Now the buzz of the festivities had quietened. It was already twilight! Ruth felt uneasy as she tried to disengage the extreme ends of her dress from a disturbing twig. It was late already. In the green thicket where Ruth hid, she watched the participants of the harvest fete departing in their numbers.
Indeed, Boaz was elated, seeing how much the Lord had blessed him. The total yield was quiet a lot. Still in awe of the bountiful harvest, Boaz kept wondering if this was a compensation of some sort to the donkey years of the sickening famine!
He gulped the remnant of wine in the wine-skin, slightly smiling to himself and muttering some incomprehensible words. The accomplished farmer gathered some stalks of wheat, yet unprocessed, in a bid to design a makeshift bedding. It has been a busy day and his eyelids longed for an embrace. Nevertheless, he longed for nothing more than to see the moabite, Ruth.
But why was she absent?
Truthfully, it was not usual for young maidens of virtue to be seen at the threshing floor at such an ungodly hour. Boaz tried hard to dispel the thoughts of Ruth. Convincing himself that having Ruth as wife was an impossibility, was quite difficult. Such a pretty, unassuming and industrious woman would be worth having. A man of his estate could swim in a greater stream of progress with a woman like Ruth as a wife. Although she was a Moabite with a prior sorrowful marital experience, Boaz was convinced that Ruth would make a fine woman for him.
In a deep sigh of utter frustration, Boaz adjusted the heap of grain and lay down quietly, covering himself with a wooly cloth. However he was carefully enough not to cover his head region, for security reasons. There had been cases of thieves carting away large ears of corn and baskets of grain in periods of harvest.
Two hours later, Boaz was deeply snoring; Ruth knew the time was right! She slipped away quietly from her closet and tiptoed towards Boaz’s corner. The occasional twerking of the twigs and husks of corn almost resonating with the rhythm of his snoring. Boaz was a careful and observant man, so she had to be very tactful.
Meticulously, Ruth uncovered the part of the cloth that enveloped his feet, and covered herself therewith. She lay down quietly and was soon asleep, caring less about the outcome of her risky venture!
Suddenly, Boaz felt a weight around his feet. Probably, the slow wave of the midnight air failed to impact its typical coolness. This could explain why his feet were unusually warm. Unconsciously he tried to decipher the source of this warmness. Attempts to move his feet was almost futile as reality dawned on him that a large weight surrounded his feet.
Gradually sitting up, he discovered it was human. At first he was frightful. On a much closer observation, he discovered the figure cuddled up at his feet was a woman. Who was this maiden who had no fear for her dignity and safety? Perhaps she was a damsel in distress, maybe homeless and needing a cover. How she slept so calmly!
Nevertheless, why would she choose to lie out here in the open? “Who are you?” He blurted loudly in a bid to rouse the stranger.
Fortunately, the stranger that spoke up was the one whom his soul loved.
Ruth 3: 9
And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
Sincerely, Boaz tried really hard to mask the full expression of the joy in his heart. Indeed, the figure beside him was a stranger, one stranger whom his soul delighted in.
Delightedly, he assured Ruth of his positive affirmation to her request. The young dame had proved to be loyal as she was truly virtuous.
Undoubtedly, Boaz had believed that Ruth may not consider wanting to marry him based on several factors.
Firstly, Boaz was quite older. Probably, in his fifties. Ruth was a pretty woman who may have the intentions of re-marrying, but to a younger prince charming, having undergone the pains and perils of early widowood.
Morse still, approaching Ruth on marriage terms may create a misconception that he wants to take advantage of a poor helpless widow; daughter-in-law of his late relative (Elimelech), a woman who had come to glean on his field.
Secondly, there was a closer kinsman to Ruth than Boaz. Although, their union was a possibility, Boaz was a distant relative, and his chances of ever marrying Ruth would be on the grounds of the death of the closer kinsman or upon his outright refusal to buy Elimelech’s property alongside inheriting the late Mahlon’s wife, Ruth. The odds were greater.
Slightly disappointed, Ruth looked away. It was true that Boaz was being realistic and spoke kindly. However, Naomi never told her of any such law of inheritance. She was almost at the verge of giving up!
Apparently, Boaz seemed to have grasped the import of the moment. Holding the frenzied lady’s hand and looking directly into her eyes. Boaz pledged his commitment to do the needful.
The moderately lit atmosphere revealing a momentarily beautiful tension. Severally, Boaz resisted the temptation to embrace her graceful body as she was exceptionally adorned, that night. Certainly, Naomi was involved in this, as he thought. The chirpings of the night squirrels jolted the pair to consciousness, from their imaginary thoughts of unhindered ‘happily forever after’.
Ruth spent the rest of the night at the feet of Boaz. However, Boaz was more concerned for her, extending a larger portion of the cloth so she was well insulated. Ruth’s mind was filled with mixed feelings: the joy of finding love again, enmeshed in a sea of obvious constraints.
Determined to do the needful, Boaz thought’s were more of the logical ways to win Ruth lawfully. The closer kinsman possessed the necessary wherewithal to buy Elimelech’s property, and he will be more than willing to do so. The challenge was largely dependent on his willingness to claim the wife of the late Mahlon.
Ruth was up a great while before anyone could be recognized. Boaz made sure of this. His willingness to be her cover and protector was not in question! When she was ready to leave, Boaz measured six scoops of barley into her veil. She quickly appreciated him and departed.
Naomi was sure to receive the glowing report of her daughter’s expedition. She was neither disappointed nor surprised on account of what Ruth had told her. She assured her daughter-in-law that all would be sorted out in no distant time.
The fact that Ruth was a woman of virtue was known to all. More still, she was neither a loud or over-domineering woman. The story of Ruth and Boaz leaves us with life lessons to emulate.
Some religious sect consider Ruth’s actions as an act of desperation, painting a picture of a lady proposing marriage to a man. Scriptures cannot be broken, neither can the Word of God go wrong.
Under the Jewish religious rites, Ruth acted in accordance with the law, in seeking for rest, and not wanting the name of her husband’s family to be wiped out. A similar trend was observed in TAMAR AND JUDAH
Boaz also commended this action of hers by subscribing to the plan.
In those days, family inheritances bore little or no significance in the sole ownership of women. Naomi and Ruth were the only survivors of Elimelech’s immediate family, and the family line had to continue.Her old mother-in-law Naomi was too old to sire sons.
Ruth only sought for what seemed like a ‘right’ and it was all for her mother-in-law and late husband’s family. The moabite was very loyal to her matrimonial home. Little wonder she took real risks to preserve a generation. Fortunately, God honoured her sacrifices, as we shall later see on the blog.
Ruth had more marriage prospects in her home country (Moab), being of a descendant of a royal bloodline. She was not desperate to get married, neither was she aiming for Boaz’s wealth. Women had no such rights of inheritance!
Boaz was a definition of responsibility. He was in the very throes of passion. The atmosphere was everything convenient for him to take advantage of her innocence and dependence on him. Many men would want to cash in on the lady’s ignorance. It took a great deal of self control and godly restriction to restrain himself from having carnal knowledge of a seemingly vulnerable lady who had sought for his cover.
No doubt, Boaz respected Ruth, by his request to ensure her departure before dawn. He sought to protect her image.
May God raise more men who will look beyond the looks of a lady in godly relationships and seek to bring out the best in her at all cost, Amen.
…to be continued
Click here for the previous episode: Whose Damsel is this?