Ruth 3:4-7 Commentary

Ruth 3:4 "It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where * he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do." (NASB: Lockman)

Amplified: But when he lies down, notice the place where he lies; then go and uncover his feet and lie down. And he will tell you what to do. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

BBE: But see to it, when he goes to rest, that you take note of the place where he is sleeping, and go in there, and, uncovering his feet, take your place by him; and he will say what you are to do.

CEV: Watch where he goes to spend the night, then when he is asleep, lift the cover and lie down at his feet. He will tell you what to do. (CEV)

GWT: When he lies down, notice the place where he is lying. Then uncover his feet, and lie down there. He will make it clear what you must do." (GWT)

KJV: And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.

NJB: But when he lies down, take note where he lies, then go and turn back the covering at his feet and lie down yourself. He will tell you what to do.' (NJB)

Young's Literal: and it cometh to pass when he lieth down, that thou hast known the place where he lieth down, and hast gone in, and uncovered his feet, and lain down, -- and he doth declare to thee that which thou dost do.'

Septuagint (LXX): kai estai (3SFMI) en to koimethenai (APN) auton kai gnose (2SFMI) ton topon opou koimatai (3SPMI) ekei kai eleuse (2SFMI) kai apokalupsein (2SFAI) ta pros podon autou kai koimethese (2SFPI) kai autos apaggelei (3SFAI) soi a poiesein (2SFAI)

English of Septuagint: And it shall come to pass when he lies down, that thou shalt mark the place where he lies down, and shalt come and lift up the covering of his feet, and shalt lie down; and he shall tell thee what thou shalt do


To hear a ballad on Ruth by Ron Ecker click here

Lies down… lies (07901) (sakab) (Ru 3:4 = 4 times, Ru 3:7, 8, 12, 14) means to take a horizontal position as for example when lying down to sleep or for rest.

Sakab is used of the state of reclining as opposed to sitting. One must realize that this word is used with reference to a sexual relationship, but the context usually makes this use clear. For example when Lot's daughters faced with the potential of childlessness, the older reasoned with the younger saying

"Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.” (Ge 19:32).

There is absolutely no such contextual suggestion of illicit behavior in Ruth and in fact the author makes it clear that she lies down at his feet, which is quite different from lying down directly beside him (See note below from TWOT)

The Greek Septuagint translates lie or lie down seven times in Ruth 3 with the Greek verb koimao which means to sleep and has no use that I am can find suggesting a sexual encounter. Thus the Septuagint translators seem to have no doubt about Ruth's intentions and neither should the reader. Ruth was to find the right time for an approach which could be made privately and without fear of embarrassing either party.

Boaz is sleeping at the threshing floor to guard his crop against the kind of attacks described in 1Samuel 23:1.

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament comments that sakab

appears most often in the Qal primarily with the meaning “to lie down (in death)” or “to lie down (for sexual relations).” Whenever the derivatives of sakab are used in a context of sexual relationships, those relationships are illicit (Ge 30:15,16; 2Sa 11:11 may be exceptions). This is no less true with the verb sakab itself. In one instance it is used in legal statements that forbid certain types of sexual liaisons. Ex 22:16 outlaws fornication:

“If a man seduce a virgin who is not betrothed and ‘sleep/lie’ with her he shall pay her price and make her his wife.”

Dt 22:22 advocates the death penalty for two people caught in adultery:

“If a man is caught ‘sleeping/ lying’ with another man’s wife both must die.”

Lev 18:22 and Lv 20:13; use sakab in the statement that prohibits homosexual relationships:

“The man who ‘lies’ with a man … they must die.”

Finally in Deut 27:21 “lying” with animals is cursed by the Law.

It is sobering to notice that for the above sexual aberrations usually the death penalty was prescribed. To be sure, the Bible does not tell us to what degree the punishment was enforced across the board. But why do the Scriptures inveigh so forcefully against tampering with the sexual relationship…

Apart from legal texts sakab is used in narrative sections that describe incidents of inappropriate behavior.

The daughters of Lot made their father drunk and then ‘slept’ with him (Gen 19:32, 33).

