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3:6 The situation having been set up (using highly ambiguous language), and Ruth's obedience promised, the narrator now confirms this: [she] "did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her."

In her obedience Ruth acts "stealthily", the word is appropriate, used elsewhere usually for murky deeds (Jdg 4:21; 1 Sam 18:22) and magic arts (Ex 7:22; 8:3, 14). Motifs of darkness and secrecy run through this chapter adding to its ambiguous effect!

3:7 After eating and drinking "[Boaz] was in a contented mood", we should not over-read and assume that Boaz is drunk, merely contented and happy with the warm glow of harvest and a good feast.

Ruth now does as she was told, we receive a third confirmation. First she promised, then the narrator told us and now her actions are recounted.

3:8 "The man was startled" which is hardly surprising, he went to bed alone and now ... a woman at his feet! Notice how our feeling for his surprise is heightened by the change to his point of view "and there..." is vehinneh.

3:9 The question "Who are you?" is not strange in these circumstances, but note how it recurs at v.16.

"spread your cloak over your maidservant" NRSV, "Please marry me" TEV (notice the reason Ruth gives "for you are go'el") cf. 2:12 where the same imagery has been used by Boaz to describe Ruth's seeking protection from the Lord.

3:10 According to Boaz, "this instance of [Ruth's] loyalty is better" than before, because she has "not gone after" any of the young men, "whether poor or rich" but rather with him. Note that he assumes she is sufficiently attractive that both rich and poor would gladly have sought her (even though she is a barren widow).

Note too that these "young men" are doubly distinguished from those of chapter two, for Boaz' servants were spoken of by a different word, and these are qualified as both "rich and poor".

3:11 "Don't be afraid" in such circumstances, with her whole future in his hands, Ruth will naturally tend to be apprehensive! He reassures her, she is not about to loose honour or future.

"I will do for you all that you ask" cf. v.5 where Ruth said "All that you say I will do." (Boaz' phrase is, in Hebrew, an expanded version of Ruth's) between these two phrases Naomi's plan has been realised, and her prayer of 1:9 is now answered.

"you are a woman of worth" cf. 2:1 (and Prov 31:10ff.) these two are 'made for each other' it is a 'marriage made in heaven'. Note how, in the circumstances, if either of them had not been worthy of Naomi's confidence all would have been ruined, and if someone finds them together this night disaster could still strike.

3:12 "another kinsman more closely related" just as it seems that all is set up for a happy ending, the solution is once more in jeopardy.

3:13 "I will act as next-of-kin for you. Lie down until the morning" Ruth can trust both the Lord and Boaz, therefore she can sleep in peace. Naomi, at home, has left the affair in the hands of Boaz, Ruth and the Lord. So, whether she does so or not, she also can sleep in peace, since all three are worthy of her trust.

3:14 "if he will act as next-of-kin for you" by this phrase Boaz introduces the possibility that the other Go'el  might not act, thus opening the possibility again of a "happy ending". In terms of plot construction this is interesting. The complication is introduced and its solution mentioned as a possibility by the same words. The "other Go'el" may act - Boaz and Ruth will not marry - he may not act - they will marry. Ruth and we, hearers of the story, have just been told by Boaz that he "will act". What is tested here is not Ruth, or our, belief in Boaz, but rather in God's providence. For Boaz' and Ruth are made for each other! 

"before one person could recognize another" cf. 2:10 where already Boaz "recognised" her, doubtless he will do so even more (cf. chapter four), Ruth has no more need now to be recognised.

3:15 "six measures" is six times as much as Ruth gleaned in ch 2, Boaz has already begun to take care of the two women, ansd clearly Ruth is strong as well as (most readers assume!) beautiful (6 ephahs is 60-120Kgs).

© Dr Tim Bulkeley, 2004.

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Tim teaches Hebrew Bible (First or Old Testament) at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and at Carey Baptist College his other sites include:
Amos - Postmodern Bible commentary
Study Notes on Jonah
Images of Archaeological Sites in Israel (Focusing on the Iron Age)