In chapter three of the book of Ruth we will see that Naomi goes from one with no hope, “bitter”, to a renewed woman who not only has hope, but also has a plan for her daughter-in-law Ruth. Naomi explains to Ruth that she is going to seek a marriage partner for Ruth and that the one she has in mind is Boaz.
We will watch the execution of Naomi’s plan for Ruth to follow. We saw Ruth’s obedience to Naomi before and again Ruth will obey Naomi’s instructions, and we will see how she carried it to completion. We will see Boaz’s response and then a little intrigue. Most of all, we will see God’s plan begin to unfold for Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. We will also see that Naomi receives a dowry by the great amount of grain that Ruth brings home with her, and Naomi’s last instruction for Ruth.
Ruth 3:1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?
Several things are happening all at once in these verses. Naomi now tells Ruth that she will seek rest for Ruth that it may be well with her. What do you think is meant by the term seek rest? Seeking rest for another woman was to say, “I am going to try and get you married, or find a husband for you”. We see that Naomi is now taking up the role of matchmaker. The rest would be the security that would come from marriage.
Remember chapter one of Ruth where Naomi tells Ruth and Orpah to return to their mother’s house and what she says in the following verse:
Ruth 1:9 the Lord grant you that you may find REST each of you in the house of her husband.
The Hebrew word gives the interpretation of find rest in several ways, (1) matrimony, (2) a resting place (3) a place of rest. All indicate that there would be rest in the fact that Ruth would be married and protected. There is also the thought of the heirs of the relationship, the children that would be produced through the marriage relationship.
Barren women were said to be cursed. Not being able to bear a child was a bad thing in Israel. Every man wanted a son, and the more the better, meaning the more sons that a person had the greater were his blessing. Let us look in the book of 1 Samuel.
1Samuel 1:8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?
Here we have the beloved wife of Elkanah, Hannah. She is barren and very despondent about being childless. See what Hannah’s husband says to comfort her, am not I better to thee than ten sons? So you can see the importance of child bearing at this time in Israel. We also see the same thing in the book of Ruth.
Ruth 4:15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
Ruth 3:2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshingfloor.
Naomi recognizes the relationship that Boaz has with them and knows of Ruth’s right to ask him to perform the rite of a kinsman redeemer. We see in verse two that Naomi explains this to Ruth. Boaz is their near kinsman and that this night he will be winnowing grain in the threshing floor.
There is a wealth of information devoted to the “threshing floor”. If you were to go on-line to the Internet and look up the word “threshing floor”, you will find pages upon pages of information ranging from the book of Ruth, and actually from Genesis to Revelation. There is so much teaching that we will not be able to discuss it all. I would like to briefly take you through a little journey from one threshing floor in Genesis to the last threshing floor in Revelation.
The physical make up of the threshing floor was round in shape and I am guessing that it was about fifty or sixty feet in diameter. Sometimes the actual floor was made up of hard clay, but most of the time it was lined with flat rocks with a perimeter of larger stones for the border. This area would be cleaned and washed before any threshing would take place.
The grain would be delivered to the floor and then spread out evenly. The oxen would be brought in and they would walk around and around in the circle pulling a sled, or sledge until the stalks had been broken off of the grain. Then the winnowing would start, and as they would throw the grain into the air, the wind would blow away the chaff and the good grain would fall to the floor. Some threshing floors were actually carved out of solid rock.
Here is a very interesting point. Some scholars believe that the center of the floor was actually two large flat rocks laid one on top of the other, fitted and joined together. Anyone care to speculate why they would do this? Keep in mind what will soon happen on this particular threshing floor. Don Walker with Arrows of Truth points out that “in scripture its meaning goes beyond merely the place where grain was threshed, it is symbolic of the relationship between the Bride and the Bridegroom”. I believe we can see this if we remember that Boaz is a type or representation of Christ and Ruth is a type of the Bride of Christ or the Church. Remember this is a love story.
Where do you think the threshing floors were usually located? They were usually on a hill where the wind was sure to blow.
What else can we discover about the importance of the threshing floor? We find God giving instructions to Abraham in the book of Genesis.
Genesis 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
Here on Mount Moriah Abraham is ready to offer up Isaac and God intervenes and provides a lamb. This is the same thing that God has done for us, He provided the Lamb of God in our place.
We also see in Genesis the following verse.
Genesis 50:10 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.
Here Joseph mourns the death of Jacob his father. This threshing floor is just east of Mount Moriah and still in the land of Moriah!
Next, we see Ruth and Boaz on the threshing floor, where is this one? Just outside of Bethlehem-Judah which is the area of Mount Moriah.
Uzzah was struck dead by God at the threshing floor of Atad for touching the Ark of the Covenant.
2 Samuel 6:6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
2 Samuel 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
It is believed that this threshing floor was in the land of Moriah.
Next we see David purchasing a threshing floor from Ornan the Jebusite.
1Chronicles 21:18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
The parallel passage can be found in 2 Samuel.
2Samuel 24:18 And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
Now where is this threshing floor? It is on Mount Moriah. For information only, David paid 50 shekels for the floor and then 600 shekels for the ground on which to build the temple.
Where did Solomon build the temple? On the threshing floor that David purchased from Ornan the Jebusite which is Mount Moriahat Jerusalem.
1 Kings 9:15 And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer.
There are references to the heave offering at the threshing floor in the Old Testament.
Numbers 15:20 Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for an heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the threshingfloor, so shall ye heave it.
Numbers 18:27 And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.
