Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Year: Ruth 1-3 for Mar 18

There was a difference between marriage with a daughter of Moab (Ruth 1:4) and the actions of playing the harlot in Numbers 25:1.

The Israelites were warned not to be syncretistic by Joshua (Josh 23:10-13). Therefore when Ruth 1:4 raises the eyebrows, 1:15-16 answers the implied question: just how is it that intermarriage of an Israelite with a daughter of Moab going to be handled? Naomi explains just how, in Ruth 2:20: "the man is near to us, he is one of our redeemers." Redemption binds closer than racial origin, when syncretism is out of the picture (1:16).

Yet it was not automatic. Whatever the stipulations were, from Dt 25:5, and from Lv 25:25, Boaz was not necessarily next in line, as 3:12 shows. Boaz knew from 2:6 onwards, just who Ruth was. Even though Naomi had an uncanny sense of what could happen, or tried to make it happen (3:4), that was no guarantee that it would.

Naomi's counsel and actions in 3:3-4 are reminiscent of the Patriarchal narrative, told with the same light touch of humor: here, "... then he will tell you what you shall do..." (3:4). Why does the text tell us that Boaz' heart was merry in 3:7?

It is to explain the success of the secrecy of Ruth, yes, but also to show the extreme honorableness of Boaz. His heart was merry, but when he woke up in the middle of the night, Boaz had the Lord in his mind (3:10). He was going to go by the book, after all.

No comments:


Blog Archive