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Ancient Words: Ruth and Boaz

November 5, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

Boaz is one special man! He is a successful farmer of barley in Bethlehem. Probably, Boaz was born there as he is the son of Salmon, the son of Nashon and on back to the son of Perez, the son of Judah (and Tamar). Bethlehem is in Judea with Judea formed years back as Joshua divided Canaan among the 12 tribes with Judah getting that location. Jesus Christ comes out of the line of Judah as he is the lion of Judah. Jesus as we know will be born in Bethlehem and so the book of Ruth is pivotal in explaining how this would be. Boaz came to be through the union of Salmon and Rahab the famous prostitute of Jericho. You well remember the story--Rahab saves the 2 spies which allows Joshua to plan a successful military attack by Israel as the conquest of Canaan begins. The fact that Rahab was not a Jew and was formally a lady of the night could have caused Boaz trouble as he grew up in the small town of Bethlehem. None the less, Boaz was resilient to any type of ridicule or exclusion and emerged as a barley farmer, single, yet quite prominent in business circles.

Boaz is a practicing Jewish man yet he recognizes the attributes of the strange Moab woman gleaning on the edges in his field. Even though he is old, Boaz sees her beauty. Even though he is wealthy, he recognizes that she, in her poverty, is the one taking loving care of her Jewish mother n law, Naomi. Boaz is impressed and he is drawn to Ruth because first of her compassion. Boaz responds with like compassion and generosity for the one for which he becomes kinsman-redeemer.

God's plan is at work, his amazing will is seen in this story of love and compassion and the scarlet thread weaves itself thru the lives of Ruth, Boaz and Naomi the Eprathite: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." (Mic 5:2 NIV)

One day Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi said to her, "My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do." "I will do whatever you say," Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do. When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned--and there was a woman lying at his feet! "Who are you?" he asked. "I am your servant Ruth," she said. "Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer of our family." "The LORD bless you, my daughter," he replied. "This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the LORD lives I will do it. Lie here until morning." So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, "No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor." He also said, "Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out." When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town. When Ruth came to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, "How did it go, my daughter?" Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, "He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, 'Don't go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.'" Then Naomi said, "Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today." (Rth 3:1-18 NIV)

Scott and Jane Johnson minister with East Faulkner Church of Christ and BRG Bible. Bible questions can be sent to [email protected]

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