It had been a long day of winnowing barley. I was well pleased with the harvest, well-fed, and had had my fill of wine from my vineyard. I drifted to sleep with thoughts of the woman I’d met in the fields. What a noble woman she was, and lovely. She had done such a kindness, a hesed, for my kinswoman. Rarely had I witnessed such faithfulness, and in a Moabite woman! I couldn’t help to think that she would certainly make as faithful a wife.
Deep in the night, I was awoken. During winnowing time, I sleep on the threshing room floor along with my servants. But this was not one of my servants. I was awoken by a sweet fragrance, something sweeter than the barley grain. Sleeping at my feet was a woman wrapped in my cloak. I sat up and touched her softly and whispered, “Who are you?”
My heart raced when the woman replied, “I am Ruth, your servant.”
Oh Ruth. My dear, sweet woman. She had come to me in my slumber to lay herself before my feet!
She continued on; her words as sweet as the honey I had supped on the evening before!
“Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
Yes, yes. I was a redeemer, being very closely related to her mother-in-law, Naomi, but I was not the closest. So I spoke words to honor her and let her know how I felt about her, and made also a proposition that was good and proper.
“May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.” Her eyes met mine for just a moment, but being a modest woman she bowed them quickly. “And now, my daughter,” I continued, “do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”
And this sweet woman nodded her consent and lay back down at my feet. And I, taken with love and compassion for her, could hardly sleep, for she had redeemed our dear Naomi. She, a Moabite, chose to live here in Bethlehem to care for an Israelite out of no legal obligation. She must truly be a good woman, a woman of God. And I prayed to the Lord until morning that my cousin, the closest possible redeemer, would pass her to me, if it be the Lord’s will.
Oh my sweet Ruth! Let it be that I would redeem you and your husband’s line. It is certain to be a noble one!