The Book of Ruth, The Marriage Proposal! Chapter 3

(Ver 1.1)  We have already seen in chapter 2 where Ruth has found favor in the eyes of Boaz her potential kinsmen redeemer and she has even eaten with him in resemblance to a covenant type meal where they have shared bread.  We can tell that Boaz likes this woman and grants her grace beyond all others.  Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law knows the law and has recognized who Boaz is.   In this next chapter we will see that God has orchestrated the answer to Ruth’s problems because of Ruth’s faith.  God has answered her confidence in Him beyond her wildest imagination.   It is amazing what trusting God a little can do.  If you have not read the first part of this series I would suggest that you go back and start with “Part 1“.  Now, let’s now look at chapter 3:

Rth 3:2  And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.

Apparently, Naomi has some inside scoop on what Boaz is up to.  Either Naomi is very nosy or Boaz has been dropping some clever clues in some obvious places.  You figure out which one it is.  Naomi knows that tonight Boaz will be working late in the threshing floor with the harvest.  Of course all of this is symbolic and has meaning.    Threshing in the Bible times was the harvest time activity by which the grain was removed from the husk.   The husk represented the tares (or false grain) when it was separated from the actual usable good pieces of the plant.  It really does not matter how this is done for this story, just the fact that it is being done is the part that is significant to what we need to know.  If you study the words of Jesus you find that there is another coming harvest of people in the world in Matthew 13.  Jesus informs us that the world is the field and that the wheat is the children of the kingdom of God.  The tares are the children of the evil one.  So we can see the Book of Ruth is prophetic in nature and speaking of something, an event that is coming soon.  You should go and read Matthew 13 and find out the pattern of things to come.  Then you will better understand the shadows contained in the book of Ruth.

Rth 3:3  Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.

Obviously Naomi knows the law of Moses and tells Ruth to clean up herself really good and dress in her best garments and then to go to the threshing floor to meet Boaz.  You can see that this is the picture of the church given to us in Revelation 19:7 where it says “his wife has made herself ready”.   But, she tells her not to do anything until after he has eaten and finished drinking.  It almost sounds like wait until the party is over and then do the following:

Rth 3:4  And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.

Here is where it gets complicated to understand.   Maybe Naomi knows something I don’t, but Ruth is instructed to uncover Boaz’s feet and then to lay down and wait for him to wake up or return to a sober state and see what he has to say and then do what he says.  The best that I have been able to figure out is that in Leviticus 18 God tells people not to uncover and make nude certain relatives for sexual purposes.  God gives us a long list of individuals including your children and your grand children and says the reason why is if you see them naked, it is your nakedness that you are looking at because they came from you.  What we can deduce from this, is that the practice of uncovering someone even partially is for sexual reasons and it is only OK for the husband and the wife.  So in effect, Ruth is saying you are my husband, I have seen you naked.  I know she only uncovered his feet, but it is a symbolic gesture that he realizes when he wakes to find her there at his feet.

Rth 3:7  And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.

So Ruth told Naomi that she will do what she has spoken and that is exactly what she does.   Remember Naomi is the one that knows the law and Boaz is the one that is suppose to follow the law and fulfill his obligation to the dead.  So Naomi is in effect speeding up the process and making it happen.  It would appear that Boaz is either dragging his feet (figuratively speaking) and not doing what he is required or there is more to the story than we know right now.

Rth 3:8  And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.

Now midnight comes around and we can assume it has been at least a couple of hours.  Ruth must have went to sleep also at the feet of Boaz waiting for him to wakeup.  Midnight is a very specific hour.  It is the 6th hour of the night, the beginning of the 3rd watch of the night and represents the middle of the darkness.  It is interesting to note that this is the hour when people are easily frightened and become scared.   It was around midnight when the death angel visited in Egypt and killed the firstborn who did not have the blood of the lamb on the doorposts.  It is also interesting to note that in Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the 10 virgins.  It just so happens that the bridegroom shows up at midnight and 5 of the virgins had oil and 5 of the virgins did not and were called foolish.  So there is some significant parallels being given to us.  Jesus Christ is called the “bridegroom” and the church is His bride.  We can again see the connection between Jesus and the man called Boaz.

Rth 3:9  And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.

