Ruth Chapter 3  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Ruth 3
Rut 3:1

“should I not seek rest for you.” A polite way of saying, “Shouldn’t I be trying to arrange a marriage for you?” In the biblical culture, it was the role of the parents to find a spouse for a daughter or son. Since Ruth had no parents in a position to do that for her, it fell upon Naomi to try to see that Ruth would marry and be an accepted part of a family clan. Here again we have evidence of the shift going on in Naomi’s heart and her being healed of her bitterness. Here she is interested in Ruth’s welfare and not solely focused on her own, even though she would have known that if Ruth was taken care of, she would also almost certainly be as well.

The Book of Ruth has many wonderful lessons embedded in the text that show that if a person is going to do well in life, they need to get busy and start doing what they can, and this is one of those lessons. Naomi does not just sit back and tell Ruth that they should pray for a husband for Ruth; she takes the initiative and puts together a bold plan for Ruth to get married.

Rut 3:2

“Now is not Boaz.” This is one of the many rhetorical questions in Ruth. Naomi could have just made the affirmative statement, “Boaz is our relative,” but framing the statement as a rhetorical question pulls the reader into action.

“whose young women you were with.” Naomi is hatching a bold and somewhat risky scheme to get Boaz to accept an invitation to marry Ruth. She is trying to get Ruth to buy into her plan by reminding Ruth that Boaz had been gracious to her in the past and made sure she was protected as she was gleaning, so why would he not offer her protection now by marrying her? What is completely missing from this section of Ruth, and is without explanation, is why Naomi would not have done what parents did in that culture when they wanted to give a son or daughter in marriage, ask the parents of the prospective spouse or, in this case due to Boaz’s age and standing in the community, simply ask Boaz himself. No explanation is given for this glaring ommission.

“our relative.” Not the same word as “kinsman-redeemer” that occurs elsewhere in Ruth, or in Ruth 3:9. Note how Naomi now intimately connects Ruth with her plan to get a husband for Ruth by calling Boaz “our relative,” not “my relative” or “my dead husband’s relative.” On the other hand, the fact that Naomi only refers to Boaz as “our relative” shows us that there was much more conversation between Ruth and Naomi about Naomi’s plan to get Boaz to marry Ruth than is written in the Book of Ruth. In Ruth, Naomi’s instructions only take four verses (Ruth 3:1-4), and she calls Boaz “our relative,” but by the time Ruth is lying at Boaz’s feet at the threshing floor, Ruth asks Boaz to marry her “because you are a kinsman-redeemer.” The development of this plan between Naomi and Ruth very likely took hours but the meat of it is the four verses in Ruth. One of the amazing things about the Bible is the way the Author captures the essence and essentials of a conversation or event so the reader gets what is necessary to understand without having to read a lot of non-essential material.

“Look.” Naomi uses this interjection to catch Ruth’s attention.

“he is winnowing barley tonight.” Winnowing was done in the evening or early night when the winds blew and it was easier to separate the grain from the chaff. Generally, cool breezes blew from the west at night, from the Mediterranean Sea, and winnowers took advantage of both the cooler evening/night time and the wonderful breeze. In the process of winnowing, the piles of grain, stalk, and chaff that had been separated during threshing were thrown into the air. The round, heavy grain fell almost straight down, the pieces of stalk blew a little distance away, and the small chaff blew even further away. At that point the grain could be more easily picked up to be sieved, which happened before it was ground into flour.

The fact that Boaz was winnowing barley shows that the barley harvest was over. But the barley harvest had just started when Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:22). So it was likely only a month or so that Ruth and Naomi had been in Bethlehem, and now Naomi was seeking a husband for Ruth. The age difference between Boaz and Ruth and the fact that Ruth and Naomi needed family support meant that it was understood that this marriage was not based on romantic interests but rather on personal necessity. Also, it was likely that Ruth would not be Boaz’s only wife unless his other wife had died and he had not remarried. In fact, there is no reason to assume that a wealthy man like Boaz only had one other wife, although that may have been the case. Also, it is very likely that Boaz had children by his wife or wives, but they are not mentioned for the same reason that the wives and children of Jesus’ twelve apostles are not mentioned, they are not germane to the biblical record or the points that the Author is trying to make.

“the threshing floor.” the threshing floor was a flat area where the stalks of wheat could be piled and then threshed and then winnowed. The smooth, flat surface allowed the grain to be better separated and collected.

