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To the Threshing Floor and Back (1)
i. THE PLAN (Ruth 3:1-5)
Victor M Eskew
A. In the previous two chapters, the events have centered upon a certain place.
1. Chapter 1 – Moab
2. Chapter 2 – Boaz’s Field
B. Chapter 3 also centers upon a certain place, the threshing floor.
1. Ruth 3:2
And now is not Boaz our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshing floor.
2. Ruth will go to the threshing floor (Ruth 3:6) and will return to Naomi (Ruth 3:16).
3. Therefore, we have entitled this chapter: “To the Threshing Floor and Back.”
C. The Outline of the Chapter
i. THE PLAN (Ruth 3:1-5)
ii. THE PROPOSAL (Ruth 3:6-15)
iii. THE PATIENCE (Ruth 3:16-18)
D. The Key Verse: 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 part: be 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.
E. “All the preparations for this night-time visit, the place, the way of approach, the timing, all are geared to make it clear that Ruth is asking Boaz for (levirate) marriage” (Atkinson, 100).
F. Keep two words in mind:
a. A Latin word that translate the Hebrew for “brother-in-law.”
b. The levirate regulates marriage customs when the man of the house has died.
a. Meaning: to buy back or redeem
b. The near kinsman was the one who was the redeemer of persons and property. He was also considered the protector.
I. THE PLAN (Ruth 3:1-5)
A. Naomi’s Concern (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?
1. Naomi strikes up another conversation with Ruth.
a. Lesson: Communication is very important in all relationships. One has said that “communication is the life-blood of relationships.”
b. We sometimes have to address concerns that we have for others.
2. Naomi again refers to Ruth as “My daughter.”
a. Again, the closeness of the relationship is seen.
b. Naomi’s love for Ruth “is the pure motivation for what she is about to say to Ruth” (Peipman, 208).
3. Shall I not seek rest for thee?
1) Strong (4494): quiet…a settled spot, or (figuratively) a home
2) BDB: resting spot, state or condition of rest
b. It was the custom for parents, especially fathers, to arrange marriages (Gen. 24:1-9; 28:1-5; Judges 1:12-13; 14:1-4).
1) The parents should be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their son or daughter’s future mate.
2) Since Elimelech was dead (Ruth 1:3, 5) this responsibility fell on Naomi’s shoulders. The NJB states: “Daughter is it not my duty…?”
c. Naomi had this desire for both daughters-in-law very early on. She wanted them to return to their mother’s house because Naomi had no way of providing them with husbands (Ruth 1:11-13).
d. LESSON: Marriage is referred to as “rest.”
1) Life is made meaningful by relationships, the most meaningful of which is that between a husband and wife in marriage (MacArthur, p. 32).
2) Peter refers to it as “the grace of life” (I Pet. 3:7).
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife as the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
3) Sadly, for many, marriage is anything but rest. It is more like warfare.
e. Rest would involve at least three things: provision, protection, and progeny.
4. That is may be well with thee
a. May be well
1) Strong (3190): make well, literally (sound, beautiful) or figuratively (happy, successful, right).
2) BDB: to be good, pleasing, be well, to be joyful, to be well pleased
b. This involves a prosperous and contented state of being.
B. Naomi’s Course of Action (Ruth 3:2-4)
1. The Person (Ruth 3:2a)
And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast?
a. In her grief, Naomi had not considered a levirate marriage for Ruth.
b. The “chance” meeting between Ruth and Boaz had caused Naomi to develop a plan to bring them together in marriage.
1) She recognizes that there are other kinsmen (2:20).
2) She believes that Boaz is the right man for Ruth.
c. She has developed a plan. Why did she do this?
1) Boaz as a kinsman and could fulfill the demands of a redeemer.
2) He had shown special interest in and care for Ruth while she was in the field.
3) There may have been some “town gossip” that had come to Naomi’s ears.
4) She could have also recognized and trust in the providence of God.
5) NOTE: The first and second items are mentioned in this verse.
2. The Place (Ruth 3:2b)
Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshing floor.