One of Abimelech’s subjects almost inadvertently committed adultery with Rebekah (Gen 26:10).

The verb is used to describe the rape of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, by Shechem (Gen 34:2, 7).

Reuben “slept” with his father’s concubine Bilhah while Jacob was absent (Gen 35:22).

The sons of Eli engaged in amorous pursuits in their free time (1Sa 2:22).

Amnon violated his half-sister Tamar (2Sa 13:11, 14), emulating, no doubt, the activities of his own father with Bathsheba (2Sa 11:4).

By contrast when the Bible makes reference to a sexual relationship that is within the boundaries of God’s will it usually uses a phrase such as

“Adam knew his wife and she conceived” (Ge 4:1, 17) or

“Abraham went in unto Hagar and she conceived” (Ge 16:4).

The latter phrase is used even in Gen 38:18 of Judah and Tamar, father-in-law and daughter-in-law respectively, where Judah denied Tamar her levirate rights. (Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Moody Press)


To propose marriage to Boaz by utilizing an ancient Near Eastern custom. Since Boaz is a older than Ruth (refers to her as "daughter" Ru 2:8-note, Ru 3:10) Ruth expressed her desire to marry Boaz which the older, gracious Boaz would not have initiated with a younger woman.

John MacArthur notes that…

Naomi instructed Ruth 1) to put on her best appearance and 2) to propose marriage to Boaz by utilizing an ancient Near Eastern custom. Since Boaz is a generation older than Ruth (Ru 2:8-note, Ru 3:10), this overture would indicate Ruth’s desire to marry Boaz which the older, gracious Boaz would not have initiated with a younger woman.

In recognition of the sexual innuendos of Ruth’s uncovering Boaz’s feet, the LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac were all careful in their translations to make it clear that only the place of Boaz’s feet was involved.

It is interesting to observe the contrast between Ruth the Moabitess and her female ancestors. Moses records a tragic historical event in which the Israelites were tempted by the daughters of Moab and fell into sin…

While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot (speaks of spiritual adultery, cp the NT analogue - Jas 4:4-note) with the daughters of Moab. For they (daughters of Moab) invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. (Nu 25:1, 2, 3).

Comment: See related discussion - Idolatry and Immorality - the relationship and the antidote

Ruth the Moabitess' goal was to appeal to Boaz and not to tempt him to follow her gods for she had already chosen to seek refuge under the wings of "Jehovah, the God of Israel". (Ru 2:12-note, cp Ru 1:17)


Naomi probably had in mind that Boaz would recognize Ruth's action as an appeal to marry her as the next of kin.

Hamilton Smith comments that…

Having become suited to the presence of Boaz, Ruth's course is plain. She is to lie down at the feet of Boaz and listen to his words, as Naomi says, "He will tell thee what thou shalt do." Does this not carry us in thought to that lovely scene at Bethany described in Luke 10, where we read of Mary, that she "sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word." (Lk 10:39) Is not this the great lack today! In the hurry and bustle of life there is little time for being alone with the Lord to hear His word. Nevertheless the Lord says it is the "one thing needful" (Lk 10:42KJV). May we hear the voice of the Lord through Naomi, and like Ruth answer, "All that thou sayest unto me I will do." Thus "washed", "anointed", and clothed may we sit in His presence and hear His word. (The Book of Ruth.)

Ruth 3:5 She said to her, "All that you say I will do." (NASB: Lockman)

Amplified: And Ruth said to her, All that you say to me I will do. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
BBE: And she said, I will do all you say.
CEV: Ruth answered, "I'll do whatever you say." (CEV)
GWT: Ruth answered her, "I will do whatever you say." (GWT)
KJV: And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.
NJB: Ruth said, 'I shall do everything you tell me.' (NJB)
Young's Literal: And she saith unto her, 'All that thou sayest -- I do.'

