Ruth 3: NAOMI???

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Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Anyone know what is going on in Ruth 3, especially the first 5 verses with Naomi. Is she taking matters into her own hands or is she doing the right thing? I understand that the rest of the chapter works itself out because Boaz is a man of excellence, but is Naomi somewhat wrong in her approach to her guidance to Ruth in suggesting Ruth clean herself, change clothes, perfume, going there at midnight, after he is 'merry.'? Sinclair Ferguson is saying this, but Matthew Henry disagrees, John Gill doesn't really take a stance, but leans more to the side of Henry. I

Help me please.
 

Grace Alone

Puritan Board Senior
I just participated in a Bible study on Ruth this summer. Yes, I think Naomi is taking things into her own hands. She wants Ruth to marry a kinsman redeemer so they will be taken care of. I agree that it is rather an odd passage where Ruth goes and lies down next to a sleeping Boaz! This is something most of us would tell our daughters NOT to do! However, in my study, there was no indication that anything actually immoral happened. I'm not sure if that is what you were meaning or not.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Yes, things like this are what I am looking for. I would say either way, nothing immoral happened between Boaz and Ruth.
 

Beoga

Puritan Board Freshman
Do the Scriptures condemn what Naomi did? Do they speak well of her for her counsel?
Ruth and Boaz may not have done anything physically wrong, but what does this verse have to do, if anything, with the encounter between Ruth and Boaz:
Ephesians 5:3
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
 

Grace Alone

Puritan Board Senior
What I thought of as I studied it was that Ruth's actions were contrary to what most conservative Christians today would feel was proper. We would not advise a young lady to go and ask a man to marry her. We think of feminists doing this.

But I don't see that Eph. 5:3 applies to this situation if one believes there was no immoral encounter.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Anyone know what is going on in Ruth 3, especially the first 5 verses with Naomi. Is she taking matters into her own hands or is she doing the right thing? I understand that the rest of the chapter works itself out because Boaz is a man of excellence, but is Naomi somewhat wrong in her approach to her guidance to Ruth in suggesting Ruth clean herself, change clothes, perfume, going there at midnight, after he is 'merry.'? Sinclair Ferguson is saying this, but Matthew Henry disagrees, John Gill doesn't really take a stance, but leans more to the side of Henry. I

Help me please.

Women have powers of seduction. Boaz had already (in my opinion) flirted with Ruth while she was eating at his house.

The seductive powers of women are not evil, unless used for unlawful purposes. Otherwise, they can serve a lawful purpose, such as marrying a godly man, etc.

Cheers,
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think the language leaves little doubt they did have sex. in my opinion we need not try to sanitize texts like this that offend our modern sensabilities of what ought to be. OT characters did not always act rightly. We do not see David's polygamy condemned either. :2cents:
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I think the language leaves little doubt they did have sex. in my opinion we need not try to sanitize texts like this that offend our modern sensabilities of what ought to be. OT characters did not always act rightly. We do not see David's polygamy condemned either. :2cents:

I think the language leaves a lot of doubt. We need to avoid importing our unbelievably over-sexed culture into the Bible.

And David's polygamy certainly is shown to be a nightmare of a family situation throughout the narrative. It is the milieu for rape, murder, rebellion, back-stabbing and the like.
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think the language leaves little doubt they did have sex. in my opinion we need not try to sanitize texts like this that offend our modern sensabilities of what ought to be. OT characters did not always act rightly. We do not see David's polygamy condemned either. :2cents:

I think the language leaves a lot of doubt. We need to avoid importing our unbelievably over-sexed culture into the Bible.

And David's polygamy certainly is shown to be a nightmare of a family situation throughout the narrative. It is the milieu for rape, murder, rebellion, back-stabbing and the like.

So it makes more sense to think she just stopped by to take a nap with a drunk guy? And does it under cover of night. That in my opinion requires more as you say "importing".
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I think the language leaves little doubt they did have sex. in my opinion we need not try to sanitize texts like this that offend our modern sensabilities of what ought to be. OT characters did not always act rightly. We do not see David's polygamy condemned either. :2cents:

I think the language leaves a lot of doubt. We need to avoid importing our unbelievably over-sexed culture into the Bible.

And David's polygamy certainly is shown to be a nightmare of a family situation throughout the narrative. It is the milieu for rape, murder, rebellion, back-stabbing and the like.

So it makes more sense to think she just stopped by to take a nap with a drunk guy? And does it under cover of night. That in my opinion requires more as you say "importing".

