1One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for? 2Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do."
5"I will do whatever you say," Ruth answered. 6So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.
7When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. 8In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.
9"Who are you?" he asked.
"I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer."
10“The Lord bless you, my daughter," he replied. "This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character. 12Although it is true that I am near of kin, there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I. 13Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to redeem, good; let him redeem. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning."
14So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, "Don't let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor."
15He also said, "Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out." When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and put it on her. Then he went back to town.
16When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, "How did it go, my daughter?"
Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her 17and added, "He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, 'Don't go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.'"
18Then Naomi said, "Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today." (NIV)
We now get to the fourth scene. The harvest is over and now comes the time of the barley harvest. Beginning in the spring, the barley harvest occurred in April-May and then about seven weeks later, the wheat harvest in June-July. The best time to winnow was in the late afternoon when the winds from the Mediterranean Sea were from a favorable direction and strength. The men would stay with the barley after it was separated to guard it from theft until it could be properly stored.
It is not hard to miss some parallels of other Scripture. Naomi tells Ruth to wait until Boaz has eaten and drunk some wine. Esther does not confront the kind until he has feasted and is feeling good with wine. But it is the next parallel that is interesting. What Naomi tells Ruth to do is scandalous. She is to sneak into the place after dark and go lie with a man. She is making herself very vulnerable. Even if nothing wrong happens, public opinion can ruin her and Naomi’s reputation. And we read the Ruth simply says, “I will do whatever you say.” We see the devotion of Ruth in this passage. And when Boaz asks who is next to him, she says, “I am your servant, Ruth.” It is reminiscent of the response from Mary to the angel when she is told she will get pregnant. She simply says, “I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said." Luke 1:38
There are four women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus besides Mary. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. The stories around each can be seen as almost scandalous. Tamar dressed up as a prostitute in order to have sex with her father-in-law, Judah, in order to have a child. Tamar was married to two of Judah’s sons and after two died, Judah refused to offer her other sons to marry for he felt she was cursed and those sons might die also. He later said Tamar was more righteous than he after she became pregnant. Rahab was a prostitute who helped protect the spies as they scouted out Jericho. One of those spies was Joshua who would become the leader of the people after Moses dies. Then we know about Bathsheba.
All did very irregular things but were considered righteous. And so we see a glimpse of Jesus in these women, he would be a very righteous man who did some irregular things.
And in the passage, we continue to see that Boaz will not go against the law. He also continues to protect Ruth and Naomi and to continue to provide for them. He tells Ruth that he has shown him the utmost of kindness and looking to him as a redeemer instead of chasing after younger men. In this we see the devotion of Ruth, even as a Moabite, that she is following God’s way and trusting in God’s way. And we see this trust being played out in the last lines of these verses with the admonition to “wait.” Often it takes great trust to wait.
As I read this and the potentially scandalous behavior of Ruth, I often think about how Christians down through the ages have had to endure false claims about them and hardships. The early Christians were accused of eating babies because people didn’t understand Holy Communion. They made evil assumptions out of harmless acts. This is often where our faith becomes real, can we stand with Christ when all around put Christ down. Can we as Ruth and even Mary, utter those words, “I am your servant, do with me as you wish.” Christ calls us to go to places that seem wrong, but he needs us there as a voice crying out in the wilderness. Have you ever struggled with a call to go or do something that seemed to contradict your upbringing? Have you ever had to wait for God to complete what he called you to start? These are things we have to confront as we live for Chirst.
Any comments on today’s readings?
Blessings and Peace