Septuagint (LXX): eipen (3SAAI) de Routh pros auten panta osa ean eipes (2SAAS) poieso (1SFAI)

English of Septuagint: And Ruth said to her, All that thou shalt say, I will do


Note Ruth's immediate, unquestioning, complete obedience to the directions of her mother-in-law (cf. Ru 2:22, 23-note)

Ruth is an excellent illustration of an excellent example of James' exhortation for saints to "be quick to hear, slow to speak… "

Ruth was not only a hearer of the Word, but she was a doer. There is an important principle illustrated by Ruth's immediate obedience. A willingness to obey the Lord (in this case the one that the Lord had placed over her) is the secret of knowing what He wants us to do and being blessed when we do it. Jesus taught this important principle declaring that

If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself. (Jn 7:17, cp Jn 14:21).

The International Children's Bible, a paraphrase, clearly emphasizes the relation between doing and knowing in its rendering of Jn 7:17…

If anyone chooses to DO what God wants, THEN he will KNOW that my teaching comes from God. He will know that this teaching is not my own.

The chosen people said the same thing but failed to follow up with their actions when confronted with the Mosaic Law…

all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do!" And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. (Ex 19:8)

Again when

Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, "All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do! (Ex 24:3)

And when Moses

took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people" that ; and they repeated "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!" (Ex 24:7)

Ruth had a tender heart, a submissive spirit and an obedient response to do "all" that Naomi said.


Naomi’s strategic plan was based on the fact that her deceased husband Elimelech still possessed land in Bethlehem but her poverty had forced her to sell the property (Ru 4:3). Naomi however understood that Boaz was a near relative of Elimelech (Ru 2:1, 3-note), and was a "candidate" (potential) redeemer who could ransom Elimelech's field as summarized in Leviticus…

If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor (like Naomi) he has to sell part of his property, then his nearest kinsman (Goel) is to come and buy back what his relative has sold. (Lv 25:25)

Not only could Boaz redeem the land but also the name. If Boaz were to marry Ruth (the widow of Mahlon) this would (if God blessed the union with children - Ps 127:3-note) perpetuate the name of Mahlon (and Elimelech). While the Mosaic law in Leviticus addressed the land, the law in Deuteronomy addressed the name

When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband's brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. 6 "And it shall be that the first-born whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.

7 "But if the man does not desire to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, 'My husband's brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.' 8 "Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, 'I do not desire to take her,' 9 then his brother's wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, 'Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother's house.' 10 "And in Israel his name shall be called, 'The house of him whose sandal is removed.' (Dt 25:5-10)

This passage in Deuteronomy describes the rules of so-called "Levirate marriage" (Latin levir = "husband's brother") the practice of which was established to prevent the blotting out of the family name. If the brother would not fulfill this responsibility or there was no living brother, the right and responsibility passed to the nearest kinsman (cp Boaz - Ru 2:1, 3"kinsman… of the family of Elimelech", Ru 2:20 "our relative… one of our closest relatives [Goel]").

So we see two OT concepts coalesce in the story of Ruth and Naomi. The upshot is that Naomi has become aware of a near relative who could function as the Goel, a kinsman-redeemer, (1) paying the ransom price for Elimelech's land (cp Lv 25:25) and (2) marrying the widow Ruth so that the family name (and "seed") was not blotted out (Dt 25:5-10).

Based on these truths in the Torah and her innate hope in Shaddai/Jehovah (Who had not withdrawn His covenant kindness, Ru 2:20), Naomi presented a detailed, step by step plan to Ruth. Using this plan Ruth would approach Boaz, who had shown himself to be kind and interested in Ruth (cp Ru 2:5). This strategic nighttime encounter was to request him to fulfill the role of the nearest kinsman (perpetuate the name) and the Goel or redeemer who could pay the ("ransom") price for Elimelech's land. In summary, Boaz’s intervention would accomplish two of Naomi’s essential needs - perpetuation of the paternal name and perpetuation of the possession of property.

Ruth 3:6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. (NASB: Lockman)

Amplified: So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had told her. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

BBE: So she went down to the grain-floor and did all her mother-in-law had said to her.

CEV: She went out to the place where Boaz was working and did what Naomi had told her. (CEV)

GWT: Ruth went to the threshing floor and did exactly as her mother-in-law had directed her. (GWT)

KJV: And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.

