Study Notes

Ruth 3:1-4:10


We have seen that Naomi's widowed daughter-in-law just "happened" to glean in the field belonging to Boaz, who, it turns out, is a close relative of Naomi's dead husband, El-ee-MEH-lek.

Boaz respected her for the commitment she had made to her mother-in-law Naomi, blessed her with kindness, protected her with security, and provided her with extra portions of food and gleanings.

3:1-2 Shall I Not Seek Security For You

We learned in our study of chapter one about the Law regarding widows.

Deut. 25:5 "When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be {married} outside {the family} to a strange man. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her.

Naomi had no other sons to give in marriage. This was why Naomi told both Ruth and Or-PAW to return to their own parents' houses - so they'd be able to marry again.

Now, Naomi is forming a plan: Boaz, who has obviously taken a liking to Ruth, could fulfill the Law, and marry Ruth.

Our Kinsman

She says, "Is not Boaz our kinsman?" This is really the fulcrum of the entire story. You see, it wasn't just a husband for Ruth that Boaz could provide. It was also the fact that he could be Naomi's kinsman redeemer.

What is a kinsman redeemer? Without an understanding of this concept, the book of Ruth won't make much sense to you, and neither will you understand what's going on in Revelation 5 with the seven-sealed scroll.

Remember that the land of Israel belonged to God. They were not to sell it away, but could essentially lease it. The longest it could remain in others' hands would be fifty years. The Law said,

Lev. 25:23-28 'The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are {but} aliens and sojourners with Me. Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land. If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman is to come and buy back what his relative has sold. Or in case a man has no kinsman, but so recovers his means as to find sufficient for its redemption, then he shall calculate the years since its sale and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and so return to his property. But if he has not found sufficient means to get it back for himself, then what he has sold shall remain in the hands of its purchaser until the year of jubilee; but at the jubilee it shall revert, that he may return to his property."

If you had to sell your land, as El-ee-MEH-lek did when he moved his family away from famine-stricken Bethlehem and into Moab, your closest relative could buy it back for you. This man was called the kinsman redeemer, or in Hebrew, the "gaw-AL." Naomi believes that Boaz can marry Ruth and redeem her husband's lost land.

Knowing that he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor, Naomi begins to tell Ruth how to prepare.

3:3-5 Instruction And Preparation

After the barley was harvested, it had to be winnowed to get the grain. The winnower would throw the stalks of barley in the air with a winnowing fork, the wind blew away the chaff, and the grains fell back down to the ground. This was always a time of celebration - both spiritually and financially.

The Lord had said,

Deut. 16:13-15 "You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat; and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns. Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you shall be altogether joyful."

This was a time of feasting and rejoicing - a time of sleeping outside under the stars, and a time of financial prosperity and blessing.

Another reason for sleeping on the threshing floor was to protect the harvest from thieves. This was a farmer's income for the year - they couldn't afford to let it be stolen.

Naomi tells Ruth to wash up and put on some nice clothes. She is to wait until the party is over, then, knowing that Boaz would be sleeping near the grain, find where he is lying down. She tells her to uncover his feet, and lay down at his feet. Boaz will know what this means, and he'll tell her the rest.

3:6-9 Spread Your Covering

Now we should not interpret this as any sort of immoral or even sexual situation. Ruth was not "coming on" to Boaz - indeed, the uncovering of, and laying at, his feet indicates not forwardness, but humility.

When Boaz woke up and realized there was a woman laying at his feet, he was surprised, and asked who she was. She said,

Ruth 3:9 ..."I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative."

She asked him to spread his covering over her. What does this mean? Literally, she said, "Spread your wings over your maid." This was the same expression that Boaz had used when he spoke to her back in chapter two:

Ruth 2:12 "May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."

Boaz had said, "you have taken refuge under God's wings." Now Ruth is saying, "Spread your wings over me and give me refuge."

Again, she is not being forward. She is saying, "Boaz, you are my gaw-AL, my kinsman redeemer." It seems from reading Deuteronomy 25 that it was actually the woman's duty to instigate the gaw-AL to marriage. What Ruth is doing is proper in the eyes of God and His Law.

3:10-11 A Woman Of Excellence

Boaz was a lot older than Ruth - probably old enough to be a father or uncle to her. He thought she was being very kind in choosing him.

Notice that he was willing to do whatever she asked, because of one reason: because her reputation in the city was one of a woman of excellence. His description of her is "excellent," or "virtuous," as the King James version renders it.

Prov. 31:10-31 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. She looks for wool and flax, And works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night, And gives food to her household, And portions to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, And makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor; And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells {them,} And supplies belts to the tradesmen. Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband {also,} and he praises her, saying: "Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all." Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, {But} a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 12 also says,

Prov. 12:4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames {him} is as rottenness in his bones.

Ruth had the reputation in town as being excellent, virtuous. Although she was a Moabite, Boaz had no reservations about marrying her. Except one...

