Ruth had just moved from her home country. No moving van was available or even a horse. She had to walk all the way - approximately 50 miles. She did not even have the luxury of hitchhiking. She traveled the road with no man to protect her. She was a stranger in a strange land. She was a pauper who got a job as a peasant gleaner. She hoped to pick up enough straw to keep from starving. She was hungry and had probably gone to work that morning without breakfast. Her husband was dead. His father was dead. His brother was dead. She was all alone. Are the tears flowing yet?
The average person does not understand what it means to
be in need and would never appreciate the grace of God. Ruth fell on her
face! That action demonstrated respect, humility, and appreciation for
the kindness shown her by Boaz. She was hurting inside. She was hungry
and alone, and the great landowner Boaz stooped down and said, "I'm here
to help you." And she fell on her face because of Boaz? NO! She fell on
her face because she was graced out. She had been depending on the Lord
to keep her alive ever since she left Moab. Now the Lord had come through.
Tears came into her eyes as she experienced the grace of God. Are the tears
Are the tears flowing yet? This is being graced out. It happens in the Attraction Phase of romance.
After getting up off the ground and regaining her composure, Ruth asked Boaz, "Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me?" Boaz had values that attracted him to Ruth, and Ruth had values that gave her respect for Boaz. This was the grace of God in preparing Right Man/Right Woman for each other so when they met there would be attraction. These two were obviously attracted, but they had not yet had time to realize this as Right Man/Right Woman.
In the next verse Boaz recognized Ruth's obedience to Bible Doctrine and expressed his wish for her to receive blessings from the LORD.
"Under whose wings you have come to seek refuge": This phrase recognized Ruth's reliance upon the protection of the Lord (Psa. 27). The Lord protects his people as an eagle hovering above its chicks. "Wings" are symbols of power. The "wings" of the God of Israel refer to the power of the Lord (really Jesus Christ), the Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of Israel. This is a very powerful Hebrew metaphor. Boaz further recognizes that Ruth had traveled to the Promised Land to "seek refuge", a respite in the storm. She had been in a place of cursing and was seeking refuge, a place of rest, synonymous with the grace of God in maturity.
Ruth was grateful for Boaz's kindness: "I have found favor in your sight, my lord."
And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.” So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate until she was satisfied and had some left over. (Ruth 2:14)Boaz said in Hebrew vg^n* (nagash), which means to come near. This was an invitation for Ruth to sit with him. Seating represents protocol as well as the Plan of God. Boaz, in requesting Ruth's presence near him at the table, showed her respect and promoted her out of her humble circumstances. Ruth was no longer an unknown peasant but was a special dinner guest of Boaz, the owner of the estate. Boaz was no longer an isolated rich man but a gracious host with love for a fellow recipient of the grace of God. Ruth was no longer a foreigner but a member of the worker family of the Boaz estate. Ruth was no longer an impersonal relationship but a very special person. She had been honored by the entrepreneur of the estate.
Boaz demonstrated his sensitivity and respect for the Plan of God by inviting Ruth to have lunch with him. Boaz was a Jewish aristocrat, and he had just asked a Moabite peasant to eat with him. Eating with another person represents a personal love relationship. To be gathered around the same table represents commonality in the Plan of God. Those who eat together are, in effect, committing to a common purpose. The table represents the Plan of God. As David said, "You have arranged in order a table before me in the presence of my enemies" (Psalm 23:4a). Partaking of daily bread is not just the nourishment of the body, it is a demonstration of the Plan of God, a ritual that is pregnant with symbolism.
There are only two types of tables. One represents the Plan of God and the other represents the Cosmic System. The table of the Plan of God symbolizes the Stage of Life, and the table of the Cosmic System symbolizes the evil of the world. A person cannot eat at both tables at the same time any more than a person can serve two masters simultaneously. The command of God is to separate from the world. The Christian should only eat from the Table of God. It will be arranged based upon Logistical Grace. Those who partake of grace will have a spiritual life, but those who partake of the world will die from the sin that ends in death.