Rut 3:3

“wash yourself, anoint yourself, put on your nice garment.” Ruth was going to propose that Boaz marry her, and so she made herself presentable for that occasion. It is questionable how much of Ruth’s somewhat elaborate preparations were recognized by Boaz, given the fact that Ruth approached Boaz in the dark. But if Boaz noticed even some of them, many years of living in that culture would have immediately and instinctively indicated to him that this was the behavior of a bride, and that alone would have made it quite obvious to him why Ruth was there at his feet and what she wanted, which soon she would explicitly ask for. There is no indication, however, that Ruth was in any way trying to seduce Boaz at this time (although some people have suggested that) and no indication on Boaz’s part that he would have agreed to such an encounter anyway. Frankly, given Boaz’s noble character, and given the history of Israel and the fact that during their wilderness wanderings the Moabite women used ritual sex to seduce the men of Israel to worship pagan gods (Num. 25:1-9), any hint that Ruth the Moabitess was trying to seduce Boaz would have almost certainly repulsed him and soured his relationship with both Ruth and Naomi (see commentary on Ruth 3:4, “uncover his feet”).

“go down to the threshing floor.” The grazing land to the east of Bethlehem was a little lower in elevation than the town of Bethlehem, so people had to “go down” to the threshing floor. Then people go “up” into the city (Ruth 4:1).

“until he has finished eating and drinking.” It was very common that at mealtime the men of a clan ate together and then later the women and children. Naomi’s advice that Boaz finish eating and drinking was not only so he would be relaxed, but also so Ruth, who was already being somewhat aggressive in asking for Boaz to marry her, would not appear desperate, and furthermore, she had to meet him alone, when he was away from all the other men.

Rut 3:4

“note the place where he is lying.” How exactly to note where Boaz had laid down would take some planning. Ruth could not just go and stand somewhere close to the threshing floor without being noticed. The grain harvest was very valuable and was always the target of thieves who were looking for an opportunity to swoop in and grab some grain and run off, so grain owners had a sharp eye out for people who were just “hanging around” the threshing floor. The Bible does not tell us how Ruth did it, but it would not have been easy.

“go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you are to do.” This is an amazing sentence describing boldness yet tact and humility, and it also leaves unspoken that which everyone knows had to be, and was, spoken. To begin with, we wonder why Naomi did not follow the ancient custom of advocating for Ruth? Although the Bible does not say why, it is likely that Boaz was very old, close to 90 anyway, and perhaps older, and Ruth was almost certainly in her early 20s (see commentary on Ruth 1:8 and 4:18). Given that, it may be that Boaz did not think it appropriate to ask Ruth to marry him, and also may have felt Ruth would have rejected him. The obvious solution was to have Ruth ask Boaz herself. Also, obviously, there had to be more to what happened than just Ruth lying at Boaz’s feet and then him telling her what to do. What is graciously left unspoken is that Ruth would have to ask Boaz to marry her. This was likely discussed in some detail between Naomi and Ruth, but is left out of the text, perhaps because that it happened was so obvious.

“Uncover his feet.” That Naomi told Ruth to uncover Boaz’s feet is an interesting tactic. It was not that Ruth was to uncover Boaz’s feet, lie down, and then cover the feet and herself again. Ruth was to uncover Boaz’s feet and lie down next to them. Naomi likely gambled—correctly in this case—that the cool night air would eventually make Boaz uncomfortable and he would wake up and find Ruth lying there, which is exactly what happened. About midnight Boaz trembled, ostensibly because of the cold, and woke up to find Ruth at his feet. Ruth’s lying at Boaz’s feet shows proper humility and tact, but still gets the point across that Ruth was desirous to serve Boaz, which was more or less the way women were thought of in that culture—not as equals but as servants; often beloved and honored servants, but as servants nevertheless.

