A Bold Proposal
Ruth went down to the threshing floor and put Naomi's plan into action. When Boaz was sound asleep, she laiddown at his feet. At midnight, Boaz was startled out of his sleep, finding someone lying there. He says, "Who'sthere?" From here, do you see any deviation from Naomi's plan? Yes! Naomi said Ruth should follow hisinstructions. But, she didn't give him a chance to say anything. It was Ruth who told Boaz what she wanted himto do. That may have saved the risky plan. She didn’t give him the chance to wonder why she was there.She said, "
Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer."
or as the NIV has it
"the corner of your garment."
The Hebrew can be translated either way
That sounds rather cryptic, don't you think? Did Boazunderstand her request? He understood perfectly well. First of all, does the language sound familiar fromchapter two... when Boaz said to her "
a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whosewings you have come to take refuge!"
Ruth is a clever one; she's tossing those words right back at him. Boaz prayed for Ruth to be blessed and protected and Ruth is saying that Boaz has the opportunity to be the answer tohis own prayer.This is not the only time when that phrase was used to speak of marriage.
Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread thecorner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. Ezek. 16:8
God is declaring His love and commitment to Israel, like a man to his bride.Did Boaz catch the meaning? You bet he did! He said that this kindness (that is showing interest in a man that ismuch older when she could have been chasing after the younger guys) surpassed the first. What was her firstkindness? It was that which everyone in town was talking about. She left everything for Naomi and the Lord.You might may recall that at the beginning of this study, we said that one of the themes of the book of Ruth was"Hesed" - loving kindness or faithful love. It was Ruth's expression of Hesed that Boaz found remarkable. He'ssaying Ruth was more than being nice to Naomi and to him. He saw a God kind of love. Ruth, a woman whoreflects God's love and a woman of worth (the same term used for the Proverbs 31 woman) - of course, she'smade an impression on Boaz.Boaz understood exactly what Ruth was asking and he was ready, willing, and able. But, there's just one problem. Here's another one of those "screech" moment in the story where the writer wants us to stop in our tracks and say "huh?" The problem is that Boaz isn't the only relative in town and in fact, there is one who is acloser relative who should have first chance to be Ruth's redeemer. This NOT where we want to see the storygo! Boaz and Ruth belong together. Now, everything is in jeopardy. Boaz knows this as well, but he is a man of integrity and is determined to go about this the right way. So, he says that he'll give the other relative firstchance. But, if he is unwilling, then Boaz will do all that Ruth asks.
A Kinsman Redeemer
So, what exactly is a kinsman redeemer? The Hebrew term is Ga-al which is translated in various ways asredeemer, near kinsman, blood avenger. In ancient times, family was preeminent. And family wasn’tdefined as it is today. We think of the nuclear family - Dad, Mom, and the kids. In those days, it was theextended family which included aunts, uncles, cousins, and beyond. Maintaining the family was of greatimportance. When a family member was in trouble, another relative was expected to help him out, evenwhen it required some sacrifice. When family was in danger of losing their land, a relative who was able to pay the debt was expected to show up. Likewise, if a family member had to sell himself into slavery to pay