Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi is about to be rewarded. Naomi’s heart is also going to be renewed again in her old age. God smiles down on these two widows and changes their stories.
Ruth and Naomi’s story has been one of sorrow, brokenness, and calamity. But it has also been a story of love and devotion. The love and devotion overshadows all the sadness. Now it is time for the undercurrent to be removed for both of them.
♥ ♦ ♥
Ruth and Naomi are dressed in their Sabbath best for their dinner with Boaz. They had to hurry in their preparations a little because they wanted to finish the baking they were in the middle of when news arrived. It is not long after they have put the finishing touch of Naomi’s special anointing oil that a knock is heard at the door.
Naomi goes to open it. A young servant girl stands on the other side. She bows respectfully to Naomi before asking if the women are ready to leave. Boaz’s manager waits in the street with an ox drawn cart that will carry the two women to his master’s house.
Naomi turns to Ruth who is waiting a few steps away. “Are you ready my daughter?”
“I am indeed mother” she says with a smile and trembling hands. In those trembling hands she holds a gift for Boaz.
“If you will follow me please, my master has arranged a comfortable ride for your journey.” The servant girl leads Ruth and Naomi to the waiting cart. She puts a step down for them to use while climbing aboard.
Ruth laughs as she takes the hand of the servant girl before stepping onto the step. “I feel like royalty!”
The servant girl smiles in return. As soon as both women are seated on the cart the servant girl puts the step on behind them and hurries to a place on the rear of the cart. Boaz’ manager leads the ox and cart through the city and out the other side. Boaz’s home lies beyond the city near his fields. Ruth knows the way to his fields well as she has walked these roads nearly every day for more than a month but she has never been to Boaz’s home itself.
The small procession pulls up to Boaz’s house and he is on the steps to greet them. The servant girl quickly jumps down from the cart and positions the step for the women and then helps them down.
“I am pleased to see you have arrived safely” Boaz begins. “We have much to speak of this night. Please join me at my table where I have prepared a large repast for us.”
Ruth smiles and bows slightly. She also fingers the edge of her headscarf. Naomi speaks for the both of them at this point as it appears Ruth is tongue tied. “We welcome your hospitality and the beautiful gifts you sent. May we present one in return?” Naomi motions for Ruth to hold out the parcel they have brought.
Boaz reaches forward to receive the parcel from Ruth. “Do I have leave to open it now?”
“Yes please” Ruth finally says. Their eyes had locked for a moment before she broke the spell by looking away. She does not want to appear too forward.
Boaz smiles at Ruth’s shyness and carefully unwraps her gift. It is a cake that carries the most tantalizing aroma. “This is a wonderful surprise. I will see to it that it has a place of honor on our table tonight. Please come in.” Boaz gestures for them to enter his home with him.
As soon as they enter a servant appears with a basin of water and a towel to wash their feet. Naomi and Ruth’s feet are not dusty from walking but they will partake in this offer of hospitality and honor. While the women are having their feet washed Boaz hands the cake to another of his servants. “Please put this in a place of honor on the table.”
Foot washing and greetings completed Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz move to the dining area. The table is set and ready for them. It is beautifully done and filled with the finest of foods. Ruth and Naomi have not seen a table so fine in all their time together. “I know it is not tradition for the men to eat with the women but tonight is special and our discussion involves us all. Please join me at table tonight” Boaz encourages.
Ruth looks to Naomi as her guide in this situation. Naomi bows her head and allows Boaz to seat her. Boaz then turns to Ruth and gestures for her to be seated beside Naomi. He then sits at the head of the table. “Shall we eat first? Then we can discuss a most important matter. One that will change all of our lives for the better!”
Conversation is light around the dinner table. The food is the main topic discussed. Ruth’s favorite comment during the meal was Boaz’s praise of the cake she and Naomi brought. “I have never tasted anything so good! This must be what mana from Heaven tasted like in the wilderness.” Ruth blushes at Boaz’s praise.
“This is a special recipe that Ruth brought with her from her people in Moab. We carried a few of the spices back with us and were saving them for a special occasion.”
“Well, then this is a doubly special occasion then. If your hunger is satisfied we can move onto the second part of this special occasion.”
Ruth has found it difficult to eat this evening because of knot of excitement in her stomach. Yet she did manage to eat enough to not offend their host. “I am most satisfied my lord” she offers.
“I too am most satisfied. It was a wonderful feast my lord” replies Naomi. She too is anxious to hear the news of the ‘special occasion’ on Boaz’s part.
Boaz helps Naomi and then Ruth up from the table and they move over by the fire. Once everyone is seated Boaz begins his tale.