NJB: So she went down to the threshing-floor and did everything her mother-in-law had told her (NJB)

Young's Literal: And she goeth down to the threshing-floor, and doth according to all that her mother-in-law commanded her

Septuagint (LXX): kai katebe (3SAAI) eis ton alo kai epoiesen (3SAAI) kata panta osa eneteilato (3SAMI) aute e penthera autes

English of Septuagint: And she went down to the threshing-floor, and did according to all that her mother-in-law enjoined her


The men would deposit the sheaves on the floor and then separate the grain from the stalks by having oxen walk on it or by beating the stalks. Once the grain was separated, the workers would throw the grain into the air and the breeze would carry the chaff away while the grain fell to the floor. The grain would then be sifted. An understanding of this process helps one better visualize Jesus' metaphor which He applied to Peter saying

Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat' (Lk 22:31)


Did according to all and in so doing she fulfilled God's command to "Honor your … mother" (Ex 20:12) and she did not forsake her "mother's teaching." (Pr 1:8)

Ruth not only said she would do all, she did all! There is a huge difference between saying and doing, as we see with the Israelites in Exodus 19..

So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do!" And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. (Ex 19:7, 8)

Did they obey as promised? No, while Moses was on Mt Sinai with the Lord, they made a golden calf. Their words were sincere, but they were sincerely hypocritical and self-deluded!

James teaches the principle…

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;

24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.

25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. (Jas 1:22, 23, 24-note; Jas 1:25-note)

Jesus added that…

"On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and observe it." (Luke 11:28, cp Dt 11:26, 27, 28, 29, 30:16)

Doing the Master's will proves we are His friends, for Jesus said…

You are My friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:14)

Divine providence does not eliminate human activity. Ruth lay crosswise at Boaz's feet-- a position in which Eastern servants frequently sleep in the same chamber or tent with their master; and if they want a covering, custom allows them that benefit from part of the covering on their master's bed. Resting, as the Orientals do at night, in the same clothes they wear during the day, there was no indelicacy in a stranger, or even a woman, putting the extremity of this cover over her.

Naomi in this declaration expresses complete confidence in the integrity of their kinsman-redeemer. And Ruth carried out the plan in exact detail as matchmaker Naomi had laid it out.

Ruth 3:7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down. (NASB: Lockman)

Amplified: And when Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then [Ruth] came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

BBE: Now when Boaz had taken meat and drink, and his heart was glad, he went to take his rest at the end of the mass of grain; then she came softly and, uncovering his feet, went to rest.

CEV: After Boaz finished eating and drinking and was feeling happy, he went over and fell asleep near the pile of grain. Ruth slipped over quietly. She lifted the cover and lay down near his feet. (CEV)

GWT: Boaz had eaten and drunk to his heart's content, so he went and lay at the edge of a pile of grain. Then she went over to him secretly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. (GWT)

KJV: And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.

NJB: When Boaz had finished eating and drinking, he went off happily and lay down beside the pile of barley. Ruth then quietly went, turned back the covering at his feet and lay down. (NJB)

Young's Literal: And Boaz eateth and drinketh, and his heart is glad; and he goeth in to lie down at the end of the heap; and she cometh in gently, and uncovereth his feet, and lieth down.

Septuagint (LXX): kai ephagen (3SAAI) Boos kai egathunthe (3SAPI) e kardia autou kai elthen (3SAAI) koimethenai (APN) en meridi tes stoibes e de elthen (3SAAI) kruphe kai apekalupsen (3SAAI) ta pros podon autou

English of Septuagint: And Booz ate and drank, and his heart was glad, and he came to lie down by the side of the heap of corn; and she came secretly, and lifted up the covering of his feet

WHEN BOAZ HAD EATEN AND DRUNK AND HIS HEART WAS MERRY: (Ge 43:34; Jdg 16:25; 19:6, 19:9, 19:22; 2Sa 13:28; Esther 1:10; Ps 104:15-note; Eccl 2:24; 8:15; 9:7; 10:19; 1Cor 10:31; Eph 5:18)

His heart was glad (YLT)

was feeling happy (CEV)

drank to his heart's content (NAB)

he lay down very contentedly (TLB)

he was in a good mood (TEV)

and was feeling satisfied (NET)

Merry (03190) (yatab) means made well, happy, cheerful, joyful. Using the same language of Ru 3:1 (security … be well [well = yatab]) Boaz is described as having a sense of well being which is most readily explained by the full harvest in contrast to previous years of famine (cf. Jdg 18:20-note). Yatab is often used in idiomatic expressions with heart (as in current verse) where it means to be pleased or to be happy.

