As time passed, Naomi grew increasingly concerned about Ruth being single. It was a Jewish woman’s right by the law of God to have a husband, especially a young one. With Boaz being their kinsman redeemer, and their custom of arranging marriages in their culture, it was about time that Ruth get married again. Boaz would make a fine husband for Ruth.
So, on one particular day, Naomi said to Ruth, “Isn’t it about time that you find another husband? Boaz is my husband’s relative, is he not? And he’s with those young women whom you’ve been gleaning with? So, he will be scattering the chaff from the barley tonight at the threshing floor. You should wash and anoint yourself with olive oil and perfume and dress in fine attire, but do not show yourself until he’s finished with his supper. Then, when he goes to bed, uncover his feet and lie down, and he will tell you what to do.”
Such theatrics was their way of proposing marriage to a man. When a woman washed herself, anointed herself with olive oil, dressed in fine attire, and uncovered a man’s feet and lied down next to him, it was a proposal for marriage. Ruth recalled the law of the kinsman redeemer and what that implied for her mother-in-law, so she decided to obey her in order to care for her.
“I will do what you say,” Ruth complied.
So, Ruth bathed, anointed herself with olive oil and perfume, dressed in fine attire, and proposed to Boaz just as Naomi had suggested. When she uncovered his feet and laid next to him, he turned over and was surprised to see her, not recognising her at first.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Ruth, your servant. Please spread your blanket over me, for you are a kinsman redeemer.” Had he done this, it would’ve been an acceptance of her marriage proposal.
Boaz replied, “May God bless you, for you could have married other young men for love of money, but you wish to marry for sake of family. So, do not fear. I will do as you ask, for everyone in town knows of your virtue and your loyalty to your family. Now, it is true that I am a redeemer, but there is another relative who is a redeemer nearer than I. Stay here tonight. In the morning, if he redeems you, it is good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then I promise in God’s name, I will redeem you. Until then, sleep here for tonight.”
Ruth did as he commanded and slept by his feet until morning, but she got out of bed before he did so others would not yet know that Ruth came to the threshing floor. However, if she went home without any grain, it would raise suspicion.
“Bring your garment and hold it out,” he said to her.
Ruth brought him her garment, and he put six measures of barley—a generous gift—in her garment so no one would be suspicious of her activity. Ruth understood. It is not wise yet to tell anyone about the marriage unless he officially accepts her as her redeemer.
Ruth left the threshing floor and went back home to Naomi.
“How did it go?” Naomi asked her.
“I did as you told me, mother. I uncovered his feet and lay next to him, and he said we have another relative who is a nearer redeemer than he is. He said if this man is not willing to redeem me, then he will redeem me and marry me. So, I slept by his feet till morning and he gave me these six measures of barley,” she placed her garment on the table, “because he didn’t want to raise any suspicion since no one is my redeemer yet.”
“That is wise,” Naomi said. “Be patient until you learn how it’s resolved, for Boaz will not rest until the matter is settled today.”
2 thoughts on “Beckett: Ruth – Chapter 3: Ruth’s Marriage Proposal”
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