Saturday, June 18, 2016

That Other Kinsman with the Shoe

As I return from the land of Israel, I am marveling at how my daily Bible reading has been matching up with what I just experienced while in the land.

Two things jump out.

First, a visit to Shiloh coincided with my reading of the account of Hannah, Samuel, and Eli the priest.  Having now seen Shiloh - the place where the miskhan (tabernacle) stood for 369 years, the passage has become much more vivid in my mind.  The rise of the prophet Samuel marks the end of the Shiloh tabernacle.

I just want to mention one thing about Shiloh before moving on to the second thing.  The spot where the tabernacle rested is surrounded by low mountains.  Pilgrims would offer their sacrifice and then eat their portion of the sacrifice on one of these hills, while looking at the mishkan.  Their pottery plates, oily from the meal, would then be broken on the site.  If millions of people broke pottery here every year for 369 years, you would expect to see evidence of pottery shards.  

And can we?  Yes!  They were EVERYWHERE on those hills... pottery shards from the time of the Judges.  I only had to stoop down and pick them up.  The crazy thing is, those shards could only be found on the side of the hills that were facing the mishkan.  The back side of those hills?  Not a single shard to be found.

Ancient pottery shards lying on the ground at Shiloh

The second thing to jump out for me is the story of Ruth, which is read in synagogues at Shavuot (which also coincided with our visit and with my own reading of Ruth).  Ruth is one of my favorite books of the Bible, so I happen to write about her often.  You can re-read my first post about Ruth here if you'd like.

There is one thing that has always stumped me in the story of Ruth.  What was with that other kinsman redeemer that was closer to Naomi's line than Boaz?  I had never given it too much thought before, but I was curious this time and asked the Lord to give me wisdom as I read through it.  The Lord did not disappoint... here is what He showed me.  It's quite simple, actually.

Someone else had a legal right to Naomi's family land and to Ruth.  Boaz was willing to be a redeemer, but he had to go through proper channels to ensure that his redemption of Ruth was legal.  

In the same way, all the earth is legally under the rule of the evil one, ever since the Garden of Eden.  The devil is the default.  Our Redeemer Yeshua, however, came and redeemed the world from sin and death legally, in a way that satisfied God's holy law.  He shed His blood for us to fulfill what is written. Leviticus 17:11 and Hebrews 9:22 show us that God's legal way of redemption for us is the blood of atonement.

It is interesting to note the custom of the shoe.  The close relative gave Boaz his sandal to confirm that he was giving up his rights to Ruth and to the land.  There is a custom in the Middle Eastern world regarding shoes.  To throw a shoe at someone is considered the WORST. POSSIBLE. INSULT. EVER. The bottom of the shoe is covered in dirt, and throwing a shoe at someone is like throwing dirt at them.  It is the ultimate in uncleanness.  Is there a connection somehow to that other kinsman?

Shoe-wielding protesters
We really don't relate to the shoe/insult custom here in the West.  But I find it interesting that there is another reference to the shoe in the scriptures.  Note the words of the Lord in Psalm 60 verse 8:
Moab is My washpot;
Over Edom I will cast My shoe.