This is not as simple as saying grace over a meal, although the Christian should always do so in recognition of the sanctification, i.e. separation, of the food of Logistical Grace from the food of the world. To say grace over the table of the world is to ask God to rubberstamp Cosmos Diabolicus. He will not do it! The Christian must first choose the Table of God or God will not bless the food or the dinner. Why? Because the dinner is all symbolic. The table, seating arrangement, food, conversation, events, and environment along with the dinner guests are all part of a play on the Stage of Life. The play can only honor God or Satan. There are no other options. Only recognition of grace can honor God. To compromise with the world at meal time is to practice apostasy or evil.
Principle: Saying grace is a farce when you're eating with the hogs.The provision of manna in the wilderness was a demonstration of God's Logistical Grace provision for believers. The principle has never changed.
Principle: We don't provide our food; God does.Those who do not obey God in what they eat are demonstrating rejection of the grace Plan of God. For eating from the table of Logistical Grace symbolizes being sanctified, set apart, to God. Those who reject Logistical Grace provision at mealtime will be enslaved to Ecumenical Babylon. So long as God has a purpose for a person, he will not be left to starve. If a person does not obey God in what he eats, he is disobedient and an enemy of the Plan of God. When God provides, we may eat; when God does not provide, we must wait. Such was the lesson of the no water test of the worldly congregation of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 17:1-7; Deuteronomy 33:8; Psalm 95:8).
So, before Boaz could invite Ruth to eat with him, he had to understand the Plan of God. By eating with Ruth, he was practicing hospitality (Hebrews 13:2) per the teaching of the Word of God, but he was also pursuing a personal love relationship in the Plan of God. One of the characteristics of the Attraction Phase is personal love. The personal love may be so strong that it knocks a person off his or her feet.
So, Boaz invited Ruth to have lunch with him. He invited her to sit beside him and to dip her bread in his "vinegar" (Hebrew Jm#j)), chometz), which was a sour beverage composed of wine vinegar or sour wine mixed with oil.1 Ruth accepted the invitation of her host and sat beside the reapers. Here is the protocol. Boaz was the head, the reapers (with their foremen) were his employees, and the peasant gleaners were last. There is protocol in the Plan of God. When Ruth moved up beside the reapers to sit next to Boaz, she was responding to personal love, which is without protocol. However, she was also accepting a seat of honor, which symbolized grace promotion.
Principle: The Right Man gives his Right Woman a seat of honor.Boaz offered Ruth some parched grain. She ate until she was satisfied, and had some left over. The parched grain was a delicacy at harvest time. The grain, not yet fully dry or hard was roasted in a pan or iron plate. It was very tasty and was eaten with bread or instead of it.1 This meal was provided to Ruth compliments of Logistical Grace. She probably went to work that morning without a packed lunch and was provided a very good meal compliments of Logistical Grace. Evidence that this was the table of God as opposed to the world was: The hospitality of Boaz, absence of racial discrimination, protocol seating, symbolic grace promotion, and personal love.
Ruth 2:15-16Here is the hallmark of a leader. Before there can be any trouble, he nips in it the bud. This is like the famous quote from Marilyn Quail, wife of Dan Quail, who responded to the question by the press about what she did about sexual harassment. She said, "I don't have a problem; I nip it in the bud." Before there could be any problem, Boaz gave his workers their orders concerning Ruth, the attractive Moabite girl. He established the scope of her job. She was to be allowed to glean even among the sheaves, which was not commonly permitted. She was not to be harassed or humiliated in any way. The reapers were to purposely leave some grain behind for her to glean. And they were not permitted to scold her, which amounts to disciplinary action. Ruth was an aristocrat and was not to be disciplined by the hired hands. Boaz had prescribed a personnel policy of trust and altruism toward Ruth.
15 When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and you shall not humiliate her. 16 “And also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and you shall not scold her.”
