Love and Marriage


But Naomi seems to be planning Ruth’s seduction
of Boaz. She instructs Ruth not to reveal herself until Boaz has finished eating and
drinking, and when he lies down, Ruth is to approach him and uncover his feet–this is
possibly a sexual euphemism–and lie down, and he will tell her what she is to do. So
Ruth follows these instructions exactly. In 3:7-11:
Boaz ate and drank, and in a cheerful mood went to lie down beside the grainpile. Then
she went over stealthily and uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night,
the man gave a start and pulled back–there was a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?”
he asked. And she replied, “I am your handmaid Ruth. Spread your robe over you handmaid,
for you are a redeeming kinsman.” [a goel] He exclaimed, “Be blessed of the Lord, daughter!
Your latest deed of loyalty is greater than the first, in that you have not turned to
younger men, whether poor or rich. And now, daughter, have no fear. I will do in your
behalf whatever you ask, for all the elders of my town know what a fine woman you are.” So Ruth’s request is that Boaz act as her
redeemer and spread his robe over her, which is a formal act of protection and espousal.
And Boaz assures her that he will redeem her. He then goes on to point out, however, that
there is another kinsman who is actually a closer relation, and therefore has the first
right of refusal, and Boaz will settle the matter legally in the morning. And we’re left
wondering what transpired in the night. In chapter 4 we read the legal proceeding by
which the other kinsman is freed of his obligation and his claim to Ruth and this then clears
the way, enables Boaz to marry her. But the punchline to the whole story is yet to come
and that occurs in chapter 4, verses 13-17, So Boaz married Ruth; she became his wife,
and he cohabited with her. The Lord let her conceive, and she bore a son. And the women
said to Naomi, “Blessed by the Lord, who has not withheld a redeemer from you today! May
his name be perpetuated in Israel! He will renew your life and sustain your old age;
for he is born of your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven
sons.” Naomi took the child and held it to her bosom. She became its foster mother, and
the women neighbors gave him a name saying, “A son is born to Naomi!” They named him Obed;
he was the father of Jesse, father of David. So David, God’s anointed king over Israel;
David, with whom God covenanted that his house should reign forever; David, from whose line
would come the messianic king to rule in the final age–This David is said to be the direct
descendant, the great grandson of a foreign woman from a country of idol worshippers,
and a Moabitess no less. So it seems that this very short and very moving story represents
a strand of thought that stood in opposition to the line of thinking found, for example,
in Ezra’s call for a ban on intermarriage as the only means of insuring faithfulness
to Israel’s God. Not only is Ruth, the Moabitess, not guilty of abominable practices, she is
the ancestress of Yahweh’s chosen monarch. And she’s praised in the story by all who
know her as a paragon of hesed, this quality of steadfast love and covenantal loyalty that
binds the members of the covenant community to one another and to God. Ruth, the Moabitess,
stood by an elderly widow to whom she had no real legal obligation and she was accepted
into the covenant community.

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Comments

  1. I do not believe UNCOVER HIS FEET to be sexual. The Bible speaks of men and women lying down without sex.

    1 Kings 1:4 And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.

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