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3:1-5 Naomi Hatches a Plan
The attention that Ruth received from Boaz opens up a possibility of deliverance that Naomi had not expected – the existence of a redeemer. There are two legal principles at work here.
One is the right to redeem land (Lev. 25:23-34, see also the right to redeem an Israelite from slavery Lev. 25:39-55). This was a right that was given to someone who was near of kin (Lev. 25:48-49), which is why we call him the kinsman redeemer. The other is the duty to keep a family line alive (Deut. 25:5-10). Again, this was a duty that fell on the close relative to keep a family name alive.
In the story of Ruth, these two principles are both at work. Naomi and Ruth need to have their land redeemed, but they also need a line to receive this inheritance, because it can’t be passed on outside of the family (Num. 36:9).
The plan is for Ruth to be deliberately seductive towards Boaz. She is going to wait for the right moment to approach Boaz, but part of this is that she is bypassing any interaction with other men so that she can focus solely on Boaz.
6-9 The Threshing Floor
The threshing of the grain is accompanied by a celebration of feasting. Naomi chooses this moment, ripe with innuendo, for Ruth to approach Boaz. Ruth calls Boaz to fulfil the role of redeemer. The request to cover her with his wing, is a request for him to be her husband (Ez. 16:8 and the prohibitions of sexual infidelity – Deut. 22:30, 27:20, etc.). But it is also a reminder that Ruth’s seeking of refuge with Boaz is her seeking refuge with Yahweh (2:12).
10-11 The Blessing of Boaz
Boaz recognizes Ruth’s faithfulness for what it is. Her faithfulness gets better and better ( John 2:10). He grants her request and then Boaz pays her a very high compliment, calling her “a virtuous woman.” This corresponds with the description of Boaz (2:1) and sets Ruth as the embodiment of the perfect woman (Prov. 31:10-31). Ruth stands for two things here, the first is what real biblical femininity looks like. The second is what real biblical faith looks like (without regard to gender).
12-13 A Nearer Kinsman
But Boaz notes that there is still a kinsman that is nearer to Naomi than himself. The duty of being the redeemer falls first to this nearer kinsman and then to Boaz. Ruth will have to be patient while he sorts this matter out.
14-18 Ruth Returns to Naomi
Ruth returns to Naomi with the news that Boaz will act. But she also brings back a gift of barley from Boaz. But remember that the barley is just a token of a much larger and more significant provision.