The Book of Ruth, Part 10: Uncovering Boaz’s Feet

In today’s episode we get a bit of a jolt to the “love story” of Ruth and Boaz, and Naomi suggests something that might startle us. Ruth’s actions might be viewed with some skepticism too.

WARNING: While I think most will be fine listening to this episode with their children, you may wish to preview this one first.

This episode will be challenging our modern view of marriage and of women’s independence, but I also think it demonstrates just how strong of a woman Ruth was, especially in light of all that she has been through.

Ruth 3:1 (NET) At that time, Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you so you will be secure. 2 Now Boaz, with whose female servants you worked, is our close relative. Look, tonight he is winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 So bathe yourself, rub on some perfumed oil, and get dressed up. Then go down to the threshing floor. But donʼt let the man know youʼre there until he finishes his meal. 4 When he gets ready to go to sleep, take careful notice of the place where he lies down. Then go, uncover his legs, and lie down beside him. He will tell you what you should do.” 5 Ruth replied to Naomi, “I will do everything you have told me to do.”

The Book of Ruth, Part 9: Boaz Exposed

Boaz Exposed

The story of Ruth is beginning to pick up speed. Ruth comes back from a day in the fields with a harvest beyond expectation, and Naomi rightfully wonders why. She soon finds out: Boaz is the benefactor. While we were given some insight into Boaz’s identity at the beginning of chapter 2, it is only now that Ruth finds out who he is, as Naomi exposes him.

There are many who think Boaz was seeking Ruth as a wife early on, and his kindness toward her is evidence of that. I’m not so sure though. While that case can be made, it is equally likely that he was just a kind man looking to take care of his deceased relative’s family. What do you think?

Ruth 2:18 (NET) She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much grain she had gathered. Then Ruth gave her the roasted grain she had saved from mealtime. 19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you gather grain today? Where did you work? May the one who took notice of you be rewarded!” So Ruth told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked. She said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be rewarded by the Lord because he has shown loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead!” Then Naomi said to her, “This man is a close relative of ours; he is our guardian.” 21 Ruth the Moabite replied, “He even told me, ʻYou may go along beside my servants until they have finished gathering all my harvest!ʼ” 22 Naomi then said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “It is good, my daughter, that you should go out to work with his female servants. That way you will not be harmed, which could happen in another field.” 23 So Ruth worked beside Boazʼs female servants, gathering grain until the end of the barley harvest as well as the wheat harvest. After that she stayed home with her mother-in-law.

The Book of Ruth, Part 8: Boaz’s Generosity Grows

Boaz's Generosity Grows

Boaz continues to show incredible kindness to Ruth, even inviting her to join him and his servants for dinner, but that wasn’t all – he gave her food in abundance.

Ruth 2:14 (NET) Later during the mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and have some food! Dip your bread in the vinegar!” So she sat down beside the harvesters. Then he handed her some roasted grain. She ate until she was full and saved the rest. 15 When she got up to gather grain, Boaz told his male servants, “Let her gather grain even among the bundles! Donʼt chase her off! 16 Make sure you pull out ears of grain for her and drop them so she can gather them up. Donʼt tell her not to!” 17 So she gathered grain in the field until evening. When she threshed what she had gathered, it came to about thirty pounds of barley!

The Book of Ruth, Part 7: Humbleness and Generosity

In this episode of Noble Bereans, we see Ruth humbly wondering why Boaz is so kind to her, and he explains that he is aware of her actions toward Naomi and all she sacrificed to be with her. He then blesses and encourages her, which is just the beginning of his provision for her.

Ruth 2:10 (NET) Ruth knelt before him with her forehead to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind and so attentive to me, even though I am a foreigner?” 11 Boaz replied to her, “I have been given a full report of all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband – how you left your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously. 12 May the Lord reward your efforts! May your acts of kindness be repaid fully by the Lord God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!” 13 She said, “You really are being kind to me, sir, for you have reassured and encouraged me, your servant, even though I am not one of your servants!”

The Book of Ruth, Part 6: Boaz Arrives

In this episode of Noble Bereans, we get our first glimpse of Boaz in action as he begins to put Ruth under his covering of protection and provision, even before he really knows her.

Ruth 2:4 (NET) Now at that very moment, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “May the Lord be with you!” They replied, “May the Lord bless you!” 5 Boaz asked his servant in charge of the harvesters, “To whom does this young woman belong?” 6 The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “Sheʼs the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab. 7 She asked, ʻMay I follow the harvesters and gather grain among the bundles?ʼ Since she arrived she has been working hard from this morning until now – except for sitting in the resting hut a short time.”

8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my dear! Do not leave to gather grain in another field. You need not go beyond the limits of this field. You may go along beside my female workers. 9 Take note of the field where the men are harvesting and follow behind with the female workers. I will tell the men to leave you alone. When you are thirsty, you may go to the water jars and drink some of the water the servants draw.”

The Book of Ruth, Part 5: Boaz’s Field

Ruth continues in the same respectful way as we’ve seen thus far, and she takes it upon herself to go into the fields to harvest some of the leftover Barley. This is where she meets Boaz for the first time.

Ruth 2:1 (NET) Now Naomi had a relative on her husbandʼs side of the family named Boaz. He was a wealthy, prominent man from the clan of Elimelech. 2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields so I can gather grain behind whoever permits me to do so.” Naomi replied, “You may go, my daughter.” 3 So Ruth went and gathered grain in the fields behind the harvesters. Now she just happened to end up in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.

Leviticus 19:9 (NET) ʻWhen you gather in the harvest of your land, you must not completely harvest the corner of your field, and you must not gather up the gleanings of your harvest.”

