A Proposal of Marriage for Ruth
RUTH, CHAPTER 3
Because Ruth was still a young woman after her husband had died, her mother-in-law, Naomi, wanted to find her a new husband. Noami knew that Boaz was a member of her husband’s family, and that he was a good man. Naomi had a plan for Ruth to marry Boaz. Naomi told her,
3 “Now do as I tell you-- take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don't let Boaz see you until he has finished his meal. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do."
Boaz would be working at the threshing floor because it was time for the harvest. This would be a good time for Ruth to show her interest in him as a husband. Ruth did as Naomi told her and went to see Boaz. She waited until Boaz, and the other men, were all asleep. She quietly entered and laid down near the feet of Boaz. During the night Boaz felt someone near his feet.
9 "Who are you?" he demanded. "I am your servant Ruth," she replied. "Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer." 10 "The LORD bless you, my daughter!" Boaz exclaimed. "You are showing more family loyalty now than ever by not running after a younger man, whether rich or poor.”
In those days it was proper for a man in the family to marry the widow of his relative. When he married his relative’s widow he would also receive any land or property that had belonged to the relative who had died. However, if the couple married and had a son, the son would be named after the woman’s dead husband. When the son grew to be a man he would take possession of any property and land which had belonged to his “father.” This was a practice to keep alive a man’s name or his family line. Such a person was known in the community as a family redeemer. Boaz would be Ruth’s redeemer. However, there was another man in the family who was closer to Ruth’s dead husband. According to the law, the other man had first rights to marry Ruth. Boaz must talk to his relative and discuss the situation. Boaz said,
12 “But there is one problem. While it is true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, then let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the LORD lives, I will marry you!”
Early in the morning, before the rising of the sun, Boaz sent Ruth back to her home. He gave her a large amount of barley to take to Naomi. Ruth went home and told Naomi all that Boaz had said and done. Boaz went into the village to find his relative and to discuss the issue of Ruth’s future.
What do you think about Naomi’s idea for Ruth to find a husband?
What are the customs for a marriage proposal in your country?
Why was Boaz so happy about Ruth coming to see him?