Ruth 3: A Scandalous Honor

“I want to accidentally stay all night/ I want to read the Bible/ and I want to make out . . .”

-Derek Webb. “I Want to Marry You All Over Again”

You know something is perfectly harmless but you would NEVER tell someone to do it. Got anything that fits in that category?

Like if you were mentoring a young Derek Webb and he told you about his relationship with a young Sandra McCracken and said, “I want to get to know her better. What do you think I should do?”

How many of you would suggest staying at her house all night, reading the Bible, and then making out?

But after they were married, and Derek told you the story of the night that happened, how many of you would laugh and say, “yeah, I got a few of those stories too.”

Disclaimer: If you are a student I work with, please disregard the previous paragraphs. Or at least talk to me about them before you do anything stupid and youthful. 🙂

Ruth and Boaz have a story like that.

The Plan

You have to hand it to Naomi. The woman is brilliant. She hatches a plan to hook Boaz and Ruth up so devious, sneaky, and risky that it had better work or Ruth is screwed.

Her plan involves the following four steps:

Step 1: Boaz will be on the threshing floor. Wait until he falls asleep there.

Step 2: Sneak up to him and “uncover his feet.” (I think this is the ancient hebrew equivalent of “take his pants off.”)

Step 3: Lie next to him.

Step 4: He’ll tell you what to do.

That should do the trick! And it totally does!

But what is even more surprising about the whole thing is what Boaz says to Ruth.

A Worthy Woman

That’s what my translation says about Ruth. Another says she is a “woman of honor.”

Why?

Well, because she has not gone after young men, provided for her mother-in-law, and apparently not done anything while Boaz’s “feet” were uncovered.

Ruth’s character goes a long way and has been noticed by the entire community. And because of it, Boaz will act as her next-of-kin, provided some other chump doesn’t want to. Ruth will have a husband and Naomi has a shot at having children of her own. This is going to be great!

But here is the funny part.

Ruth is an honorable woman. But Boaz totally spends the night with her. Then in the morning, he sneaks away before anyone is up and tells Ruth to disguise herself as she leaves the threshing room floor.

Why?

Because “it must not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.”

Ruth and Boaz are totally honorable and upstanding people in the community, just not when they spend the night with each other. Things should be fine as long as nobody knows what happened.

I would never tell someone to do this. I would never recommend that one of my students do this in pursuit of a relationship. But years from now, looking back, we could all have a good laugh at it.

Wouldn’t you agree?

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