Ruth Chapter 3

ruth-boazThen Naomi her mother-in-law said to her,  “My daughter, should I not seek a home for you, that it may be well with you?  Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maidens you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.  Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.  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.”  And she replied,  “All that you say I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had told her.  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.  At midnight the man was startled, and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet!  He said,  “Who are you?” And she answered,  “I am Ruth, your maidservant; spread your skirt over your maidservant, for you are next of kin.”  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.  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 woman of worth.  And now it is true that I am a near kinsman, yet there is a kinsman nearer than I.  Remain this night, and in the morning, if he will do the part of the next of kin for you, well; let him do it; but if he is not willing to do the part of the next of kin for you, then, as the LORD lives, I will do the part of the next of kin for you. Lie down until the morning.”

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.”  And he said,  “Bring the mantle you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley, and laid it upon her; then she went into the city.  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,  saying,  “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said,  ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’”  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 this is one of the most culturally unfamiliar, strange, and /or foreign, bits of history in the whole Bible.  The post modern reader just asks,  She did WHAT?  To top it all off, this bit of immodest behavior, bordering on the edge of the indecent, seems to have been Naomi’s idea.  However our cultural norms are not universal, and what appears to be untoward to us, makes perfect moral since within the culture of the Bible.

When Naomi sees how much food Ruth has returned with, she understands that this is an indication that Ruth’s being a Moabite, is not causing Boaz to reject her.  For the Israelites were told by God to never admit one of “their kind” into the people of God.

“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none belonging to them shall enter the assembly of the LORD for ever; Deut. 23:3   

This curse was well deserved. However at this point Ruth is no longer a true Moabite. .  She pledged to joined herself to Israel.  She rejected her own people and her own culture.  She is a child of God.

 But Ruth said,  “Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God;  where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you.  Ruth 1:16-17

Further as Boaz pointed out, she is a woman of valor.  It takes a great deal of bravery to leave family and friends.  But to do it with no money or means of support, takes real faith.

But Boaz answered her,  “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.  The LORD recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Ruth 2:11-12

So now Naomi sets out a plan.  She must still fear some rejection, for her advice is to approach Boaz at night, when no one else is around.  He has been kind to them, so there is no need or desire to embarrass him in public.  So Ruth does as she has been advised.  She comes to Boaz a night when no one else is around.  Then by stealth disturbs his sleep.

It would have been quite natural for Boaz to simply say, “what have you do to with me?  You are a Moabite, and as such, have no place in Israel.  I do not need or want the responsibility.”

But Boaz is a righteous man.   And as this entire episode was written down to show us God’s love is extended to the Gentiles, Boaz’s response is not one of rejection.  He is however genuinely surprised to find a woman at his feet.  He also seemed quite taken aback by the briskness of her proposal.  Yes, for those of you who have not read much of this blog, covering someone with a cloak in the Bible is a euphemism for allowed sexual relations.   She is in fact asking him right then and there to bring up children for her dead husband.  She is not even suggesting marriage.

 

FYI: Uncovering someone’s nakedness in the Bible is a euphemism for prohibited sexual relations.

 

First Boaz praised her, for not going after young men, a frequent fault of many a widow.  He also confirmed that the whole town knew that she was a woman of worth.  BUT! there are some conditions and procedures that have not been seen to. On this point he seems to be awfully well informed. This Book of Ruth is contemporaneous with the Book of Judges.  The whole point of the book of Judges is that hardly anyone was following the Laws of God.  There seems to have been at this point in history only the occasional judge who knew what the Law required.  Time after time the people were judged for not following God’s instructions.

In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judg. 17:6

Boaz stands out in all this anarchy. He is not the sort of man who did what is right in his own eyes. He is a man that knew exactly where he stood in relation to the widow Ruth.  He knew the Law of the Kinsman Redeemer.  He did not make any blunders in his pursuit of her best interest.  And make no mistake! it is her best interest that he looked after.  He did not misinterpret any thing either by omission or commission.  He did not take advantage.  He was a righteous man.  She offered, and he could have taken her right then and there.  But He knew that he had to consult either an older brother or cousin who was first in line for the responsibility to be The Kinsman Redeemer.

 

The Law of the Kinsman Redeemer:

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.  And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.  And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders, and say,  ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’  Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak to him: and if he persists, saying,  ‘I do not wish to take her,’  then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall answer and say,  ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ And the name of his house shall be called in Israel, The house of him that had his sandal pulled off. Deut. 25:5-10

 

Early, before anyone could know it,  Boaz gives her even more grain and sends her away.

Naomi wisely knows that they will not have to wait very long.  Boaz is clearly smitten.  He will not let this matter rest…..

Neither did the Messiah let the matter rest, when His children ate the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  He had already paid their debt.

the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Rev. 13:8b

 

So now it comes down to, what kind of people are we?  Do we know what God requires of us?  Are we women of valor, or men of righteousness?  Or are we just doing what we think is right?

How does one walk with God if they don’t know the way?

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21

The Law has not passed away, as some claim.  Unlike Boas, the post modern preachers mislead and missquote.  There is money to be made in telling the people what they want to hear.  There is even more money to be made in letting them do what they want.  This is the very verse they misquote.  This is their sin of omission, for they omit the second half of the verse.

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. Rom. 3:31

Twice in the last book of the Bible, we are admonished that we must keep or sing the commandments as well as the testimony of Jesus.  It is a “both /and” not an “either /or”.

Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.  Rev. 12:17

.

.And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, 

 “Great and wonderful are thy deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are thy ways, O King of the ages!Rev. 15:3 

Most can sing the song of the Lamb.  But how is your song of Moses?

One thought on “Ruth Chapter 3

  1. Pingback: Of Kings, Cloaks and Sex | The Song of Songs

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