordinary invitation and Ruth’s protection from the other workers

b’ (17) Ruth, recipient of Boaz’ generosity: Yahweh was with her

a’ (18-23) Ruth recounts how Boaz was the instrument of God’s grace

Central Focus: Present blessing by God, Boaz (2:18-23); future blessing by God thru Boaz (3:1-5)

C’ (3:1-18) Setting: end of harvest. Issue: longer-term provision (see Deut. 25:5-10)
Ruth leaves Naomi; Ruth’s proposal; Boaz shows concern/generosity; Ruth returns to Naomi

Chapter 3 is a sub-chiasm:
a (1-2) Naomi wants Boaz to be Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer

b (3-5) Naomi’s plan for Ruth to lie secretly at Boaz’ feet

c (6-9) Ruth carries out Naomi’s plan; proposes levirate marriage to startled Boaz

d (10) Boaz praises Ruth for not being impatient for a husband

d’ (11) Boaz: praises Ruth as a woman of character

c’ (12-13) Boaz agrees to Naomi’s plan; startles Ruth with fact of a closer kinsman

b’ (14-16) Boaz wants to keep their meeting a secret (to protect Ruth’s good name)

a’ (17-18) Ruth reports to Naomi that Boaz has agreed to be kinsman-redeemer

B’ (4:1-12) Hopeful widows taken care of in Bethlehem; 1 gone (kinsman); 2 committed (Boaz, Ruth)

Sub-chiasm in Chapter 4:
a (1-2) Elders as witnesses

b (3-4) Offer to redeem by buying land by unknown kinsman

c (5-6) Reality of wider responsibility (legalities involved in a deal)

d (6) Redeem it for yourself

Lesson: You either back off from a short-sighted deal or commit to the whole package of responsibilities

d’ (8) Buy for yourself

c’ (9) Sealing agreement as covenant (legally binding deal)

b’ (9-10) Choice to redeem by buying, etc. by Boaz

a’ (11-12) Elders and other witnesses

A’ (4:13-17) Filled: family/home/provision; Ruth better than 7 sons; Obed; great future; part contains 71 words in Hebrew

Epilogue: (4:18-22) Tracing the family tree of the clan of Perez to King David. Boaz has the honored 7th position.

Source: A. Boyd Luter and Richard O. Rigsby, “An Adjusted Symmetrical Structuring Of Ruth,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Volume 39, No. 1 (March 1996), pp. 16-29

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