“I went into the city after we parted company and waited for the other redeemer I spoke of to visit there. I knew he would be coming at some point so I determined to wait, no matter how long it took. He arrived and I brought the matter before him and ten witnesses. He told me that he was unable to serve as kinsman redeemer. Before the witnesses present I confirmed my right as kinsmen redeemer instead.”
Ruth and Naomi had been holding hands waiting as Boaz told his story. The look at one another with excitement as Boaz finished his tale.
Boaz turns first to Naomi. “I would like to purchase Elimelech’s inheritance from you as kinsmen redeemer. Are you willing to sell it to me?”
“I would be honored to accept your offer.”
Boaz then turns to Ruth. “I would like to offer my protection as husband for you and to raise up a son in the name of Elimelech and Mahlon. Ruth, would you accept me as husband?”
Ruth’s eyes are filled with tears of joy as she gives Boaz her answer. “I too would be honored to accept your offer.”
Boaz signals his servant to bring out the special wine. “I was saving this for the day I would take a wife. This is a special vintage that came from the first harvest of my vineyard. Please join me in saluting the blessings the Lord has brought to my home this day.”
Talk began as to the logistics of the wedding. It is decided that the wedding will happen at the new moon in three months. This will give travel time for any of Ruth’s family who want to attend. Boaz will see to it that the city hears of it and that all the family in notified for attendance. He also promises to send word with the next caravan back to Moab to Ruth’s people. This will also give Boaz time to finish the wheat harvest and threshing for both grains.
“May I continue to glean in the fields for the rest of the harvest” Ruth asks.
“Harvest is nearing its end. If you so desire to see it through to its conclusion then, yes. But if you are gleaning only to ensure you have enough to eat, I will provide for all of your needs; both yours and Naomi’s. As kinsmen redeemer this is my right and duty as well as my pleasure.”
With a shy smile on her lips Ruth dips her head. “I’m most grateful my lord. I will talk over the matter with my mother, Naomi, as abide by her wisdom.” At this point the women prepare to take their leave. It is late and their minds are full of tasks they will need to address in the upcoming months.
Boaz calls his servant to fetch the manager and cart to take Ruth and Naomi home. Soon they are ensconced in the cart and on their way home. Though the night has become cold Naomi and Ruth are both warmed with the joy of the evening.
That night while preparing her hair for bed Ruth stops short. “How will I care for Naomi when I am Boaz’s wife? Surely I will be living in his home. What of Naomi?! I cannot leave her!” Ruth is torn. “Naomi was caring for me when she sent me to the threshing floor. She knew this would probably mean I would be marrying Boaz. Was she even thinking of her own future? Can I even break the engagement without consequences if Boaz doesn’t accept Naomi?”
All these thoughts and fears are running through her head when she finally remembers Boaz’s words to her; “I will provide for all of your needs; both yours and Naomi’s.” She must speak with him regarding the “need” for the two of them to remain together. Her vow to Naomi requires it as much as her heart does.
When the chickens rise this morning Ruth is already awake. She is thinking about how to present her request to Boaz. “Not even a full day betrothed and already making demands” she chides herself. But this is an important issue that she must address before wedding plans get too far along. Maybe Boaz will decide not to marry her under the circumstances. She must go to him before he has a chance to spread the word in town. She does not want to ruin his reputation, or her own.
Naomi wakes as Ruth prepares to leave the house this morning. “Are you still going to the fields today? Even after Boaz’s words?”
“I am mother. I want at least one more day so I can say good-bye to the friends I made there. There are not many days left of working the fields. I will make a decision this evening as to the remaining days of the harvest.” Ruth doesn’t want to tell Naomi about her intended conversation with Boaz because she believes Naomi would put Ruth’s needs above her own. She would insist Ruth accept Boaz’s offer regardless of her being left alone in this home. Ruth can’t let that happen.
Ruth is the first one to the field this morning. As soon as she spots Boaz’s manager she approaches him. “I need to speak with your master on a matter of utmost importance. Will he be coming straight away here this morning or going elsewhere first?”
“He has informed me that he would be here at the midday meal but had business to attend to in town first” replies the manager with a knowing smile. “I believe that business has something to do with last night’s visitors.”
Ruth hands are trembling. To stop them she firmly clasps them together. “I must go and speak with him before he goes into the city. The matter is urgent. I will return later to my work in the field.”
“As you wish my lady. You will need to hurry if you hope to catch him before he reaches the city.”
Ruth picks up the hem of her skirts to allow herself to walk quicker. She hurries to the gates of Bethlehem nearest to where Boaz’s home lies. She scans the road both before and behind her in hopes of catching a glimpse of Boaz and stopping him before he reaches the gates.
