The Book of Ruth
Boaz Figure Analysis
Boaz is our romantic lead. If this were a movie, he'd be played by Matthew McConaughey and there'd be a whole lot of shots of Boaz shirtless in a field of barley. Can Shmoop get in line for tickets to that right now?
Nice Guys Finish First
Boaz makes his first appearance in chapter 2 and there's some heavy foreshadowing going on. After we finish hearing the depressing story of Naomi and Ruth's loss, Boaz is introduced as both "a prominent rich man" and "a kinsman" (2:1). That's two really big points in his favor.
Lucky for our girl Ruth she just happens to stroll up to Boaz's field to start gleaning. He instantly notices her. Is it because she's not from around here? Or is Ruth just that much of a looker? Whatever the reason, Boaz makes it clear that he admires Ruth for her faithfulness to Naomi:
Boaz answered her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!" (2:11-12)
Sure, Ruth may have other assets, but Boaz is mainly charmed by her good deeds. This guy is a total keeper.
Paradise by the Threshing Floor
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Ruth has to snag him first. Since the whole harvest has gone by, and Boaz hasn't made a move, Naomi decides it's time to take matters into her own hands. Does Boaz know he is a kinsman redeemer? Or does he keep his distance because of the other unnamed kinsman who will show up in chapter 4? Or is he just really afraid of commitment? Guys are so confusing sometimes.
Whatever the reason, Boaz finds himself asleep on the threshing floor after a hard day's work. He's had a nice meal and dozed off. When he wakes up around midnight, there's a random girl at his feet. Yikes. But we get the feeling this was just the random girl he wanted to see. Wink, wink.
Instead of freaking out or treating Ruth like she was some husband-chasing harlot, Boaz acts like she is doing him a favor. He's again extols her virtues:
[Boaz] said, "May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter; this last instance of your loyalty is better than the first; you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not be afraid, I will do for you all that you ask, for all the assembly of my people know that you are a worthy woman." (3:10-11)
Wow. This guy really knows how to sweet-talk a girl.
Let's Make a Deal
Ah, but there's one last obstacle to all Boaz and Ruth's dreams coming true. Since Boaz is honest to a fault, he figures he has to tell the other kinsman about Ruth. Ugh. Why does he have to be so truthful all the time?
Still, you've gotta admire the way Boaz plays the whole thing incredibly cool. He assembles a group to witness the exchange and casually mentions that Naomi has some land she'd like to get rid of. He says:
"I thought I would tell you of it, and say: Buy it in the presence of those sitting here, and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not, tell me, so that I may know; for there is no one prior to you to redeem it, and I come after you." (4:4)
Yeah, land. The other kinsman will take it. Oh, there's just one other catch, Boaz tells him. See, you'll have to marry this widow and have a son with her in her dead husband's name. Boaz's clever, yet accurate, framing of this issue has the right effect. The other kinsman is scared off and Boaz is free to claim his bride. Mazel tov, guys.
The Ideal Husband
Hooray for happy endings. Except, there's just one more thing: does Boaz actually love Ruth?
The only time "love" is mentioned in the story is when the women in town praise Ruth's love for her mother-in-law (4:15). Boaz and Ruth never exchange any mushy words or Songs of Songs-style love poems. Maybe they need to ask themselves What Would Bella and Edward Do?
Oddly enough, even though they're not head over heels and gushing about each other, Boaz and Ruth seem to be really well matched. Both have awesome qualities and both honestly admire each other. Perhaps more than any other biblical couple, Boaz and Ruth seem like they will be genuinely happy together. Looks like these two are a match made in Heaven… or at least Bethlehem.
Along with Ruth, Boaz is remembered as the great-grandfather of King David. He gets named dropped a few more times throughout the Hebrew Bible and even finds his way into the genealogy of Jesus—both Matthew's and Luke's: "Son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz" (Luke 3:32).
All in a day's work for Boaz.