Ruth 4:18-22 – David’s Genealogy


Ruth 4:18-22


The book of Ruth ends with these 4 short verses giving the genealogy of King David.


Often readers are tempted to skip over genealogies because they seem fairly boring and routine. But quite often important information about the identity of the final person in the genealogy is contained in the list of names. In this case, 3 names are very important. The 1st name is Perez, who was the eldest son of Tamar by Judah. Tamar’s story, told in Genesis 38, bears many similarities to the Book of Ruth. Tamar, like Ruth, is a foreign woman looked on with suspicion. Tamar also risks her reputation and even her life to fight for the right to have a child and thus continue the line of her dead husband.

The 2nd important name is Boaz, the central male character in the book. He, like Judah in Genesis 38:26, recognizes Ruth as a worthy woman (Ruth 2:11-12; 3:10-11). These names, Perez and Boaz, tie this genealogy to the earlier account of Tamar and Judah, another story of righteous persistence that led to the birth of a child and a continuation of Judah’s line.

The 3rd and most important name in the genealogy is that of David, the future king. David is the king promised by God. The people come to believe not only in the importance of David himself, but also in the importance of David’s line leading ultimately to a messiah, an “anointed one.” The genealogy points back to the beginning of the book, to the time of Judges in which there was not a king to stem the rise of unbridled selfishness. It then points forward to the birth of the Messiah. A version of this same genealogy, which also mentions both Tamar and Ruth, is included in the broader genealogy that is found at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew (1:1-17).This genealogy is way more than a tag-on at the end of the book.  Genealogy is always about establishing family and connections.  So this specific genealogy is breath-taking in its implications. Implied is that this child is go’el to more than just Naomi.  This mixed-blood child becomes go’el for the community.  This child is called Obed (“servant”).  He becomes the father of Jesse who becomes the father of David.  The implications are thus clear. Without family redefined, there can be no promised future for the nation, no messianic promise for the world.  The salvation of the world depends upon this redefined notion of family that celebrates the inclusion of a foreign enemy, an immigrant widow as daughter-in-law, wife, and finally mother.