About Jesus Steve Sweetman
And Boaz At The Threshing Floor (ch. 3:1 - 16)
In verse 1 we see Naomi's
concern for Ruth. We've seen
Ruth's concern for Naomi, now the table is turned.
Naomi is concerned that Ruth, a single young lady, needs her own
home. The word
"home" here can also be translated as rest. The point is that
Naomi wants to see Ruth settle down into a family that is her own.
She wants Ruth to have a husband and children.
Thus, this is key to what takes place here in chapter 3 and also
in chapter 4. All that Naomi
suggests to Ruth from here on out is to place Ruth in a place of rest,
where she can settle into adulthood. That
being said, it is important to understand that Naomi is also thinking of
her late husband's lineage. It
would only be extended if Ruth could marry a kinsman redeemer. I
say that because of what Naomi says in verse 2.
She asks Ruth, "is not Boaz .. a kinsmen of ours"?
Note the word "ours".
Naomi doesn't say that Boaz is a kinsman of Ruth.
The word "ours" suggests to me that Naomi not only had
Ruth's well being in mind, but her wellbeing as well.
I say that not disparagingly.
There would be nothing wrong with Naomi looking after herself as
I'm convinced that Naomi
had something in mind at this early stage that what Ruth might have not
understood. Naomi had the
"kinsman redeemer" in mind for Ruth.
Ruth might have, or might not have totally understood what Naomi
was getting at, but Naomi knew what she was getting at.
At this point I will
explain in brief again what a "kinsman redeemer" is.
The nearest kinsman to a widow would be approached to basically
have total power of attorney in all matters for the widow, and that
would even include being a husband to her.
The was all for the sake of keeping the family structure, or in a
large since, the extended family in tact.
The kinsman redeemer would be able to buy or sell land, look
after in all areas of life, as well as marry the widow.
The idea of a kinsman redeemer was not something that was written
into the Law of Moses. It
was a Jewish tradition. It was also not what is called a Levirate
Marriage, where a brother-in-law would marry his dead brother's widow.
One of the main points to the part a kinsman redeemer would play
in the life of a widow and her family would be to care for her.
The word "care" is important.
Romance was not necessarily a main ingredient when it came the
place a kinsman redeemer had in the life of the widow.
In verses 2 through 4
Naomi tells Ruth the plan. Boaz
would be threshing barley on his threshing floor that evening.
He would stay there the night after eating and drinking, and,
when I say drinking, I mean wine. That
would have been customary. He
would have spent the night in order to protect the barley he had just
Ruth was to get all
cleaned up, wear nice smelling perfume, and put on some nice clothes.
Some suggest that Naomi is asking Ruth to be "sexually
suggestive" by this, and especially when Naomi tells Ruth uncover
Boaz's feet after he falls asleep. I
can't say for sure that this was not a small part of the plan, but I
don't believe we should take this thinking too far.
Both Naomi and Ruth were respectable, God fearing women.
Ruth was not acting as a seductive prostitute. I
don't even think she was being encouraged to flirt with Boaz.
Besides, both women knew Boaz was a well respected, God fearing
man, and might not take such seduction kindly.
At this point, we need to
be reminded that Boaz was not a young man.
He was old enough to be Ruth's father.
Ruth might have been able to find herself a nice young Israeli
man but she didn't. She
might have been too busy looking after Naomi to be concerned with
finding an Israeli husband. Naomi
had the kinsman redeemer in mind at this point, not just any Israeli
man. She not only wanted a
husband for Ruth, but a redeemer for the estate of her late husband,
that would make her family stay in tact.
At this point we need to
stop and look at the word "feet" in verse 4 because there is
some debate over this that is quite relevant to the events of this
chapter. The Hebrew word translated as "feet" is only found
five times in the Hebrew Old Testament.
There is another Hebrew word that is more commonly translated as
meaning of old Hebrew words is sometimes hard to come by.
Some suggest the word could easily be translated as legs. Others
go as far to say that it can be translated legs which include the penis.
If you interpret the Hebrew word as including the penis, then you
have a much different event that what I believe took place.
Knowing what we know about all those involved in this event, I
don't believe that Ruth uncovered Boaz's penis.
Those who think the word
"feet" here means legs or even penis, point to Judges 3:24 and
1 Samuel 24:3. In both of
these passages you see a man "relieving himself", as the NIV
puts it. Yet in the Hebrew
the more common word for feet is used and suggests the act of relieving
one's self is "covering his feet".
Thus the word feet is used in terms of the penis.
