I must admit that for many years of Bible study, I breezed past the Book of Ruth without giving it the attention I devoted to the Prophets, Torah or the words of Yeshua. In taking a class on Hebrew Narrative, we studied the Book of Ruth. As we began seeing the plight of Naomi and her family through the deaths of her husband and sons, her daughters-in-law remain faithful to Naomi until she orders them to return to their homes and to their gods. Orpah submits and returns to her mother’s house. Ruth, however, remains with her and makes a binding covenant with Naomi that Naomi must honor. Upon return to the town of Bethlehem, Naomi is met by the women of the town and is enveloped back into her people although her bitterness about her life’s path is blatant. Ruth volunteers to go to the fields and glean from the crops being harvested. She then finds herself in the field of Boaz who later she finds out, is Naomi’s relative. Naomi hatches a plan that would allow for Ruth marry Boaz and for Naomi’s land to be redeemed. After a midnight meeting, Boaz agrees and they are soon married and Naomi has an heir who will eventually become the ancestor of King David and they lived happily ever after.
In the modern American and Western culture, the notion of the essence of a man is being choked out at an alarming rate. Young men and boys are being shown two extremes as far as their role as a man in their environment. On one hand, we have the Invincible Warrior who has a body born in strife and struggle that somehow molds itself into what we call physical perfection. On the other hand, we have the uber-sensitive, liberal, milk toast modern man who has never done a pushup or endured any type of struggle except the cold of the night while standing in front of Game Stop to buy the latest video game featuring the Invincible Warrior we already spoke of. So which of these two would we say would be the example of this generation of men? In our culture, we have conditioned ourselves and our media to focus on those things which grab the most attention. The biggest attention grabber is the extreme of any concept. In the case of men, it is the Alpha Male or the Omega Male which grab the attention. The average male has become marginalized as much as the average female by the images and standards being shown as perfection. Men do not realize that magazine covers and popular culture affect their views of themselves as much as it does for young ladies who starve themselves to reach the imagined standard of perfection.
Someone asked me recently who my favorite Bible character was and as I pondered the question, the typical answers men pick came; Joshua, David, Gideon. The commonality between these is the model warrior who sheds the blood of the enemies of YHVH. After this class that included the Book of Ruth, I considered that the warrior model comes with a steep price. In the example of King David, the blood he had shed cost him his ability to build the Temple (2 Samuel 7). The other aspect that the modern man forgets in the context of battle; men die. When Moses holds his staff above his head during the battle with Amalek, we seem to forget that when he dropped his hands, men died until he raised his arms again. So we see that being a warrior is incredibly costly to the individual and to the nation who loses their young men.
So what about Boaz? Boaz is described in this manner in Ruth 2, “Na‘omi had a relative on her husband’s side, a prominent and wealthy member of Elimelekh’s clan, whose name was Bo‘az.” (Ruth 2:1 CJB) Another translation reads, “And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth of the family of Elimelech, and his name was Boaz.” (Ruth 2:1 NKJV) I will submit that Boaz’s trait as being mighty is distinctive from his traits as wealthy. To continue on in the narrative, “…when Bo‘az arrived from Beit-Lechem. He said to the reapers, “Adonai be with you”; and they answered him, “Adonai bless you.” Boaz greets his servants in the name of YHVH and he obviously has the respect of his servant who returns the blessing. This is something significant considering that this is the time of the Judges when there really was no active religious system at work nor were the people of Israel as a whole obeying YHVH. Boaz is a man of peace and blessing. He immediately notices that he has gained another gleaner of wheat, ”Then Bo‘az asked his servant supervising the reapers, ‘Whose girl is this?’ The servant supervising the reapers answered, ‘She’s a girl from Mo’av who returned with Na‘omi from the plain of Mo’av.’’ (Ruth 2: 5-6 CJB) Boaz knows everything going on around him and the Fruit of the Spirit he displays to Ruth, a foreign widow, speaks excellently to his character.
She fell on her face, prostrating herself, and said to him, “Why are you showing me such favor? Why are you paying attention to me? After all, I’m only a foreigner.” Bo‘az answered her, “I’ve heard the whole story, everything you’ve done for your mother-in-law since your husband died, including how you left your father and mother and the land you were born in to come to a people about whom you knew nothing beforehand. May Adonai reward you for what you’ve done; may you be rewarded in full by Adonai the God of Isra’el, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” She said, “My lord, I hope I continue pleasing you. You have comforted and encouraged me, even though I’m not one of your servants.” Ruth 2: 10-13 CJB
As we can see his words and actions toward the “lowliest of the people” is an excellent model for men, both young and old. As we continue in the Book of Ruth, we see Ruth’s genuine yearning to restore her mother-in-law and Boaz’s utter submission to the Torah of YHVH.
So why Boaz? His demonstration of compassion and character are something that every man should strive to do. Men are built to be protectors and defenders but that does not always mean that has to happen in battle. Many men died to establish Israel as a nation but many more died because of their lack of submission to YHVH and because they lacked the courage to follow Him. Boaz is the example of one man performing his role in the manner YHVH established.
It is so easy for men in our culture to believe that they are measured by the body count they gained in battle. Every man in the Bible, warrior or not, who demonstrated courage in following YHVH was measured by his obedience to YHVH and His Word. Being willing to engage a person intent on destroying everything we as men care for is indeed a noble trait and every time I picture myself in that situation, I have the fantasy of standing over my enemy. Every man does. But what counts in the view of YHVH? Obedience to His Word, submission to His authority, and compassion on those whom He has placed in our circle of influence. YHVH be with you.
Cole Davis and Other Contributors