What does Ruth 3:15 mean?
ESV: And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city.
NIV: He also said, 'Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.' When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town.
NASB: Again he said, 'Give me the shawl that is on you and hold it.' So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city.
CSB: And he told Ruth, "Bring the shawl you're wearing and hold it out." When she held it out, he shoveled six measures of barley into her shawl, and she went into the town.
NLT: Then Boaz said to her, 'Bring your cloak and spread it out.' He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town.
KJV: Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.
Ruth has asked Boaz to marry her. Boaz wants to, but as Ruth wants an heir for Naomi, and there is a man who is more closely related, Boaz must confer with that man, first (Ruth 3:9–13). Ruth has been gleaning in Boaz's fields for the last two months, first barley and then wheat (Ruth 2:23). Between Boaz's generosity and her own industry, she likely has enough grain to provide food for herself and her mother-in-law for the year.
If the other man agrees to marry Ruth, Boaz won't have an opportunity to bless Ruth anymore. If the man refuses to marry Ruth, Boaz may want to offer Naomi a dowery for Ruth. Either way, Boaz is so impressed by the sacrifices Ruth has made for Naomi (Ruth 1:16–17; 2:11–12) that he continues to take the responsibility to make sure the women have what they need.
Scholars are unclear as to what a "measure" is. It can't be an ephah, because that would make Ruth's load weigh more than a typical person. It's more likely a seah, which would make the entire load between sixty and one hundred pounds, or between twenty-seven and forty-five kilograms. The "garment" is most likely Ruth's shawl.
In Ruth 3:10–15, Boaz presents his plan to make Ruth's plan come to fruition. She has asked him to be Naomi's kinsman-redeemer, to buy Naomi's land and provide for her needs. Ruth has also proposed marriage and asked Boaz to give Naomi an heir who will inherit the land. Boaz is humbled by Ruth's dedication to her mother-in-law, but there's a problem—he is not the closest relative. He has to offer the plan to another man. If that man refuses, he will do everything Ruth says.
In Ruth 3, Naomi schemes to find Ruth a good husband, as was always her hope (Ruth 1:9). She tells Ruth how to propose to Boaz. When Boaz has fallen asleep after a long and joyful day of winnowing grain, Ruth is to gently awaken him and make her proposal. Ruth goes beyond Naomi's instruction, however. Boaz understands that Ruth expects him to buy Naomi's land and give her an heir to re-inherit it. He praises Ruth for her devotion to her mother-in-law, but there is another relative who is closer. In the next chapter, Boaz dispenses with his rival and marries Ruth.
Ruth 3 is the wind-up to the climax of the story. Ruth and Naomi returned to Bethlehem from Moab two months prior. Boaz, a relative of Naomi's late husband, has allowed Ruth to harvest enough grain to last the women a year (Ruth 1—2). Now that their physical needs are addressed, Naomi wants Ruth married to Boaz. Ruth wants Boaz to provide an heir for Naomi. Boaz is again impressed with Ruth's self-sacrifice and agrees (Ruth 3). After negotiating with a closer relative, Boaz marries Ruth and gives Naomi a son. That son becomes King David's grandfather (Ruth 4).
Though set in a time of violence and tragedy, the book of Ruth tells one of Scripture’s most uplifting stories. Naomi, an Israelite, leaves her home during a famine. While away, in Moab, her husband and sons die. Naomi convinces one of her Moabite daughters-in-law to leave her and seek a new life. The other, Ruth, refuses, declaring her love and loyalty to Naomi. When the pair return to Israel, they encounter Boaz. This man is both kind and moral; his treatment of Ruth secures Naomi’s future and becomes part of king David’s ancestry.
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