So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. (Ruth 2:17, NAS)Ruth gleaned until evening, between sundown and dark. It is common to work in the fields from daylight to dark. When she had beat out the barley to separate it from the straw and chaff so she could carry it home, she had about and "ephah." An "ephah" is 3 pecks and 3 pints, which is .8 bushel (about 20-25 pounds) of barley.1
And she took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also pulled out (of her pocket) and gave Naomi what she had left (of the parched grain) after she was satisfied. (Ruth 2:18)Ruth took the barley home, and Naomi saw that she had done well from gleaning. Then Ruth took the parched corn that she had left over from lunch and gave it to Naomi. So Ruth was thinking of Naomi even at lunch, and she brought the parched grain home for her.
Her mother-in-law then said to her, “Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who paid regard to you be blessed.” She told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” (Ruth 2:19)When Naomi saw the blessing, she gave thanks for the man who had been gracious to Ruth. Naomi was grace oriented and recognized the source of Logistical Grace blessing. She, therefore, gave thanks to God.
And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his gracious love to the living and to the dead.” Again Naomi said to her, “The man is our relative and one of our redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20)Naomi recognized the Lord God as the source of "gracious love" (Hebrew ds#j#chesedh, which means gracious love or loving kindness). His grace was for the "living" (Naomi and Ruth) and "the dead" (Naomi and Ruth's dead husbands). In other words, it was honoring to the dead to have a close relative to provide for Naomi and Ruth in grace.
Naomi explained to Ruth that Boaz was a close relative, who was one of their redeemers, Hebrew la@wG) (go'el). The concept of a redeemer (Leviticus 25:26, 48, 49) is peculiar to the Mosaic Law. Under the Law the land was all owned by the LORD and was allotted to specific families. Every seventh year the land was to lie fallow, and every fiftieth year, called the year of Jubilee, the land was to revert back to its original owners. If a Jew sold his land due to poverty, his nearest relative had the legal right to redeem it. The redeemer was to pay a prorated amount for the land based on the numbers of years to the next Jubilee when it would revert back to its original owner anyway.
This is all very important because along with the concept of the redeemer was the Law of the Levirate marriage whereby when a man died and left a widow, the man's brother was obligated to take the widow as his wife in order to perpetuate the family line (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). Whereas, the redeemer and the Law of the Levirate marriage were not connected in the Mosaic Law, it became a very natural Jewish tradition to do so.1 In other words, if a redeemer redeemed a piece of property that belonged to a deceased relative who left behind a widow, the widow went with the property. Thus, the redeemer was also expected to accept the widow as his wife along with the property.
These customs may be strange to us, but in Israel they were common practice. In Israel the first-born was head of the tribal family. Thus, when a woman married a man, she also married into a tribe. When she married, she became part of the tribal family. Consequently, she was not deserted if she became a widow. And under the Law, there were provisions for her brother-in-law to take care of her and for her to be his wife in order to preserve the family line.
Naomi understood all this and thus knew that Boaz was a potential redeemer. She furthermore understood this meant that he was a potential husband for Ruth. Having seen the kindness of Boaz toward Ruth, she advised Ruth to accept Boaz's offer to glean in his field until the end of the harvest.
Ruth 2:21-22Naomi was concerned for Ruth's safety. In another field others might attack Ruth. The Hebrew word translated "jump on" in verse 22 is ug^P* (paga` ), which means to fall upon, encounter with hostility, abuse, or molest.
21 Then Ruth the Moabitess said, “Furthermore, he said to me, ‘You should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.’” 22 And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, lest others jump on you in another field.”
So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. She lived with her mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:23)According to Israel's calendar, the barley harvest started with the Feast of Firstfruits, which was the first day after the Passover. The barley harvest was followed by the wheat harvest, and then came Pentecost. Since the Passover fell approximately the first week in April, Pentecost (fifty days later) would be in June. Thus, the wheat harvest would have been over by June. Therefore, Ruth worked in Boaz's fields no more than fifty days, i.e. seven weeks.
