Journey in the Word

Karen Ingrid Clark

Ruth: Loss to Legacy

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Week Three – Day 1WK03D01

Read Ruth 3:1 -5     SOAP Ruth 3:3-4

In verses 1-4 Naomi gives Ruth some strange instructions. What is Ruth supposed to do and what is the point of her actions?

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Is not Boaz our relative, with whose young women you were? See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your cloak and go down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, observe the place where he lies. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.” And she replied, “All that you say I will do.”

O – Naomi seems to have recovered from being a bitter widow to becoming a matchmaker!  She takes on the role of what would typically be a parental one – securing a mate for her child.

First, she asks if she should seek “rest” for Ruth – so she would be cared for?  (Ruth has been caring for Naomi)  I love what Guzik suggests in his commentary:  *The Hebrew word for security in verse one is the same word for rest in Ruth 1:9, where Naomi hoped that her daughters-in-law would find rest and security in the home of a new husband. This Hebrew word (manowach) speaks of what a home should be – a place of rest and security.*

Then, she suggests that Boaz, their relative, the one whom allows her to glean with the other young women, is winnowing barley that night.    She reminds Ruth that Boaz was a relative….  So he could be a kinsman-redeemer.

Then, she unveils a plan for Ruth to accomplish that would get Boaz’s attention.  First to wash and anoint herself – to “pretty herself up” to appeal to his senses.   Then to cover herself and go down to the threshing floor, but to wait until he finished his meal.  When he went to lie down, she should uncover his feet, and cover herself with that covering.  (this let Boaz know her intentions….. that she was interested in him.  However, it was not a sexual invitation, but a submission to his “covering.”) At that point, Boaz would let her know what to do.

From PreceptAustin:  * This strategic nighttime encounter was to request him to fulfill the role of the nearest kinsman (perpetuate the name) and the Goel or redeemer who could pay the (“ransom”) price for Elimelech’s land. In summary, Boaz’s intervention would accomplish two of Naomi’s essential needs – perpetuation of the paternal name and perpetuation of the possession of property.

And….. Ruth agreed to do it!

A – What is my take-away from THIS passage?

First – God had put into place a way for Ruth to have protection – first as an “employer”, then a kinsman-redeemer, and finally as a husband – in Boaz.  Naomi knew this Hebrew custom.  She didn’t suggest this until after Ruth had been working in the fields gleaning for at least six weeks or so, enough time for Boaz to see what Ruth was really like.  But, those laws and customs were part of Ruth’s redemption!

Second – It is in obedience that God provides.  Ruth obeyed Naomi’s instructions.  Though they may seem odd to us today, they were part of the culture of that day.  If God can use customs to provide for Ruth, can He not provide for me in the same way?

Do I obey readily?  Even when I don’t understand, or it seems “odd?”  Do I question what God has for me to do  – that will bring relief or provision?  Do I really believe that God provides?   Certainly God’s “history” in my life has been one of provision – for many years.  May I rest in that – and obey Him readily!

P – Father God, thank You for providing for me, through many years of single parenting.  Thank You for extending the finances, providing food, and even creative ways of stretching what I did have.  Help me to rely on You for everything, because You are Jehovah-Jireh, my Provider.  You are my God, my Protector, my Provider.  Thank You.



David Guzik –

Shall I not seek security for you: Naomi knew that Ruth could best be taken care of if she was married, so she suggested that she appeal to Boaz for marriage.

  1. The Hebrew word for securityin verse one is the same word for restin Ruth 1:9, where Naomi hoped that her daughters-in-law would find rest and security in the home of a new husband. This Hebrew word (manowach) speaks of what a home should be – a place of rest and security.

Now Boaz . . . Is he not our relative? One might easily think that this was inappropriately forward of Naomi to suggest this to Ruth. It is possible to think that Naomi plotted with Ruth to make her a man-trap, to go out and hunt down a reluctant Boaz for marriage. Not at all; Naomi’s suggestion to Ruth was rooted in a peculiar custom in ancient Israel – the meaning behind the Hebrew word goel.

  1. This was the point in Naomi’s question about Boaz: Is he not our relative?She reminded Ruth that Boaz was their family goel.
  2. The goel– sometimes translated kinsman-redeemer– had a specifically defined role in Israel’s family life.
  • The kinsman-redeemer was responsible to buy a fellow Israelite out of slavery (Leviticus 25:48).
  • He was responsible to be the “avenger of blood” to make sure the murderer of a family member answered to the crime (Numbers 35:19).
  • He was responsible to buy back family land that had been forfeited (Leviticus 25:25).
  • He was responsible to carry on the family name by marrying a childless widow (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).

iii. In this, we see that the goel, the kinsman-redeemer, was responsible to safeguard the persons, the property, and the posterity of the family. “Words from the root g’l are used with a variety of meanings in the Old Testament, but the fundamental idea is that of fulfilling one’s obligations as a kinsman.” (Morris)
Naomi’s Instructions:

