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Introduction: Lot and Boaz

In the ancient land of Canaan, two men, Ruth and Boaz, led vastly different lives. Their stories were destined to intertwine in unexpected ways, a testament to the mysterious workings of fate.

Ruth, a nephew of the righteous man Abraham, lived in the thriving city of Sodom, known for its opulence and wickedness. His choice to dwell among its sinful inhabitants was a decision that would challenge his morality and faith.

Boaz, on the other hand, was a man of honor and integrity, residing in Bethlehem, the city of bread. He was renowned not only for his wealth but also for his kindness and compassion toward the poor and needy.

How Ruth and Boaz Met

One fateful day, the heavens unleashed their fury upon the city of Sodom, raining down fire and brimstone as punishment for its depravity. Lot, guided by two angels sent by God, narrowly escaped the cataclysm with his daughters. They were the sole survivors of the once-prosperous city, a grim reminder of the consequences of sin.

Fleeing the ruins of Sodom, Lot and his daughters embarked on a perilous journey through the wilderness, eventually seeking refuge in the hills. Their provisions dwindled, and desperation loomed.

It was there, in the solitude of the wilderness, that Lot’s daughters hatched a desperate plan to preserve their family line. Believing themselves to be the last humans on Earth, they each took turns intoxicating their father and conceiving children with him.

Meanwhile, in the fertile fields of Bethlehem, Boaz tended to his crops and extended his generosity to those in need. He knew nothing of Ruth’s tribulations, nor did he suspect the strange twist of fate that would soon bring their paths together.

Boaz’s compassion for Lot

One day, as the barley harvest was in full swing, Ruth, a destitute Moabite widow, arrived in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi’s late husband, welcomed them to his fields. Struck by Ruth’s grace and her unwavering devotion to Naomi, Boaz offered her protection and kindness.

Ruth, gleaning barley in Boaz’s fields, soon caught the eye of this righteous man. Her dedication and humility left a profound impression on him, and he inquired about her background. Learning of her Moabite heritage and her loyalty to Naomi, Boaz admired her even more.

As the harvest season unfolded, Boaz and Ruth’s encounters grew more frequent. They shared stories, dreams, and laughter amidst the golden fields. Boaz’s heart warmed to Ruth, and he felt an inexplicable connection as if destiny itself had brought her to him.

One evening, during the harvest festivities, Boaz invited Ruth to join the celebration. They sat together under the starlit sky, sharing stories of their pasts and their hopes for the future. There, in the embrace of a newfound friendship, they discovered a deep and abiding love.

Boaz’s compassionate nature extended to Ruth and Naomi, ensuring they had enough grain to sustain them through the harsh winter. As the days passed, their affection blossomed into a profound love that transcended all boundaries.

Their union brought forth a child, a son named Obed, who would become the grandfather of King David, one of Israel’s greatest rulers. The story of Ruth and Boaz, a tale of love, redemption, and the providence of God, would forever be etched into the annals of history.

Lot’s life had taken a divergent path, one marked by tragedy and moral quandaries. Meanwhile, Boaz’s unwavering faith and compassionate heart had led him to Ruth, forging a love story that would shape the destiny of an entire nation. In the end, their lives converged in unexpected ways, illustrating that even in the face of adversity, love and righteousness prevail.

The Lot and Boaz’s Fateful Bay

In the middle of a barley threshing field, as the raw, unthreshed barley is scattered around, the night air carries the soothing scent of barley. Among the stubble, a man is laboring to create a makeshift bed, covering it with a quilt to protect it from potential thieves.

Out of the darkness, a woman approaches stealthily. She has just bathed and anointed herself, and the fragrance of perfumed oil envelops her. The man is deep in slumber, oblivious to her approach. Having enjoyed a hearty dinner with the threshing crew and imbibed wine, his snores reverberate in the night.

With gentle hands, she lifts the blanket covering the man’s toes and eases herself in beside him. They lie down side by side, and he remains blissfully unaware. It has been a long time since she has rested beside him, inhaling his unique scent, and occasionally, a sigh escapes her lips as she listens to the rhythm of his heartbeat.

The stars twinkle brightly in the early spring night sky. A moment of uncertainty washes over the woman as she contemplates her daring act. She ponders the audacity of sneaking up on a stranger, lying down beside him, and envisions his reaction when he awakens.