I suggest this is a week argument.
Verses 5 and 6 simply
says that Ruth did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
Verse 7 says that after
Boaz had finished eating and drinking he went to lie down at one end of
the threshing floor. We
should understand that Boaz would have worked very hard all day.
In the evening he would have been exhausted, tired, and hungry.
He would have had a good meal prepared and brought to him which
included wine to drink. So
when the text says that he both ate and drank, what he drank was wine,
not water. And, when the
text says that he "was in good spirits", I believe this
"good spirits" was due to the wine.
Was he drunk? Maybe,
maybe a bit, or, maybe not. I
guess it depends on your definition of drunk.
At least he was feeling the effects of the wine and that probably
made him sleepy and ready to sleep through the night.
Also in verse 7 we see
that Ruth approached Boaz very quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay
beside him. If she
approached Boaz quietly that could suggest that she did not want to wake
him. If that was so, that
could suggest that she did not have sex in mind.
On the other hand, approaching Boaz quietly might simply be a
matter of respect, or even shyness on her part.
Still, that does not mean she had sex in mind.
That doesn't mean that she wasn't flirting a bit, or using her
young femaleness to aid her in her cause.
I'm far from convinced that she was flirting.
I basically think Ruth was shy, and her shyness can be seen here
in her quietness, and what I would call "timidity".
We should note that Boaz
didn't awake until the middle of the night.
This tells me that when Ruth quietly laid down beside him, she
did not wake him. It was
probably not her intention to wake him at that time.
Again, I suggest that she might well have been a bit shy about
what she was doing.
Verse 8 says that
"something startled" Boaz in the middle of the night that
caused him to wake from his sleep. The
text does not say what startled him.
There's been much debate on what startled him.
Some liberal scholars who put an emphasis on sexual activity here
suggest that Ruth was touching Boaz and this startled him.
Whatever the case, he awoke, and as the text states, "saw a
woman at his feet". He
saw "a woman". It's
pretty clear that he did not realize who the woman was when he first
Again we see the word
"feet" in this verse. As
I've already mentioned, there is a debate whether this Hebrew word that
is translated as "feet" in the NIV should be translated as
legs, or, even as genitals. Obviously,
if Ruth was touching his genitals, which I believe she wasn't, that
would surely wake him up; All
this being said, to see a young woman lying beside you in the middle of
the night, knowing the hormone replacement that takes affect in men
during the night, Boaz might well have been a bit aroused, as many
scholars suggest. That being said, we will see that Boaz did not do
anything that was not proper, and I doubt that Ruth did anything that
was not proper either.
We see in verse 9 that
Boaz really didn't know the lady lying at his feet.
He asked, "who are you"?
I'm sure it was dark. Boaz
was tired, half asleep, and maybe still feeling the affects of the wine.
Ruth replied by saying that she was his servant.
This was certainly a response of respect.
She really wasn't his servant.
She was a poor gleaner in his fields who he had elevated to the
same level as a servant by allowing her to harvest alongside the
harvesters. Ruth was
probably beginning to make her plea at this time.
Women in those days would have been classified in one sense of
the word as a servant to their husband.
They would often call their husband's master.
So, this might well be why Ruth called herself Boaz's servant.
Also in verse 9 we see
the plea that Ruth makes to Boaz. She
says, "spread the corner of your garments over me because you are
my kinsman redeemer". So
what is Ruth really saying here. This
has been debated for years and years.
I don't believe Ruth was asking for a sexual encounter.
Was she looking pretty? Probably.
Was she using her female attractiveness as part of her plea.
I would say, "probably".
It's my thinking that Ruth was simply asking Boaz to be her
kinsman redeemer. The fact
that she was asking him to cover her with his garment was a jester of
desiring to come under his authority.
It's that simple. I don't believe this text comes close to
suggesting that this couple had sex, or even wanted to have sex.
Concerning Ruth's request
for Boaz to spread the corner of his garment over her in verse 9, we see
in Ezekiel 16:8 that God figuratively spread the corner of His garment
over Israel. This actually helps
support the reason why we can make the book of Ruth as a type of God,
Israel, and the church. Ruth was
asking to come under the protection and authority of Boaz, a place where
should be with her God.
Boaz responds in verse 10
by saying, "the Lord bless you my daughter".
There are a few things we learn about Boaz in what he says.
He calls Ruth "my daughter".