Yatab - 112v in NAS - Gen 4:7; Ge 12:13, 16; 32:9, 12; 34:18; 40:14; 41:37; 45:16; Exod 1:20; 30:7; Lev 5:4; 10:19f; Num 10:29, 32; Deut 1:23; 4:40; 5:16, 28f; 6:3, 18; 8:16; 9:21; 12:25, 28; 13:14; 17:4; 18:17; 19:18; 22:7; 27:8; 28:63; 30:5; Josh 22:30, 33; 24:20; Judg 17:13; 18:20; 19:6, 9, 22; Ruth 3:1, 7, 10; 1 Sam 2:32; 12:22; 16:17; 18:5; 20:13; 24:4; 25:31; 2 Sam 3:36; 18:4; 1 Kgs 1:47; 3:10; 21:7; 2 Kgs 9:30; 11:18; 25:24; Ezra 7:18; Neh 2:5f; Esth 1:21; 2:4, 9; 5:14; Job 24:21; Ps 33:3; 36:3; 49:18; 51:18; 69:31; 119:68; 125:4; Prov 15:2, 13; 17:22; 30:29; Eccl 7:3; 11:9; Isa 1:17; 23:16; 41:23; Jer 1:12; 2:33; 4:22; 7:3, 5, 23; 10:5; 13:23; 18:10f; 26:13; 32:40f; 35:15; 38:20; 40:9; 42:6; Ezek 33:32; 36:11; Hos 10:1; Jonah 4:4, 9; Mic 2:7; 7:3; Nah 3:8; Zeph 1:12; Zech 8:15. NAS = adorned(1), amend(3), better(3), better he made(1), bless(1), celebrating*(1), deals well(1), do(1), do it well(1), do them good(1), do them good(1), do you good(1), do good(1), do good(12), do well(3), do… good(1), does(1), does… good(1), done good(1), done well(1), found favor(1), glad(1), go well(6), goes well(1), good(1), good(2), good that i do(1), good reason(3), happy(1), joyful(1), make(1), makes a cheerful(1), makes… acceptable(1), merry(3), pleasant(1), please(1), please the better(1), pleased(2), pleased*(9), pleases*(1), pleasing(2), prosper(4), reform(1), seemed good(2), seemed reasonable(1), seems(1), seems best(1), seems good(1), shown(1), skillfully(2), stately(2), surely prosper(1), thoroughly(4), treat you better(1), treated… well(1), trims(1), truly amend(1), very(1), very small(1), well(13), well you prepare(1). For example…

Genesis 4:7 “If you do well (yatab), will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Ruth 3:10 Then he said, “May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.

Morris agrees that Boaz was not drunk writing that…

Ruth was not taking advantage of Boaz in a drunken state. The term "merry" only suggests a feeling of satisfaction with a job well done, followed by a good meal and a sense of thankfulness for God's blessing. (Morris, Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)

It does not seem warranted to interpret "his heart was merry" as indicating that Boaz was drunk" as some commentaries do. It should be noted however that the Septuagint (LXX) translates the Hebrew yatab with the Greek verb agathuno which in a few contexts does refer to merry with wine (cf 2Sa 13:28). But to be of good cheer does not mean he was drunk. He could hardly guard the grain heap if he was drunk. His subsequent actions and words during this night do not suggest he was drunk but that he was in command of his senses. Finally, as stated earlier, Boaz had reason to have a merry heart, for the harvest season was a joyful time for the Jews (Isa 9:3; 16:10), and this is the way God wanted it.

"Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you shall be altogether joyful.” (Deut 16:15).