There are many other references to the threshing floor but we would be here for a month trying to explore them all. As far as can be determined where Abraham offered up Isaac is the same threshing floor where Uzzah was struck dead by God, and this is the same floor that Ruth asks Boaz to perform the rite of a kinsman redeemer, and this is the same threshing floor that King David bought from Onan the Jebusite, and this is the same threshing floor where King Solomon built the Temple of God.
Interesting, I am not sure what all that means, but it is at the very least very interesting how that all these things happened on the same site or location.
So Naomi explains to Ruth that Boaz will be winnowing grain this night at the threshing floor and now sets out to instruct Ruth on the proper way to approach Boaz.
We have already seen that Boaz is in love with Ruth, but Boaz is an older man and knows that there is a kinsman redeemer that is a closer relative than he is.
Ruth 3:12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
Why do you think that Boaz has not been more forward with Ruth? I believe the reason that Boaz has kept his distance form Ruth is this very fact. He is older and she is still a young woman, and the fact that there is a nearer kinsman.
Ruth 3:3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.
First Naomi tells Ruth to wash herself. Why would Naomi tell her this? Well I suppose that she had been working all day and she was probably pretty filthy. Second, she is told to anoint herself. Naomi wants Ruth to smell really good. Put on some perfume, the best you have. And, the third thing is take off those “widows weeds” (widows tags) and put on that pretty party dress before you go to the threshing floor. Ruth had been dressed in raiment that depicted her loss of a husband. Now she is told to dress to the nine’s, or look her best!
Then she is told to get on over to the threshing floor and hide out until the festival is over and when the threshing for the day is finished. Ruth would need a fairly heavy garment to cover up with during the night. We will see this when she removes the cover off of Boaz’s feet and he wakes up because he gets cold.
Ruth 3:4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
Naomi says for Ruth to look for the place where Boaz lies down. Once he goes to sleep she should sneak up and pull the blanket off his feet. Boaz will wake up because he gets cold and tell Ruth what she needs to do next.
Ruth 3:5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.
Look at Ruth’s response, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.
Now we will see the execution of the plan.
Ruth 3:6 And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.
Ruth heads on over to the threshing floor, and is doing all that Naomi has told her to do.
Stay out of the way until the festivities are over and everyone has retired for the evening, then sneak up to Boaz.
Do you think that a merry heart is a sign of intoxication?
Ruth 3:7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.
Verse seven does not mean that Boaz was “drunk”! Boaz was celebrating the bountiful harvest and was glad in his heart that all was going very well. Boaz would not get intoxicated when he had to be alert for the protection of the grain, and we can see that by how quickly he awakens when his feet get cold. So Ruth slips up and uncovers the feet of Boaz and then lies down to wait for Boaz to wake up.
Ruth 3:8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
About midnight Boaz wakes up with a start (startled), and he looks around and sees someone at his feet. Keep in mind that it is dark, there are no street lights, and Boaz cannot tell who is lying at his feet.
Ruth 3:9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
Who are you? And what I believe is; as the sweet smell of her perfume wafts over Boaz, Ruth answers in a quiet voice, so as not to wake anyone else that is guarding the grain. It is I Ruth thine handmaid. And, now the proposal spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmade; for thou art a near kinsman.
In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel we see this same expression used by God concerning His love for Israel.
Ezekiel 16:8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
This was Ruth’s right to request Boaz to marry her to raise up children in her dead husbands name, and she now makes the request. We already know that Boaz is in love with Ruth, we know why he has not made the first move, and now we know that Ruth has given Boaz the green light to take charge if he wants to marry her.
Ruth 3:10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
Verse ten is beautiful, look at the response of Boaz.
Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
Boaz praises Ruth for her willingness to support Naomi and her willingness now to seek Boaz instead of one of the younger men of Israel.
Ruth 3:11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.
Boaz shows that he is eager to comply with Ruth’s request and promises to do all that is in his power to redeem her. Then he tells her that not only he, but the entire city knows that she is a virtuous woman. This is high praise indeed.
Ruth 3:12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
In verse twelve we see the entrance of a little problem. It is true, I am thy near kinsman, but there is a kinsman closer than I. This relationship is now complicated by the fact that Boaz is not the closest relative of Elimelech.
Ruth 3:13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning.
Boaz goes on to tell Ruth what will happen the next day. Boaz is not going to waste any time to bring this matter to a conclusion. The words will you marry me has been music to his ears and heart.
Ruth 3:14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.
So he says, stay here tonight, but before it gets light slip on back to your mother-in-law’s house so that you will not be recognized by anyone. He is further protecting Ruth’s reputation. He explains that he will not rest until the matter is resolved, but he must give the closer kinsman an opportunity to redeem Ruth first. Boaz is taking a chance that the other relative will not want her, and that is exactly what we will see later on.
Ruth 3:15 Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.
What we see in verse fifteen could be considered that a dowry is being given to Naomi. This happens when they wake up. Ruth is about to leave, and Boaz gets Ruth’s veil, which must have been quite large in order to hold all the grain that Boaz puts into it. The amount of grain probably weighed forty to fifty pounds, and she would have carried it on her head which was the custom for women to do.
Ruth 3:16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her.
Ruth 3:17 And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.
Once Ruth gets home, Naomi greets her with a question, Who art thou, my daughter?, or “How did it go”? Ruth then relates all the happenings of the previous night. And she told her all that the man had done to her.
She then shows Naomi the barley that Boaz had given to her to take to Naomi. We also see that Naomi knows exactly what the meaning of the barley is by her further instruction to Ruth.
Ruth 3:18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.
Naomi tells Ruth to be calm, take it easy, because Boaz will not rest until he has settled the matter this very day. Do you think Boaz is anxious about marrying Ruth? We will see that he is in the next chapter.