Obviously Ruth is not Boaz's daughter, but he is old enough to be
her father. I also see this
to be a word of respect for Ruth. By
saying "the Lord bless you", I believe that Boaz must be
viewing this offer as something positive. Maybe he feels good that Ruth
would actually consider him to be a kinsman redeemer for her and her
family. Some suggest that
Boaz was grateful that a young beautiful girl would want to give herself
to him, being an old man. That
might have something to do with it, but still, I think the text makes it
clear that Boaz's intentions are pure. That being said, I can't help but
think that Boaz felt good about a young girl wanting him to be her
Boaz continued to say,
"this kindness that you have shown is greater than that which you
had shown earlier". It
might be a matter of speculation about what kindness Ruth showed
earlier. The one thing we do
know is that Boaz viewed Ruth's proposal as an act of kindness. Some
suggest that Ruth's first act of kindness was to look after Naomi.
That appears to be the most common understanding.
Some do suggest that the first act of kindness that Boaz had in
mind had something to do with kindness she showed to him. I'm
not sure what that would be.
He continued by saying,
"you have not run after the younger men, whether rich or
poor". This pretty well
shows that he feels privileged that a young lady like Ruth would want an
older man like him for a husband.
In verse 11 Boaz says,
"now my daughter, don't be afraid …"
This proves what I said earlier when Ruth "quietly"
laid beside Boaz when he was sleeping.
She was hesitant to wake him.
She was shy about asking Boaz to be her kinsman redeemer.
Boaz basically said, "don't be shy.
I will grant your request".
It is clear then that Ruth is being shy here, and, if she is
being shy, she is certainly not coming on to Boaz in a sexual way, or
even in a less sexual way by flirting.
Boaz then says that
everyone knows that Ruth is a woman "of noble character".
This should tell you that Ruth was not propositioning Boaz.
She wasn't trying to seduce him.
Yes, she was dressed nicely.
She smelled nice because of the perfume she put on, but this
wasn't meant to be a sexual enticement.
More than anything, this was a plea for help based on an Israeli
tradition. This was all about "redemption".
You wonder if what Boaz
says in verse 12 scared Ruth a bit.
What Boaz said so far was encouraging from her perspective, but
now a "but" is interjected into the discussion.
Boaz would be glad to be her kinsman redeemer, but, there is a
closer kinsman then Boaz, and to be perfectly fair and just, he must be
consulted with before Boaz can say "yes" to Ruth's proposal.
Ruth probably didn't even know who this closer relative was.
If I were Ruth, I might be a bit afraid at this point.
He was preparing her for some news that she might fear.
I think verse 13 shows
that there was no sexual encounter between Boaz and Ruth.
He simply told her "to lie here for the night".
Then, in the morning he would approach the other relative to see
if he would be Ruth's kinsman redeemer.
If he said "yes", then Boaz would let him redeem Ruth.
I wonder if Ruth was thinking "I hope he says no".
This tells me that Boaz was willing not to take Ruth as his wife,
and if that was the case, I doubt if he would have had sex with her that
night. He simply told Ruth
to sleep on the threshing floor because the middle of the night was no
time for a young girl to be walking home alone.
Also, it would not have looked good if someone saw her leaving
Boaz's places in the middle of the night.
When verse 14 says that
Ruth slept at Boaz's feet. We should understand that was all she did.
Liberal Bible teachers have it all wrong when they say something
else happened that night. She
spent the night and left early enough for no one to have noticed that
something had taken place through the night.
Boaz didn't want people talking when nothing sexual transpired
We see the word
"feet" here again as we saw earlier.
As I've said, some think the Hebrew word that is translated here
in chapter 3 as "feet" can be translated as
thus say that Ruth uncovered Boaz's genitals.
I've said that I disagree with this, and this verse seems to
support my thinking. Did
Ruth sleep at Boaz's feet or penis.
I think feet would make more sense here, so if it makes sense
here, it would make sense in
Verse 15 simply says that
Boaz gave Ruth six measures of barley to take home with her, something
that Naomi would have interpreted as a positive jester that showed
Boaz's commitment to Ruth. I'm
sure at this point that Naomi was quite happy, quite relieved.
The chapter ends in verse
18 by Naomi telling Ruth to hang tight, so to speak.
She knew that Boaz was a man of very good character.
He would take care of things that very day. He would not put it
off for another day, and she was right.
In verse 16 the NIV
states that Naomi asked Ruth, "how did it go"?
Some suggest that this phrase should
be translated as "who are you"?
Why the NIV translates this phrase as they do, I don't know.
It might well be that Naomi was asking, "are you still Ruth,
or are your Mrs. Ruth Boaz"?