When Right Man and Right Woman have passed the Compatibility Test, God can provide them the grace-blessing of coalescence of souls. The stress tests of the Compatibility Phase are designed to verify the capacity of the soul to receive Marriage Intimacy Love. Or, put another way, Compatibility Testing verifies the integrity of the cup in the soul to hold the special love that God is willing to pour in marriage. If there are any flaws in the ECS, the soul will be unstable (or leak). A flawed ECS might break down with arrogance or emotion, both of which are incompatible with the grace of God. The objective of Compatibility Testing is to verify that the souls of Right Man and Right Woman have capacity for coalescence.
In reality, Compatibility Testing is one of the most painful forms of suffering in the Christian life. It ranks with Evidence Testing (and may even include Evidence Testing) in terms of intensity of suffering. The most intimate relationship in this life is the Right Man - Right Woman relationship; and Compatibility Testing separates them in order to put maximum stress on the two partners. The suffering during the separation can be very intense. Soul love is a non-touching love, and during Compatibility Testing, the Right Man and Right Woman don't need to touch each other.
However, there must be coalescence of souls in order for God to bless the marriage relationship to the maximum. Through experiential sanctification the Compatibility Tests can be passed and the Right Man and Right Woman can advance toward the blessing of the first marriage in the Garden of Eden. When either Right Man or Right Woman in the Church Age pass the three phases of marriage testing, Attraction, Compatibility, and Spiritual Rapport, God can give them in grace the same blessings as Adam and Ishah had in the Garden.
There are two great examples of Compatibility Testing in the Bible: (1) Sara in Pharaoh's harem, and (2) the Shulamite Woman in Song of Solomon. Sara was separated from Abraham in Egypt when Pharaoh took her into his harem and married her. She passed the test magnificently and became the standard for women to emulate (1 Peter 3:6). The Shulamite Woman was taken from her Right Man by Solomon and married during Compatibility Testing. She refused to love Solomon and remained faithful to her Right Man. She passed the test, was rescued by her brothers, and returned to her Right Man (her Shepherd Lover).
The concept of Compatibility Testing requires extensive teaching. The topic has been developed in Marriage Graceand will not be duplicated here.
Sustain me with grape-cakes,The fragrance of memories sustains Right Man and Right Woman through the Compatibility Phase. No doubt Ruth and Boaz were thinking of each other daily (and hourly) throughout the time of their separation. After they had completed the Attraction Phase in which they got to know each other, they were immediately thrown into the Compatibility Phase in which they were separated.
Refresh me with apples,
Because I am lovesick (SOS 2:5)
The duration of the Compatibility Phase of Ruth and Boaz was probably no longer than seven weeks because it ended when Ruth met Boaz on the threshing room floor (Ruth 3:6-14). Boaz was winnowing barley, which was probably in late July. It was no longer than the Attraction Phase. This was a short time and nothing is known about the specifics of the testing. It is an unusually short time, but the duration depends upon the individuals involved and the Plan of God. In the case of Ruth and Boaz, Boaz was a mature believer, and Ruth was his reflected glory. These factors certainly entered into the length of the Compatibility Phase.
Naomi's plan for Ruth to seek out Boaz may appear bold and risqué, but it must be understood in light of the customs of the day. It must be remembered that Ruth has already married into the family of Elimelech and Machlon (Mahlon), her former husband. Under the Law of the Levirate Marriage, her dead husbands nearest relative was obligated to take her as his wife. The obligation, however, was not an absolute legal requirement, for there were ways the Levirate Marriage could be avoided and passed on to another relative. For such a Levirate Marriage to take place, the relative need merely take Ruth as his wife. No additional wedding ceremony or marriage certificate were required.
In this environment, Naomi has considered who would be the appropriate relative to take Ruth as his wife according to the Law of the Levirate Marriage. She has decided that Boaz is the logical choice and has decided that a bold move is appropriate. So she told Ruth what to do.
Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? (Ruth 3:1)Naomi told Ruth that she was obligated to seek "security" (Hebrew j^wn)m* , manocha), which means the state of rest and security attained by marriage.