1) This was a term that indicated that Naomi wanted Ruth to sit up and pay attention.
2) “The interjection ‘behold’…is used to capture Ruth’s attention so she might seize the moment” (Stewart, 104).
3) Ruth’s whole future could land in the balance of what she is about to tell Ruth.
b. He winnoweth…in the threshing floor.
1) How did she know this? This points to the town gossip that was floating around.
2) “The threshingfloor” was a level area made of flat rock or earth that had been stomped down (Jer. 51:33). The places were located on hilltops that were exposed to the western Mediterranean breezes.
a) Some were privately owned (II Sam. 24:16-24).
b) Some were community property (Gen. 50:10-11).
3. The Preparations (Ruth 3:3a)
Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee…
a. There are two reasons for the preparations
1) To make herself attractive to Boaz
2) To exchange her widow’s garments for those that signal availability to Boaz
b. Three actions
1) Wash: bathing in water
2) Anoint: denotes pouring or rubbing olive oil on oneself (Deut. 28:40; Mic. 6:15).
a) Kept the skin soft
b) Protected from sunburn
c) Repelled insects
d) Mixed with other ingredients, it became a deodorant or perfume
a) Up to this time, Ruth probably wore the attire of a widow.
b) It was time to change those clothes and dress in a fashion which showed a desire to be married.
4. The Presentation (Ruth 3:3b-4a)
…but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down…
a. There was no one who set forth any precedent for Naomi’s plan. No one referred to any type of cultural practice that was being followed.
b. NOTE: Most believe that the plan carried some danger for Ruth, especially had she been caught while at the threshing floor.
c. There were three things she was to do:
1) Ruth must wait until Boaz has finished his evening meal and is contented before she approaches him.
a) It would not be proper etiquette to interrupt Boaz as he carries out his daily activities.
b) “At this time, Boaz would be the most favorable to her request” (Stewart, 110).
2) Mark the place where he shall lie
a) There may have been several individuals at the threshing floor who would spend the night in the area.
b) When the night fell, she needed to know his exact location.
3) Go uncover his feet, and lay thee down.
a) She laid down at this feet. This put her in a submissive position. It indicated her desire to be married.
b) She uncovered his feet. His actions at that point would indicate his decision about marriage. If he used his garment to also cloth Ruth, he would desire to be married to her.
c) See Ezekiel 16:9-13
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. Then
washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed
thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and
I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with
ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel
on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. Thus
wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and
broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding
beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.
d) Some have tried to use the terms in these verses indicate something of a sexual nature happening that evening. “Lie” and “uncover” can have sexual connotations, but the context does not indicate any of this to the reader.
5. The procedures (Ruth 3:4b)
…and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
a. Ruth will have poured out her desires unto Boaz for marriage.
b. The rest would be upon Boaz. He would tell her of his desires either to marry or not to marry.
c. Peipman says that Naomi can already see Boaz agreeing to marry Ruth. She finds this in the words “shalt do.” The words carry the idea of building, constructing, creating, accomplishing, and preparing something to be done.
d. The plan is shocking. The plan is forward. The plan is overwhelming. It would take courage for Ruth to do as Naomi instructs.
C. Ruth’s Compliance (Ruth 3:5)
And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.
1. Ruth’s response to Naomi is immediate. “She totally trusts Naomi and is willing to trust her judgment as the person who is in authority over her and perhaps that is made easier because she knows that Naomi loves her and has her best interests at heart” (Peipman, 218).
2. “Block points out that this step took great boldness on the part of Ruth since she was a young, poor, foreign woman proposing to an older, wealthy, native man” (Stewart, 111).
3. In Moab, she was not willing to submit to Naomi’s request. Now she does submit. Why the difference?
a. One has answered: “The consequences.”
1) In Moab she would have had to sever ties with Naomi. Too, she may have left the God of Israel had she returned.
2) Now, she does not have to leave either.
b. It could also involve Ruth’s desires.
1) She had no desire to return to her home in Moab.
2) She, too, had a desire to be married to a man like Boaz.