No it makes more sense to say that she wished to speak with the man, and found the best (and boldest) opportunity to wait at his feet until he awoke.

There is no "importing." The text says "feet." You have to make it say "genitals" and then run to the implication that they had sex. It is nowhere in the text. Nothing in the text is about sex. It is about redemption. As the text makes clear, Boaz was not even first in line. To say that Boaz woke up, and decided to have a one-night stand with a women whom he described as "isha hayil" (a woman of virtue, cf. Proverbs 31:10, the exact same phrase) is so completely out of character for him as to be laughable.
 

Ex Nihilo

Puritan Board Senior
I think the language leaves a lot of doubt. We need to avoid importing our unbelievably over-sexed culture into the Bible.

And David's polygamy certainly is shown to be a nightmare of a family situation throughout the narrative. It is the milieu for rape, murder, rebellion, back-stabbing and the like.

So it makes more sense to think she just stopped by to take a nap with a drunk guy? And does it under cover of night. That in my opinion requires more as you say "importing".

No it makes more sense to say that she wished to speak with the man, and found the best (and boldest) opportunity to wait at his feet until he awoke.

There is no "importing." The text says "feet." You have to make it say "genitals" and then run to the implication that they had sex. It is nowhere in the text. Nothing in the text is about sex. It is about redemption. As the text makes clear, Boaz was not even first in line. To say that Boaz woke up, and decided to have a one-night stand with a women whom he described as "isha hayil" (a woman of virtue, cf. Proverbs 31:10, the exact same phrase) is so completely out of character for him as to be laughable.

Would there be any reason for the text to shy away from stating it much more clearly if they had had sex? It seems like the rest of the Old Testament is kind of blunt about these things. I guess I always assumed they did not have sex.
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think the language leaves a lot of doubt. We need to avoid importing our unbelievably over-sexed culture into the Bible.

And David's polygamy certainly is shown to be a nightmare of a family situation throughout the narrative. It is the milieu for rape, murder, rebellion, back-stabbing and the like.

So it makes more sense to think she just stopped by to take a nap with a drunk guy? And does it under cover of night. That in my opinion requires more as you say "importing".

No it makes more sense to say that she wished to speak with the man, and found the best (and boldest) opportunity to wait at his feet until he awoke.

There is no "importing." The text says "feet." You have to make it say "genitals" and then run to the implication that they had sex. It is nowhere in the text. Nothing in the text is about sex. It is about redemption. As the text makes clear, Boaz was not even first in line. To say that Boaz woke up, and decided to have a one-night stand with a women whom he described as "isha hayil" (a woman of virtue, cf. Proverbs 31:10, the exact same phrase) is so completely out of character for him as to be laughable.


Any thoughts on the use of "uncover and nakedness" in Levitcus? Could this be the same idea? BibleGateway.com - Keyword Search: uncover
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
Isn't uncovering the feet a euphemism?

That is my opinion. It reminds me of the bizzare passage where Moses' wife is playing foreskin horse shoes throwing it at Moses "feet". Durham suggests genitals could have been in mind.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I think the language leaves a lot of doubt. We need to avoid importing our unbelievably over-sexed culture into the Bible.

Excellent point about our over-sexed culture. A bit off topic, but from my own personal experience as a rebellious unbelieving pagan 30 years ago. I and many of my friends often went camping in mixed company. Numerous times I shared a tent with a girlfriend or casual acquaintance without becoming "intimate."

It was a matter of sharing shelter, talking at night while keeping boundaries and respecting the other, enjoying being out of doors, etc. It certainly didn't seem unusual in my circles, but now I'm sure it seems tremendously odd.

Just like I once shared a sleeping bag with my best (male) friend in an unheated shelter on a 40 below night. You had to stay warm somehow, and we kept our backs to each other because we didn't want to wake up looking at the other.

But I admit these things with a bit of trepidation because our culture now automatically thinks the worse. How much common innocence has been lost in such a short time.
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
So it makes more sense to think she just stopped by to take a nap with a drunk guy? And does it under cover of night. That in my opinion requires more as you say "importing".

No it makes more sense to say that she wished to speak with the man, and found the best (and boldest) opportunity to wait at his feet until he awoke.

