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RUTH FINDS A REDEEMER
As Naomi saw it, the kinsman-redeemer needed to be awakened to his responsibility, so she laid her plans for doing this. When the barley was being winnowed and the harvest was almost over, license often prevailed. The harvest had been associated by the ancient peoples of Palestine with fertility rites, and even the Hebrews had accepted some of these practices and customs, while hypothetical retaining their wilderness religion. There is evidence of this in Judges. The winnowing took place in the evening hours when a cool breeze blew in from the Mediterranean Sea, and the workers slept on the threshing floor to protect the grain. Ruth was instructed by Naomi to prepare herself as a bride, wait until Boaz had eaten and drunk, and then, as he slept, to uncover his feet and lie there. She did as instructed, and at midnight Boaz v awoke to find the woman at his feet. In the darkness, she identified herself and pleaded that he spread his skirt over her, since he was her next of kin. This act of covering with the skirt was a familiar one in the ancient Near East and was symbolic of protection; it was especially associated with marriage. We note that just as Boaz in his prayer had described Ruth as taking refuge under the wings or skirts of the Lord, so now a like refuge was requested of him. Boaz accepted his responsibility, emphasizing that Ruth’s devotion and Covenant love ("first" kindness) to Naomi were now matched by a greater devotion and Covenant love ("last" kindness) to himself (vs. 10). He kept her in safety for the rest of the night, promising that the next day he would set in process his active role as kinsman. He reminded her that there was one other nearer kinsman on whom the priority in the duty rested.
Boaz vowed that if this man failed, he himself would marry Ruth the next morning. Ruth returned to Naomi before daybreak, Boaz having instructed his servants that her presence on the threshing floor must be kept secret. Boaz sealed his vow with a gift of barley, and Ruth came back to Naomi with reassuring news.
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"Commentary on Ruth 3". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany