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Deeper Commentary


Ruth 3:1 Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you?-
"Seek rest" is an idiom for finding a marriage partner. See on Ruth 1:9. Ruth had given up any hope of this in order to follow Yahweh, and Naomi had stressed that returning to Israel with her would mean not finding rest in this sense. But now the possibilities of grace beyond the law occur to Naomi. The lights go on, as they have in the minds of all who start to perceive grace. It was a man who sought a wife, yet the record here stresses the initiative taken by Naomi and Ruth. Jer. 31:22, in a restoration context, speaks of how “a woman shall compass a man” (AV), i.e. a woman would take the initiative. And this surely alludes to the story of Ruth and Naomi. God’s people were to take the initiative with their redeemer, believing He would respond.

Naomi tried to "seek rest" for Ruth, i.e. to get her married, yet in Ruth 1:9 she has prayed that Yahweh would "find rest" for Ruth. So she is seeking to answer the prayer in her own strength. Seeing Boaz had taken an interest in marrying Ruth anyway, I suggest that Naomi goes too far in trying to get Ruth to sexually compromise Boaz and offer herself to him in marriage. And the otherwise highly commendable Ruth perhaps fails in going along with the suggestions. Had they done nothing, Boaz likely would have engaged the other possible redeemer and married Ruth anyway, without all this trying to force and work out answers to prayer in human strength and scheming. If this is the correct reading, then we have an exhortation to not act as if 'God helps those who help themselves'. That is the way of works, rather than trust / faith. The whole narrative in chapter 3 is intentionally left begging our reflection and interpretation- does Naomi suggest the right thing, and was Ruth right to obey her? Is she showing faith by what she suggests, or is she trying to force an answer to prayer in her own strength and by her own device? We note that the incident makes no mention of God; rather is it a night time intrigue, shrouded in secrecy. If this whole incident were omitted, would Boaz still have redeemed and married Ruth? Probably so. The lesson is that we can impatiently try to force things through in our own strength as Naomi did.

This incident is at the end of the barley and wheat harvest (Ruth 2:23); and Ruth and Boaz first set eyes on each other at the beginning of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:22). This means an interval of seven weeks. Perhaps Ruth and Naomi perceived that Boaz had a romantic interest, but was not moving forwards on it. And so Ruth takes this initiative. Why did Boaz delay, when he was clearly attracted to Ruth? Seven weeks is not a long period between first meeting and getting engaged. But it seemed that way to Ruth and Naomi. Perhaps one reason is revealed in his commendation of Ruth for not following after young men. He had earlier told her to keep away from the young men wolf whistling her as she gleaned. But he realized she would be better served in a human sense by marrying a young man rather than an old man like himself, who would likely leave her widowed a second time in life. So his delay was to test her. And in these thoughts we see another window onto the Lord's apparent delay with us, despite His undoubted love and desire to redeem us.

But the events of chapter 3 aren't Ruth, Naomi nor Boaz at their best. Boaz is drunk. Ruth is like us, aware of the redeemer's love, but wanting things to move faster. Had Ruth not done what she did, Boaz's love for her would've led her to marry and redeem her anyway. But she didn't feel that love and acted inappropriately., somewhat rushing things in her own strength. Just as we do in our relationship with our redeemer. The Sunday School Christianity view of things certainly breaks down in this chapter.

Ruth 3:2 Now isn’t Boaz our kinsman, with whose maidens you were? Behold, he winnows barley tonight in the threshing floor-
Threshing floor at harvest time was an immoral place, associated with prostitutes and cheap women: "the harlots hire on every threshing floor of corn" (Hos. 9.1). A case could be made (but see on :3) that the plan was that Ruth would come to Boaz at night whilst he was drunk, dressed up appealingly, and sexually compromise him into marrying her. Ruth is to be commended for not doing as Naomi apparently intended her to; for she doesn't have sex with Boaz, or at least, he refuses this. Although, all dressed up to attract and with him somewhat drunk, she removes his bed sheet and sleeps next to him.  This would’ve been so difficult for a woman like Ruth, who appears by all accounts an upright woman- more upright, if this were the case, than her Jewish mother-in-law who hatched the plan. The suggestion in :4 that Ruth lay down with him is indeed vague but could arguably suggest sexual contact; and "feet" there could be a euphemism as in Ez. 16:25, a passage which as we shall show was in Naomi's mind. Uncovering the skirt is also capable of sexual interpretation; see on :9. The whole story, of deceiving a man into marriage, coming to him by night, when he’s likely slightly drunk... all recalls the situation of Jacob being tricked into marrying Leah [for surely Jacob couldn’t have been quite sober if he really didn’t know that the woman he was sleeping with wasn’t in fact his beloved Rachel]. The motif of deception appears common to both histories. The connection is heightened by the villagers wishing Ruth fertility like Rachel and Leah (Ruth 4:11). They also wish her the fertility of Tamar (Ruth 4:12)- who also deceived a man using sexual compromise. See on Ruth 2:13. But Ruth was already known as a woman of integrity (:11), who wasn't chasing men (:10). This strongly weighs against the idea that she was practicing sexual manipulation.

But perhaps the simple reality was that "winnowing was generally done at night, in order to take advantage of the breeze". This meant that the grain remained there overnight, and Boaz perhaps Boaz slept by his corn because he feared it being stolen at night. Israel after all was emerging from a time of famine and the corn would have been valuable.

Ruth 3:3 Therefore wash yourself, anoint yourself, get dressed up, and go down to the threshing floor, but don’t make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking-
There is a lot more to this than Springsteen's "Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty / And meet me tonight in Atlantic City". Likewise the advice to wait until he has finished eating and drinking is not simply secular wisdom, waiting until his heart was merry. She does these things and then asks for Boaz to spread his skirt over her (:9), which although not recorded here, was also what Naomi told her to do. What is "more" to all this is that Ezekiel describes Israel's coming into covenant with God in the wilderness as involving bathing, washing, anointing and the spreading of the skirt of the covenant, which the historical record states was accompanied by Israel's representatives eating and drinking before Yahweh (Ez. 16:8-12). And see on :5. Whilst Naomi's advice may all have been fair enough on the secular level, her language choice clearly indicates that she has the covenant at Sinai in mind. And Boaz is clearly represented as manifesting Yahweh to Ruth (see on Ruth 2:1). Naomi and Ruth were not simply sexual manipulators, there was without doubt a deeply spiritual element in all this. Whether that was the sole aspect of the carefully planned encounter is open to debate, but that spiritual dimension cannot be denied.  

Ruth 3:4 It shall be, when he lies down, that you shall note the place where he shall lie, and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lay down; then he will tell you what you shall do-
Laying with a man and uncovering his feet could imply sexual contact; see on :2. "Feet" there could be a euphemism for the sexual organs as in Ex. 4:25 and Ez. 16:25, a passage which as noted on :3 was in Naomi's mind. But she was apparently to note the place where he was laying, and only return to it later that night. And it was quite likely that the threshing floor had other men sleeping on it as well, protecting their piles of corn (see on :2). Ruth generally presents as a very spiritual woman, and this incident I suggest is her low point. It was a case of out of character behaviour, less than her best, sub optimal spirituality, rather than sin. And we all have such cases in our lives. If the incident were removed from the story, it's clear Boaz would still have redeemed Elimelech's land and would have married Ruth, as he was in love with her. So the cunning plan of Naomi and Ruth was in fact unnecessary. God's love for us obviates the need for any human device and cunning to bring it about.

Ruth 3:5 She said to her, All that you say I will do-
I noted on :3 that both women have consciously in mind the covenant at Sinai, and this is word for word the agreement made between Israel and Yahweh in Ex. 19:8. 

Ruth 3:6 She went down to the threshing floor, and did according to all that her mother-in-law told her-
Her complete obedience to the idea of entering covenant is emphasized. See on :5.

Ruth 3:7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry-
The mention of this is an inconvenient truth for those who wish to portray Boaz and Ruth as parade examples of peerlessly spiritual believers who fell in love with each other. I have discussed on :2,4 whether Naomi and Ruth were being sexually manipulative in their plan. I overall decide against it. But it is simply so that human motivation is rarely pure, and faith is rarely total. The completed harvest was typically a time of sexual immorality and over eating and drinking. That Ruth should come to him precisely at this time, at night, and that he is described as having a merry heart from drinking... is all unfortunate for any argument for the peerless spirituality of Boaz and Ruth. The situation simply reminds us of their humanity. Ruth's, in that she apparently did capitalize upon Boaz's weakness, instead of inviting him to have a sober meeting with her to discuss things. Boaz's, in that every mention of a heart merry from drinking is in a very negative spiritual and moral context (1 Sam. 25:36; Jud. 19:6,22 cp. 18:20; 1 Kings 21:7). And yet it is through their weakness and humanity that their reality and spiritual greatness shines through. They, who were so weak and human, had such faith and spiritual insight.

He went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. She came softly, uncovered his feet, and laid herself down-
Ruth seems to me to be a wonderful example of a spiritually ambitious person. It was unheard of in those times for a woman to propose to a man; yet by coming to him, uncovering his feet and laying under his mantle, she was stating that she wished to see him as a manifestation of God to her (Ruth 3:7,9 = Ruth 2:12). She went  after him, following him (Ruth 3:10); the poor, landless Gentile aspired to be a part of a wealthy Jewish family, in order to fulfil the spirit of the Law. And she attained this. As noted on :1, this was to be the inspiration for the exiles, when a woman was to compass a man.


Ruth 3:8 It happened at midnight, that the man was startled and turned himself; and noticed a woman lay at his feet-
"Startled" is too mild a translation. The Hebrew is "trembled", and is used about trembling at the prospect of Divine judgment (Is. 32:11; Ez. 32:10 s.w.). Why would be tremble in this way if he awoke, sensing someone else near him, and find it to be the young woman whom he had his eye upon, and she was effectively proposing to him. Surely a different word would have been used, rather than one which expresses such fear and trembling in anticipation of judgment. He had got drunk (:7), and now he awakes, sober. He sees a woman near him, and he trembles at the thought that whilst drunk, he may have slept with one of the prostitutes who frequented harvest floors (Hos. 9:1). He had done wrong in getting drunk. But because he realized this and trembled because of his failure, what might have been the night of his shame became the most wonderful night of his life, humanly speaking. The young woman of his dreams proposes to him. And so again we see Divine grace; that in the very midst of human failure, and recognition of that failure... God acts to pour out His grace. We have likely all experienced this in our lives, and we see it so wonderfully at this point in Boaz's life.

Ruth 3:9 He said, Who are you? She answered, I am Ruth your handmaid. Therefore spread your skirt over your handmaid-
When Boaz asks Ruth "who are you?" he uses the same Hebrew term as Naomi does when Ruth returns: "Who are you?" (:16). The import is the same: Are you married? Boaz's extreme nervousness of :8 can be read as his extreme angst as to whether she had come to tell him that she had found someone else to marry. 

But she had taken the initiative and spread his skirt over herself (:4,7). Boaz had earlier wished that Yahweh would bless her for wanting to be under the shadow of His wings (2:12), but Ruth takes the initiative herself in doing this. Just as Naomi asked Yahweh to give Ruth "rest" in the house of a husband (1:9) but seeks on her own initiative to arrange this (3:1). Spreading the skirt over a woman was understood as an invitation to marriage, alluding to how birds spread their wings ["skirt" is Heb. 'wing'] in mating. But she is alluding to his earlier comment that she had taken refuge under Yahweh's wings; she wants to marry him because she wants to be under Yahweh's wings. She was asking him to confirm the initiative which she had taken, and to manifest the God of Israel to her, under whose wings she had come from Moab to come under (Ruth 2:12 LXX). The same Hebrew words for ‘spread… skirt’ are those used to describe how the cherubim “spread their wings” (Ex. 25:20; 37:9 etc.). She saw God manifest in that man, her go'el / redeemer. To uncover the skirt of a person can mean to have sex with them (Dt. 22:30; 27:20 "Cursed is he who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s skirt... A man must not take his father’s wife, and shall not uncover his father’s skirt"). So Naomi's plan was clearly of sexual manipulation or compromise. But Ruth and Boaz refuse this, and commendably have a spiritual perspective throughout. But clearly she wants marriage, redemption and family life rather than just sex. But this could play along with the possibility of sexual manipulation discussed on :2. For you didn't sleep sharing the same blanket unless you were married. But she asks him to do this because he is "a near kinsman", and not for passing pleasure or money. LXX, following the targum: "Let thy name be called upon thine handmaid to take me for a wife". Ruth was already known as a woman of integrity (:11), who wasn't chasing men (:10). This strongly weighs against the idea that she was simply practicing sexual manipulation; although see on :7.

Ruth's actions were clearly inviting Boaz to marry her; and yet she saw in him a representation of Yahweh too. The connection is made clear in Ez. 16:8: “I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made a vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine”. Ruth clearly is taking the initiative in offering herself in marriage to Boaz. But we wonder whether she knew his level of feeling for her. We the readers are aware of this from Ruth 2, but she may not have been. And so we have the classic romance, that she finds herself in love with a man in love with her; and the apparently insuperable barriers between them, religious, ethnic, cultural and of class [social] are overcome. And this is exactly how it is between God and ourselves; "and going out to meet Him, I met Him coming towards me". 

For you are a near kinsman-
This was an appeal to the spirit of the law and not the letter. Because legally, in terms of levirate law, Boaz wasn't the go'el. And he wasn't even the closest relative. The levirate law operated when "brothers dwell together". And that wasn't the case. Under Mosaic law, a Moabite woman was not to be married. At best it could be argued that a relative of Elimelech's could marry Naomi and raise up seed to him. But she was barren. It was a stretch of levirate law for Boaz to marry Ruth, let alone that she should take the initiative and proposition him to that effect. The idea of Ruth marrying Boaz had not initially even occurred to Naomi, so we can deduce from Ruth 2:2. I suggest that Ruth was not simply being a forward, manipulative woman. She and Naomi had thought through the levirate law, and were seeking to extend its implications according to the spirit of grace rather than law. See on :12.

Ruth 3:10 He said, Blessed are you by Yahweh, my daughter. You have shown more grace in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as you didn’t go after young men, whether poor or rich-
Heb. "You have made this last kindness greater than the first". His idea may be that she had not gone chasing men in Moab, because she wanted to follow Yahweh and not the gods of those men. That was her first grace. And now she had shown another grace or kindness, in that she wanted to marry Boaz because she perceived him to be a spiritual man and manifestation of Yahweh; and because she chose him specifically because of her respect in the principles, although not the letter, of the levirate laws of the covenant. He rightly perceives that his wealth was not an item of attraction. His usage of the word grace / kindness is slightly out of context, but we can understand it if he saw that out of it all, it was a kindness to him for a young, attractive widow to offer to marry him as an old man. Jewish tradition claims that he died soon after their marriage; perhaps his old age was one reason why the idea of Boaz marrying Ruth didn't initially occur to her. It can also be understood that her first kindness was to her late husband and his family. She wanted to raise a Godly seed for him, even though he was apparently weak in faith; and so her first kindness was that she had refused her Moabite suitors after his death. And now the second kindness was in being willing to marry an old Israelite man in order to continue her kindness to her first husband, by raising a Godly Israelite seed for him.

Boaz here recognizes that Ruth is ‘going after’ him. He feels she is showing him grace- reciprocating the grace he had shown her in the harvest fields. Just as he had invited her to see God’s skirt spread over her (Ruth 2:12), so she is asking him to spread his skirt over her. Her ambition in effectively proposing to Boaz, a Gentile nobody proposing herself to a man of the Jewish establishment, is indeed inspirational. See on 2:13. The GNB probably catches the idea: "You are showing even greater family loyalty in what you are doing now than in what you did for your mother-in-law”. This is looking very positively on Ruth- she was desperately poor, childless despite a previous marriage, and to throw herself on a rich distant relative in the hope of marriage and long term support was all absolutely human and natural. But Boaz, with the imputation of goodness which comes from being in love, saw her boldness and desperation in a very positive light. He liked to think of it as her showing grace to him, the old guy.

We note that grace is mutual. Boaz had shown grace [hesed] to Ruth (Ruth 2:20), and Ruth showed that grace to Boaz. And this is how God's grace works; we respond to it by showing it to others, and they in turn show it to us. Hence Peter talks of the "manifold grace of God", the refracted, multi coloured grace. Once you show Divine grace, or reflect it, then it is in turn reflected. This is why 2:20 is ambiguous- "Blessed be he of Yahweh, Who has not left off His grace [whose grace? Boaz's or Yahweh's?] to the living and to the dead". So do not think that showing grace to people is useless because it is not appreciated. Someone somewhere in some way will reflect it further.

Ruth 3:11 Now, my daughter, don’t be afraid; I will do to you all that you say-
Again, as noted on :5, this is the language of the covenant at Sinai. Ruth does all Naomi says, and Boaz does all Ruth says. The power of faithful, spiritually minded women is being emphasized, in a male dominated society. We note that both Boaz and Naomi call her "daughter". "I will do all that you say" needs some reflection, because there was an apparent legal obstacle to marrying Ruth on the basis of redeeming her. There was the closer relative. Boaz's promise "I will do..." therefore assumes that he is going to work through even that. Just as the Lord's pledge to us means the same. As the chapter concludes, He is not in rest until He has worked, tirelessly, to overcome absolutely all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles between us and Himself.

So much was against Ruth. Yet she had boldly stated that Naomi's people would be her people, and Yahweh, Naomi's God, would be "My God" (1:16), in allusion to the promise that Abraham's seed would have Yahweh as their God (Gen. 17:7; Ex. 6:7). Despite the fact that Moabites were not allowed to be Israel. Through Boaz and his love and ability to "make it work", she was empowered and enabled to overcome all the obstacles:

- She was poor, gleaning out of hunger. Whilst there was no caste system in Israel, marriage between rich and poor was unusual.

- She was a Moabite and Moab had recently during the time of the Judges abused Israel; and the record seven times calles her a Moabitess

- Moabites were not to be married nor allowed into the congregation of "My people"

- The women of Moab had led Israel astray in Num. 25:1 and were known as immoral

- She was not a virgin but a widow who had no male supporter as she had left her father and mother [Boaz says]. A woman with no male relative around had no legal status and was effectively not a person, certainly not a legal entity able to get properly married

- She had been married before but had produced no children during a ten year marriage (1:4), which was a significant "minus" in those days. The patriarchal society of the day would have blamed her as the woman for this. The fact her husband and father in law had died made her out to be some kind of "femme fatale" for Israelite men to marry.

- She likely was tattooed with the symbols of Moloch and Chemosh

- Boaz was not Elimelech's closest living relative; the other relative wanted the land but didn't want to marry Ruth.

Hence Ruth falls on her face before Boaz's grace: "Why have I found grace in your sight, that you should take notice of me, seeing I am a foreigner?" (Ruth 2:10). We too appear a hopeless case in seeking relationship with God Almighty. But His love and interest in us can overcome all the apparently insurmountable barriers between us. The book of Ruth is set during the time of the Judges, in Bethlehem. The only mention of Bethlehem in the book of Judges is in Jud. 12:8-10: "Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He sent his daughters away in marriage, and brought in thirty women for his sons. He judged Israel for seven years. Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem". We wonder if Jewish tradition is correct here, and Ibzan was Boaz. He is characterized by a desire to "bring in" women for his sons to marry; possibly implying he had a mission to bring Gentiles to the Hope of Israel. His salvation of Moabite Ruth could therefore be seen in this context.

For all my people in this city know that you are a worthy woman-
That Ruth was already known as a woman of integrity rather precludes the possibilities discussed on :2 that there was an element of sexual manipulation going on. Although human behaviour and motivation is rarely pure, and we cannot totally rule it out, as discussed on :7. "Worthy" is the same word translated "wealthy" in Ruth 2:1. Boaz was a worthy / wealthy man, and Ruth was a worthy woman, who was to be also wealthy when she married Boaz. They were perfectly suited for each other in moral and spiritual terms, and "all my people in this city", all the family [including the nearer kinsman], knew this. If this reading is correct, the idea of them getting married would not have come as a shock to the elders of the city in Ruth 4. It also confirms my suggestion later that Boaz and Naomi had agreed that the condition of buying her field was that the purchaser marry Ruth. They had had the two months or so of barley and wheat harvest (Ruth 2:23) to work things out and have some kind of courtship.

Ruth 3:12 Now it is true that I am a near kinsman; however there is a kinsman nearer than I-
But I explained on :9 that the levirate law didn't really define Boaz as any kind of go'el. He was only that through a seeking to extend its implications according to the spirit of grace rather than law. But he goes along with the idea. She appeals to grace, and he already understands that grace goes beyond the letter of the law. Dt. 24:19 doesn't make allowing gleaning a binding law upon landowners. The text simply states that "When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It shall be for the foreigner, for the fatherless and for the widow". By allowing gleaners to come and pick up dropped grain, Boaz's grace was going far beyond the letter of the law. This would account for the hint in Ruth 2:22 that not every landowner allowed gleaning in their fields. And he was a descendant of the Canaanite prostitute Rahab, who had been allowed to marry into the princely line of Judah (Mt. 1:5). 

Ruth 3:13 Stay this night-
This presumably was because it was dangerous for a woman to walk at night, or because he didn't want Ruth to be thought of as a threshing floor prostitute (Hos. 9:1) by being spotted walking near the threshing floor alone late at night. I suggested on :2 that Boaz slept by his corn to protect it from wandering thieves. But by saying this, he sets himself up already as her protector.

And it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform for you the part of a kinsman, so be it; let him do the kinsman’s part-
Although as explained on :12 the whole idea of Boaz being the go'el was a long stretch of the law, he was willing to take the spirit of the law and extend it by grace. But this didn't mean that he therefore disregarded the original principle behind the grace he was willing to show. And he therefore is careful not to simply flout Divine law and principle in the expression of grace. And this is an important principle to grasp for all time. Seeing he was clearly in love with Ruth, this was no painless formality for him.

But if he will not do the part of a kinsman for you, then will I do the part of a kinsman for you, as Yahweh lives. Lie down until the morning-
The levirate laws stated only that the brother of the dead was to perform the duty of levirate marriage. And the duty only concerned "brothers dwelling together". Seeing Elimelech had left Israel, this hardly applied in this case. We get the sense throughout that Boaz wants to marry Ruth; and that he was showing far more grace than the law actually required. Just as he allowed gleaners in his fields, extrapolating from the letter of the law towards a far more gracious position; see on Ruth 2:2.

Ruth 3:14 She lay at his feet until the morning. She rose up in the dark; for he said, Let it not be known that a woman came to the threshing floor-
This could be what he said to himself, explaining his reasoning for sending her away before others had woken up. I suggested on :13 that he asked her to stay the night because  it was dangerous or unseemly for a woman to walk alone at night. He was concerned that people didn't think he had slept with her. Perhaps the thinking of the Mishnah (Yeb. 2:8) was already current, whereby "a man suspected of having sexual relations with a gentile woman is excluded from performing the levirate with her".

Ruth 3:15 He said, Bring the mantle that is on you, and hold it. She held it; and he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her; and he went into the city-
By removing her "veil" [AV} in order to hold the barley, she was effectively removing the sign of her widowed status. Surely there were other means of transporting it, but Boaz is acting in faith that indeed he will marry her.

Kathleen Abraham has "published an interesting marriage contract. The contract is dated in the month of Adar in the fifth year of king Cyrus. The marriage is concluded between Nabuban-ai [a wealthy Babylonian], and Nanaya-Kanat, a fatherless woman". To make her his wife, "he will bind six minas of silver in the hem of her garment". I suggest that we have something similar here- six measures of barley, in her garment. Not admittedly "minas of silver", but there are strong outline similarities. This was another guarantee that despite the legal barriers, Boaz was going to overcome them and marry Ruth. Rather like we have been given the Holy Spirit as the deposit of guarantee against the day of our final redemption. The marriage contract is very similar in style to the situation in Ruth 4- the man at the gate of the town, making the contract before God and the elders, and receiving the blessing of the elders and a wish for many children. "Six measures" is a huge amount... she left loaded with blessing which promised and guaranteed yet more. It is as if Boaz was saying that although he had not given Ruth his semen, his seed, as Naomi wanted, he all the same was giving abundant seed to the family- and that's why he wanted Ruth to show the seed to Naomi.

Ruth 3:16 When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, How did it go, my daughter? She told her all that the man had done to her-
"Had done" rather than "had said" is perhaps significant. We could read her as meaning that he had promised to marry her. But again we cannot escape the thought that what he had "done" to her was to sleep with her or at least be sexually intimate with her, as discussed on :2. The huge amount of barley given her in :17 would then be some form of payment or at best concession that he had not acted completely correctly by her. Perhaps this whole question is indeed raised by the text, but left tantalizingly unanswered. It would be part of the story line which intrigues and holds attention, and leaves us with the caveat that for all their faith and spirituality, Ruth and Boaz were not sinless but still human.


Ruth 3:17 She said, He gave me these six measures of barley; for he said, ‘Don’t go empty to your mother-in-law’-
Empty" here is s.w. Ruth 1:21, where Naomi laments that she is "empty": "I went out full, and Yahweh has brought me home again empty". To be "full" was one of the blessings for obedience to the covenant, and the potential gift of God to Israel when they first entered Canaan (Dt. 6:11; Neh. 9:25 s.w.). But she had left Israel assuming that those blessings were not fulfilled. See on Ruth 1:2. Now she realized that she had seen the cup half empty instead of half full. To be empty was to be without blessing (Gen. 31:42; Ex. 3:21; Dt. 15:13). And so here Boaz tries to indirectly persuade her that this was not the case ultimately; she was going to receive blessing such as she could never have imagined, even in this life. She felt that although she had not experienced blessing from Him, indeed she had lost the potential blessings and was without His blessings, yet still she wanted to return to Him. Contrary to Pentecostal reasoning, the experience of "blessing" was not what attracted her to Him. Rather she wanted to simply be in relationship with Him, like the prodigal son returning from Gentile lands not looking for any material blessing- and yet all the same finding it.    

Naomi had lamented that she had left Judah full but returned empty (Ruth 1:21). Boaz uses the same word here, wanting to persuade Naomi that through his grace, she would not be empty. Naomi's return "empty" was really the consequence of her sin, just as we all experience. But Boaz the redeemer, the clear type of the Lord Jesus, was reversing the consequences of Divine judgment upon sin.

Ruth 3:18 Then she said, Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will end; for the man will not rest-

"The matter will end" uses the word usually translated "fail". The idea could be "Wait and see whether our plan has failed". "The matter" is the Hebrew translated elsewhere as "word" or "thing". Not one word failed of God's plan to bring Israel from Moab into the land and give them an inheritance there (s.w. Josh. 21:45; 23:14). And neither would this word for Ruth's redemption fail either.

Until he has finished the thing this day-
Literally, "fulfilled the word". And Boaz did do so, manifesting God to the exile Naomi and the Gentile Ruth. The very same phrase is used of God fulfilling His prophetic word of restoration through the decree of Cyrus to restore Judah from Gentile lands to Israel (Ezra 1:1). See on Ruth 1:16 for the relevance of Ruth to the restoration. Isaiah alludes to this by saying that God has no rest until He has restored and redeemed His people. God likewise is restlessly at work for our redemption. Beyond the steely silence of the skies and the impression of a passive, inactive God who exists but rarely acts... there is in fact a restless activity working towards our redemption, through all the obstacles.