Some of the vocabulary that is used in Ruth 3 to describe Naomi’s plan and Ruth’s actions can be used idiomatically and in some contexts have a sexual meaning, and this has led some commentators to assert that Naomi and Ruth plotted to have Ruth go to the threshing floor to seduce Boaz. For example, that Ruth would bathe herself and put on special clothes can be confused with the way a prostitute dressed, the verb “lie” and the phrase “lie down” can refer to sex (similar to the English word “sleep”), the word “feet” is sometimes used in the biblical culture for the genital organs, etc. For example, Jeremy Schipper (The Anchor Yale Bible: Ruth) suggests that Ruth did not uncover Boaz’s feet, but rather he applies the word “uncover” to Ruth and translates the phrase such that Naomi instructs Ruth to “undress at his feet and lie down” (Ruth 3:4). Schipper writes, “Naomi is probably instructing Ruth to undress and lie at Boaz’s feet, as Ruth does in the following verses (3:7, 8, 14). Nevertheless, exactly what type of activity Naomi implies and Ruth carries out remains unclear because in some of the references above, uncovering the body is used with the various forms of the root skb (“to lie down”) as a euphemism for sexual activity...Moreover, other verbs that Naomi uses in this verse (“know” and “enter”) derive from roots that are often used as euphemisms for sexual intercourse.” Many scholars admit that that vocabulary does not have to be taken to mean that Ruth went to the threshing floor to have sex with Boaz, but say that the way it is written, “the storyteller meant to be ambiguous and hence provocative” (Jack Sasson, Ruth (commentary on Ruth 3:4)).

Frankly, suggesting that Naomi counseled Ruth to go to the threshing floor to try to seduce Boaz, and that Ruth would agree to that scheme casts a dark cloud of doubt and worldliness over Naomi, Ruth, and even Boaz, that is against their character as it is generally portrayed in Ruth and against the social norms of how godly people live. However, such an overtly sexual portrayal of the three characters is very much in vogue with the modern and worldly outlook on life that tosses aside the value of genuine godliness and obedience to God (and even the existence of God itself) and makes almost everything about sex and related activities that the Bible would deem immoral and ungodly. Thankfully, many conservative scholars see that Ruth 3 is not about Ruth seducing Boaz. For example, Daniel Block agrees that in certain contexts some of the vocabulary used in Ruth can be euphemistic of sex, but notes that the words also have a non-sexual meaning. In his commentary, Block first defends the non-sexual meaning of the vocabulary in Ruth 3, and then writes, “Finally, rather than noting the restraint with which Naomi chooses her words, the overtly sexual interpretation exaggerates the significance of her instructions in v. 3, and disregards the narrator’s characterization of both her and Ruth in the story. How could he have Boaz, also a virtuous person, bless Ruth for her action (v. 10) and characterize her as supremely noble (v. 11) if she was acting like a prostitute? Neither Naomi nor Ruth expresses interest in sex or even progeny at this point. Naomi’s concern was to provide more security for Ruth than she, as mother-in-law, could offer. Only a husband could give the long range protection and support she needed. Furthermore, an attempt at seduction would undermine the entire enterprise” (D. Block, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament: Ruth, [Ruth 3:3b-4g]).

Although the readers of the Book of Ruth are not told all the “whys and wherefores” in the record, we can see that Naomi is genuinely interested in Ruth’s welfare and Ruth is bold enough to carry out Naomi’s plan, which of course would also mean Ruth herself would be cared for.

Rut 3:5

“All that you say I will do.” Ruth understood the wisdom of what Naomi was telling her, and the need that she and Naomi provide a family for themselves.

Rut 3:6

“her mother-in-law commanded her.” So Naomi took charge of making sure Ruth would have a husband and be taken care of.

Rut 3:7

“he went to lie down at the edge of the heap of grain.” Landowners would often participate in the protection of their harvest, and that is the main reason Boaz would sleep by the grain pile. An ancillary reason was he would likely not want to make the walk back to Bethlehem at night. Although we are not told how large the heap of grain was, given how much grain Ruth gleaned in one day indicates that this was a very large grain pile.

Rut 3:8

“trembled.” The Hebrew is hard to exactly translate because it can have different meanings. It can mean “trembled” for some reason such as fear, but in this case Boaz might have simply been chilled by the night air. Or Boaz may have in some sense felt something was wrong and trembled and turned, only to discover a person was there.

“behold, a woman was lying at his feet.” The word “behold” in this context indicates surprise and probably even shock. The presence of Ruth there at the threshing floor and there at his feet was a total surprise. It likely took him a moment to even figure out that it was a woman. The Bible is silent about how much light there was at that time from the moon, but judging by the fact that Ruth could leave without being well seen there would not have been a full moon that night.

Rut 3:9

“Who are you.” Boaz did not yet know who was there with him.

“I am Ruth your servant.” The Hebrew word used here in Ruth 3:9 and translated “servant” is 'amah (#0519 אָמָה), and it generally referred to a female servant or female slave, a maid or handmaid, a concubine. However, 'amah is a different word from the Hebrew word translated “servant” in Ruth 2:13, which is shiphchah (#08198 שִׁפְחָה). Although shiphchah also means female servant or female slave, maid, handmaid, or slave girl, shiphchah is considered by many scholars to refer to the lowest rank of female slave, who was also often the female slave of the mistress of the house.

