My Bible in a Year reading this week take me into the book of Ruth. It is interesting that while looking for scriptural stories about Finding the Man who Loves Me my readings should find me in the Old Testament. There is the lovely foreshadowing of the Love of Christ and his respect and care for women in the person of Boaz along with the portrayal of a strong faithful woman in the love of Ruth. Ruth like many of the stories of women in the New Testament is a convert. She does not have the same status as Israelite women and there is some sketchy history around Moabites in general let alone Moabite women so to put it mildly Ruth was in serious need of a Protector.
There is a type of Love reflected for Naomi by Ruth, that is also mirrored by Boaz for Ruth and in turn her Mother in Law. There is this lovely story of mutual support of two widows for each other and their Redemmer-Protector. Boaz. This story has a wonderful carrying love to it and it has a bit of that kind of love that sizzles. There is both care and sizzle from Boaz towards Ruth. Boaz notices her. There was something about Ruth that caught his attention and something about Ruth that wanted to protect her out there in his fields with other men. He obviously thinks Ruth is at risk or he wouldn't be recorded as saying he had given the men in the field directions not to touch her. Touch I think is a polite euphemism for jump her in the fields..as in having no respect for her what so ever and using her with no regard. The opposite of the regard Boaz was showing her. Ruth strikes me as such a brave and strong woman. First of all she has survived the death of her husband, secondly she is willing to go with Naomi her Mother in Law to a new country to be with her and make Naomis God her God. The walk of these two women is in some places possibly anywhere from 35 to 70 miles , over rough country , over the Jordan and not for the week of heart. Think robbers, bandits , wild animals. Bad guys in general.
So what is different about Boaz and why does he get Good guy points:
He notices Ruth and when he receives a good report about her and learns she is with Noami who is a relative of his on her ( dead) husbands side he moves into action. He tells Ruth not to go into any other fields, stay with his servant girls and the men have been told not to touch her. When she is thirsty she can drink from the water the men have filled.Later in the day she is offered bread, shelter from the sun and some extra good share of the pickers harvest. Boaz repays her for he kindness to Naomi not only in word but in deeds. Ruth takes home some extra large helpings of harvest to share with her Mother in Law Naomi. When Naomi learns that Boaz has taken Ruth under his wing and he is a kinsman -redeemer for her family she tells Ruth to stay in his field until the end of harvest with his servant girls so she won't be harmed ..again this concern about the men abusing foreign women. Maybe it was something like well if we use a local girl their father or brothers will come and get us but this foreign widow here has no defenders so she is fair game. However Ruth did have some one . watching out for her.
Boaz is expected under family obligations to serve as a protector for Naomi and Ruth but there seems to be someone closer in line to do that job that has not picked up on their duties. Naomi gives Ruth a little nudge, gets her to dress up all nice and pay Boaz a little night time visit when he has one to many after the yearly- end of Harvest Hoedown. Boaz being a nice guy but not big on self confidence figures Ruth could have any other man and doesn't pick up on subtle. Ruth has to kind of snuggle up and ask Spread the corner of your garment over me since you are a ..kinsmen -Redeemer which in normal language means lets get married and have babies as your the man for the job ( literally it is kind of his job according to local custom.
Boaz not wanting to have Ruth's reputation ruined says he will work out the details in the morning and makes sure no one reports she was there and stay put. Not being naughty just staying at his feet...all the townspeople know you are a woman of good character.......Come morning he sends Ruth home with enough grain to feed them for a long time. It is the sign Naomi is waiting for a says" For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today. "For Ruth and Naomi it is like winning the relative lottery. They got a good one. Boaz has to go sit in the city gates and meet with the man who in many ways has the first crack at Ruth. Fortunately he is already otherwise engaged and Boaz settles the deal with the famous removal of a sandal and a public announcement of the purchase of property rights of the dead husbands and sons and acquired Ruth in the bargain. So with the locals blessing Boaz and Ruth marry have little Obed and live happily ever after . How do we know this story. Boaz is listed as the father of Obed, the father of Jesse the father of David. ( Ruth 4 -22) The we skip down to the New Testament in Matthew1:16 Boaz and Ruth via the House of David are grafted into the genealogy of Joseph , Mary and Jesus.
Boaz is caring, hospitable, protective, wise, a man of action, follows through on what he says he will do, guards many times the virtue of Ruth, loving and returning love. He redeems Ruth and her Mother in Law from their loss and life of poverty. He makes them her a part of the Family. It is interesting that with this kind of story of redeeming women with " less than " preconceptions of discrimination due to their country of birth or reputations that Jesus treated women who were like the Ruth's Tamar's and Rahab's listed in his genealogy with decency, equality and respect. .