  1. Therefore wash yourself: Naomi, in her advice to Ruth, showed a keen knowledge of male behavior. She instructed Ruth to make herself pretty and smelling good (anoint yourself, put on your best garment), and to leave Boaz alone while he ate (do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking).
  2. Uncover his feet, and lie down: At the appropriate time, Naomi instructs Ruth to go in, uncover his feet, and lie down. Some might think this was a provocative gesture, as if Ruth was told to provocatively offer herself sexually to Boaz. This was not how this gesture was understood in that day. In the culture of that day, this was understood as an act of total submission.
  3. In that day, this was understood to be the role of a servant – to lay at their master’s feet and be ready for any command of the master. So, when Naomi told Ruth to lie downat Boaz’s feet, she told her to come to him in a totally humble, submissive way.
  4. Don’t lose sight of the larger picture: Ruth came to claim a right. Boaz was her goel, her kinsman-redeemer, and she had the rightto expect him to marry her and raise up a family to perpetuate the name of Elimelech. But Naomi wisely counseled Ruth to not come as a victim demanding her rights, but as a humble servant, trusting in the goodness of her kinsman-redeemer. She said to Boaz, “I respect you, I trust you, and I put my fate in your hands.”
  5. He will tell you what you should do: Of course, this was a situation that had the potential for disaster, if Boaz should mistreat Ruth in some way. But Naomi and Ruth had the chance to get to know Boaz, and they knew what kind of man he was – a good man, a godly man, one to whom Ruth could confidently submit.


Constable’s Notes:

Naomi had expressed a desire back in Moab that each of her daughters-in-law might find “rest” ( Ruth 1:9). The Hebrew word reads “security” in the NASB and “a home” in the NIV, but its meaning in other parts of the Old Testament is a place or condition of rest. [Note: See my note on1:9.] Naomi”s concern for Ruth extended beyond her physical needs of food and safety to Ruth”s deeper need for a husband and, hopefully, a son. God had promised to bless His people with many descendants ( Genesis 12:1-3), and the hope of every Jewish woman was that God would so bless her. If Ruth was able to marry Boaz and have a Song of Solomon , Naomi likewise would enjoy blessing since Ruth”s son would perpetuate Elimelech”s branch of the family. Yet Naomi”s concern appears to have been primarily for Ruth”s welfare in marriage because Ruth had proved to be such a blessing to her.

Precept Austin:

Hubbard observes that…

A significant theological point emerges here. Earlier Naomi had wished (Ed: or prayed for) for these same things (Ru 1:89 – see notes Ru 1:81:9). Here human means (i.e., Naomi’s plan) carry out something previously understood to be in Yahweh’s province. In response to providentially given opportunity, Naomi began to answer her own prayer! Thus she models one way in which divine and human actions work together (Ed: cp God’s sovereignty, human free will/responsibility): believers are not to wait passively for events to happen; rather, they must seize the initiative when an opportunity presents itself. They assume that God presents the opportunity.” (Hubbard, R: The Book of Ruth. New International Commentary on the Old Testament series. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988 )

John MacArthur notes that…

Naomi instructed Ruth 1) to put on her best appearance and 2) to propose marriage to Boaz by utilizing an ancient Near Eastern custom. Since Boaz is a generation older than Ruth (Ru 2:8noteRu 3:10), this overture would indicate Ruth’s desire to marry Boaz which the older, gracious Boaz would not have initiated with a younger woman.


Naomi’s strategic plan was based on the fact that her deceased husband Elimelech still possessed land in Bethlehem but her poverty had forced her to sell the property (Ru 4:3). Naomi however understood that Boaz was a near relative of Elimelech (Ru 2:13note), and was a “candidate” (potential) redeemer who could ransom Elimelech’s field as summarized in Leviticus…

If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor (like Naomi) he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman (Goel) is to come and buy back what his relative has sold. (Lv 25:25)

Not only could Boaz redeem the land but also the name. If Boaz were to marry Ruth (the widow of Mahlon) this would (if God blessed the union with children – Ps 127:3note) perpetuate the name of Mahlon (and Elimelech). While the Mosaic law in Leviticus addressed the land, the law in Deuteronomy addressed the name

This passage in Deuteronomy describes the rules of so-called “Levirate marriage” (Latin levir = “husband’s brother”) the practice of which was established to prevent the blotting out of the family name. If the brother would not fulfill this responsibility or there was no living brother, the right and responsibility passed to the nearest kinsman (cp Boaz – Ru 2:13“kinsman… of the family of Elimelech”, Ru 2:20 “our relative… one of our closest relatives [Goel]”).

So we see two OT concepts coalesce in the story of Ruth and Naomi. The upshot is that Naomi has become aware of a near relative who could function as the Goel, a kinsman-redeemer, (1) paying the ransom price for Elimelech’s land (cp Lv 25:25) and (2) marrying the widow Ruth so that the family name (and “seed”) was not blotted out (Dt 25:5-10).

Based on these truths in the Torah and her innate hope in Shaddai/Jehovah (Who had not withdrawn His covenant kindness, Ru 2:20), Naomi presented a detailed, step by step plan to Ruth. Using this plan Ruth would approach Boaz, who had shown himself to be kind and interested in Ruth (cp Ru 2:5). This strategic nighttime encounter was to request him to fulfill the role of the nearest kinsman (perpetuate the name) and the Goel or redeemer who could pay the (“ransom”) price for Elimelech’s land. In summary, Boaz’s intervention would accomplish two of Naomi’s essential needs – perpetuation of the paternal name and perpetuation of the possession of property.

My Provider (Urban Rescue) –

I believe You are able

I believe you are good

I believe you are with me

Even now


I believe You are greater

Than every mountain that I face

I believe You will supply all I need

You’re all I need


Till the ocean runs dry

My god is my provider


Though my heart it may fail

Your love will light the way


And if there’s one thing I know

I know that You are with me

You’re my provider


Would You speak, I am listening

I can’t do this on my own

So I lift up my eyes

For my help is found in You

Found in You



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