6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her.
It was important that Ruth do things exactly as Naomi had told her, so that Boaz would understand that Ruth was asking him to be her kinsman-redeemer.
This assurance that all was done according to the specific commands given is found all over the Bible.
Examples: Noah did everything in building the ark exactly as God had commanded him to. When Moses and Aaron were standing before pharaoh in Exodus 7:20, that they did exactly as God had commanded them to. When Israel was ready to depart Egypt, and ate their first Passover meal, they did it exactly according to all the instructions that God had given Moses and Aaron (Exodus 7:50). When Moses received instructions from God on how to build the tabernacle, he also received the instructions to build it exactly according to the instructions he was given. When Israel arrived in the land, we are assured in Joshua 4:8 that the people did exactly as Joshua commanded. They took twelve stones from the Jordan-a stone for each of the twelve tribes, just as God had instructed Joshua when they carried the stones into the camp and set them up as a memorial. Then, later in the conquest of Israel, it was because Joshua followed God’s battle plan for Jericho exactly, that on the 7th day, the walls around Jericho fell, with only Rahab and her family spared when they took the city.
What do all of these events have in common? They are all pictures, in one way or another of redemption. We’re going to see that this little event, occurring on a threshing floor in the little town of Bethlehem, is going to play its own part in God’s redemptive plan for all of us.
7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down.
The fact that his heart was merry means that he was in a good mood, enjoying the fact that the harvest was accomplished. Next, we see Ruth, sneaking over to where he is lying down in the middle of the night, and laying down by his feet, she uncovered them.
She’s showing submission to him, as a humble petitioner. By uncovering his feet, she’s probably making sure that, as the night got colder, he would wake up because his feet were uncovered, and it would be after everyone else was asleep, so that they could talk. The outer garment was symbolic of protection.
8 It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet.
Again, we see this word Behold—in this case, it makes us pause and consider how shocking it would have been for him! He probably was drowsily turning over and reaching down to cover his feet a moment before, but as soon as he noticed that a woman was lying by his feet, he is now wide awake!
9 He said, “Who are you?”
He probably has a suspicion of who it is, but just like Ruth, who had to make sure that she noted where Boaz lay down, so that she could make sure that she was proposing to the right person, now Boaz has to make sure that he’s accepting the duties of the kinsman redeemer for the right relative.
And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.”
She now asks Boaz to spread his cloak of protection over her. The word for cloak here is also translated wings in other contexts—such as being taken under God’s wings of protection. For Israelites the border or hem of a garment was considered where the authority resides.
Similarly here, it is Boaz’ protection and leadership as a husband that Ruth is seeking, so she asks that that symbol of protection be spread over her to include her in his household.
This is called the Law of the Levarite, or Law of the Brother-In-Law existed so that no families died out in Israel. This is the moment of truth, where we see if Naomi’s faith in Boaz’ character was well-founded.
10 Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.
So, Boaz’ first words, as he hears her proposal of marriage is to bless her in the name of the Lord. He is much older than Ruth, and considers it a kindness that Ruth is not letting that get in the way of their relationship.
Now, one has to ask why a wealthy, eligible bachelor has remained single until he is at least a middle-aged man? Deuteronomy 23:3 where God commands that 3 No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; In Deutoronomy 7:3, the Israelites were forbidden to intermarry amongst the various tribes who had lived in the land of Canaan. So, taking all of this in consideration, why isn’t Boaz worried about all of this, and why has he remained single, despite being wealthy and eligible?
Because, if we look back in the genealogies, we find that Boaz’ mother was Rahab the Harlot, a Canaanite of Jericho who had converted to the worship of Yahweh and had joined the nation of Israel, just as Ruth had. No-one wanted to marry him because he was from a non-Israelite background, and so he was single. So God sent him a bride who was of great character, just as he was, and who he would have no problem with marrying, even though she was a foreigner, because his mother had been a foreigner also.
11 Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.
And Boaz makes it clear, that it is because of the character that she has shown, that Ruth can rest assured, can set her heart at ease, that Boaz will indeed marry her. Ruth’s character has been assessed as excellent by “the gate of Boaz’ people”, in other words, in the judgement of the Bethlehemites collectively Ruth has shown her character to be excellent.
12 Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
The role of the kinsman redeemer was to be completed by the closest relative. Since there was a relative who was closer in relationship to Naomi than Boaz, that means that this man had a prior claim, and right and responsibility to redeem Ruth and Naomi.
13 Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the Lord lives. Lie down until morning.”
Boaz wants to marry Ruth, and Ruth wants to marry Boaz, but if this closer relative wants to redeem Ruth and Naomi, then he will respect that decision. But he also reassures Ruth that he will make sure that she is redeemed.