Just before reaching the gate she scans the road behind her once again and sees Boaz making his way towards where she is. Ruth breaths a huge sigh of relief at the knowledge that she has intercepted him before he could reach the city. She turns and walks back in his direction.
Boaz spotted Ruth just before she saw him. He wonders at her hurried walk. “Has something bad happened? Is Naomi all right?” These thoughts flash through his mind as he watches her determined movements. Once she turns towards him Boaz can sees what he believes to be fear on her face. He is ready to run to her until her features settle themselves as she approaches.
As soon as Ruth reaches Boaz she is ready to present her need. “My lord Boaz, I have an urgent matter I need to address with you before you reach the city.”
Boaz frowns in confusion. “Speak my daughter, your servant is listening.”
“You know of my story in coming to Bethlehem with my mother-in-law Naomi…”
Boaz nods while Ruth continues.
“…Upon leaving Moab I made a vow to her that nothing but death would separate us. He land would be my land, her people my people, her God my God, and her home my home. I will not leave her side. She is old and in need of my care. If you require me to separate from her then our marriage needs to be postponed until she rests with Elimelech.”
Boaz smiles as he hears Ruth’s concerns. “Ruth, you are a most worthy woman. I have heard of your vow and I would NEVER ask you to break it. There will be a place made for Naomi in our home. She will be with you then as surely as she is now. I had planned on seeking out a builder this very day who would be able to construct an addition to my home that would fit all Naomi’s needs.”
Ruth is overcome with joy and gratitude. She falls to her knees before Boaz. With tears streaming down her face she shares her heart with Boaz. “The Lord has surely blessed me beyond all that I could ask or think when He sent me you. I pray I am a worthy wife and a mother of many sons to you.”
Boaz bends down, takes Ruth by the hand and raises her up. “I am blessed by the Lord also to have such a worthy wife. Be at ease my wife for all is well. The Lord has seen your struggles and your love for your mother-in-law and has rewarded you accordingly.”
“Thank you my lord. I will return to the fields and glean today, if this is still permissible.”
“It is permissible but not necessary. I have seen how hard you work and wish to grant you rest.”
“I will rest my lord. I want to glean at least today to be able to wish the friends I have made there well. I would also be willing to glean until the end of the harvest as it is only a matter of days away. But I will do as you feel befits your future bride.”
Boaz throws his head back in laughter. “I believe my future bride is befitting in all her actions. Nothing you do dishonors me. I leave the decision in your hands. Only, if you do glean, let it be for fewer hours as I see the tiredness in your eyes even if you do not; even as you try to hide it from those who care for you.”
Ruth bows her head. “It will be as your request my lord. May I have your leave?”
“You may” replies Boaz. He watches as she turns and walks back towards the fields. Once she is beyond his sight he continues his journey into the city. There is much to do if he is to have a home suitable for both Ruth and Naomi before their wedding day.
Ruth returned to the fields but for fewer hours as Boaz had requested. It had helped the time pass quicker. Now she and Naomi work on her wedding veil. Ruth wants it to be perfect for Boaz. He eagerly supplied the materials for its creation and spends his nights dreaming of what it will look like on his new bride. Ruth of course is dreaming these same dreams as she works the beads and weaves the lace covering.
Boaz commissioned construction on a place for Naomi soon after leaving Ruth’s company that morning. Naomi’s room will be spacious enough to accommodate a seating area around a fireplace and a separate sleeping area. She will have no need of a kitchen as Boaz is certain she will want to share the one Ruth will preside over. He looks forward to tasting the meals prepared by the two of them. Boaz’s wealth affords him the ability to keep servants and these are those who have been preparing his meals for some time. He wonders if Ruth and Naomi will choose to continue their use or if they will claim the kitchen for themselves. He will be more than pleased to leave the running of the household to someone else!
The day of the wedding finally arrives. To Ruth, it feels like it has been forever in arriving while at the same time she is surprised by its speed. She will spend the day in preparing herself for her husband. She will bathe, perfume herself, wash and braid her hair with jewels, and don her wedding apparel. She will then wait for Boaz’s knock. Naomi will be assisting her with her hair and wedding veil; and of course the waiting. A few of Ruth’s relatives have come to honor her wedding and they will accompany her as she makes her way to the home of Boaz.
