Naomi Instructs Ruth. 1 Then Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her, “My daughter, should I not seek a home for you so that you may find security? 2 Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you were, our relative? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Bathe and perfume yourself and put on your best clothes. Go down to the floor, but do not let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down to sleep, note the place where he is lying. Go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what you should do.” 5 She said to her, “I will do whatever you say.”
6 She went down to the floor and did everything just as her mother-in-law had instructed her. 7 When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was feeling a bit merry, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. She quietly approached, uncovered his feet and lay down.
8 In the middle of the night, the man was startled when he turned over and there was a woman at his feet. 9 He said, “Who are you?” She answered, “I am Ruth, your handmaid. Spread your covering[b] over your handmaid, for you are my next of kin.” 10 He said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. This latter kindness you have shown is greater than the former, for you have not sought after the young men, whether poor or rich. 11 Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will give you whatever you ask, for all of my people in the city know that you are a virtuous woman. 12 It is true that we are close relatives, but there is another relative closer than I. 13 Remain this night. When morning comes, if he fulfills his duty as next of kin, then good, let him do it. But if he will not fulfill his duty as next of kin, then I will fulfill that duty for you. I swear, as the Lord lives. Now lie down until the morning.”
14 So she laid at his feet until the morning, and she arose before it was possible to recognize another person. Then he said, “Do not let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 He also said, “Bring over your shawl and hold it open.” As she held it, he measured out six measures of barley and laid it upon her. She then went into the city.
16 When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did it go, my daughter?” She told her all that the man had done for her. 17 Then she said, “He gave me these six measures of barley, for he said to me, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’ ” 18 Then she said, “Wait here, my daughter, until the matter has worked itself out, for the man will not rest until he has brought it to a conclusion today.”[c]
- Ruth 3:1 Naomi, having lost her sons (Ru 1:5) and being too advanced in years to remarry, wants to apply the law of the levirate (Deut 25:5-6) in favor of her daughter-in-law. Boaz, asked to marry Ruth, admires her for her fidelity and is ready to carry out the duties of a kinsman redeemer toward her (Lev 25:25). There is, however, another who is a closer kinsman. This detail makes the story a more lively one.
- Ruth 3:9 Spread your covering: Ruth’s invitation to Boaz was not immoral for it was customary for the nearest kin to fill this role (see Deut 25:5-10).
- Ruth 3:18 Naomi speaks confidently about Boaz’s intentions because she knew what kind of man he was.