Chapter
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Ruth chapter 3

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What does Ruth chapter 3 mean?

Naomi and Ruth have lived in Bethlehem for the two months of the barley and wheat harvests. During that time, a wealthy, well-respected landowner, Boaz, made extraordinary considerations to ensure Ruth was able to glean enough grain for the women to live on for a year. Naomi's goal for Ruth, however, was always that she find a good husband to give her "rest" (Ruth 1:9). Now, Naomi makes her move. The format of Ruth 3 is like chapter 2: the women plan what they're going to do, Ruth interacts with Boaz, and the women live in peace confident that Boaz will continue working on their behalf.

The first section can be titled "Naomi's Plan." As the harvest ends, Naomi decides that Boaz would make a good husband for Ruth. She gives bold instructions to her daughter-in-law: Ruth is to go to the threshing floor and wait until Boaz has celebrated the harvest and fallen asleep. When he awakens, he will be in a good mood, and they will have chaste privacy amidst the other threshers who sleep nearby to protect the grain. Ruth will then challenge Boaz to act. Ruth agrees to the plan (Ruth 3:1–6).

The next section is "Ruth's Plan." Ruth does as Naomi says but adds her own spin. Naomi briefly mentioned that Boaz is a "redeemer" of her husband's (Ruth 2:20). He can buy Naomi's husband's land as a kinsman-redeemer, thus giving Naomi an inheritance to live from and keeping the land in the clan. Ruth presents her marriage proposal in that context. Boaz knows what she's really asking for (Ruth 3:6–9).

Finally, "Boaz's Plan." Boaz recognizes that Ruth is willing to marry him for Naomi's sake, not her own. That doesn't just mean buying Naomi's husband's land, it also means providing her with an heir to re-inherit the land when the boy comes of age. Boaz is overwhelmed by Ruth's selflessness and agrees to her plan. There's only one problem: Naomi's husband has a closer relative with a stronger claim (Ruth 3:10–13).

Early in the morning, before anyone else awakens, Boaz sends Ruth back to Naomi. He does not send her empty-handed; he provides twelve gallons of barley, as a sort of bride price or as a last gesture of his respect should she marry the other man. Ruth returns to her mother-in-law and gives her a report. Naomi is pleased and assures Ruth that Boaz will resolve the issue with the closer heir quickly (Ruth 3:14–18).

Naomi is right. Later that day, Boaz tells the nearer relative that Naomi has a field to redeem. The man agrees. Then Boaz tells him he will also marry Ruth and provide Naomi an heir. The man knows Boaz is asking him to buy the field and then give it away to a son he will have in another man's name. He politely refuses, and Boaz marries Ruth. The townspeople praise Boaz for his honorable choice, then praise God when Ruth gives birth to a son and lays him in Naomi's lap. The book ends with the revelation that Ruth and Boaz's son will be the grandfather of King David (Ruth 4).
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