As soon as the sun has left the sky Boaz begins the processional. He knows it is customary to wait until fully dark but he is too excited to wait any longer. The groom’s relatives for the procession fall in behind him. It is not a long walk from his home to that of Ruth and Naomi. It will take them through the heart of Bethlehem as they live on opposite sides of the city. They are sure to pick up wedding guests along the way as this marriage has become the talk of the town. Boaz is pleased to host as many as choose to attend. He wants all to see and know of the worthy woman the Lord has chosen for him.
Naomi watches out the window and spots the torches in the distance. Within minutes songs can be heard as they are carried on the air towards the waiting party. Naomi adjusts Ruth’s veil one last time then takes her by the hand. They will exit the home together.
Ruth and Naomi wait until the grooms party arrives at the gate. Boaz’s voice booms forth; “I have come to collect my bride. Please bring her to me that we may be wed.”
One of Ruth’s cousins opens the door for her and Naomi. Naomi replies to Boaz’s words. “Your bride is here. She awaits your command.” Naomi then leads Ruth from the home and places her hand in Boaz’s.
“Accompany us to the bridal chamber my friends and family. Bear witness to our marriage and bless us with your company.”
Together Boaz and Ruth lead the processional back to the home of Boaz. There is a feast and a priest waiting in preparation. Ruth’s veil is thick and difficult to see through so she leans into Boaz and trust him to guide her safely to her new home. Underneath that veil is a smile that shins bright enough to almost pierce the veil itself.
The wedding was beautiful! The ceremony was more elaborate than when Ruth married Mahlon. There was no family in attendance that day as they were far from the family’s home. The ceremony itself followed the letter of the law for Israelites but it lacked the splendor of the heart of the law. Today Ruth truly felt honored by the Lord and that He was honored in their ceremonies.
Boaz and Ruth retire to the bridal tent where they will remain for seven days. The feast will continue on in their absence the rest of the night. Naomi has requested that the couple wait to move her belongings into their home until after they have enjoyed each other’s company for the full bridal period. She does NOT want to take anything away from this special time for Ruth.
Two days after emerging from the bridal tent Boaz goes with his bride to the home she shared with Naomi. Even though Naomi didn’t want to move in her belongings until this time, Boaz had coaxed her to occupy her new residence during their bridal week so Ruth would rest easy knowing that she was cared for in her absence. Today, Boaz, Ruth and Naomi are picking up Ruth and Naomi’s belongings and leaving this house for the last time. Boaz has brought the ox cart to carry all that remains.
Three more weeks go by since the emergence of Boaz and Ruth from their bridal tent. Ruth hasn’t been feeling well the last few mornings. Naomi is suspicious but says nothing for now. She should know soon whether there is something exciting to share.
Ruth has also been suspicious and she believes she has been hiding it well. It has been a full week now since her time of the woman has been delayed. Could she be with child so soon? She had spent more than a year with Mahlon and not become with child. He died before they could conceive a child so she has nothing to gage this experience against.
Another week passes before she goes to Naomi with her concerns. “Mother, it has been two weeks now since my time should have come. I am also tender of breast and ill in the mornings.”
“I believe you are with child my daughter! I had suspected this for a while now but waited for your confirmation.”
Both women are overjoyed. Ruth is worried about sharing her suspicions with Boaz until she is certain. “I will give it one more month to be certain” she tells Naomi. “I do not want to raise his hopes falsely.”
Before that month is out Boaz has suspicions of his own but he waits for Ruth to bring the matter up. Boaz came in from the fields where plowing had begun for the grains. Ruth met him with water for washing and a shy smile on her face. “Good evening husband. Was your day productive?”
“Indeed it was. We have nearly half the first field planted. We should finish by weeks end at this pace.” Boaz wonders if she is really interested in the planting as her eyes are hooded. “Was there something special you wanted of me my wife? You have a far-away look in your eyes this evening.”
“I was just wondering which of us our child will favor. I think I…”
“…would like him to have your nose and…”
“Are you with child?!”
“…my eyes.” Ruth then nods her head in response to Boaz’s question. “Yes husband. The Lord has blessed us.”
“When is the child due to make his appearance? Do you think it will be a boy?”
“To your first question, I believe he was conceived during our wedding week. For your second, only the Lord and time can answer it for certain but I feel strongly that it is a boy. One to fulfill your role as kinsmen redeemer. A son for Naomi.”
“Have you told this to Naomi yet? Of course you have” he laughs. “You two share everything!”
“I have not shared the certainty of it or my feelings regarding it being a son. I wanted to share those first with my husband. We can tell her together now if you would like.”
Together they find Naomi and share the news. “I will bake a special cake for this occasion. We will celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness to you.”
