The Book Of Ruth
Addendum 5
"Innuendo"

 Israel and The Feast of Weeks
J. Deering, AncientPath.net


The Book of Ruth - Introduction - Contents

1.  General Introduction 8.  Addendum-1 Ruth VS Israel
2.  The Story: (Keil and Delitzsch) 9.   Addendum-2 The "Field of Boaz"
3.  The Story: (C. I. Scofield) 10.   Addendum-3 Israel and The Feast Of Weeks
4.  The Characters 11.  Addendum-4 Salmon the Rescuer_?
5.  The Full Outline with Text 12.  Addendum-5 Innuendo
6.  The Full Outline and Charts 13.  Addendum-6 The Cycles of Fellowship
7.  Book Text in Paragraph Form W/outline 14.  Addendum-7 Literary Structure in the Book of ruth - "a must read" - Reg Grant (Bibsac)

Notes on the propriety of Ruth and Boaz:

Commentaries and other writings are full of references to seeing the Book of Ruth as a story of inappropriate sexual conduct.

A plain reading of Ruth, coming to the book with no bias of immorality, reveals a tender, moral, and loving interpretation that has its basis in ancient Jewish traditions and rituals.

It should also be noted that the book of Ruth's inclusion into the Canon of Scripture is done so as a book that typifies God's intimate relationships with His people. Conservative scholars see the importance of the book as being credible evidence of David's right to the throne of Judah, and Israel. They place the writing of the book at about the time of David's ascension to that throne. The events of the book take place many years earlier. Many believe that its inclusion into the Canon was largely based upon the imagery of the parallels between the events of the book and their relationship to the historical events of the book of Judges where Israel falls away into idolatry and then returns to her God and they once again experience His love and fellowship.

Here are some of the statements from the book that have led to these profane interpretations that are based on perceived sexual innuendo.


The Issue of Drunkenness

Ruth 3:3 "Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking." And Ruth 3:7 "When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down."

There is nothing in the text that would imply over-indulgence of any kind. Take verse 7, if you separate the fact that Ruth came to him from the context of these two verses it could easily read "When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and he was content and lie down upon a heap of grain." Certainly there is nothing here to indicate any impropriety. Both the King James Version and the New American Standard versions use the word "merry," which has become an unfortunate translation in this day and age when this word has become tainted by association with drunkenness, but that is a recent usage of the word and did not carry that association when the translations were made. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance gives no indication that the word has any relationship with drunkenness and therefore neither should it be implied.

3190. yatab, yaw-tab'; a prim. root; to be (causat.) make well, lit. (sound, beautiful) or fig. (happy, successful, right):--be accepted, amend, use aright, benefit, be (make) better, seem best, make cheerful, be comely, + be content, diligent (-ly), dress, earnestly, find favour, give, be glad, do (be, make) good ([-ness]), be (make) merry, please (+ well), shew more [kindness], skillfully, X very small, surely, make sweet, thoroughly, tire, trim, very, be (can, deal, entreat, go, have) well [said, seen ].


The Timing of Her Presence

Ruth 3:3 "Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking." And Ruth 3:7 "When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down."

"But, do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking." This is a simple statement of intent. "Don't go until after dinner," would be an appropriate paraphrase nothing there to indicate impropriety.

"And she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down." Here we come in contact with the rituals involved in the request for the Levirate Marriage arrangement. This arrangement was implemented into the law by God, and written there by Moses, as a way for the family line, and property, to continue in the case of the death of a husband who is childless.  It is referred to as "The Brother-in-law law" (levirate, brother-in-law) that places an obligation to the brother-in-law of a woman who has lost her husband before having children (or loosing his children by death before his death) to take her as his wife and provide children through her. It should be noted that it is not the "right" of the woman but the "responsibility" of the brother-in-law. According to later usage the responsibility was placed not only on the brother-in-law but also other close male relatives.

Part of the ritual of the fulfillment of this law as the "presentation" of the woman "spotless," cleansed and properly clothed, as a supplicant at the feet of "the redeemer." It is a law about the man's responsibility to do the right thing by the law and by her.

Under Jewish tradition the right place for her to do this is at his uncovered feet (symbolic of her willingness to place herself under his authority (under his wing, or garment). She had to uncover his feet as a further way to show her desire to be in this position). On a personal note, there is no better way to waken a man from sleep, without speaking or touching him, than to make his feet cold.

This ritual was typically done in a more public setting, however both Naomi and Boaz know that he is not the closest male relative, but is the best choice for Ruth and her. He is rich, has much property, and has demonstrated that he cares for Ruth over the last three months of the harvest season. If Ruth goes to Boaz publicly and Boaz has to refuse her for any reason then he will suffer public embarrassment for under the law it is necessary that the refusing kinsman and his family suffer disgrace. This is why we find Ruth secretly approaching Boaz in this rite.


Uncovering His Feet

Some writers who see this situation as purely sexual see the phrase "Uncover his feet" as indicating that the "foot" is a euphemism for male genitalia, as it often is in our own culture (a man with big feet , or euphemistically "he has a really big foot.") In our current culture many men associate nearly everything with a sexual bent. However there is nothing in the text that would indicate that we should imagine that it is about sex or that it contains any sexual innuendo of any kind. The story does not take place in our culture or in these "modern" times. It takes place among a ritualistic people and is about the loving and moral actions that reflect God's REDEMPTION of Ruth, and by type, the Nation of Israel. If I told you that my 8 year old grandson had big feet I doubt if you would think that I am talking about anything other than his feet. Certainly if I told you that I went into his bedroom and uncovered his feet you would not come to the conclusion that I was doing anything but uncovering his feet. Then why should we come to that conclusion here?


