Ruth Chapter Three

A Marriage Proposal

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In our study of Ruth chapter three, we see how she continues to be shown favor from God because of her humility. We look at this traditional marriage proposal and examine how it relates to our Christian walk today.

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Ruth 3:1-4

Na'omi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, I should be seeking security for you; so that things will go well with you. Now there's Bo'az our relative -you were with his girls. He's going to be winnowing barley tonight at the threshing-floor. So bathe, anoint yourself, put on your good clothes, and go down to the threshing-floor; but don't reveal your presence to the man until he's finished eating and drinking. Then, when he lies down, take note of where he's lying; later, go in, uncover his feet, and lie down. He will tell you what to do."

This passage may seem very strange to us unless we examine what was happening and the culture of this time. Ruth had humbled herself since the beginning and had found favor with God. Naomi felt that it was her duty to see that her daughter was provided for and she knew that it was a husband's duty to provide for his wife. Therefore, she shared with her the procedure for a younger woman to propose marriage to an older man. (Although it may not be politically correct to say so, the biblical pattern of a husband providing for his wife is as true today as it was in Ruth's time.) A woman had the freedom to ask a man to marry her and she could be his helper (just as Eve was described in Genesis) but it was and is the man's duty to provide for his wife. At first, the idea of a woman of this time period proposing marriage may surprise us but it was a part of life at this time. Naomi tells Ruth where to find Boaz (he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor). The process of winnowing (separating the chaff from the grain) was simple. The grain/chaff mixture would be tossed into the air and the breeze would carry away the chaff as the grain fell to the threshing floor. Then, Naomi gives her instructions on the proper way to propose marriage.

Ruth 3:5 & 6

She responded, "I will do everything you tell me." She went down to the threshing-floor and did everything as her mother-in-law had instructed her.

Once again, Ruth humbled herself to do as her mother-in-law said even though she may not have understood the custom as she was a Gentile instead of a Jew.

Ruth 3:7

After Bo'az was through eating and drinking and was feeling good, he went to lie down at the end of the pile of grain. She stole in, uncovered his feet and lay down.

Many so called experts take this verse to mean that Boaz got drunk and Ruth tricked him into an encounter but that is not what it is saying. Boaz simply ate and drank as normal and, when he was full and content, he went to sleep for the night. If he was drunk and Ruth wanted to trick him, she would not have "approached quietly". Also, as we will see later, there was no encounter and a drunk man most certainly would not have let the opportunity pass.

Ruth 3:8 & 9

In the middle of the night the man was startled and turned over, and - there was a woman lying at his feet! He asked, "Who are you?" and she answered, "I'm your handmaid Rut. Spread your robe over your handmaid, because you are a redeeming kinsman."

Boaz awoke in the middle of the night to find Ruth at his feet. Although the words may seem strange to us today, Ruth asked him to marry her by asking him to fulfill the role of the kinsman-redeemer. It was the duty of a kinsman-redeemer to marry the widow in order to continue the family name of the deceased husband.

Ruth 3:10 & 11

He said, "May ADONAI bless you, my daughter. Your latest kindness is even greater than your first, in that you didn't go after the young men, neither the rich ones nor the poor. And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you everything you say, for all the city leaders among my people know that you are a woman of good character.

This passage is a great example of how God lifts up the humble just as he promises. Ruth humbled herself in asking Boaz to take care of her and he agreed to all that she asked. He also tells her that all of the men in the town know that she is of "noble character". This is very big as we remember that we are talking about the Jewish people realizing that this gentile woman was of noble character.

Ruth 3:12 & 13

Now, it is true that I am a redeeming kinsman; but there is a redeemer who is a closer relative than I am. Stay tonight. If, in the morning, he will redeem you, fine! - let him redeem you. But if he doesn't want to redeem you, then, as ADONAI lives, I will redeem you. Now, lie down until morning."

Now, Boaz tells Ruth that he is willing to be the kinsman-redeemer but he does not have the right. There is a relative that is closer and he has the right to redeem or to refuse. Yeshua is our kinsman-redeemer in that he paid the debt we could not pay but, unlike Ruth's relative, there is not anyone that Yeshua will refuse to redeem.

Ruth 3:14

She lay at his feet until morning; then, before [it was light enough that] people could recognize each other, she got up; because he said, "No one should know that the woman came to the threshing-floor."

There are some scholars that say Ruth seduced Boaz and he married her so that she would not be shamed. This verse shows us that they are mistaken as we are told that she "lay at his feet until morning". They did not come together and violate God's word instead we see that Boaz didn't even want it known that she had come to the threshing floor. He wanted to preserve her dignity and honor. The same is true for us as we become Christians. We do not want to be in situations that do not bring honor and glory to God (at least that should be our desire).

Ruth 3:15

He also said, "Bring the shawl you are wearing, and take hold of it." She held it while he put six measures of barley into it; then he went into the city.

Here, we see another example of how God pours out his favor on Ruth. She had asked for Boaz to be her redeemer and she is granted that but also received six measures of barley. The same is true for us today as Christians. When we are walking in God's will for our lives, he blesses us in many different ways.

Ruth 3:16-18

When she came to her mother-in-law, she asked, "Who are you? My daughter?" She told her everything the man had done for her. Then she added, "He gave me these six measures of barley; because he said to me, "You shouldn't return to your mother-in-law with nothing." Na'omi said, "My daughter, just stay where you are, until you learn how the matter comes out; for the man won't rest unless he resolves the matter today."

Ruth could not wait to share the blessing with Naomi and to tell her all that had happened when Boaz agreed to be her redeemer. The same thing should happen to us when we accept Yeshua Messiah as our redeemer. If you look at all of the examples of people believing in Yeshua, you will see that, in every case, they immediately wanted to share the good news with those around them.

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