0 Spread your skirt over your handmaid (Ruth 1-4)

Episode 100: Spread your skirt over your handmaid

Ruth 1-4

Ruth and Naomi

1 1-2 Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons migrated from Bethlehem in Judah to Moab to escape a famine.

3 After they arrived, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi and her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.

4-5 Naomi's sons married two local Moab women, Orpah and Ruth. After about ten years, Naomi's sons also died, leaving her with two daughters-in-law.

6 Naomi heard that God had visited the land of Judah and given the people bread. So she decided to go back to Judah to get some.

8 Naomi said to her daughters-in-law,

Go back to your mothers' houses. God will treat you kindly.

9 Then she kissed them, and they wept.

They said to her, "No, we'll go with you."

11-13 Naomi said,

Why go with me? I'm too old to get married and make more husbands for you.

And even if I could, would you wait for them to grow up and then marry them?

14 Orpah and Naomi wept. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clave to her.

15 Naomi said to Ruth,

Your sister-in-law has returned to her people and her gods. You should do the same.

16 But Ruth said to her,

Don't ask me to leave you, for wherever you go, I'll go.

Where you live, I'll live.

Your people will be my people.

Your god will be my god.

17 Where you die, I'll die, and I'll be buried there.

18 So Naomi let Ruth stay with her.

Ruth meets Boaz

2 1 A rich relative (Boaz) of Naomi's husband lived in Bethlehem.

2 Ruth said to Naomi,

Let me go glean some grain from a field.

Maybe the owner will see me and like what he sees.

Naomi said, "Sure. Go ahead and do that."

3 So Ruth went to glean from Boaz's field.

5 Boaz asked his servant,

Who owns the damsel who is picking my grain?

6 The servant said, "She came with Naomi from Moab."

8 Boaz said to Ruth, "Go ahead and glean all you want."

Ruth (c.‚ÄČ1853) by Francesco Hayez

10 Then Ruth fell on her face and said to Boaz,

Why have I, a stranger to you, found grace in your eyes?

11 Boaz said to her,

You're not a stranger to me. I know all about you.

I know that your husband died and you and your mother-in-law left your country to come here.

14 Come and eat dinner with us.

So she ate dinner with them.

18 Then Ruth went back to the city and showed Naomi what she had gleaned.

Naomi said, "Where'd you get all this?"

19 Ruth said, "From Boaz's field."

20 "Boaz is a close relative of ours," Naomi said.

Ruth uncovers Boaz's feet

3 1 Naomi said to Ruth,

2 It's time to find you a husband who can take care of you.

How about our rich relative Boaz?

He'll be winnowing the grain tonight on the threshing floor.

3 So take a bath, put on some perfume and your best clothes, and go to the threshing floor.

But wait until he's done eating and drinking.

4 Then go in, uncover his feet, and lay down beside him. He'll tell you what to do next.

6 So Ruth went to the threshing floor and did everything Naomi told her to do.

7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking, and was a bit drunk, Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down beside him.

8 At midnight, Boaz was afraid, and saw a woman laying at his feet.

9 He said to her, "Who are you?"

Ruth replied, "I am Ruth your handmaid. Spread your skirt over me."

10 Boaz said to her,

Stay here tonight. In the morning I'll check with an even closer relative of yours to see if he wants to perform the part of a kinsman.

If he doesn't, I will.

11 So Ruth lay at Boaz's feet until morning.

Boaz buys a wife (Ruth)

4 1 Boaz was sitting at the city gate when the other close relative of Naomi's dead husband came by. 3 Boaz said to him,

Naomi has returned from Moab, and she's selling some land that was owned by her husband Elimelech. Since you are his closest relative, you have the right to buy it. Do you want to?

But if you buy the land from Naomi, you must also marry Naomi's daughter-in-law, Ruth, and have a son with her to carry on Elimelech's name and inheritance.

6 The close relative said,

Well then I can't buy the land. So you can if you want.

8-10 So Naomi's closest relative took off his shoe and gave it to Boaz, who said,

I have also bought Ruth, Mahlon's wife, to preserve his name and inheritance.

Boaz and Ruth (and Naomi) have a son

13 So Boaz took Ruth for a wife, and when he had sex with her, God made her conceive a son.

16 Naomi took the child and nursed it.

17 The neighborhood women named him Obed, and said, "A son is born to Naomi. "

Obed was the father of Jesse and grandfather of David.

A few more words about this episode

Naomi's sons married two local Moab women, Orpah and Ruth. (1:4)

David was the great-grandson of Ruth, a Moabite woman. Yet he was the king of Israel, the highest ranking member of "the congregation of the Lord."

An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever. Deuteronomy 23:3

The Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever. Nehemiah 13:1

Has any Moabite ever entered the congregation of the Lord? `

Orpah (1:4)
Ophrah Winfrey said "my name had been chosen from the Bible. My Aunt Ida had chosen the name, but nobody really knew how to spell it, so it went down as 'Orpah' on my birth certificate, but people didn't know how to pronounce it, so they put the "P" before the "R" in every place else other than the birth certificate. On the birth certificate it is Orpah, but then it got translated to Oprah, so here we are." (Academy of Achievement Interview)
I'm too old to get married and make more husbands for you. (1:11)

Deuteronomy 25:5-10 says that if a man dies before having a child, the his wife must have sex with his brother. So Naomi was asking her daughter-in-laws if they should wait until she has a couple more sons to fulfill the command in Deuteronomy.

Ruth clave to her. (1:14)
Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve. (Or so say the folks at WouldJesusDiscriminate.org)

Strange Flesh: Ruth and Naomi

Uncover his feet (3:4)
"Feet" is often (and almost certainly in this case) a biblical euphemism for genitals.
Boaz was a bit drunk. (3:7)
The King James Version says his "heart was merry," which the Bible's way of saying he was a bit drunk.
He said to her, "Who are you?" (3:9)
Apparently Boaz was so drunk he couldn't recognize Ruth, who he had just met and eaten dinner with earlier that day.
Spread your skirt over me. (3:9)
"Spreading one's skirt" is a biblical euphemism for sexual intercourse." -- Jonathan Kirsch, The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible.
Perform the part of a kinsman. (3:10)
"Performing the part of a kinsman" would be to impregnate and marry her. (See Deuteronomy 25:5-10)
Obed was the father of Jesse and grandfather of David. (4:17)
Has any Moabite ever entered the congregation of the Lord?
No comments yet

Copyright © 1999-2024
The Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Send comments to Steve Wells
at swwells(at)gmail.com