“And now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. (Ruth 3:2)Naomi pointed out that Boaz was their kinsman, and therefore, by implication, a potential redeemer. She also knew that he would be on the threshing floor that night. At the end of the harvest, the sheaves of grain that had been harvested had to be threshed and winnowed. The threshing floor was simply an area about 50 feet in diameter where the earth had been hard packed. On the threshing floor animals pulled sleds with heavy weights on them over sheaves of grain to break it loose from the straw and husks. Winnowing followed threshing in which the mixture of grain and straw was thrown into the air and the wind blew the chaff away. The cool breezes at night provided the right conditions for winnowing. After winnowing, the grain was bagged and stored in barns.
Winnowing on the threshing floor was the last phase of the harvest and was often accompanied by festivals and merry-making. The grape harvest followed on the heels of the wheat harvest; thus, wine was made. Parties on the threshing floors would often last a week. There was music, dancing, feasting, and drinking. Food was plentiful at harvest time, and neighbors congregated to help with the labor. Harvest festivals also attracted loose women (analogous to Saloon girls). Farmers got their big payday when the threshing and winnowing were over. So, the atmosphere on the threshing floor was that of prosperity and celebration.
Ruth 3:3-5Naomi devised a bold plan for Ruth to express her love for her right man. First, she told Ruth to bathe and groom herself; put on her best clothes, use perfume, and go to meet Boaz on the threshing floor. However, she wasn't to go down like a saloon girl looking for a date. She was to wait until Boaz had eaten and drunk. She knew that in the time of harvest he would be drinking wine after eating late. After eating, people are satiated and more agreeable, especially if they have drunk wine. Ruth was to keep out of sight and watch where Boaz went to sleep. He would be sleeping on the threshing floor. Then after he had fallen asleep, Ruth was to go and sleep with him.
3 “Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 “But when he lies down, mark the place where he will sleep; then go (when he has fallen asleep) and uncover the place of his feet and lie down (to sleep with him). Then he will tell you what you shall do.” 5 And she said to her, “All that you say I will do.”
Now, if it weren't for a few slips of the pen in the Hebrew, this whole story would be a very sweet, uneventful love story. The phrase that spills the beans in the Hebrew is hl^G* (galah, Pi'el perfect) + twl)G+r+m^ (maregeloth), which means literally "uncover the place of his feet."3 This is a typical Hebrew idiom to cover up a reference to intimacy. First, "uncover" is in the Pi'el stem, which is intensive. The literal meaning of "uncover" in the Pi'el is to expose nakedness by removing the clothes. Next, it isn't the feet that are to be uncovered, but "the place of the feet" per the Hebrew lexicon, i.e. the place where one is standing (or lying down, as was the case with Boaz). This doesn't mean that Ruth is pull the cover off Boaz's naked feet (people don't sleep with their shoes on).
The feet are one of the pieces of the anatomy used by the Hebrews as a euphemism for the genitals. Since the robes went all the way to the feet, women who wanted to attract sexual attention walked with mincing steps (Isaiah 3:16); while "discovering the secret parts" in the next verse (Isaiah 3:17, KJV) was a euphemism for rape. In Jeremiah 2:25, having the feet unshod was a euphemism for sex. In Isaiah 7:20, King James Version, the feet were a euphemism for the male genitals.
So, the phrase, "uncover the place of the feet," is an idiom for having sex. In other words, Ruth was advised to show her love for Boaz by initiating a sexual relationship with him. Further, the phrase implies more than just sleeping with someone to have sex with them. If this had been the meaning, the next word, shakabh, could have conveyed this meaning with no additional explanation. She was to initiate some kind of special sexual relationship with him, and then she was to "lie down to sleep with him." After she had made love to him, she would sleep with him.
Ruth agreed to do all this. Was she justified, or was this a sensual ploy? First, as the Right Woman, Ruth had conjugal rights (1 Corinthians 7:3). She had the right to the Right Man's body. It was made for her.