Deuteronomy 24:19 where it is stated, “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

Deuteronomy 23:3 (NET) An Ammonite or Moabite may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation none of their descendants shall ever do so, 4 for they did not meet you with food and water on the way as you came from Egypt, and furthermore, they hired Balaam son of Beor of Pethor in Aram Naharaim to curse you.

The Book of Ruth, Part 4: Call Me Bitter

In this episode we look at Naomi’s and Ruth’s arrival into Bethlehem, joy in the eyes of some, but bitterness in the eyes of Naomi, who even asks to be called by a different name!

Ruth 1:18 (NET) When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped trying to dissuade her. 19 So the two of them journeyed together until they arrived in Bethlehem.

When they entered Bethlehem, the whole village was excited about their arrival. The women of the village said, “Can this be Naomi?” 20 But she replied to them, “Donʼt call me ʻNaomiʼ! Call me ʻMaraʼ because the Sovereign One has treated me very harshly. 21 I left here full, but the Lord has caused me to return empty-handed. Why do you call me ʻNaomi,ʼ seeing that the Lord has opposed me, and the Sovereign One has caused me to suffer?” 22 So Naomi returned, accompanied by her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth, who came back with her from the region of Moab. (Now they arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.)

The Book of Ruth, Part 3: Insistent Devotion

In this episode we explore a difference in Orpah and Ruth, learning a key point that may have inspired Ruth to accompany Naomi at all costs.

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Ruth 1:7 (NET) Now as she and her two daughters-in-law began to leave the place where she had been living to return to the land of Judah, 8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Listen to me! Each of you should return to your motherʼs home! May the Lord show you the same kind of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands and to me! 9 May the Lord enable each of you to find security in the home of a new husband!” Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept loudly. 10 But they said to her, “No! We will return with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi replied, “Go back home, my daughters! There is no reason for you to return to Judah with me! I am no longer capable of giving birth to sons who might become your husbands! 12 Go back home, my daughters! For I am too old to get married again. Even if I thought that there was hope that I could get married tonight and conceive sons, 13 surely you would not want to wait until they were old enough to marry! Surely you would not remain unmarried all that time! No, my daughters, you must not return with me.For my intense suffering is too much for you to bear. For the Lord is afflicting me!”
Ruth 1:14 Again they wept loudly. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung tightly to her. 15 So Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her god. Follow your sister-in-law back home!” 16 But Ruth replied, “Stop urging me to abandon you! For wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will become my people, and your God will become my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die – and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise! Only death will be able to separate me from you!”

The Book of Ruth, Part 2: The Levirate Marriage

In this episode we continue our study in the fascinating book of Ruth, learning a bit more of the back story and some of the motivation of why Orpah and Ruth might have wanted to accompany Naomi back to Bethlehem.

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Today’s scriptures are:

Ruth 1:7 (NET) Now as she and her two daughters-in-law began to leave the place where she had been living to return to the land of Judah, 8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Listen to me! Each of you should return to your motherʼs home! May the Lord show you the same kind of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands and to me! 9 May the Lord enable each of you to find security in the home of a new husband!” Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept loudly. 10 But they said to her, “No! We will return with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi replied, “Go back home, my daughters! There is no reason for you to return to Judah with me! I am no longer capable of giving birth to sons who might become your husbands! 12 Go back home, my daughters! For I am too old to get married again.Even if I thought that there was hope that I could get married tonight and conceive sons, 13 surely you would not want to wait until they were old enough to marry! Surely you would not remain unmarried all that time! No, my daughters, you must not return with me.For my intense suffering is too much for you to bear. For the Lord is afflicting me!”Deuteronomy 25:5 (NET) If brothers live together and one of them dies without having a son, the dead manʼs wife must not remarry someone outside the family. Instead, her late husbandʼs brother must go to her, marry her, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law. 6 Then the first son she bears will continue the name of the dead brother, thus preventing his name from being blotted out of Israel. 7 But if the man does not want to marry his brotherʼs widow, then she must go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husbandʼs brother refuses to preserve his brotherʼs name in Israel; he is unwilling to perform the duty of a brother-in-law to me!” 8 Then the elders of his city must summon him and speak to him. If he persists, saying, “I donʼt want to marry her,” 9 then his sister-in-law must approach him in view of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. She will then respond, “Thus may it be done to any man who does not maintain his brotherʼs family line!” 10 His family name will be referred to in Israel as “the family of the one whose sandal was removed.”

The Book of Ruth, Part 1: Background and Introduction

The book of Ruth is a fascinating book of the Bible that contains many facets worth exploring. Over the next several weeks we’re going to do just that. Today we’ll spend a bit of time setting the stage for the rest of the story though.

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Today’s verses are:Ruth 1:1 (NET) 1 During the time of the judges there was a famine in the land of Judah. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah went to live as a resident foreigner in the region of Moab, along with his wife and two sons. 2 (Now the manʼs name was Elimelech, his wife was Naomi, and his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were of the clan of Ephrath from Bethlehem in Judah.) They entered the region of Moab and settled there. 3 Sometime later Naomiʼs husband Elimelech died, so she and her two sons were left alone. 4 So her sons married Moabite women. (One was named Orpah and the other Ruth.) And they continued to live there about ten years. 5 Then Naomiʼs two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, also died. So the woman was left all alone – bereaved of her two children as well as her husband! 6 So she decided to return home from the region of Moab, accompanied by her daughters-in-law, because while she was living in Moab she had heard that the Lord had shown concern for his people, reversing the famine by providing abundant crops.

Deuteronomy 23:3 (NET) An Ammonite or Moabite may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation none of their descendants shall ever do so, 4 for they did not meet you with food and water on the way as you came from Egypt, and furthermore, they hired Balaam son of Beor of Pethor in Aram Naharaim to curse you.