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.
3:1 Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?
This word security means a resting place, a permanent home. It’s a synonym of the word she used back in chapter 1 vs.9 May the Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.”, and so we see again that Boaz is being used by God to answer a prayer.
When she says that she wants Ruth to be well-situated, that it may be well with her, she’s using a common idiom associated with blessings from God, and especially those blessings which come from keeping our covenant with Him, just as there are benefits in marriage of keeping our covenant with our spouse. For example (Jer 7:23, Deut4:40,Deut 5:16).
In their culture, it was customary for parents to arrange marriages for their children, and so Naomi is treating Ruth as her daughter, by making sure that she finds security in the house of her husband.
2 Now is not Boaz our [b]kinsman, with whose maids you were?
Everything that Naomi is going to say from now on, hinges on the fact that Boaz is their close kinsman. We can’t help but smile at her excitement—this is a pretty big change for someone who wanted everyone to re-name her bitter only one chapter ago. Now, we see matchmaker Naomi. Naomi is going to make sure that whatever relationship has built up between Ruth and Boaz continues.
Now was a convenient time to remind Boaz of his family obligations. It is Boaz’ demonstration of character over the past couple of months that has encouraged Naomi to hope that he would fulfill his obligations. And she is looking for one thing from Boaz at this juncture—commitment!
Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight.
Winnowing grain is the process where the grain was threshed by pulling a heavy sled over it with bumps or stones laid into the bottom, so that it would crush the grain. Although they started harvesting barley, then moved on to harvesting wheat, they’re still finishing up the barley winnowing after all the wheat has all been harvested—meaning they had a lot more barley than wheat to harvest.
Israel was growing a lot more barley than wheat at this time in their history. Because Israel had failed to drive out all of the tribes that God had intended them to, they didn’t have access to some of the more fertile lands in Israel, where the more nutritious wheat would grow.
In our own lives, we may not always understand why God is telling us to do something or not to do something. But, we should always obey. God knows what He is talking about, and will not steer us wrong. The only thing we can do wrong is fail to obey God.
Winnowing time was traditionally considered a time of celebration, since it was the last step that had to be accomplished in order to bring the harvest in.
3 Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
Naomi has four commands that Ruth must accomplish
Now our Lord Jesus accepts us and asks us to come to him as we are. When Ruth met Boaz, she was sweaty and working hard in the field—that’s how they met. But Ruth was now wanting a deeper relationship with Boaz. In the Old Testament, the law required ceremonial washings and taking a bath and changing clothes often was done before a special event. (e.g. Gen 35:1-2, Exo 19:10-11)
If we want to enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord, we must (2nd Corinthians 7:1) “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Or as James 4:8 tells us Draw near to God and He will draw near to you Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Or, as Jesus says in John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. We are cleansed and washed as we read the Word and apply it to our lives.
So Ruth is going to anoint herself with oil. Oil, in Old Testament and New Testament times was rubbed on the skin for refreshment. It was a sign of abundance, so we read verses like Ecclesiastes 9:7-8 7Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already approved your works: 8“Let your clothes always be white, and never spare the oil for your head.”
Put on your best clothes
We also need to understand that Ruth is getting washed and dressed like someone getting married. She’s putting on her best outer garment, not her work clothes. She’s going to present herself to Boaz and let him know that she wants him to be her kinsman redeemer.
go down to the threshing floor;
She was to go down to the threshing floor where Boaz was, but she had to be careful:
but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
So, Naomi wanted to make sure that Boaz was in good spirits, after having a great meal and celebrating the harvest. She was giving her plan the best chance possible to succeed.
4 It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies,
Naomi says that Ruth will carefully notice the place on the threshing floor where Boaz lays himself down to sleep. Remember that this was before flashlights, and she couldn’t very well light an oil lamp if she doesn’t want to be seen by everyone. Everyone looks pretty much the same in the dark when they’re bundled up sleeping. I’m sure she did note carefully where Boaz laid himself down. After-all, she wouldn’t want to propose marriage to the wrong person!
and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down;
By uncovering his feet, she’s probably making sure that, as the night got colder, he would wake up after everyone else was asleep, so that they could talk. But this also has another meaning. Remember, that everyone slept in their outer garments. This is why, in Exodus 22:26-7 God commands the Israelites that if they take a man’s outer garment as collateral for a loan If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, 27 for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in? When you put your outer garment over someone and covered them with it, it meant that they were under your protection—that you were taking them in—keeping them from the cold, as it were.
5 She said to her, “All that you say I will do.”
These instructions to Ruth are quite risky. Naomi is trusting in the character of Boaz, that he will not take unfair advantage of Ruth. She’s trusting Ruth to follow her instructions carefully, so that Boaz knows exactly what’s being asked of him.
We’re talking today about how Ruth prepared to meet the groom Boaz, and of course it calls to mind how we, throughout our Christian life are preparing ourselves, as a member of the Bride of Christ, to meet our Redeemer someday.
We wash with the water of the Word
We anoint with oil of the Holy Spirit
Put on our best clothes—covering us with the righteous acts of the saints as a garment
Go through the threshing floor of this life until we meet Jesus
But God is the one who ultimately gives us this ability to prepare to meet Jesus. These bridal preparations that Ruth goes through, and this preparation that we go through in our Christian lives is only made possible by God. (Ezek 16:8-10). God is the one who notices us, and spreads His skirt of protection over us, just like Ruth asks Boaz to do.