Ruth and Boaz: "A match made in Heaven"
b Reading Assignment: Read the first three chapters of Ruth.
Ruth first comes into contact with Boaz shortly after arriving in Bethlehem. We read in 2:3, "As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech." We see God's hand at work right away, guiding Ruth to the very place she needs to be.
? When has God placed you in the exact place you needed to be for His purposes to be fulfilled?
A little background information about Boaz would be helpful to our study at this time. Boaz has an interesting heritage: He is from the tribe of Judah, and listed in his genealogy are many great biblical characters.
n Read Matthew 1:1-5. List some of the important biblical characters in Boaz's family tree.
One of the interesting people in Boaz's family is Rahab the harlot.
She was the Caananite prostitute in Jericho who hid the spies that Joshua had sent there. They rewarded her by saving her and her family (see Joshua chapters 2 and 6). She is commended for her faith in the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11:31 and for her deeds in James 2:25. Rahab married an Israelite and from the scriptures above, apparently had a great faith in Jehovah God. Like Ruth, she was a Gentile marrying an Israelite.
Rahab is listed as the mother of Boaz; however, as many times happens in biblical genealogies, there is the possibility of several generations between Boaz and Rahab. In either case, Boaz would have known of his connection to Rahab, since family history (who begat whom) was very important to the Jewish people.
? How do you think Boaz's awareness of his ancestry affected his treatment of Ruth?
n What can we discover about the personality and character of Boaz from the text?
As chapter three opens, we find Naomi thinking about what will become of Ruth.
n From Naomi's comments in chapter two, what were her feelings about Ruth gleaning in Boaz's field?
n What is Naomi's purpose in the plan she devises for Ruth (3:1)?
n What specific advice and instructions does Naomi give Ruth before she leaves for the threshing floor?
The threshing floor was typically a large hard area of earth or stone on the downwind (east) side of the village where threshing took place. Threshing is the loosening of grain from the straw and then it would be winnowed--the grain and straw would be tossed into the air and the straw would blow away and the grain, which is heavier, would fall to the ground.
? What risks do you see in Naomi's plan?
Naomi asks Ruth to go to the threshing floor, uncover Boaz's feet, and lie down. This is a custom still practiced in some Middle Eastern cultures. There is nothing sexual connoted in Ruth's actions. Boaz awakens and finds Ruth at his feet. Ruth expresses her desire for Boaz to become her kinsman-redeemer by asking him to cover her with the corner of his garment. This practice of widows marrying close relatives is called levirate marriage. It is explained in Deuteronomy 25:5-6.
n According to these verses, what is the purpose of levirate marriage?
n What does Boaz commend Ruth for?
? What can you conclude about Boaz's age from this?
Boaz is willing to be the kinsman-redeemer of Ruth; however, he knows of another who is more closely related to Naomi. Boaz must follow the law and ask the closer relative if he is willing to redeem Ruth.
In this scene, Boaz praises Ruth's character. John McArthur makes the following observation: The "virtuous" wife of Proverbs 31:10 is personified by "virtuous" Ruth of whom the same Hebrew word is used (3:11). With amazing parallel, they share at least eight character traits (see below). One wonders (in concert with Jewish tradition) if King Lemuel's mother might not have been Bathsheba who orally passed the family heritage of Ruth's spotless reputation along to David's son Solomon. Lemuel, which means "devoted to God," could have been a family name for Solomon (see Jedediah, 2 Samuel 12:25), who then could have penned Proverbs 31:10-31 with Ruth in mind.
n Read Proverbs 31:10-31 and find the corresponding scripture in Ruth that describes the characteristics of Ruth which are parallel to the Proverbs 31 woman.
1. Devoted to her family
2. Delighted in her work
3. Diligent in her labor
4. Dedicated to godly speech
5. Dependent on God
6. Dressed with care
7. Discreet with men
8. Delivered blessings
Questions for sharing:
Do you think you would have as readily accepted Naomi's plan as Ruth did?
What does this tell you about Ruth?
What emotions do you sense as Ruth tells Naomi everything that had happened? How do you think the two women feel as they wait to find out what will become of them?