According to Ellicott: "Uncover his feet. - More literally as the margin, lift up the clothes that are on his feet; so LXX and the Vulgate. We are told that the custom still prevails in Palestine of owners of crops sleeping on their threshing-floors, lying with their clothes on, but with their feet covered with a mantle. *1

According to Chabad.org (Judaism Site): "Of all the Jewish customs involving shoes, the most unusual and fascinating is that of the laws of halitzah. Going back to Deuteronomy (25:5-9), when a married man dies childless, leaving an unmarried brother, the brother is obligated to marry his widowed sister-in-law. The rationale for what was called a levirate marriage was to continue the name, the assets and the soul of the deceased brother through the subsequent marriage and children. Reference to this practice is also found in the Book of
Ruth 3:4 when Naomi instructs Ruth to go to the granary at night, lie next to Boaz and to uncover his feet.

The brother could also opt to release her to marry someone else. This is the ceremony of halitzah. The widow and her brother-in-law appear before a rabbinical court, a beth din, consisting of five members. The brother-in-law wears on his right foot what is known as the halitzah shoe. This special shoe is made from the skin of a kosher animal and consists of two pieces sown together with leather threads. It must not contain metal and is designed like a moccasin with long straps.

The widow declares that her brother-in-law refuses to marry her, and he confirms it as directed in Deuteronomy (25:7 and 9). She then places her left hand on his calf, undoes the laces with her right hand, removes the shoe from his foot, throws it to the ground, and spits on the ground in front of him.

The beth din then recites the formula releasing all obligations.

The shoe is a symbol of the transaction. This tradition is part of the color and romance of Jewish tradition and life."
*1


The Instruction: "He will tell you what to do"

Ruth was married to Naomi's oldest son Mahlon for several years. What could Naomi possibly mean "He will tell you what to do"? If this phrase is about sex why would Ruth need to be told what to do in such a direct manner as this. If, instead, this is about the ritual then Boaz would necessarily need to tell her what actions she must take to complete the ritual.


Spread You Covering Over Me

From Shofar.com: "In Ruth 3:9, Ruth found herself at the feet of Boaz, and as he awakened, he was moved with her vulnerability.  Women were not to do things of this nature in those days. In complete honesty and openness she said to him, "spread the corner (kanaph) of your garment over me for Thou art my kinsman redeemer" In the NKJ it says, "Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative."

"Ruth said, "Take me under your wing (kanaph)." Cover me, is a term of intimacy.  Boaz was an honorable man and did the honorable thing. They were married, and she became his bride.  Here she was a Moabite woman from a foreign country, grafted into the nation of Israel, like us.  Boaz and Ruth are listed in the genealogy of King David and therefore of Y'shua ben Yosef (Jesus son of Joseph).  She had the right to be covered by her spouse's Tallit.  This is a symbolic expression of marriage. (In some Mid Eastern cultures they cast a garment over one being claimed for marriage.)"

"In Ezk.16: 8 YHVH speaks to Jerusalem and likewise says, "so I spread my wing (kanaph) over you and covered your nakedness," and in Psalm 91 we are able to "abide under the shadow of the Almighty" and "under His wings (kanaph)."" *2

It needs to be pointed out here that Boaz (3:9) did not cover her with his garment (kanaph wing, tallit). Instead he explained why he could NOT declare her as his wife (by covering her in the ritual) at this time there was another who had the "right of first refusal" upon her request for Levirate marriage. He goes on to further state that if Redeemer #1 will not fulfill his duties as Kinsman-Redeemer with Ruth, then he, Boaz, certainly will.


Conclusion

In each of these verses we have seen the unbiased text and found that there is no reason to see sexual innuendo in them, but in fact there is much more to see in responsibility, morality, and deep concern for the reputations of both Boaz and Ruth towards each other as well as the fulfillment of the ritual of the Levirate Marriage law.


*1 Rozovsky, Lorne, Jews and Shoes, http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/407510/jewish/Jews-and-Shoes.htm

*2 Zangla, Dominick, (cited) http://www.shofars.org/tallit.htm, The Tallit (Prayer Shawl) 11/03/08 (website address no longer available 2012-02-22)


The Book of Ruth - Introduction - Contents

1.  General Introduction 8.  Addendum-1 Ruth VS Israel
2.  The Story: (Keil and Delitzsch) 9.   Addendum-2 The "Field of Boaz"
3.  The Story: (C. I. Scofield) 10.   Addendum-3 Israel and The Feast Of Weeks
4.  The Characters 11.  Addendum-4 Salmon the Rescuer_?
5.  The Full Outline with Text 12.  Addendum-5 Innuendo
6.  The Full Outline and Charts 13.  Addendum-6 The Cycles of Fellowship
7.  Book Text in Paragraph Form W/outline 14.  Addendum-7 Literary Structure in the Book of ruth - "a must read" - Reg Grant (Bibsac)

The Book of Ruth, Bible Study, J. Deering, AncientPath.net, study materials are a ministry of AncientPath.net, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them.  No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without the express permission of AncientPath.net. 2008 AncientPath.net, All rights reserved.


2012-11-20