When most people read the book of Ruth, they focus on Ruth and Naomi in the story. But there is a huge part of this story that includes Boaz. Boaz was a wealthy land owner who was an Israelite. He owned several fields with hired servants who tended these fields. His wealth and position placed him right where God wanted Him.
Naomi and Ruth came back to Naomi's hometown because both women’s husbands died (Ruth 1). Ruth was from Moab, a country that worshipped pagan idols, but had converted to Judaism. She would not leave Naomi by herself, pledging to stay with her and that she would worship Naomi's God. So she came to Israel as well. Unfortunately for widows, income sources to actually live on were very difficult to come by. So, Ruth went to fields to glean, that is, to pick up dropped grains from what was left on the ground by those who harvested the fields.
It happened that Ruth was gleaning in Boaz’ fields and she told the workers her story. (Ruth 2) Boaz learned about her and made sure she was safe and that she could take enough grain home for both herself and her mother-in-law. When Naomi found out whose field Ruth was working, she was delighted because Boaz was a relative. He was also someone who would be able to be a kinsman redeemer. This meant that if he was a close enough relative and was willing to accept the responsibilities, he could buy Naomi’s land and take Ruth in as his wife, thus taking care of both women. This was a common practice for Israelites to provide for families left behind by a deceased male relative.
One day, Naomi told Ruth to go to the threshing floor, wait until after everyone had eaten and drank and had gone to bed, uncover Boaz’ feet, then lie down by his feet. (Ruth 3) He would know what to do. So that was exactly what Ruth did. The threshing floor was a public place where the grain kernels were beaten until the chaff was blown away leaving the grain behind. The people would celebrate with food and drink. In this case, Boaz slept on the threshing floor by the grain to protect it from theft.
Ruth crept up, dressed in a nice tunic, bathed and anointed with oil, pulled the blanket up from Boaz’ feet and lay down. No sexual innuendos intended here. In the middle of the night, Boaz woke up startled to see Ruth by his feet. He immediately understood what this meant—Ruth was proposing marriage! She explained to him why she was there and wanted him to redeem her. He said he would gladly do it, but there was a closer relative who needed to be asked first. If he would not do it, then Boaz would.
So the next day, Boaz went to the city gate where all kinds of issues were addressed. He asked the man who was the closest relative to Naomi to sit with him and invited the elders of the city there as well. He shared the issue of redemption of Naomi’s land. The man said he would do it. Then Boaz went on to explain that Ruth was part of the package. He said he couldn’t do it under those circumstances because he didn’t want to have inheritance issues; the child from this marriage would be considered an heir for the deceased brother. Boaz accepted this package and sealed the deal by accepting the man’s sandal as a guarantee.Done deal! (Ruth 4) (Deuteronomy 25:5-10)
Boaz is considered a man of honor because he knew the responsibilities of being a kinsman redeemer and accepted it with joy. He never compromised his nor Ruth’s reputations by having sex with her on the threshing floor. He also made sure that she and her mother-in-law were safe and taken care of. The expectations of such a tradition from Mosaic law, is foreign to us but we have a few items that may fit with this:
Being responsible and acting upon those obligations is an act of honor that glorifies and pleases God.
May God bless you!
Note: the Ruth and Boaz picture at top is from mountjoybible.blogspot.com.
The family picture is a stock picture from Vistaprint.
www.biblegateway.com the book of Ruth.
Additional commentary information from NKJV Study Bible, second edition by Thomas Nelson Publishers.Copyright 1997, 2007 by Thomas Nelson Inc.
Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary Volume 1: Old Testment by Kenneth L. Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III. Zondervan Publishing copyright 1994.