It is not long before a bulge appears in Ruth’s robe. She is overjoyed the first time she feels her child move within her womb. A while longer and Boaz feels the kick of his child. Soon the midwife is meeting with her discussing what to expect from the baby’s birth. Time seems to be flying by, yet dragging on endlessly as Ruth anticipates seeing the face of her child for the first time. He constant prayer is for the health of her child and for him, or her, to live a life pleasing to the Lord.
The day finally arrives when Ruth’s wait ends. She is weary of being with child but still dreading the actual birth process. She has heard many stories, both good and bad of the experience. EVERYONE seems to have a story they want to share.
Ruth first notices her pains in the morning as she gathers eggs from the chickens. They are a little annoying but not too strong. She has felt such pains off and on for several weeks so she thinks nothing of them. As her day progresses so does the intensity of her pains. By early afternoon Ruth is certain that her time is upon her. Naomi has been keeping watch with her all day while trying not to be too obvious. She wants to let Ruth lead in this time.
“Mother, I believe it is time to send for the midwife. I believe this child wants to make an appearance today!”
Naomi summons one of the servants. “Please fetch the midwife and then go to the threshing floor and let the master know. Tell him there is no need to rush home as this will probably take a while.”
The servant leaves immediately and the midwife is in attendance of Ruth within the hour. Boaz also comes in from the threshing floor to check on Ruth personally. Naomi assures him that she is doing fine and shoos him back to his work. “This will take a while and it is woman’s work. I will send for you as soon as the babe is near. Working will keep your mind occupied while you wait.”
Boaz hesitates a minute longer then turns to leave. His heart voices a prayer as he leaves. “Oh Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, please watch over my wife and child.” He returns to the threshing floor where he pours his restless energies into dislodging the stubborn hulls from the barley.
By evening he is exhausted. Between work and worry he has spent all he has on the threshing floor. As the manager and Boaz begin to clean the floor in readiness for tomorrow’s work a servant bursts into the light.
“The lady Naomi sent me my lord. She says it is time for the babe’s appearance!”
Boaz throws his rake to the side and rushes back to his home. He runs the whole way and is out of breath by the time he arrives. His sandals skid to a stop as he approaches the door so as to open it instead of barreling straight through it in his haste. As he reaches for the latch he hears the cry of his wife followed seconds later by the cry of his babe.
Boaz bursts through the front door in excitement. He finds the servants are all gathered near the door to the bed chamber. None are allowed in the room with Ruth save Naomi, the midwife and her assistant. The servants keep him in good company and high spirits while they await word from inside.
FINALLY, after what feels like DAYS but was in reality only minutes, Naomi appears at the door. She looks through the servants and locks eyes with Boaz. “You have a son” she says in an almost reverent voice.
Tears spring to Boaz’s eyes at this news. “What of my wife? Is she well?”
“She is indeed well. Let the midwife finish attending to her and then you may go in to be with her and the child.”
The waiting is excruciating but Boaz nods in agreement. While he waits one of the servants fetch him water for washing. He does not want to bring the dust from the threshing floor into the room with him. He knows that care is needed around young children as many of them do not make it past their second year. He vows his child will not be one of these sad stories.
Soon Ruth is ready to receive her husband. She reclines in bed with Naomi sitting beside her holding the babe on her lap. All of Bethlehem had been holding its breath for Naomi as this child would be the one that would carry her family’s name. Boaz and Ruth are the child’s parents but his care will rest with Naomi as he will be counted as her son. Neither Boaz nor Ruth begrudges her this place in the child’s life. Together, they will provide this child with all the love he needs throughout his life.
As the child’s “mother” Naomi has the right to choose his name and present him in the temple for his circumcision. The women of the neighborhood helped her choose the name Obed for the child. As she carries the child, along with Boaz and Ruth to the temple the women in the streets begin a song of praise directed at Naomi and family. “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him” (verse 14). Ruth blushes as she hears the praise of the women for her. For Naomi, her heart joins theirs in praise to the Lord for His remembrance of her struggle. Obed will surely bring joy back into Naomi’s heart. “Mara no longer. Naomi once again in truth” thinks Ruth.
Boaz and Ruth would enjoy several more births during their lives as husband and wife. Naomi would serve as Obed’s mother/nurse until he reached the age of eight at which time Naomi would join Elimelech in death. Obed would never forget Naomi and the special place he held among his brothers and sisters. He would proudly carry on the line of Elimelech while also tracing his birth to Boaz and Ruth.
♥ ♦ ♥
Father God, thank You for letting me tell Ruth’s story. There is so much more that could have been put in but my intent wasn’t to write a book. Only little glimpses into the lives of these special people whom You chose as part of Your Son’s heritage. I pray I did them justice and told a truthful story.