Jesus – the name of the King in Ruth


ruth2magnifyingglass 2The book of Ruth, like the first book of Samuel, joins the period when Israel was a tribal family, the age of the Judges, to the period when they where a unified kingdom under the proto-type messiah, the three times anointed King David. The book starts with 12 tribes, a famine and no king.

house 2The first character we meet in the book is called “Elimelek” which means “God is my King”…his name is almost like a prayer which gets answered in this man’s own extended family, so the very last name in the book of Ruth, in fact the very last word is “David”, the model for the coming King who is/was God. The book ends with a king, prosperity and one nation in view.

There is some beautiful typological symbolism in Ruth, but that is for another post. Here I want to highlight something a bit suprising. The last chapter of Ruth introduces us to David but never explicitly calls him King, but the first chapter of Ruth does name the desired king, not as “David”, the shadow, but as “Jesus” the substance that this beautiful romance is really all about.

It’s one of those hidden, cryptic references, but once you see it, it couldn’t be clearer.

Hidden in the text, spaced out at every 12 letters, perhaps because there where 12 independent clans in the tribe at this point, we find the sentence:

“The Appointed King, Jesus”

The table below shows you the text and highlighted letter. Write down the letters as you come to them left-to-right and then read them as a Hebrew right-to-left.

Ruth chapter 1 - starting in the 4th word from the right, every 12th letter spells השת מלכ ישוע
.... said "HaShait Melek Yshua"...
Or in English:
"The Appointed King, Jesus"
1:6dYHWH had visited his people in giving them bread.
מואב כי–פקר יהוה את–עמ:ו ל:תת ל:הם לחם
1:7aShe went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her;
ו:תצא מן–ח:מקום אשר היתה–שמ:ח ו:שתי כלתי:ה עמ:ה
1:7band they went on the way to return to the land of Judah..
ו:תלכנה ב:דרך ל:שוב אל–ארץ יהודה
1:8aNaomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house
ו:תאמר נעמי ל:שתי כלתי:ה לכנה שבנה אשה ל:בית אמ:ה יעשה

So what should we make of this…

…I found this in a Bible Code book and some of you will be aware that Bible code techniques have been refuted by statistician’s who say people can find what they want in any text… this is true of the way that people use the techniques to find modern references for the simple reason that with a fixed alphabet, enough letters and an endless supply of possible news stories you can always find a reference to something going on by using the habit of looking for words spaced out in the Bible or almost any other religious text.

But this is not that!

Because here we are restricting our consideration to the appearances of the name “Jesus” (or the title “Messiah”…) in addition I tend to restrict myself to significant spacings, Bible code software allows you to scan hundreds or even thousands of spacings at a time. But the number 12 in this case seems significant because it is connected to the narrative as the number of tribal divisions of Israel at this time.

Finally the phrase “The appointed King” is related to the context of the narrative in the plain textual reading, the whole book of Ruth is about leading us to the appointed king’s name, “David” in history, “Jesus” for eternity.

Vital Statistics:

So lets consider this sentence fr0m a statistical point of view… I’m an amateur when it comes to statistics so these will be approximate figures, some of my amateur assumptions will push the figures up and some down:

  1. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet and there are 4 Hebrew letters in Jesus’ name, “ישוע”. So the chances of picking 4 random letters and them spelling “Jesus” are approximately 224 to 1 against, (I’ve ignored considering individual letter frequency for simplicity).  That is you would expect “Jesus” to appear once for every 234256 times you pick four random letters.
  2. There are 1196922 letters in the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament. So we would expect for any specified gap in the letters, that “Jesus” would appear 5 times by chance in any given gap, be the gap every other letter right up to and over fixed gaps of 100 plus letters.
  3. Plus, because Hebrew reads right-to-left i.e the opposite to English, but these phrases cross over sentences that appear in the same order as English, we might double our expectation to allow Jesus’ name to be read in either direction i.e. right-to-left or left-to-right. So in fact we would expect to find “Jesus” twice as often i.e. 10 times for each letter gap we allow ourselves to search not just 5.
  4. There are about 20 numbers that we might consider pretty significant spacings i.e 2-6 because spacing would be close, 7-8 because there number have connections to God and Jesus respectively, 10 for obvious reasons, 12 as above is significant, 22 because there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, 49-50 because of Jubilee connections plus some others that might be relevant in a specific context or because they combine two numbers that have symbolic meanings i.e multiples of 7.

Adding up the above criteria we would expect to find about 200 stand-alone hidden references to Jesus using a Bible code style search of the Old Testament simply because probability predicts this. At that type frequency I would still be interested as to where each of these occurred, just as I am interested in when Jesus name occurs as a word “salvation” or “deliverance” in the Hebrew text. They speak to me as a believer but don’t convince the sceptics.

But now lets think about what makes an occurrance of Jesus more significant and by the same token far less likely to occur by accident.

  1. The addition of extra letters that form extra words that make a meaningful phrase. Just a few extra letters cause the likelihood of a phrase appearing by accident to crash through the floor. Consider the example above, there are 6 extra letters involved here, the chances of a specific sequences of 6 letters occurring by accident would reduce the probability of finding the complete statement by a factor of 226, that is over 113 million times less likely than “Jesus” appearing on it’s own.
  2. Of course there are multiple other combinations of six Hebrew letters that could go with Jesus’ name so being generous lets assume there are 2000 combinations of 6 letters that would form a phrase  with “Jesus”, that gives us a chance of finding such a phrase anywhere in the Bible of 200 /65000 to 1 against, less that one chance in 325 whole but different bibles. A probability of 0.003.
  3. To make things even less likely we have the fact that the phrase doesn’t just make logical sense, it also makes sense of it’s context. Allowing maybe a 1 in 50 chance that a random phrase that includes Jesus name appears in a passage that describes a context for the phrase and you can see the Bible would need to be 1125 times longer than it is for this to happen just once by chance. And as we shall see it happens more than once.

Putting the above altogether you can see why it is worth highlighting these hidden phrases. We shouldn’t overstate their significance, but those who don’t believe in the centrality of Jesus to all YHWH’s communication with humanity do need to explain them

Christen Forster

Christen Forster is widely recognised as an original Bible teacher who brings people into a love of and confidence in scripture.

Christen has planted churches, been a youth worker, mission administrator and church leaders. The author of several books, Christen is now an itinerant minister, helping churches to step into a more deliberately spiritual experience of the Christian life while at the same time firmly rooting their practice in scripture.

© 2000 - 2023 Christen Forster
Christen Forster

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