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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Ruth 3

Verses 1-5

Ruth - Chapter 3

Naomi Advising, vs. 1-5

It seems apparent that Naomi had designs relative to a match-up between Boaz and Ruth from the very first day of Ruth’s gleaning. The relationship having survived all through the harvest, and Boaz having not made any move himself, she decided to take the initiative. Perhaps Boaz was timid; it is hard to feel, from his display of feeling for Ruth’s welfare, that he did not have tender thoughts of her. Naomi made clear to Ruth that she wished to effect marriage between them.

The custom Naomi adopted for Ruth to apprise Boaz of her desire to marry him is quite strange to modern thought. There is no further enlightenment concerning it in the Scriptures, and to the Christian mind it might even seem immoral. There was certainly no immoral intent on the part of Naomi and Ruth, nor was there any immorality involved, as shall be seen.

Ruth was to prepare herself by bathing and anointing herself and dressing in her best raiment. She was to go secretly to the threshing ­floor that evening while Boaz was winnowing the barley. Winnowing was the manner in which the chaff was removed from the grain. In the late evening, as the land cooled off from the day’s heat, the breezes would blow in from the Mediterranean Sea. So the men picked this time to winnow the grain. It would be tossed into the breeze, which would blow out the chaff while the heavier grain would fall on to the winnowing sheet again.

Ruth was to see where Boaz lay down to sleep when the winnowing was over, but not to discover herself until he had finished his evening meal and gone to sleep. Then she was to go quietly and uncover his feet and lie down there. Here she would remain until he became aware of her presence, at which time he would inform her what she should do. Ruth agreed to follow her mother in law’s instructions.

Verses 6-14

Ruth in the Threshing floor, vs. 6-14

Ruth followed the instructions of Naomi carefully. She waited until Boaz had finished the winnowing and eaten his evening meal and was re­freshed. She saw that he went and made his bed at the end of the heap of grain he had been winnowing to spend the night in his threshing floor, probably to guard it against thieves. Then Ruth came very quietly, un­covered Boaz’ feet and lay down there, waiting for him to realize her presence.

It was midnight when Boaz awoke with that strange premonition of something not just exactly as it should be. He was startled and turned himself to see what it was. Likely he smelled her perfume, for he was aware that the person at his feet was a woman. Of course, he must also have been aware of the custom whereby a woman came thus to request the protection and provision of a man. As soon as he asked, Ruth gave him the answer which Naomi had given her for him. It was a clear proposal that he redeem them and their land by marrying Ruth according to the law of the kinsman redeemer (see Leviticus 25:47; De 25:5-10).

Boaz answered her kindly, commending her for her continued concern for the family into which she had come, and for the fulfillment of the law relative thereto. She might have sought a marriage with some of the younger men, but instead was concerned for the welfare of Naomi and the good name of Elimelech and Mahlon. Boaz said he would do what she required of him gladly, for Ruth’s reputation in Bethlehem was excellent, and his marriage with her would be heartily approved.

However, there was a matter that must be first settled. There was another kinsman who had a nearer claim than Boaz. Perhaps he was a younger brother of Elimelech, or an older nephew than Boaz. He must have the first chance at redemption. But Ruth was to lie quietly until the next day when Boaz would promptly attend to the matter. If the nearer kinsman would not redeem them then Boaz swore to her that he would do so.

Early in the morning before daylight Boaz sent Ruth away, so that some wag might not see her leaving the floor and spread a malicious rumor about her. Thus Boaz sought to protect the virtue of Ruth.

Verses 15-18

Back to Naomi, vs. 15-18

As Ruth prepared to leave the threshing floor and return to Naomi Boaz called her to him, had her take the vail she had worn over her head, and hold it while he poured into it six measure of the winnowed barley to carry Naomi. These six measures was a considerable quantity, though the original language is indefinite as to what measure is meant. Some think it was the ephah, six of which would be over four and a half bushels, surely far too much for even a strong young woman like Ruth to carry.

Ruth arrived home before Naomi could recognize her, and had to identify herself before the older woman would admit her. Once inside Naomi saw the grain, heard the story and knew at once that things had proceeded far enough that they were no longer in her hands. She advised Ruth to sit still and wait to see how things would transpire. She knew that Boaz would keep his word and attend to the matter promptly. Were they anxious? It is doubtful, for Naomi seems to have been of the feeling that the matter was of the Lord. And of course, it was.

What lessons may be garnered from chapter three? 1) The young are well advised to listen to the counsel of the elders, especially of those who fear the Lord; 2) among the godly Israelites there was care to guard virtue and chastity, and it should be true today of God’s people; 3) when things are left to be worked out according to the will of the Lord those concerned cannot but be pleased with the outcome.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ruth 3". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ruth-3.html. 1985.