In the darkness, a blush colors her cheeks as memories flood her mind—memories of lying in the arms of her late husband from years ago.

Her name is Ruth, a name believed to signify restoration. True to her name, she played a pivotal role in restoring a family that had experienced a series of tragic setbacks.

During the time when Israel was ruled by judges, a severe famine gripped the land. Elimelech, a man from Bethlehem, chose to escape the famine by relocating with his wife Naomi and their two sons to the foreign land of Moab.

Tragedy struck as Elimelech passed away in Moab, leaving his two sons, Marlon and Giron, who each married. Ruth became the wife of Malon, while Orpah married Giron. Sadly, both sons met untimely deaths in foreign lands, leaving behind three grieving widows.

Naomi believed that their misfortune was a result of their departure from the land of God’s people to dwell in Moab. However, a glimmer of hope emerged as news reached them that the years of famine in Israel had ended, replaced by bountiful harvests. Naomi, now a widow herself, decided to return to her homeland, and she encouraged her daughters-in-law to seek new husbands and futures.

Orpah tearfully bid farewell and returned to her homeland, but Ruth chose to remain steadfastly by her mother-in-law’s side. Together, they embarked on the journey back to Bethlehem in Judah, Israel.

Bethlehem, meaning “house of bread,” was renowned for its barley and wheat farming, as suggested by its name, which combines “Beth” (house) and “Rehem” (bread).

Arriving in Bethlehem during the barley harvest, Ruth and Naomi found themselves in a foreign land, having no resources to farm the land of Elimelech. Instead, they had to glean ears of barley from the fields of others to sustain themselves.

This practice of allowing the poor to gather from the fields of others is codified in the laws of holiness found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. These laws emphasize that when harvesting, a portion of the crops should be left for the poor and the stranger.

Ruth ventured into the fields of Boaz, a close relative of her late husband and father-in-law, to gather barley ears to provide for her mother-in-law. Boaz, recognizing Ruth’s connection to his family, ensured that she could collect an abundant supply of barley.

Ruth and Boaz sleeping together

Upon learning of Ruth’s visit to Boaz’s fields and his kind treatment of her, Naomi hatched a plan to unite Ruth and Boaz.

In Israel, there existed a system called “goel,” where members of the same kinship had a duty to protect one another. An example of this duty was when a childless, widowed brother would marry his sister-in-law to ensure the family’s lineage continued.

Naomi identified Boaz as the potential “goel” who could marry Ruth and perpetuate their family line. She offered guidance to Ruth on how to approach Boaz.

Following Naomi’s instructions, Ruth approached Boaz while he was sleeping on the threshing floor and laid down beside him.

Boaz stirred in his sleep, and as he turned, he felt someone beside him, prompting him to open his eyes in surprise.

“Who is it?”

For a brief moment, Boaz wondered if a woman of the night had ventured into the threshing floor to seduce him, and he began to rise. However, Ruth, composed and fearless, responded calmly.

“I am your servant Ruth. Spread your covering over your servant, for you are a close relative.”

“Why should I spread my covering over you?”

“You are a close relative, a redeemer of our family. You have a duty to protect me.”

While Boaz was intrigued by Ruth, he hesitated to take the initiative because there was a relative closer to him in kinship. Boaz informed Ruth of this situation and assured her that he would take action if the close relative declined to fulfill his obligation.

Ruth expressed her gratitude, and as she prepared to leave the threshing floor, Boaz urged her to stay until dawn, as it was not safe to depart in the middle of the night. He instructed her to leave discreetly at daybreak to avoid recognition.

Boaz then covered Ruth with the quilt, drawing one end over her as if it were the hem of his own garment. They lay side by side until morning, sheltered by the same blanket.

Although their relationship may not have been romantic, the idea of a mature man and woman spending the night under the same bedclothes filled the air with both trepidation and excitement, surpassing the allure of a physical relationship. Perhaps the rhythm of their hearts beating in unison kept them awake until dawn. It was a tenderness and intimacy beyond the physical.

It is for these reasons that the German writer Goethe described the book of Ruth as “the loveliest and most perfect work” in the world.

From the union of Boaz and Ruth, Jesse was born, and from Jesse came David, reshaping the history of Israel beneath that quilt on the threshing floor. The term “in the quilt” here carries a deeper significance than its common interpretation.

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