Ruth 3:8-11 – Boaz and Ruth on the Threshing Floor


Ruth 3:8-11


Ruth and Boaz meet on the threshing floor and Ruth proposes marriage while Boaz responds with blessing and praise.


Not surprisingly the encounter between Boaz and Ruth on the threshing floor begins at midnight. Boaz asks Ruth, “Who are you?” (mi ‘at in Hebrew) exactly the same phrase used by Naomi to Ruth in 3:16, there translated, “How did things go?” Ruth responds,

“I am Ruth, your servant; spread your cloak (kenaph)

over your servant, for you are next-of-kin (go’el). “

The word for cloak is the same word as the word for the Lord’s wing in 2:12.

Irony abounds.

And then Ruth goes beyond Naomi’s instruction.  Although Naomi had told Ruth that Boaz would tell her what to do, it turns out that Ruth takes the lead in this encounter.  Ruth basically proposes to Boaz. Ruth emphasizes to Boaz that he is go’el—the next-of-kin—a less than subtle reminder that she is aware of his responsibilities toward her and Naomi.  She is telling him that this is far more than a casual encounter.

Boaz then commends Ruth for her “loyalty,” her ḥesed, the all important Hebrew word for covenantal love, kindness, and commitment, used twice before in Ruth 1:8 and 2:20. 

Boaz’ response is breath-taking! He not only accepts his responsibility, he meets her request with blessing, affection, and, as is soon seen, adds his own dose of scheming that matches Naomi’s one for one. But before that, Boaz makes another remarkable claim that all the people of the community see Ruth as he does.  They see her as a worthy woman (‘isshah hayil, in Hebrew).  They see her as a woman of worth, of value, just as he is identified as a man of value when the same word is translated in 2:1.  They might be said to be Mr. and Mrs. Hayil

(see Marc Chagall