James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?Ruth 3:1-4:22
A BLESSED BRIDE
Ruth 3:1-1The rest Naomi would secure for Ruth is that of a husband and a home. Threshing-floors were commonly on the field where the grain was reaped, the process consisting in throwing it against the evening wind, the farmer remaining all night on the field for that purpose as well as to protect his property.
Ruth 3:3-6The indelicacy of these verses is removed by the fact that it was the custom thus to remind a kinsman of his duty in such a case. The openness of the location is also to be kept in mind, together with the circumstance that Orientals sleep by night in the clothing worn during the day, reclining simply upon a cloak or rug. Servants frequently sleep in the same tent with their master, lying crosswise at his feet, and if a covering be needed are allowed to draw the skirt of his covering over them.
Ruth 3:7-18Spreading the skirt over one is in the East a symbol of protection, and in the case of a man’s doing it for a woman equivalent to a marriage contract.
Rising while it was still dark, Ruth could without immodesty remove the veil from her face to receive in it the generous gift of barley for her and her mother-in-law. The word veil might be rendered apron or sheet, which in the case of poorer women, was linen or cotton and wrapped around the head so as almost entirely to conceal the face.
Note Boaz testimony to Ruth’s character from one point of view (Ruth 3:11), and Naomi’s testimony to his from another (Ruth 3:18).
Ruth 4:1-8The gate was something like the town hall with us, where all the legal business was transacted. It was a building with a cover but without walls, and a place which everybody passed by. It was easy to find a jury of ten men there any time; and as soon as the kinsman came in sight whose duty it was first to redeem before Boaz, calling him to wait, the case was entered upon with simplicity and informality (Ruth 4:1-4). (For the law governing this matter, see Leviticus 25:25.) The kinsman was disposed to take the land until he learned that he must take Ruth with it when he changed his mind (Ruth 4:4-6). (For the law, see Deuteronomy 25:5.) How it would have marred his inheritance to have married Ruth is not clear (Ruth 4:6), except it be that a son born to him by
her could not have carried his name but that of his brother, or possibly her Moabitish nationality alarmed him because of its contrariness to the Mosaic law. Boaz believes that the law is suspended in Ruth’s case, who has become a proselyte to the Jewish faith, but the other kinsman does not.
The shoe symbolized a possession which one had, and could tread with his feet at pleasure. Hence when the kinsman pulled off his shoe and gave it to Boaz, he surrendered to him all claims to the possession which would have been his under other circumstances.
Ruth 4:9-17Rth 4:11-12 seem to be a bridal benediction. Rachel and Leah had been greatly blessed with offspring and Pharez was honored as an ancestor of the Bethlehemites (Ruth 4:18).
The blessing of Ruth is regarded as that of Naomi as well (Ruth 4:14), for in the former’s child her house will be raised up again. This is set forth in the name, Obed, which means “one that serves,” i.e., one that serves Naomi.
In the conclusion of this verse we have the words in which the whole book reaches its culmination, the completion of the blessing pronounced on Ruth by Boaz (Ruth 2:18). Thus the coming of the King is prepared for, on whom the Lord had determined to confirm the dominion over His people for evermore. And the converted Moabites, who entered as worthy members into the commonwealth of God’s people, became the mother of David and of Christ.
There is an interval of 380 years between Solomon and David (Ruth 4:20-22). Whole generations are omitted and only leading characters are named.
1. Describe an Eastern threshing floor, and the process of threshing.
2. How would you explain the indelicacy in Ruth 4:3-6?
3. How did Boaz testify to Ruth’s character?
4. With what may the gate of an oriental city be compared?
5. For what reasons may the nearer kinsman have declined to purchase this land?
6. What did the shoe symbolize?