"he lay down to sleep at the far end of the grain heap" (NET)

Secretly (03909) or softly so as not to be heard {kruphe from "krupto": privately or secretly}, for example as in (1Sa 24:4) when David cut Saul's garment.

It is increasingly clear that Boaz interpreted Ruth’s bold actions as a request for marriage. Some commentators have cynically described the entire episode as an example of the conniving, wily ways of Naomi and Ruth to get their man. This genre of interpretation shows a lack of sensitivity to the overall context - cp Boaz's godly demeanor in Ru 2:4, his godly protection of her virtue in Ru 2:9 and her emotional well being in Ru 2:15, 16, not to mention his subsequent actions designed to protect her reputation


Click the picture from the Wenzel Bible (1389) to enlarge.

Four times in this chapter there is mention of feet (Ru 3:4, 7, 8, 14-Click notes). Ruth had fallen at the feet of Boaz in response to his gracious words (Ru 2:10-note), but now she was coming to his feet to propose marriage. She was asking him to obey the law of the kinsman redeemer and take her as his wife.

Fruchtenbaum has the following comment…

Ruth was to uncover his feet so that he would awaken when the cold air hit the exposed parts of his legs.

This comment however does not fit the context. Her entrance was secret (softly). Her detailed instructions from Naomi did not include a promise that her maneuver would awaken Boaz. It's a small point and it is possible that cold air awoke Boaz but I think the other possibility is that God providentially "happened" to awaken him. After all it is the middle of the night (probably about midnight) and Ruth may have been lying there for some time if she came immediately after he fell asleep.

Uncovered his feet and lay down - To position herself at Boaz's feet indicates that Ruth was assuming a position of submission and humility. Note that Ruth did not tickle his feet or nudge him to awaken him, but patiently waited for the events to unfold. Once again we gain insight into the virtuous character of this woman willing to wait on the Lord's timing as indicated by and it happened in the middle of the night, just as earlier

she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz. (see note Ruth 2:3) (and he happened to visit the field that day, and just happened to be an eligible older bachelor, etc, etc)

Oh, how wonderful it would be if we all had such Ruth-like resolve to wait upon the Lord's timing in the circumstances of our life, instead of so often attempting to manipulate people and circumstances to achieve what we desire or think the conclusion of a matter should be.

Lord, give us a "Ruth like" spirit, willing to wait "all night" if need be, trusting in the perfect timing of Your providential outworking of the circumstances of our life. Amen.

There is a time to sit still and wait and there is a time for action as Ruth will subsequently illustrate.

You need to be aware that some scholars point out that the word feet can be a euphemism for sexual organs and in some writers ascribe such a meaning to this passage! I think they are taking the Hebrew words totally out of context considering that both Boaz and Ruth were known as people of excellence which emphasizes that they were both not just externally strong but that they were internally virtuous.

Explanatory Note
on a Difficult Passage --
Ruth 3:6ff

Some commentators on this text have suggested that Ruth’s bold move that night on the threshing floor went beyond the normal boundaries of propriety and included sexual relations with Boaz. Their argument is that harvest time the world over is a time of celebration of the rites of fertility. At these times the ancients allowed themselves more license than usual. During this harvest celebration, then, after Boaz had imbibed enough wine to make himself drunk, Ruth approached him in order to force him into marriage. Others have interpreted Boaz’s “feet” as a sexual euphemism for the male reproductive organ. If this were the meaning, then the story would be making a discreet reference to fleshly indulgence. But these suggestions are unnecessary; it seems that the author chose his words carefully so as to avoid any possible innuendo.

To begin with, it is extremely unlikely that Boaz was drunk (cp same word in Ru 3:1 and fact that it did not say he was drunk as it did of Noah in Ge 9:21). after the good meal he had eaten. The text simply says that he “was in good spirits.” His mood was mellow, and his demeanor was upbeat. And why not? He had the results of all his hard labor right there on the threshing floor with him. But his feasting brought on drowsiness, so he retired to one side of the pile of grain that had been threshed. It is doubtful that he would have guarded this pile of grain by himself, that there would have been no other workers present who would awaken at the crack of dawn to get back to work alongside him. Later, after Boaz had fallen asleep, Ruth went and carefully uncovered his feet and apparently crawled under his cover, lying perpendicular to his feet. There are no sexual overtones in the reference to his feet, for Boaz was startled at midnight when his feet suddenly touched the woman’s body.