3:12-13 A Relative Closer Than I

Here's the sticky part of the story: there was actually a kinsman closer than Boaz. He would legally be the first in line to redeem Naomi's land and Ruth's hand.

3:14 Above Reproach

Even though nothing immoral had gone on, Boaz was worried about gossip that would start if people saw that Ruth had spent the night on the threshing floor where he was.

This is wisdom that more of us need to walk in - we need to live our lives above reproach.

Remember that you have an enemy that is looking for opportunities to accuse you, and get you into bad situations:

1Pet. 5:8 Be of sober {spirit,} be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Ask yourself all the time, "What am I doing? If this were made public, would I be ashamed? If the police knew I was doing this, would I be arrested? If an unbeliever saw this, would it be a bad witness? If my coworkers knew this, would it bring reproach on my reputation?"

What we say, what we do, how we live, how we drive, how we talk to people, how we handle our finances, how we spend our time, how we pay our taxes, when we pay our bills, how we dress... everything must be constantly examined to make sure that we are above reproach, blameless.

Eph. 5:15-16 (KJV) See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

1Ths. 5:22 (KJV) Abstain from all appearance of evil.

If you do this, you will not give the enemy an opportunity to bring accusation against you. Boaz, not wanting to give the devil or the local gossips any opportunity, had Ruth leave while it was still dark.

3:15-18 Six Measures For Naomi

Boaz gives Ruth six measures of barley to bring home with her, stating that he didn't intend to have Naomi go empty-handed either. Upon seeing it, Naomi understood the message - he was not only going to marry Ruth, but also redeem Naomi's land. And he would not rest until he had settled the matter that day.

How did she understand this from a simple gift of six measures of barley? Remember that the standard for the fellowship offering was set back in Genesis 18 by Abraham:

Gen. 18:6 ...Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead {it,} and make bread cakes."

Three measures of meal became the standard fellowship offering. By giving them six measures, Boaz was letting Naomi know that his fellowship with Ruth was also with her.

She also knew that he would not rest until the matter was finished. I imagine that this was also because of the gift. Just as Boaz gave her six measures, God finished His work on the sixth day of creation, and rested on the seventh. He did not rest until everything was done, until his job was complete. I believe that's what Naomi is thinking, because she says

Ruth 3:18 "...the man will not rest until he has settled it today."

And indeed, Boaz would not rest until he settled it that day.

4:1 At The Gate

The gate was the place where business was done, court was held, customs were checked, and deals were struck. It was the place where travelers and merchants first entered the city, and the place where the elders convened.

Remember that back in Genesis, we saw that Lot sat at the gate of Sodom (Gen. 19:1). David's son Absalom also hung out by the gate to influence people coming for judgments to be rendered (2Sam. 15).

Apparently, the family to whom Naomi's late husband El-ee-MEH-lek and Boaz belonged were influencial in the community. Boaz was a wealthy, and he expected his close relative to be at the gate that day. Sure enough, he shows up and Boaz says, "Hey, sit down for a minute."

4:2-4 I Will Redeem It

Boaz' influence is also evident when he tells the elders of the city to sit down as well.

Now, with a public forum, he says that it's time to redeem El-ee-MEH-lek's land for Naomi. Since this other guy is the closest relative, Boaz says, "Go ahead and buy this land back now." The family member agrees to buy it, saying, "I will redeem it."

4:5-6 I Cannot Redeem It

"Oh, by the way," Boaz adds, "You'll also have to marry El-ee-MEH-lek's widowed daughter-in-law Ruth when you do this."

The idea of course was to raise up descendants of El-ee-MEH-lek to keep the family name alive. This was part of the law of Deuteronomy 25:

Deut. 25:5-6 "When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be {married} outside {the family} to a strange man. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. And it shall be that the first-born whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel."

If this man was to be the kinsman-redeemer for the land, he would also have to be the kinsman-redeemer for the woman. It was this part of the deal that he didn't go for.

"I can't redeem it," the man says. We're not sure exactly how this affected his inheritance. It is reasonable to assume that he didn't want to divide his own inheritance between the first born son he would have with Ruth and his own first-born son. Whatever the reason, he was not able to redeem it.

4:7-8 Remove The Shoe

Now this guy gets off pretty easy, considering what the Law presecribed in this situation.

Deut. 25:7-10 "But if the man does not desire 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 establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.' Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And {if} he persists and says, 'I do not desire to take her,' then his brother's wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, 'Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.' And in Israel his name shall be called, 'The house of him whose sandal is removed.'"

He took off his own sandal, and got out of being spit at in the face.

4:9-10 The Public Announcement

Boaz lets everyone know that he has stepped in as the kinsman-redeemer for the land of El-ee-MEH-lek and his sons Kil-YONE and Makh-LONE.

Next week, we will finish the last twelve verses of Ruth, and review the prophetic message that this book carries in regards to Boaz, a picture of our kinsman-redeemer Jesus Christ, and his gentile bride Ruth, a picture of the gentile bride of Christ, the church.

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