Read Ruth 3
Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing Floor
3 One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. 2 Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”
5 “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!
9 “Who are you?” he asked.
“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”
10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”
14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.”
15 He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town.
16 When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “How did it go, my daughter?”
Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 17 and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”
18 Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”
Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, shares with Ruth that she wants to find a home for her. Naomi knew that Ruth could be best taken care of if she was married. She wishes for Ruth to claim her right to marriage soon. Ruth and Boaz were not “dating” as we would think of in modern-day culture. Rather, they would spend their time in the context of a group. However, this is a great way for Ruth and Boaz to truly get to know each other’s character. Dating can be a superficial way to get to know someone. People tend to put a “mask” on their true personality in hopes of gaining the attraction of the other person. What we see unfold in Ruth 3 is counter to our twenty-first century approach, but there is much for us to learn from it.
After seeing Boaz interact in a group, Naomi instructs Ruth to spend time with Boaz one-on-one. Once Boaz is finished eating, Naomi tells Ruth that she should uncover his feet and lie down near Boaz’s feet. Some may find Naomi’s advice inappropriately forward, but Naomi’s suggestion is rooted in a particular custom from Ancient Israel known as “goel.” The goel, which is sometimes translated as “kinsman redeemer,” had a role in Israel’s family life. The goel, in this context, was responsible to safeguard the persons, the property and the prosperity of the family. Naomi instructs Ruth very specifically so Boaz can exercise his responsibilities as her goel. When Boaz sees Ruth, he responds in a way of humility and patience. He was kind enough to wait to act as goel towards Ruth until she desired it. In the morning, Boaz sends Ruth home and gives her six measures of barley. He acted as a gentleman in making sure Ruth would not leave empty-handed.
In sum, Boaz displays love to Ruth in multiple ways in their first time together. He shows humility and patience. He affirms Ruth as a woman of noble character (v. 11) and is in no rush to take action (v. 13). We see Boaz be considerate of Ruth first, then to Naomi by giving Ruth the barley as a gift to bring back to Ruth (v. 17). Boaz offers an excellent example of love for us to consider.
- What does this chapter teach you about God’s character? What does it teach you about humanity?
- In chapter 3, Ruth makes an appeal for marriage to Boaz at the community threshing floor. Have you ever had to ask someone to do something significant for you without knowing the outcome?
- As Ruth leaves the threshing floor the next morning, Boaz gives her a gift. What does this gift tell us about the extent to which Boaz continues to take care of Ruth and Naomi?
Ruth showed obedience, boldness, and humility in her actions, and was praised by Boaz for her virtue. What qualities of Ruth do you most see in yourself? Make a list today and ask God to help you steward those qualities well.
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