The words 'amah and shiphchah are often used synonymously, or seemingly without distinction in the Hebrew text, especially when they are used in Hebrew poetry. But sometimes, such as here in Ruth, the difference between the two words is important. When Ruth first meets Boaz in the field and he is unexpectedly kind and generous to her, she refers to herself as a shiphchah because that was how she was debasing herself and portraying herself, the Moabite girl, as the lowest form of servant girl. But here in Ruth 3:9 Ruth is about to ask that Boaz marry her, so referring to herself as the lowest possible slave would have been inappropriate. Thus, here in Ruth 3:9, Ruth calls herself an 'amah, a female servant who Boaz could marry. So Ruth portrays herself in two different ways using two different words, depending on her situation. The fact that she takes advantage of the words available to her and appropriate to each situation displays some of the wisdom and tact that Ruth had.

Unfortunately, today’s English language does not have a large vocabulary when it comes to the status of servants. In fact, the only English word that is well recognized and that mostly fits with what Ruth called herself is the word “servant,” and so most English Bibles use “servant” in both Ruth 2:13 and 3:9, even though the English text then loses some of the richness that can be found in the Hebrew text.

“the wing of your cloak over your servant.” The same idea occurs in Ezekiel 16:8, where God spread the corner of His garment over Israel when she was young. What Ruth said was picturesque and humble, but her meaning was unmistakable. Ruth epitomized boldness with humility and tact. The Hebrew word “wing” is used of the corner or end of the garment (cp. Deut. 22:12; 1 Sam. 15:27; 24:5-6, 11).

Rut 3:10

“May you be blessed by Yahweh, my daughter!” The Hebrew can also be translated as many versions do, “Blessed are you of Yahweh,” but it seems more likely that Boaz is not stating here that Ruth is blessed, but rather saying “May you be blessed.” Boaz’s statement allows the reader to breathe a sigh of relief and opens the door for marriage for Ruth and protection for her and Naomi. Boaz is obviously looking favorably upon Ruth and even if he doesn’t marry her he understands what she needs and will assist her in getting it. The other possibility (a very possible alternative, actually), was that Boaz would be scandalized at Ruth’s bold and unorthodox approach and would have driven her from the threshing floor. If that had occurred, the Book of Ruth would read quite differently.

“You have shown more devotion at the end than at the beginning.” This powerful statement shows us that Boaz was not in some “I just woke up” muddled state of mind, but was thinking and analyzing very clearly. He immediately recognizes the boldness and risk Ruth was taking in what she was doing, and makes the statement that this act of hers took more “devotion” than what she had done “at the beginning,” most likely a referral to what Ruth had done in leaving her family and the land of her birth and coming to Israel with Naomi. The word translated “devotion.” is hesed, which is generally a covenant word that indicates the kind of faithful and loving behavior that people in a covenant relationship show. [For more on hesed, see commentary on Ruth 1:8].

“you did not go after young men.” This implies that Boaz was quite old. But even if old he was capable. He traveled back and forth to his fields, diligently cared for his land and crops, and was obviously still very clear-headed in his thinking.

Rut 3:11

“my daughter.” Boaz sees Ruth as young enough to be his daughter, but realizing her welfare is at stake is willing to marry her.

“do not be afraid.” Boaz understood perfectly that Ruth (and Naomi) had reasons to worry about their future, and Boaz speaks directly to that to calm Ruth’s mind.

“I will do for you all that you say.” This demonstrates true humility on the part of Boaz, even in making the statement the way he did. Doing “all that you say” is generally the role of the servant, listening to the master, but here Boaz understands the need that Ruth and Naomi have, he understands his kinship relation to them, and he understands the wisdom in Ruth’s being married to him, so he makes the simple and humble statement, “I will do for you all that you say.” A man with more insecurity and pride might have understood Ruth’s need but have spoken to her differently.

“for all the gate of my people knows.” The word “gate” is a metonymy for the people of the gate, both the gossips and the elders, and the elders at the gate were the authorities in many cities. We now know for sure what we might have expected earlier, that Ruth had been a topic of discussion around the whole town. If “all the gate,” the elders and the gossips, knew that Ruth was a woman of noble character, then she must have been discussed and debated at some length, and certainly with some people “for” her and some “against” this Moabite girl. But in the end, her faithful devotion to Naomi and her quiet and respectful way of being had won over the people of Bethlehem such that now “all” the people (likely a hyperbole for the vast majority) understood that she was a noble woman. Since it was just now the end of the barley harvest, and Ruth came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest, it likely took 4 to 6 weeks for people to reach that opinion.