There is no "importing." The text says "feet." You have to make it say "genitals" and then run to the implication that they had sex. It is nowhere in the text. Nothing in the text is about sex. It is about redemption. As the text makes clear, Boaz was not even first in line. To say that Boaz woke up, and decided to have a one-night stand with a women whom he described as "isha hayil" (a woman of virtue, cf. Proverbs 31:10, the exact same phrase) is so completely out of character for him as to be laughable.

Would there be any reason for the text to shy away from stating it much more clearly if they had had sex? It seems like the rest of the Old Testament is kind of blunt about these things. I guess I always assumed they did not have sex.

See "uncovering nakedness"
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Just like I once shared a sleeping bag with my best (male) friend in an unheated shelter on a 40 below night. You had to stay warm somehow, and we kept our backs to each other because we didn't want to wake up looking at the other.

I hope you don't mind but this part made me chuckle.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I'm simply going to point us in the direction of what I think is the correct approach to this text.

1) Since the righteous character of both the principals is at stake in this story, if we know what men and women of "virtue" do, then the story fails as a story if we (for whatever reason) insert a blatant violation of the 7th commandment into the narrative.

This is so simple and incontrovertible, I really don't know how we can begin our interpretive efforts without this plain observation taken from the very language of the text. Ruth is "virtuous" (3:11). I lose count of the number of laws of the Mosaic code we actually observe Boaz obeying throughout the story--it is a principal motif of the book as a whole that he is "righteous", i.e. a law-keeper.

Without this starting restriction imposed on us by the text, why should we think we can further interpret alleged "euphemisms" and other distant cultural elements the original author took for granted? We should pay attention to the interpretations that the text apparently "rules out", so we can narrow our options.

2) There is awkwardness and tension present in the text. Boaz is for some reason publicly unapproachable by Naomi and Ruth. So, this expedient is chosen, a social taboo is to be broken by a "woman come into the [threshing] floor."

3) The "uncovering of the feet." Some have alleged that this could mean "exposing" the privates. While "feet" may have been used as a euphemism for the lower body all the way up to the genitals, we would be reaching for a maximalist interpretation of "feet" in Ruth 3:7, if this were the case. The 1Sam.24:3 passage presents its own challenges; the words there, which seem to point to the use of the cave as a latrine, indicate that Saul COVERED his feet, not UNcovered them as of Boaz's, different words entirely. If one thinks the latter passage shed light on the former, he certainly needs to explain the metaphor in the latter clearly and convincingly, and then apply the lesson in the former text, where the opposite idea is presented.

So, why should we go for the euphemistic interpretation? Why wouldn't we expect (if the privates were intended) language like "exposed his nakedness"? Wouldn't that have been clear, not to mention "Mosaic"?

So, it seems to me we are still waiting a good argument that "feet" here actually means "genitals". And better than "good", because that argument needs to show why the simple explanation is inadequate, and overcomes the above raised objections.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Just like I once shared a sleeping bag with my best (male) friend in an unheated shelter on a 40 below night. You had to stay warm somehow, and we kept our backs to each other because we didn't want to wake up looking at the other.

But I admit these things with a bit of trepidation because our culture now automatically thinks the worse. How much common innocence has been lost in such a short time.

OK with me, Victor, as long as he did not "uncover your feet." :lol:
 
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VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Just like I once shared a sleeping bag with my best (male) friend in an unheated shelter on a 40 below night. You had to stay warm somehow, and we kept our backs to each other because we didn't want to wake up looking at the other.

But I admit these things with a bit of trepidation because our culture now automatically thinks the worse. How much common innocence has been lost in such a short time.

OK with me, Victor, as long as he did not uncover your feet. :lol:

:banghead: ;)

OK, more true confessions. We kept snow boots on, and I had two pairs of heavy wool socks.
 

