One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”“I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked.“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”“The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town.When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.~Ruth 3:1-18
As widows, Naomi and Ruth lived a difficult life. In their time, widows were often ignored and lived in poverty. When Naomi hears of Boaz’s kindness to Ruth and realizes that he is a close relative, she decides to help Ruth. Naomi cares about Ruth. If they can convince Boaz to marry Ruth, she will be provided for and will no longer have to work in the fields.
What trust Ruth has in Naomi. As a foreigner it is likely she was unfamiliar with Jewish customs and the idea of a kinsman-redeemer. But she listens to Naomi and determines to do everything she says.
Naomi’s instructions may seem very strange to us. Why did she instruct Ruth to lay at Boaz’s feet? Ruth’s actions with Boaz in this passage were not seductive. Rather, by asking Boaz to spread the corner of his covering over her she asks him to marry her. When a man threw his covering over a woman, he showed that she was now under his protection as his wife. This signified a marriage proposal.
By her action, Ruth let Boaz know that he was an eligible family redeemer for her. According to Jewish law, a man’s inheritance and property passed down to his sons. Wives could not inherit directly from their husbands unless it was a gift and they had no children. Naomi could not inherit from her husband because they had two sons. While her sons could have gifted their property to their wives, they apparently made no such provision so both Ruth and Naomi were without property or means to support themselves.
To protect the widows and the family inheritance, the law provided the opportunity for a family redeemer. If a man died without children, his brother or another close male relative could choose to marry his widow and give her children to receive the inheritance. This provided for the widow and kept the property in the deceased man’s family.
Ruth and Naomi realized that Boaz could potentially be their family redeemer, taking ownership of the family property and providing for Ruth as her husband~even eventually giving her children to receive the inheritance.
What a beautiful example of our own love story with God. We were widows~separated from God by our own sin~our inheritance lost to us. But God, in his great love, sent Jesus to become our family redeemer. Jesus rescued us from our life of sin. He made us his bride and he is returning to take us to our rightful home and restore to us the inheritance God always intended for us~eternal life in His kingdom. Praise God for such a wonderful family redeemer.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you that you love me so much you made a way to rescue me and restore me to the life you always intended for me~a life spent with you. The story of Ruth is beautiful to me because it reflects my own love story with you. Remind me each day of your love for me. Keep me close to your side and protect me always. In your son’s name I pray…Amen!
Michele is married to the love of her life, Jeff. She has 3 grown children and 1 very sweet grandson! Most days you can find Michele laughing with good friends, working with numbers, writing, or working with women. In the evenings, she enjoys spending time in a few creative outlets like creative lettering, drawing, and pottery. She loves snuggling with her dog, Tebow, and reading. But her most recent passion is snuggling with her sweet, new grandson and gazing at his precious face and bright smile! You can find her most weekends worshiping at our Real Life Clermont campus.
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