Ruth

This devotional is written by Sasha Marius- Beeko. Reader and coffee drinker, with a penchant for bursting into song based on something that has just been said.

Ruth 3

Ruth and Boaz at the threshing-floor

3 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. 2 Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing-floor. 3 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. 4 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.'

5 'I will do whatever you say,' Ruth answered. 6 So she went down to the threshing-floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.

7 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. 8 In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned - and there was a woman lying at his feet!

9 '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.'

10 '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. 11 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. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 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.'

14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognised; and he said, 'No one must know that a woman came to the threshing-floor.'

15 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[c] went back to town.

16 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 17 and added, 'He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, "Don't go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed."'

18 Then Naomi said, 'Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.'


Reflection

I have to be honest, this passage from Ruth has always made me feel a little uncomfortable, so the prospect of writing this, did not spark joy. I joked with a friend that I could start by saying that it might be a commentary on how far women have come. As I pondered my 'joke', I realised this was/is untrue for many women and girls in many places. There are no options for the women. No life insurance, welfare state and no hope of employment.

I've never stopped to wonder how Ruth felt. Essentially, she risked her safety and reputation to avoid starvation. The more I have read/reread this, the more uncomfortable I have become. Had Naomi sent Ruth because she knew Boaz was a good person? Did she think Ruth was at risk? Ruth did as she was told but how frightened must she have been? The advice is to wait until Boaz is fed/watered and then to lie at his feet. That's the plan? By the time I sat down to read the passage for the last time before writing this, I was relieved when Boaz uttered the words, 'The Lord bless you, my daughter.' He is a man of God and Ruth is safe but custom dictates that he offers her to someone else. So, marry a stranger, or an even stranger, stranger?

If I have tainted this story for you, then maybe you, like me are wondering how to respond. Put Christians in places where women/girls are at risk, maybe by giving to charities already in place? There may even be an exciting (or uncomfortable) feeling of being called to action. At the very least, let's pray for those who have no safety net and who hope and rely on the mercy of those they encounter.

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