Ruth Again Presents Herself. When Ruth was back with her mother-in-law, 1Naomi said to her, “My daughter, should I not be seeking a pleasing home for you?a 2* Now! Is not Boaz,b whose young women you were working with, a relative of ours? This very night he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3Now, go bathe and anoint yourself; then put on your best attire and go down to the threshing floor. Do not make yourself known to the man before he has finished eating and drinking. 4But when he lies down, take note of the place where he lies; then go uncover a place at his feet* and you lie down. He will then tell you what to do.” 5“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth replied. 6She went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her.
7Boaz ate and drank to his heart’s content, and went to lie down at the edge of the pile of grain. She crept up, uncovered a place at his feet, and lay down. 8Midway through the night, the man gave a start and groped about, only to find a woman lying at his feet. 9“Who are you?” he asked. She replied, “I am your servant Ruth. Spread the wing of your cloak* over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” 10He said, “May the LORD bless you, my daughter! You have been even more loyal now than before in not going after the young men, whether poor or rich. 11Now rest assured, my daughter, I will do for you whatever you say; all my townspeople know you to be a worthy woman.* 12c Now, I am in fact a redeemer, but there is another redeemer closer than I.* 13Stay where you are for tonight, and tomorrow, if he will act as redeemer for you, good. But if he will not, as the LORD lives, I will do it myself. Lie there until morning.”d 14So she lay at his feet until morning, but rose before anyone could recognize another, for Boaz had said, “Let it not be known that this woman came to the threshing floor.” 15Then he said to her, “Take off the shawl you are wearing; hold it firmly.” When she did so, he poured out six measures of barley and helped her lift the bundle; then he himself left for the town.
16She, meanwhile, went home to her mother-in-law, who asked, “How did things go, my daughter?” So she told her all the man had done for her, 17and concluded, “He gave me these six measures of barley and said, ‘Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty.’”e 18Naomi then said, “Wait here, my daughter, until you learn what happens, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.”
* [3:2] Ruth’s determined action to bring relief to Naomi’s and her own circumstances now impels Naomi to move, using means available in Israelite custom which no one in the story has up to this point brought into play.
* [3:4] Uncover a place at his feet: Naomi advocates a course of action that will lead Boaz to act. Israelite custom and moral expectations strongly suggest that there is no loss of virtue involved in the scene.
* [3:9] Spread the wing of your cloak: Ez 16:8 makes it clear that this is a request for marriage. Ruth connects it to “redeemer” responsibility. A wordplay on “wing” links what Boaz is asked to do to what he has asked God to do for Ruth in 2:12.
* [3:11] Worthy woman: the language corresponds to the description of Boaz in 2:1 (lit., “strong and worthy”); the two worthy people are linked in character to one another, as they have already proven to be in their generous behavior toward the ones in need of their care. The townspeople, lit., “all the gate of my people,” will ratify this at the gate in the sequel.
* [3:12] Another redeemer closer than I: Boaz knows of a closer relative who would have a prior right to buy the field and marry Ruth.