moral necessity

Puritan Board Junior
Not that I fully have thought through this reply, and therefore assent to it, but my Keil and Delitzsch OT commentary replies that, "after the harvest, Naomi advised Ruth to visit Boaz on a certain night, and asked him to marry her as a redeemer. Ruth followed this advice, and Boaz promised to fulfill her request, provided the nearer redeemer who was still living would not perform this duty...To understand the advice which Naomi gave to Ruth, and which Ruth carried out, and in fact to form a correct idea of the further course of the history generally, we must bear in mind the legal relations which came into consideration here. According to the theocratical rights, Jehovah was the actual owner of the land which He had given to His people for an inheritance; and the Israelites themselves had merely the usufruct of the land which they received by lot for their inheritance, so that the existing possessor could not part with the family portion or sell it at his will, but it was to remain for ever in his family. When any one therefore was obliged to sell his inheritance on account of poverty, and actually did sell it, it was the duty of the nearest relation to redeem it as "goel". But if it actually should not be redeemed, it came back, in the next year of jubilee, to its original owner or his heirs without compensation. Consequently no actual sale took place in our sense of the word, but simply a sale of the yearly produce till the year of jubilee (see Lev. 25:10, 13-16, 24-28). There was also an old customary right, which had received the sanction of God, with certain limitations, through the Mosaic law,-namely, the custom of Levirate marriage, or the marriage of a brother-in-law, which we meet with as early as Gen. 38, viz., that if an Israelite who had been married died without children, it was the duty of his brother to marry the widow, that is to say, his sister-in-law, that he might establish his brother's name in Israel, by begetting a son through his sister-in-law, who should take the name of the deceased brother, that his name might not become extinct in Israel. This son was then the legal heir of the landed property of the deceased uncle (cf.Deut. 25:5ff). These two institutions are not connected together in the Mosaic law; nevertheless it was a very natural thing to place the Levirate duty in connection with the right of redemption. And this had become the traditional custom. Whereas the law merely imposed the obligation of marrying the childless widow upon the brother, and even allowed him to renounce the obligation if he would take upon himself the disgrace connected with such a refusal (see Deut. 25:7-10); according to ch.4:5 of this book it had become a traditional custom to require the Levirate marriage of the redeemer of the portion of the deceased relative, not only that the landed possession might be permanently retained in the family, but also the family itself might not be suffered to die out.

In the case before us, Elimelech had possessed a portion at Bethlehem, which Naomi had sold from poverty (ch.4:3); and Boaz, a relation of Elimelech, was the redeemer of whom Naomi hoped that he would fulfil the duty of a redeemer, -namely, that he would not only ransom the purchased field, but marry her daughter-in-law Ruth, the widow of the rightful heir of the landed possession of Elimelech, and thus through this marriage establish the name of her deceased husband or son (Elimelech or Mahlon) upon his inheritance. Led on by this hope, she advised Ruth to visit Boaz, who had shown himself so kind and well-disposed towards her, during the night, and by a species of bold artifice, which she assumed that he would not resist, to induce him as redeemer to grant to Ruth this Levirate marriage. The reason why she adopted this plan for the accomplishment of her wishes, and did not appeal to Boaz directly, or ask him to perform this duty of affection to her deceased husband, was probably that she was afraid lest she should fail to attain her end in this way, partly because the duty of a Levirate marriage was not legally binding upon the redeemer, and partly because Boaz was not so closely related to her husband that she could justly require this of him, whilst there was acutally a nearer redeemer than he (ch.3:12). According to our customs, indeed, this act of Naomi and Ruth appears a very objectionable one from a moral point of view, but it was not so when judged by the customs of the people of Israel at that time. Boaz, who was an honourable man, and, according to ch.3:10, no doubt somewhat advanced in years, praised Ruth for having taken refuge with him, and promised to fulfil her wishes when he had satisfied himself that the nearer redeemer would renounce his right and duty (ch.3:10,11). As he acknowledge by this very declaration, that under certain circumstances it would be his duty as redeemer to marry Ruth, he took no offence at the manner in which she had approached him and proposed to become his wife. On the contrary, he regarded it as a proof of feminine virtue and modesty, that she had not gone after young men, but offered herself as a wife to an old man like him..."

Blessings!
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I think Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz were all acting within the accepted cultural norms of their time and place. I don't think Boaz and Ruth had sex that night - that would definitely be reading into the text something that is not there. What they did, with the sleeping and the exposure of his feet, etc. - is exactly what a plain reading of the text says they did. The exposure of his feet was probably for the purpose of waking him up (due to the cool night air on his feet) so that he would take notice of her and begin to make the proper arrangements.

All of the painstakingly elaborate procedures that Boaz went through after that night (also part of their accepted cultural norms, which everybody recognized) show that Boaz was an honorable man. He would hardly have been that painstaking, it seems to me, if he were dishonorable, having "gotten what he wanted" the night before.

Besides, in the larger context of the book, God (as in the Book of Esther) is guiding this process - after all, Ruth is destined to be the ancestor not only of David, but of Jesus Christ, as well.

As has been said, the Bible nowhere condemns any of this. All the persons involved acted honorably. What the Bible gives us here is a lovely picture of God blessing three people while arranging the ancestral chronology of King David - and of the King greater than David.
 
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