Book of Ruth, Chapter 3

Wow. To me this chapter is just chuck full of symbolism. The sort that most ‘normal’ people wouldn’t pick up on. It is a good thing I am a freak!!

It starts off with Naomi giving a command to Ruth.

1. Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?”
2. “Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.
3. “Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.
4. Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.”

Ruth, naturally, is obedient and agrees to do everything that Naomi has told her to do. This level of trust is huge because everything about this situation, if it were any other woman probably, would have been a very sexual advance on Boaz. If anyone saw her lying at the feet of Boaz, they would assume her a whore. But Ruth is obedient. She trusts Naomi, but she also shows a great deal of trust of Boaz, and an even greater trust in God that everything will be okay. That He will keep His servant safe while she obeyed her mother-in-law. Again, her obedience is absolute without any concern for herself.

Then there is the symbolism of lying at a man’s feet. There is nothing more submissive than curling up at a man’s feet. It places her beneath his feet. Symbolically it makes her a part of the ground he walks on. It is a very vulnerable place to be for he could crush her. He could stomp on her. God, again, shows the sort of relationship he approves of between man and woman. It isn’t that Ruth is less than Boaz in His eyes; it is that she is obedient, and submissive to Boaz. She was made from Boaz’s rib; Boaz was not made from Ruth’s rib. Woman was made for man to be his perfect companion, to comfort him so he is not lonely. We were made for man.

When Boaz wakes up he could have done a thousand things. He could have taken her actions as a sexual advance. He could have had her, slept with her, and put her out as a whore in the morning. Instead he is grateful, and stunned, that Ruth did not go to the feet of younger men. He shows his love for her and his want for her best interests by answering Ruth’s plea for marriage. Boaz doesn’t just jump at the chance, he tells her that she has a relative who is closer, who has more of a right to Ruth’s hand. If that man does not want it, however, Boaz will gladly take it. Boaz seeks out what is best for Ruth, telling her she has other options, younger ones.

Then the man doesn’t even sleep with her. He could have and he chooses not to. Instead he commands her to lie at his feet until morning. I wonder how he would have felt, or what he would have done, if Ruth had disobeyed him and left to sleep somewhere more comfortable than on a floor at the feet of a man. In doing that Boaz continues to establish his place over her as her lord and master. He continues to guide her and command her on what she needs to do. He doesn’t abuse her. And Ruth is obedient, of course.

She lay at his feet until morning, and got up before it was light out enough to recognize faces. Boaz gets up with her, and continues to look out for her. He gives her a reason for being at the threshing floor. He doesn’t send her out like a whore. He puts barley on her shawl so that as she walks home people will see that she came to the threshing floor for the barley before the heat of the day. Boaz is in complete control of her, but he is so acutely aware of her and what is best for her. His wants come second. It would have been much easier for him if he just had sex with her, and then put her out. He could have done that. He didn’t.

Ruth didn’t have a blanket that night. She didn’t have a pillow. She didn’t have pajamas. She lay on a hard floor in just what she was wearing, at the foot of a man. A man she made a plea to for marriage. Her level of obedience is amazing to me. It shows not only love for Naomi as Ruth obeys her. It shows her love for Boaz. She had to love Boaz to place herself at his feet. To agree to seek him out rather than someone younger. And then there is a chance that maybe she didn’t love Boaz, that she was merely a very obedient woman. But even so, I know she fell in love with him. I know it.

People have spoken about arranged marriages, and how they didn’t always involve love. I think they have a point for more recent years. I don’t think it fit back then. Back then people weren’t always concerned with if there was someone else out there, who might be better for them. Divorce wasn’t common, and life depended on them being together as one. I think people back then were more open to loving whomever they were supposed to marry. They didn’t have vast lists of requirements the other needed to meet. I think love was a much simpler thing back then. And they knew they were stuck together, and so instead of making that a burden…they embraced it. And they saw the best in one another, and they probably fell in love.

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