The Blessing of Phares
Scripture - Ruth 4:11-22:Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
13So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
16Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
18This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, 19Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, 20Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 21Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, 22Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.
Issue: After Boaz had agreed to act as kinsman-redeemer for the family of Naomi and took Ruth as his wife it seems like an unusual blessing that was given to him by the “elders and those at the gate.” The blessing is given in verses 11 and 12. The first part, “May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem,” seems to be a pretty standard blessing. It is the second part of the blessing that draws curiosity, “Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.” Who is Perez? He is only mentioned a couple of times in the Bible. What great things did he do? Why offer a blessing like that of Perez, why not Abraham, Isaac or Jacob?
Before I get started it needs to be noted that Phares (KJV) is also spelled Perez in different translations. Granted, there is not a lot of information about Perez, son of Judah in the Bible, but, by putting the small pieces together I think we can understand that the blessing given to Boaz so that “his family may be like Perez” was really a great honor.
Background of Story
For a little background to the story, we find Judah, the son of Israel, in a predicament. The record of Judah is shown in Genesis 38, where in verses 1-5 we read of his first three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah. Judah's first born, Er, married Tamar. Er was wicked in the Lord’s sight and was put to death. Judah told his next son Onan to have a child with Tamar, but he refused and also died.
Next, Judah told Tamar to live as a widow until Shelah “grew up.” In the meantime Judah’s wife died also. When Tamar was told that Judah was coming near where she then lived, she disguised herself and acted as a prostitute. Judah fell for the trap and had intercourse with her. About three months later Judah was told that his daughter-in-law was guilty of prostitution and was pregnant. Judah said to “bring her out and have her burned to death,” although when Tamar showed him his own seal and staff Judah knew that he was the father and quickly changed his mind. Immediately, Judah’s spirit was crushed. He realized what he did, he repented and did not sleep with Tamar again (v. 26).
When the time came for Tamar to give birth there were twin boys. As she was giving birth, one of them put his hand out. The midwife quickly wrapped a scarlet thread about his wrist. Then, the hand was drawn back and the other child was born first. The one who was born first was Perez and his brother was named Zerah.
Perez is mentioned only a few more times in the Bible: Genesis 46:12, Numbers 26:20-21, Ruth 4:12, 1 Chronicles 2:4-5, 1 Chronicles 27:3 and Nehemiah 11:4 and 6. It is usually more just “in passing” or of a genealogical reference than anything else.
Let’s take a look at the name “Phares” itself and see if anything about the name stands out. We know that many of the names of the ancient Israelites had meaning. To do that, let’s do a gematria exercise on Phares.
In Hebrew the name is spelled Pei, Resh, Ayin. Numeric values are 80, 200, 70. By principles of gematria the value of this name is 350 (80+200+70) and the sum (using the small method) is 8 (3+5). The number eight is a significant number. It has a biblical meaning of “new beginning” or “super abundant” or “salvation.” Other words with a sum value of eight include Torah and YHVH. By principles of gematria we see that the name Phares had the same “sum” value as some very important names. This tends to indicate the Phares was significant himself. I don't use gematria to establish doctrine but is interesting to use to confirm the truths of the Bible. When we look at the name Phares we can relate it to the values for eight. For example, Phares, being the son of Judah was a critical element in the formation of the tribe of Judah, the Jews.
There are a few things we need to consider about him that can give us a clue into why “the blessing like Perez” was really a blessing.
It appears that Judah sincerely repented after birth of Perez and his brother. If this was the path for the rest of Judah’s life it could have bode very well for Perez as he was growing up.
Notice that his brother stuck his hand out first, yet Perez was actually born first. This shows that God wanted Perez to be born first. In other words Perez was the one that it was determined by God, would carry on the lineage of Judah. Perez was going to be in the direct family line of Jesus and God knew exactly who He wanted in that line.
Taking on the line of Judah was extremely important and a huge blessing. In Genesis 49 we read of the blessings to the 12 tribes of Israel. Reuben was the firstborn but he threw his chances away by having relations with his father’s concubine. Joseph, it would probably seem would be the next in line to receive the great blessing. After all, Joseph was a type of Jesus in many ways. Joseph did get a nice blessing. He got a double portion blessing of land. But the most honorable and esteemed blessing of all went to Judah. In Gen. 49:10 we read that “The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet until He comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is His.
Perez was the one who was to carry the line of Judah. The tribe of Judah is the only tribe that has kept their heritage. After all, how many times do you hear someone tell you that “I’m from the tribe of Simeon” or “Gad?” The other thing that was entrusted to the Jewish people was to keep the writings of the Tanakh, which they have done with uncanny accuracy.
The sons of Judah are mentioned three times in genealogical records: Gen. 46:12, Num. 26:20-21 and 1 Chr. 2:4-5. In all three instances all five of the sons are mentioned, but Perez is the predominant one as his, and only his sons, are mentioned as well.
The descendants of Perez were still around and accountable approximately 1,200 years after his birth. We read in Neh. 11:4 and 6 that after the Jewish people had returned to Jerusalem after being taken captive by the Babylonians that there were “468 able men,” who were descendants of Perez (time frame is approximately 510 B.C.) This, it would seem is not counting young boys, older men or women. The family of Perez had kept their identity.
Perez, was a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ. We do not know the reason for every ancestor of Jesus although with the information we do have about some of His ancestors I think we can rest assured that every link in the chain was there for a particular reason.
Perez was the individual who was to carry on the lineage of Judah. Judah had received a great blessing before Jacob’s (Israel’s) death. To tell a person that he should be “blessed like Perez” was a great honor as Perez was to continue the family line of Judah, after Judah’s three original sons and their wives had not bore offspring to continue the line.
I am sure that the “elders and the people at the gate” understood this blessing very well when they blessed Boaz. Although, there are times when God can cause humans to say things that they do not understand or even have a clue as to the importance of. For instance, when Boaz was blessed “as Perez” I don't know if the elders knew that Perez was not only carrying on the line of Judah but that he was also to be a part of the lineage of the Messiah, and I am sure they did not know that 1700 years later (or so) the Messiah Himself, Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus Christ would be born. To carry on the line of Jesus was the greatest blessing that could be bestowed to Perez.