3 Naomi (to Ruth): My child, it is my responsibility to find a husband and place of rest for you—a place where you will find rest and contentment. 2 You have been working alongside the young women who serve Boaz. Is he not a part of our family? Early this evening, during the late afternoon wind, he will be on the threshing floor winnowing the barley.
They toss the stalks into the wind with a fork and watch the grain fall at their feet as the stalks blow away.
3 Bathe and perfume yourself. Put on your best dress, then go down onto the threshing floor. Be careful, though. Don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Once he is relaxed, he will lie down to sleep. Make sure you notice where he is. Once he has lain down, go to him. Uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.
The Hebrew euphemism “to uncover the feet” is a sexual expression; but in this context, and in light of the honorable character of Boaz and Ruth, it is clear that she is simply making herself available for marriage.
Ruth: 5 I will do everything you have told me to do.
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and followed through with everything her mother-in-law told her to do. 7 Not much later, Boaz finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits. He made his way to the end of a pile of grain and lay down there to sleep. Then very quietly, Ruth snuck to where he was lying down. She uncovered his feet and lay down at his feet. 8 Later, sometime in the middle of the night, Boaz was startled and woke up. When he rolled over and looked around, he discovered there was a woman lying at his feet!
Boaz: 9 Who are you?
Ruth: I am your servant Ruth. Spread out the hem of your garment so that it covers your servant. You are a near relative of our family.
Boaz: 10 May the Eternal bless you, my daughter, for the loyal love you are showing now is even greater than what you showed before. You have not pursued a younger man—either a rich one or a poor one. 11 You may rest easy. You have nothing to fear, my child. I will do everything you ask. Everyone in this city agrees you are a woman of virtuous character. 12 You are right that I am in line as a near relative of your family. But I am not the only one, nor the most likely. There is another man who is more closely related to you than I am.
If ever a landowner needs to lease out his land for money, then his closest relative, called the “kinsman-redeemer,” is supposed to buy the land back for his relative. The same is true if a man has to sell his family members into indentured servitude—the kinsman-redeemer is to buy back the slave. This system reflects God’s relationship with Israel; God continually saves His people from subservience to other nations. Since both Naomi and Ruth are widows without male sons, they are left in poverty. Naomi will have to lease out her husband’s land to support them, and she may eventually have to sell herself and Ruth just to stay fed. By redeeming Elimelech’s land, marrying Ruth, and eventually giving her a son, Boaz keeps the family intact as it would have been had Elimelech or either of his sons survived.
Boaz: 13 Spend the rest of the night here. In the morning, I will give him the chance to act as your kinsman-redeemer and redeem you and your family. If he is willing to do this, good. But if he is not willing to fulfill his responsibility, then as the Eternal One lives, I promise I will redeem your family by marrying you. Now remain here until morning comes.
14 So Ruth lay at his feet until early morning—then she got up to leave while it was still dark, before she could be recognized by anyone, because Boaz realized no one should know the woman was on the threshing room floor.
Boaz: 15 Now bring me the outer garment you are wearing. Hold it out, and hold on tightly.
She did so, and Boaz filled her garment with six measures of barley grain. He handed it to her; then he[a] left her and went into the town to conduct his business.
16 When Ruth returned to Naomi’s home, her mother-in-law asked her daughter what happened. Ruth related all that Boaz had said and done.
Ruth: 17 He even gave me these six measures of barley grain saying to me, “You can’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.”
Naomi: 18 Now you must wait, daughter. We must wait and see what happens. Be at peace. That man will not rest today until this is resolved.
- 3:15 Other ancient manuscripts read “she.”