There is a great lesson in how Ruth behaved when she knew—and she would have known—that the town was talking about her. It can be very uncomfortable to know that people are talking about you, but that is often an unavoidable part of life for those who do anything noteworthy. Ruth sets a sterling example of what to do and what not to do in that situation. Ruth just kept on doing what she needed to do, working to support her and Naomi. She did not go around the town trying to run interference for herself and influence public opinion in her favor.

“you are a woman of noble character.” The word translated “noble character” is used here and in Proverbs 12:4 and 31:10.

Rut 3:12

“there also is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I.” The Levitical Law was that if a woman’s husband died, the man’s brother would marry the widow and have children by her who would then bear the name of the dead brother (Deut. 25:5-10). In this case, Boaz was not even a descendant of Elimelech, but was a relative of his (Ruth 2:1). Given the fact that people at that time tried to have large families for mutual care and protection, it is not unusual that there would be someone in Elimelech’s family who was a closer kinsman-redeemer than Boaz. It is also worth noting that Elimelech did not have a blood brother that could be the kinsman-redeemer.

Rut 3:13

“Stay here tonight.” The reason that Boaz wanted Ruth to stay the rest of the night with him instead of going right home is unstated, but there are a couple of logical reasons that he might have said it. One reason is that it was more dangerous to travel in the middle of the night than it was when it was first getting light enough to see. Or, another reason could be that Boaz wanted Ruth to be close in case either of them thought of something that needed to be discussed about their plans for the next day. The suggestion that Boaz wanted that so he could have sex with her is out of place (see commentary on Ruth 3:4, “uncover his feet”).

“let him redeem you.” The phrase, “let him redeem you” could almost seem too casual or perhaps too matter-of-fact and heartless for this situation because it is Ruth’s life and the man she would be married to that is undecided. Ruth knows Boaz, but who is this other man who was a closer relative to Elimelech, and if he decides to redeem Ruth, what would her life, and Naomi’s life, be like then? But in spite of these unknowns, it is important to do things in an honest way. Boaz was a fair and honest man, and he did things in a right and honest way. That is the right way to live even if sometimes things do not turn out the way one expects them to. Psalm 15:4 says that the one who is qualified to live on God’s holy mountain is one “who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change his mind,” and doing the right thing even when it hurts is God’s faithful way, and we certainly see that in the life of Jesus Christ.

Rut 3:14

“It must not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” This would protect both Boaz’s and Ruth’s reputation. In the same way that thieves would try to steal from a threshing floor (see commentary on Ruth 3:4), prostitutes knew that the men at the threshing floor were generally away from their families and could pay right away in grain. So it was not uncommon to see a prostitute at the threshing floor (Hos. 9:1), and neither Boaz nor Ruth needed that accusation hanging over their heads. The Hebrew text reads “the woman” while the Septuagint text reads “a woman.” It is possible that “the woman” is a copyists error, or it is possible that by “the woman” Boaz meant Ruth and that people had taken notice of his concern for Ruth and Naomi.

Rut 3:15

“cloak.” This particular word translated “cloak” is unusual, occurring only here and Isaiah 3:22.

“hold it.” The idea is hold it tightly so the grain would not spill out. The Hebrew means to hold or grasp.

“measured six measures of barley.” This is likely about 60 pounds, but the exact measure is unknown. This shows the great concern that Boaz had for Naomi and Ruth. It also would have provided some protection for him had Ruth been seen and recognized; it would have looked like Ruth came early to see about getting some sustenance for her and Naomi.

“and he went into the city.” The Hebrew text reads “he.” Some late Hebrew manuscripts, and the Syriac and Vulgate read “she,” and some English versions follow them and not the Hebrew text. Which reading is correct is a difficult choice because they both ended up going into the city of Bethlehem: Ruth to Naomi with the grain, Boaz to the city gate.