Ruth immediately made her objective clear when she requested, “Spread the corner of your garment over me.” She was using the accepted idiom meaning “Marry me”—other passages in which the same expression is used are Ezek 16:8, Dt 22:30 and Mal 2:16. No doubt the idiom reflected the custom, still practiced by some Arabs, of a man’s throwing a garment over the woman he has decided to take as his wife. The gesture is a symbol of protection as well as a declaration that the man is willing to enter into sexual consummation with his chosen partner.

Boaz had prayed in Ru 2:12 that Ruth might be rewarded by the Lord under whose wings she had taken refuge. Ruth now essentially asked Boaz to answer his own prayer, for “garment-cover” and “wing” are the same word in Hebrew. Ruth’s reason for this action is expressed in her appeal to Boaz as a “kinsman-redeemer.” That is a legal status. Under Jewish law, then, her request was not particularly unusual.

That Boaz handled himself honorably can be seen in his revelation that there was someone who actually had prior claim over Ruth and her inheritance, since he was a closer relative. However, if he should prove unwilling to take responsibility in the matter, then Boaz would marry Ruth.

Remarkably, Ruth seems willing to marry even this other relative sight unseen, again subordinating her own happiness to her duty of raising up an heir to her deceased husband and to Naomi. In doing so she demonstrates again why this book singles her out as a most worthy example of what Pr 31 refers to as a “virtuous woman” or a person “of noble character.”

The charges against Ruth and Boaz are false and without foundation. While the couple’s encounter did occur in the context of darkness and sleep, the text does not present their behavior as morally questionable or even particularly abnormal within the social and moral conventions of the godly remnant of those days." (Hard Sayings of the Bible: Books: IVP. 1996)



Arnold Fruchtenbaum comments that…

In the rabbinic interpretation, the rabbis gave this verse a messianic implication:

As our sages teach, God has been engaged in creating the light of the Messiah since the beginning of the world. An early instance of God “creating the light of the Messiah” was when He sent an angel to rescue Lot and his two daughters from the destruction of Sodom. In the cave where they took refuge the daughters plied Lot with wine, that providence provided, and consorted with him, “so that, we may give life to offspring through our father.” The result: The nations of Moab and Ammon who bore within them Messianic sparks waiting to enter Israel through two “pearls” of these nations.

Naomi’s plan was to hint of the deed of Lot’s daughters and bring Boaz to recognition that Ruth was the long awaited “pearl of Moab.” Again, God was engaged in creating the light of the Messiah, when Tamar, dressed as a harlot, lured Judah off the path and brought him Perez, another link in the chain leading to David and Messiah.

Naomi chose to follow in her footsteps as hinted at by the end letters of…“the place where” which spells…Tamar, for she was certain that through Ruth, God would complete what Tamar had begun. Esoterically, Naomi’s actions were also a means to foil Satan, so to speak, similar to Israel appeasing Satan on Yom Kippur, by sending the Sair Azazel, the second goat, to his destruction. Thus, Jacob produced the twelve tribes by marrying two sisters, which Torah Law forbids[:] Judah begat Perez, through an unconventional tryst with Tamar, and Ruth went in to Boaz on the threshing floor to appease Satan (Ed: I disagree emphatically with this statement -- Messiah was prophesied to fatally crush Satan, not to appease him. cp Ge 3:15, Heb 2:14, 15-note, Ro 16:20-note, Re 20:10-note), and foil his mission of preventing God’s light from being brought into the world. (Rabbi Shmuel Yerushalmi, Torah Anthology: The Book of Ruth, 95, 96)

That the Book of Ruth has messianic implications is clear. However, this quote shows how fanciful rabbinic exegesis could be. (Fruchtenbaum, A. G. Ariel's Bible commentary: The books of Judges and Ruth. Page 322. San Antonio, Tex.: Ariel Ministries)