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The Ruth And Boaz Connection

By James Donahue

The Book of Ruth in the Old Testament outlines a story of how Ruth hooked up with a land owner named Boaz to produce offspring that led down a lineal line to Jesus. As far as we can tell, the Jesus genealogy link is the only reason the Book of Ruth exists.
 
If translated in contemporary slang, and if examined under the moral teachings of the Christian church, Ruth’s behavior was a crafty woman who used her wit, and probably her good looks to get into Boaz’s bed.

Ruth was a Moabite woman who was married to Kilion, the son of Naomi, from the tribe of Ephrath. A terrible unexplained calamity occurred that killed Kilion, his brother Mahlon, and their father, Elimelek. Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, moved back to Bethlehem in their homeland of Judah. The other daughter-in-law, Orpah, went off on her own and there is no record of what became of her.

In those times, women had no property, no rights and they were totally dependent on their husbands to survive. So Naomi urged both Orpah and Ruth to go out into the land and seek new husbands to provide for the family. Naomi lamented that she was too old to find a husband and bear more sons. This is where Ruth decided to remain with Naomi. She made her often quoted pledge: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.”

As fate would have it, Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem just as the barley harvest was starting. And Boaz, described as a “man of standing” from the clan of Naomi’s late husband, Elimelek, was using people from the area to harvest his barley. Ruth joined the workers and began helping in the harvest. It was not long before Boaz noticed her. It was obvious that he was attracted to her. He asked the other workers: “Who does that young woman belong to?”

Boaz then approached Ruth and let his interest in her be known. He said to her: “Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you.”

When Ruth asked Boaz why he was treating her with such kindness, he said it was because she chose to remain with Naomi.

We all know from personal experience that when young men and women are attracted to each other, the courtship usually begins with this kind of polite bantering. This appears to be what was going on in Boaz’s barley field.

The story gets even better. When it came time for the workers to stop for lunch, Boaz invited Ruth to “come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” And when she sat down for this, Boaz offered her some roasted grain. Before returning to the fields he told the men: “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

As the harvest went on, Ruth loyally returned to the fields, and it is obvious that the relationship with Boaz was heating up quickly.

One day Ruth and Naomi plotted a bold move. Naomi told Ruth to bathe, put on perfume and dress in her best clothes while Boaz and the other workers were winnowing the barley on the threshing floor. Apparently Boaz never left the work site and slept in blankets on the floor. Naomi said: “When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”

That night, as Boaz lay sleeping, Ruth crawled into his bed at his feet. This startled him and he asked “Who are you?”

“I am your servant Ruth,” she answered. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family.”

Some writers have suggested that there was some hanky-panky going on that night, But Jewish law was strict and such behavior would have marked Ruth as an immoral woman. Had that happened, instead of being rewarded, she most likely would have been stoned to death in the town square.
 
It was obvious that Boaz was interested in Ruth, but those same Jewish laws bound him to behave himself. He noted that another man in the village had first rights to be her legal “guardian-redeemer” and take Ruth as his wife. Boaz invited her to “stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good. Let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it.”

Boaz took his message to town the next morning, approached the other man, whose name remains unknown, and learned that this man was not interested in accepting Ruth as his wife. So Boaz married her.
Boaz not only took Ruth as his wife, but he provided a home for Naomi. Ruth gave birth to a son, named Obed. Obed grew up and became the father of Jesse, who was the father of David. And thus the linage of royalty that led to Jesus was established.