"Then I can't redeem it," the family redeemer replied, "because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land, I cannot do it."
- Ruth 4:5-6 (NLT)
After taking the week off from Ruth last week to discuss what God might think about Las Vegas, we finish the story today with the good news for Ruth and a plan that only God could devise. Working in the fields of her late father-in-law's cousin, Boaz, Ruth was advised by mother-in-law Naomi concerning how her current situation could resolve their tenuous living arrangements. Naomi explained how Boaz could be her redeemer and how that would not only improve their life, but it could afford Ruth the opportunity to still have children to carry on the lineage of the family and to maintain the family's heritage.
Naomi told Ruth to bathe, put on perfume and her best clothes and go in the evening to the threshing floor. Landowners during harvest time often worked in the threshing room, tending to the fruit of their labor, getting ready for it to go to market and they would often even sleep there guarding their goods. Naomi should stay unseen until Boaz finished his food and drink, and stretched out on the floor covered with a blanket. She instructed Ruth to lie at his feet and take a corner of the blanket and cover her feet for warmth.
She did as instructed and when Boaz awoke in the middle of the night he asked who was there. When Ruth identified herself, he recognized her and told her she could stay and sleep at his feet but that she must be gone before first light. He knew she was an honorable woman and he wanted neither she nor himself to be tainted by anything that could be considered dishonorable. Gossip could ruin a reputation in an instant and he had spent his entire life building his.
The action take by Ruth was not a sexual thing at all, it was ust a way of identifying herself as needing a redeemer, which was common for a widow of marriageable age to do before a man who was eligible by family ties to offer such assistance. In such instance, it was a way to regain her dignity for what she had lost through no fault of her own and that would carry forth to her children as well, not to mention her dear mother-in-law. This was accomplished through a marital commitment with the redeemer.
Boaz explained that he would be glad to help her but there was a cousin who was closre by lineage than he and he would have to talk with him first. As it turned out, the other cousin couldn't make such a commitment due to existing family circumstances and obligation. When the other cousin and Boaz made their agreement in front of witnesses of who would take the action, Boaz then married Ruth, insuring Naomi and Ruth would always have a place to live with safety and support. But the amazing thing about this happy ending is what happened over the coming generations.
Ruth conceived a son from her marriage and they were blessed with a boy child that they named Obed. And Obed later became the father of Jesse who later fathered David, the great King. So Ruth and Boaz were the great-grandparents of David and therein played a major role in the early lineage from which Jesus Christ came himself. This is simply an amazing story of love, kindness and the future and it all played out in early Israel during the latter portion of the period known in the Bible as The Judges.
We should never doubt the mysterious ways that God works. There is a wonderful reason for all that he does and this is just one of the many stories that validates that. Praise be to God.