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Ruth 3-4New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 3

Ruth Again Presents Herself. When Ruth was back with her mother-in-law, Naomi said to her, “My daughter, should I not be seeking a pleasing home for you? [a]Now! Is not Boaz, whose young women you were working with, a relative of ours? This very night he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now, go bathe and anoint yourself; then put on your best attire and go down to the threshing floor. Do not make yourself known to the man before he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, take note of the place where he lies; then go uncover a place at his feet[b] and you lie down. He will then tell you what to do.” “I will do whatever you say,” Ruth replied. She went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her.

Boaz ate and drank to his heart’s content, and went to lie down at the edge of the pile of grain. She crept up, uncovered a place at his feet, and lay down. Midway through the night, the man gave a start and groped about, only to find a woman lying at his feet. “Who are you?” he asked. She replied, “I am your servant Ruth. Spread the wing of your cloak[c] over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10 He said, “May the Lord bless you, my daughter! You have been even more loyal now than before in not going after the young men, whether poor or rich. 11 Now rest assured, my daughter, I will do for you whatever you say; all my townspeople know you to be a worthy woman.[d] 12 Now, I am in fact a redeemer, but there is another redeemer closer than I.[e] 13 Stay where you are for tonight, and tomorrow, if he will act as redeemer for you, good. But if he will not, as the Lord lives, I will do it myself. Lie there until morning.” 14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but rose before anyone could recognize another, for Boaz had said, “Let it not be known that this woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 Then he said to her, “Take off the shawl you are wearing; hold it firmly.” When she did so, he poured out six measures of barley and helped her lift the bundle; then he himself left for the town.

16 She, meanwhile, went home to her mother-in-law, who asked, “How did things go, my daughter?” So she told her all the man had done for her, 17 and concluded, “He gave me these six measures of barley and said, ‘Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty.’” 18 Naomi then said, “Wait here, my daughter, until you learn what happens, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.”

Chapter 4

Boaz Marries Ruth. Boaz went to the gate[f] and took a seat there. Along came the other redeemer of whom he had spoken. Boaz called to him by name, “Come, sit here.” And he did so. Then Boaz picked out ten of the elders[g] of the town and asked them to sit nearby. When they had done this, he said to the other redeemer: “Naomi, who has come back from the plateau of Moab, is putting up for sale the piece of land that belonged to our kinsman Elimelech. [h]So I thought I would inform you. Before those here present, including the elders of my people, purchase the field; act as redeemer. But if you do not want to do it, tell me so, that I may know, for no one has a right of redemption prior to yours, and mine is next.” He answered, “I will act as redeemer.”

[i]Boaz continued, “When you acquire the field from Naomi, you also acquire responsibility for Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the late heir, to raise up a family for the deceased on his estate.” The redeemer replied, “I cannot exercise my right of redemption for that would endanger my own estate. You do it in my place, for I cannot.” Now it used to be the custom in Israel that, to make binding a contract of redemption or exchange, one party would take off a sandal[j] and give it to the other. This was the form of attestation in Israel. So the other redeemer, in saying to Boaz, “Acquire it for yourself,” drew off his sandal. Boaz then said to the elders and to all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have acquired from Naomi all the holdings of Elimelech, Chilion and Mahlon. 10 I also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, as my wife, in order to raise up a family for her late husband on his estate, so that the name of the deceased may not perish from his people and his place. Do you witness this today?” 11 All those at the gate, including the elders, said, “We do. May the Lord make this woman come into your house like Rachel and Leah, who between them built up the house of Israel. Prosper in Ephrathah! Bestow a name in Bethlehem! 12 With the offspring the Lord will give you from this young woman, may your house become like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”[k]

13 Boaz took Ruth. When they came together as husband and wife, the Lord enabled her to conceive and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not failed to provide you today with a redeemer. May he become famous in Israel! 15 He will restore your life and be the support of your old age, for his mother is the daughter-in-law who loves you. She is worth more to you than seven sons!” 16 Naomi took the boy, cradled him[l] against her breast, and cared for him. 17 The neighbor women joined the celebration: “A son has been born to Naomi!” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

18 These are the descendants of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, 19 Hezron was the father of Ram, Ram was the father of Amminadab, 20 Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, Nahshon was the father of Salma, 21 Salma was the father of Boaz, Boaz was the father of Obed, 22 Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of David.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:2 Ruth’s determined action to bring relief to Naomi’s and her own circumstances now impels Naomi to move, using means available in Israelite custom which no one in the story has up to this point brought into play.
  2. 3:4 Uncover a place at his feet: Naomi advocates a course of action that will lead Boaz to act. Israelite custom and moral expectations strongly suggest that there is no loss of virtue involved in the scene.
  3. 3:9 Spread the wing of your cloak: Ez 16:8 makes it clear that this is a request for marriage. Ruth connects it to “redeemer” responsibility. A wordplay on “wing” links what Boaz is asked to do to what he has asked God to do for Ruth in 2:12.
  4. 3:11 Worthy woman: the language corresponds to the description of Boaz in 2:1 (lit., “strong and worthy”); the two worthy people are linked in character to one another, as they have already proven to be in their generous behavior toward the ones in need of their care. The townspeople, lit., “all the gate of my people,” will ratify this at the gate in the sequel.
  5. 3:12 Another redeemer closer than I: Boaz knows of a closer relative who would have a prior right to buy the field and marry Ruth.
  6. 4:1 The gate of an Israelite town was the place where commercial and other legal matters were dealt with in publicly witnessed fashion.
  7. 4:2 Ten of the elders: to serve as judges in legal matters as well as witnesses of the settlement of business affairs; cf. Dt 25:7–9.
  8. 4:4 Although the laws governing inheritance by Israelite widows are not specified in the Bible, Naomi seems to have the right of disposal of a piece of Elimelech’s land. The redemption custom in Lv 25:25 would then guide the procedure.
  9. 4:5–6 Although redemption and levirate practices are not otherwise linked in the Bible, they belong in the same area of need. Boaz claims that buying Elimelech’s field obligates the other redeemer to produce an heir for Mahlon, who would then inherit the land. That would jeopardize this redeemer’s overall holdings, since he would lose the land he had paid for. He can afford the first step but not the second, and cedes his responsibility to Boaz, who is willing to do both.
  10. 4:7 Take off a sandal: the legislation in Dt 25:8–10 provides that if a “redeemer” refuses to carry out the obligation of marrying his brother’s wife, the woman shall strip off his sandal as a gesture of insult. In later years, when the obligation of carrying out this function of the “redeemer” was no longer keenly felt, the removal of the sandal may have become a formalized way of renouncing the rights/obligations of the “redeemer,” as in this text.
  11. 4:12 Gn 38 contains a story about Tamar similar to Ruth’s in levirate marriage. Judah, under less laudable circumstances, fulfills the same role as Boaz will, and Perez, son of Judah and Tamar, perpetuates the line. Thus two non-Israelite women, Tamar and Ruth, are important links in David’s genealogy.
  12. 4:16 Cradled him: the child belongs to Naomi in the sense that he now becomes the redeemer in the family, as stated in 4:14. This tender act by Naomi is not necessarily adoptive and differs from the relationship in Gn 30:3; cf. Nm 11:12. Naomi now has a “boy” to replace her two lost “boys” in 1:5.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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