If this is your first time visiting this series, please look at the other posts in this series first! Here is the link to the previous one: Ruth: An Interpretive Study Part Six
So, let’s pick up where we left off after finishing chapter 2 of Ruth!
Ruth 3 (ESV)
3 Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? 2 Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3 Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” 5 And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. 7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. 8 At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! 9 He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”
14 So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’ ” 18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”
Now Naomi does something curious, whether you were the original reader or are the present reader. She instructs Ruth to go to Boaz to seemingly seduce him! Naomi wants Ruth to be able to find rest by finding a husband and Boaz would be a good choice (Ruth 3:1). Instructing her to wash up and look her best, Naomi seems to be setting a trap into which the honorable Boaz may fall (3:3). Not only should Ruth look her best, but she also should make sure that Boaz has had his fair share of drink. Ruth, being loyal, complies and goes to Boaz (3:6). She waits for him to lie down in the heap of barley and fall asleep (3:7). Late in the evening, Boaz is startled to see a woman at his feet! She reveals herself and asks to stay with Boaz through the night since he is a redeemer (3:9). Boaz responds, however, in a way that was unexpected. He preserves his honor by not sleeping with her and preserves Ruth’s honor also. Recalling that there is a closer redeemer, Boaz promises to settle this matter the following day (3:13).
He allows Ruth to stay through the night and sends her off early in the morning so that no one would recognize her. The respect that Boaz had for Ruth was shown when he does not take the opportunity to fall into sin with her. The title of a worthy man is very fitting for him. Even under temptation, he upholds Yahweh’s law. He sends Ruth home with barley to give to her mother-in-law.
Naomi must have been confused when Ruth returned with barley. She sent her hoping that Boaz would claim her as a wife, but Ruth returned with even better news. Boaz was going to settle the matter of finding a redeemer for Naomi. Naomi saw how honorable Boaz was because she said; “the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.” She recognized that Boaz really cared about Ruth and herself after all he had done for them. He had provided protection, he provided food, and now he was looking for a redeemer that could provide in more ways than he could at that point in time. Boaz was already acting like a redeemer in some sense up to this point in the narrative. All that was left to do was for him to settle the matter.
Tune in next time when we begin to wrap up this study from Ruth!