Who says the stories in the Bible are boring? In today’s reading, we find Naomi working on a strategy to convince Ruth to propose to Boaz. You might remember from the reading two days ago that because of the loss of her husband and sons, she had become no-one in the eyes of her culture. (Missed that reading? Listen to it here. And be sure to also catch Chapter 2 of the story here.)
In the process of grief, Naomi discovers God’s loving-kindness, his hesed. Discovering God’s hesed, author Carolyn Custis James points out in Finding God in the Margins, “frees [Naomi] from being self-absorbed in grief to focus now on Ruth.” This quest is neither with the hope of having a grandson nor to help bachelor Boaz finally find a wife. Instead, it was a cry for mercy.
There are some Jewish laws that come to play in today’s chapter. The first is the kinsman-redeemer law which requires the nearest relative to buy a man’s land should he be forced to sell. And the second is the levirate law, which requires that when a man dies without an heir, his brother has to marry the widow.
Odd laws, and like I said yesterday, I’m thankful I didn’t live at the time of Ruth and Naomi. And typically, these laws are unrelated. One dealt with property, the other with progeny. By proposing to Boaz, Ruth combines and thus expands these laws.
What would the result be? Listen first, then come back tomorrow to discover how Boaz responds to Ruth’s advance.