The harvest was now over. Naomi made plans for the future. If a man from Israel died without children, his brother or another relative used to marry the widow. That was the custom. Then the first son that she had would carry on the dead man’s name. And he would own his land. (See Deuteronomy 25:5-6.)
There was another custom also. If someone had financial difficulties, a man from their family would buy their land. He would then look after the land, so that it still belonged to the same family. This also meant that the person with financial difficulties would not have to become somebody’s slave. People called a man who carried out these duties a ‘*redeemer’. Naomi hopes that Boaz will accept the *redeemer’s duties. So Naomi is not doing anything unusual.
v1 Naomi, Ruth’s husband’s mother, said to her, ‘My daughter, I am looking for a home where you can rest and be happy. v2 Now Boaz is a relative of ours. You have been with his young women. Tonight he will *winnow *barley at the *threshing floor. v3 Now have a bath and make yourself smell nice. Then dress in your best clothes. Go down to the *threshing floor. Remain hidden until he finishes eating and drinking. v4 Notice carefully the place where he lies down to sleep. Then go there and lift his skirt. And lie by his feet. He will tell you what to do.’
v5 ‘I will do everything that you have told me’, Ruth said to Naomi.
Verses 1-5 After the men finished harvesting, the farmer had to *thresh the wheat and the *barley. He stayed at his place of work all day and all night. He would be very tired and hungry. Ruth had to wait until Boaz had finished eating and drinking. She had to be very quiet and prepare herself like a bride in her best clothes. Boaz would understand why she had come to him. Ruth showed that she trusted Naomi. And she obeyed her.
v6 So Ruth went to the *threshing floor. There she did everything that her husband’s mother had said. v7 Boaz ate and drank. He began to feel very happy. He went to sleep next to the heap of *grain. Ruth came in secret. She lifted his skirt and lay down by his feet. v8 At midnight, something made the man feel afraid. He turned and discovered a woman lying by his feet. v9 ‘Who are you?’ he asked. ‘I am Ruth, your servant’, she replied. ‘Cover me with the edge of your skirt because you are a *redeemer.’
Verses 6-9 Ruth had chosen Naomi’s God and Naomi’s country. Here, she obeys the customs of Naomi’s country. She showed courage and trust when she offered herself to Boaz. He was surprised. But he was also grateful that this young woman was willing to become his wife. She asked him to spread his clothes over her. This was to show that she wanted him to marry her. Here ‘redeemer’ means one of her husband’s family.
v10 ‘My daughter, I pray that the *LORD will be good to you’, said Boaz. ‘You are even more kind to me now than you were earlier. You have not run after young men, poor or rich. v11 Now, my daughter, do not be afraid. I will do everything that you have suggested. Everyone in the town knows that you are a good woman. v12 It is true that I am a *redeemer. But there is a *redeemer closer to you than I am. v13 Stay here for the night. It may happen in the morning that he will *redeem you. If so, that will be good. He will *redeem you. But if he does not want to *redeem you, then I will *redeem you. I promise this, as the *LORD lives! Lie down until morning.
v14 So Ruth lay by his feet until the morning. She got up before anyone might recognise the person next to him. Boaz said, ‘Do not let anyone know that a woman came to the *threshing floor.’ v15 He also said, ‘Bring me your *shawl. Hold it in front of me.’ When she did, he poured a lot of *barley into it. He gave her help to pick it up. Then he went back to town. v16 Ruth came back to her husband’s mother. Naomi said to Ruth, ‘What happened, my daughter?’ Ruth told her all that had happened with Boaz. v17 She also said, ‘He gave me all this *barley. He told me not to come back to my husband’s mother with empty hands.’ v18 Naomi replied, ‘Wait, my daughter. And see what happens. The man will make sure that he finishes everything today.’
Verses 10-18 We know already that Boaz was an honourable man. He was kind to Ruth. And he kept her visit secret so that nobody would think bad things about her. He also thought about how Ruth and Naomi would need food now. They would need food now because the fields were empty. He gave her another large quantity of grain. He was very generous. However, he could not marry Ruth yet. There was a man who was a closer relative to Elimelech’s family than Boaz. Boaz had to ask this man if he wanted to marry Ruth.