The wife (right woman) does not have authority over her own body, but the husband (right man) does; and likewise also the husband (right man) does not have authority over his own body, but the wife (right woman) does. (1 Corinthians 7:4)The bodies of right man and right woman are made for each other. Furthermore, there is no authority in sex because the two authorities over each other's bodies cancel out. Either, the right man or the right woman may initiate love at any time. When either one does, the other must respond. That is a conjugal right. So, if Boaz were Ruth's right man, she certainly had the right to his body.
Secondly, this was not premarital sex because under the Mosaic Law Ruth was already married into the family. This was a Levirate Marriage relationship with a redeemer (although there was a legal problem that would have to be handled later). So, the question arises as to what consummates marriage. The answer is sex between the right man and right woman consummates the marriage. In the case of Adam and Ishah, they certainly didn't need a piece of paper (i.e. marriage license) to be married. God uses a paperless work system. This in no way obviates the laws of the state, which require marriage licenses. Having a piece of paper (i.e. marriage license) cannot protect from a sin related to marriage. To say that a piece of paper had any bearing on adultery would be legalism.
Thirdly, Ruth was justified in initiating love. She wasn't initiating authority. Either the man or the woman can initiate love. So, it is altogether proper for the right woman to ask the right man for a date. It is also proper for right man and right woman to arouse each other sexually. However, sex is designed for marriage only. And Ruth doesn't have to get married. She has already married into the family.
Ruth 3:7-8After Boaz had fallen asleep, Ruth went to him secretly. No one saw her, and she did not awaken him. However, she "uncovered the place of his feet." She got under his robe with him, and began to arouse him sexually. This went on until perhaps Boaz went through his first sleep cycle of about two hours. Anyway, by midnight the effects of the wine had worn off and he was coming out of his deep sleep period. During his dreamlike state Ruth was arousing him sexually. Eventually, he was startled. This word in the Hebrew dr^j* (haradh) refers to the jumping/jerking of awaking from sleep. He was aware of something down below; so he twisted and bent forward, which is the normal way that a person rises up in bed.
7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was high, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came secretly (with intrigue), and she uncovered the place of his feet.
8 At midnight, the man was startled and twisted and bent forward. Behold, a woman was lying with him (in the place of his feet).
He discovered to his amazement, "Behold" (an interjection in the Hebrew) "a woman was lying with him (in the place of his feet)." The meaning here is that "the woman was lying with him," but the actual words are "in the place of his feet." So, how can two people occupy the same place at the same time? The answer is obviously, only if they are one. So this is not a case of Ruth warming Boaz's feet. It more like the practice of Moabite love making.
He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. Spread your wing (of your robe) over your maid because you are a redeemer. (Ruth 3:9)It was obviously a dark night, and there were no street lights or fires nearby. So, Boaz asked, "Who are you?" He didn't ask what she was doing, or why she was there probably because the actions made it clear. However, Ruth answered him with her classic line, "I am Ruth your maid." She let him know that she belonged to him just as the Lord made the right woman for the right man (1 Corinthians 11:9). She then used a metaphor, "Spread your wing over your maid because you are a redeemer." The "wing" was the wing of his robe. Spreading it over a woman was symbolic of marital conjugal love; for the man and the woman sleep on the same robe. She explained to him that it was OK for him to have her because he was "a redeemer," i.e. he was legally qualified to take her as a wife under the Law of Levirate Marriage.
Now, if there had not been a legal technicality, this would have been the consummation of a Levirate Marriage. There would have been no need for additional paperwork or ceremonies. However, since there was actually another relative, even closer kin than Boaz, with the right of redemption, that legal issue had to be handled in court. At any rate, both Boaz and Ruth have recognized each other as Right Man - Right Woman in the Attraction Phase. They have passed the Compatibility Test and concluded it with a mature expression of conjugal love. At this point, in the middle of the night and in the middle of their love making, they turned their attention to the spiritual issues which brought them together. Thus, they entered Spiritual Rapport.
Author: Larry Wood