The word that is interesting in this verse, is the word for “skirt”.  This word actually refers to the wing of a feathered bird like an eagle and is translated like that many places.  It is also used to refer to the hem of a garment or robe.  The priests were required to sew tassels on the hem of their garments.  Then there is this reference in Deuteronomy that seems to be in reference to an elicit sexual encounter.

Deu 22:30  A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor discover his father’s skirt.

You can see that the man’s father and his father’s wife are spoken of in terms of being one.   By the son uncovering his father’s wife he is said to uncover his father.  So obviously Ruth must have learned something about the law herself.  Boaz wakes up and is startled and asks who are you in the middle of the night.  Ruth tells him I am Ruth and you are my near kinsmen redeemer.  Now here is the other part that you miss reading the English part of the translation from the KJV Bible.  This word “skirt” also occurs in the previous chapter, but is translated in a completely different way:

Rth 2:12  The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

Reading this verse we can better understand what Ruth was trying to say to Boaz.  Ruth was telling Boaz you are God’s answer to my problem, spread your wings over me and I will put my trust in you.  If this is not a marriage proposal I do not know what you would call it.  Wings are spoken of as a covering, and a place of safety in the O.T. Bible like in the Psalms.   Many times this is God’s people under the wings of God’s protection.  This is the picture of Ruth and Boaz as well as the Church and Jesus.

Look at this verse in Ezekiel and see if this is not what the woman Ruth is saying for her Redeemer to do to her.

Eze 16:8  Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

God says to Israel, when I looked upon you I spread my skirt over you.  You can again see the reference to nakedness and being unclothed.   In association with these words God says I have entered into a covenant with you and you have become mine by marriage.   This is a very clear picture of Christ and the church.   If you recall in the N.T. the church is said to be clothed with Christ.  We wear Christ as a symbolic garment.  This is a covenant marriage description when the husband covers his bride.

 Rth 3:10  And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.

A reference to the kindness of Ruth is exemplified by Boaz.  She is also portrayed to be a woman of character and integrity who is not doing things just for her on good.  Her thoughtfulness and the fact that she followed her wiser mother-in-law’s instructions all proved that Ruth was a great candidate for a wife.  We do not know how old Boaz is, but by implications given he is not a young man.  Based upon him potentially being one of Elimilech’s brothers who has already died, we can assume that he is closer to Naomi’s age than to Ruth’s age.  Nevertheless, Ruth is commended for doing what she has done.

Rth 3:11  And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.

Boaz says that the whole city knows that she is a virtuous woman.  Of course remember we are in Bethlehem, the future birthplace of Jesus.  The Hebrew word translated as “Bethlehem” means the House of Bread.  Another symbolic term for God’s spiritual house.  Boaz commits to Ruth to do whatever is  necessary to  accomplished what she needed to satisfy his Lawful duty.  Boaz has committed to do whatever is necessary to make her his wife.  This is a marriage commitment and a verbal contract.  Boaz has committed to redeem his dead brother’s debts and to raise up an heir for him, by marrying his dead brother’s son’s wife.  This is the law of God, but also the wisdom of God and a picture of Christ and the church.

If you would like to continue this series of lessons, you can go to “Part 4“.

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About agapegeek

Using the Bible to understand the Bible! Advanced Bible study for mature Chrisitians who want to grow.

Posted on June 11, 2010, in Bible Study, Ruth and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I would think that Ruth’s only recourse was at Boaz’s feet. The feet representative of humility. As Mary did when she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, or the woman with the issue of blood that touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. If Ruth is a typology of the church doesn’t this instruct us to go to the low place, come humbly seeking God for what we have need of.

    • You are very correct in your understanding. I think you are not giving yourself enough credit to see correctly what God is teaching us. Humility is a key to receiving anything from God. Humility is an absolute requirement and there is no other options available. I base this on several verses but here is one that you should consider:

      Jas 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

      God’s Grace is the key to whatever you need in this life. This means salvation, healing, finances or whatever. Everything that we receive from God is by His Grace. However, God resists the proud and pride is the opposite of humility. Humility is a very important subject. I will probably do a lesson series on this subject someday because it is not widely taught or understood correctly. For example, humility is not putting oneself down. Humility has more to do with the correct attitude of the heart (spirit) than anything else.

  2. You need to add a retweet button to your blog. I just tweeted this post, but had to do it manually. Just my $.02 :)

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