Rut 3:16

“How did it go, my daughter?” The Hebrew text is idiomatic, literally, “Who are you, my daughter.” The Hebrew text, while idiomatic, shows a deep grasp of humanity, because “who” we are changes with the circumstances with our life. If things are going well for us, then we are calm, peaceful, happy, and tend to be giving and forgiving. But if things are not going well for us, then we tend to be more self-centered and could be angry, unhappy, etc. Although it has been suggested that Naomi said “Who are you” because it was still dark and Naomi did not recognize her, that seems hardly credible. Naomi sent Ruth to be with Boaz, and now Ruth returns, and there is very little doubt that Naomi spent the night without sleep, waiting and worrying about the situation. She was looking for Ruth and would not have mistaken her. Even though the literal “who are you” is an idiom meaning something such as “how did it go,” the idiom arose out of the truth that people are different in different situations.

“all that the man had done for her.” The use of “the man” here is purposeful. Both Naomi and Ruth knew Boaz well by this time, and it seems natural that Ruth would have used his name. But at this point in the record, Ruth and Naomi need a “man” who can take them under his wing and make sure they are cared for, so in this sentence it is more important to emphasize that a “man” had promised Ruth much, and emphasize his gender, than use his name and say, “Boaz.”

Rut 3:17

“to your mother-in-law.” Boaz was concerned for Naomi, and exemplified the heart of the Law (Deut. 24:17-21).

“Do not go empty-handed to your mother-in-law.” This is the second time the word “empty” occurs in Ruth, the first being Ruth 1:21, when Naomi said that she had left Bethlehem full, but that Yahweh had brought her back “empty.” It surely seems that Naomi’s situation is changing, and she is getting filled by people who love Yahweh.

These are the last words spoken by Ruth in the Book of Ruth, and they show the same heart that Ruth has shown ever since she first came on the scene in chapter one; her concern for others and especially Naomi. Surely this conversation between Ruth and Naomi was long and emotional, and the Author could have chosen many different statements to be Ruth’s last words. The fact that He chose them to be about Boaz taking care of Naomi is no accident, then the scene quickly changes to Ruth 4.

Ruth 4 is dominated by Boaz negotiating to be the kinsman-redeemer, comfort to Naomi, and the royal genealogy of King David. We know that Boaz married Ruth and that Ruth had the baby Obed, but more about Ruth than that is only speculation. Also, Boaz was much older than Ruth, he likely being at least 90 and her being in her mid-twenties when they married, so we can only guess at what might have happened to Ruth after Boaz died.

If the Book of Ruth occurred during the judgeship of Deborah as the genealogy in Ruth 4 suggests, Ruth would have been alive and Boaz likely dead when the Israelites rejected Yahweh again and were subsequently afflicted by the Midianites and Amalekites during the time of Gideon. At that time the Midianites and Amalekites, who came from the south and east but likely entered Israel north of the Dead Sea, “encamped against them [Israel] and destroyed the produce of the land as far as Gaza, and left no sustenance in Israel, and no sheep or ox or donkey” (Judg. 6:4). Gaza is southwest of Bethlehem, and so while it is possible that the Midianites bypassed the central hill country of Israel and came down from the north through the Shephelah and coastal plain, it is quite possible that they went right through the breadbasket of southern Israel and thus would have devastated Bethlehem in their attacks. In any case, the Midianites and Amalekites so afflicted Israel that “Israel was brought very low because of Midian” (Judges 6:6), so it could not have been a good time for Ruth, who would likely have been still alive but likely in her late 40s or older.

Rut 3:18

“Then she said.” These are the last words of Naomi in the Book of Ruth, and they are factual but as comforting as she could be given the situation. Naomi does not give glowing words of hope about the future, but her confidence in Boaz is comforting. It often happens in life that people have to rely on one another, and being a reliable person is part of being a godly person, and God has a lot to say about being a faithful, reliable person (cp. Prov. 25:19).

“Sit still.” The Hebrew is just “sit,” but the idea is “sit still,” or “wait.”

“how the matter turns out.” A more literal translation would be “how the matter will fall,” which was her way of expressing how the matter will turn out. The source of the idiom is not known, and this is the only place in the Bible where the word “fall” is used to mean “turn out” or “result.” It is possible that the idiom came from the practice of using lots or dropping other things to determine the will of God (cp. Ezek. 21:21). This does not seem to be just helpless fatalism on the part of Naomi, but based on her telling Ruth to “sit still,” it seems to be based in Naomi’s perhaps newfound confidence that things will turn out well. Nevertheless, she expresses the situation well, because good outcomes are not guaranteed in life.

“for the man will not rest.” Naomi had picked up upon the concern that Boaz had for her and Ruth, and realized that he would deal with the matter of the kinsman-redeemer that day if at all possible.


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