Out of Our Poverty
Good morning, everyone! Let’s talk about sex.
Perhaps not what you were expecting to hear from me right off the bat in the pulpit.
Well, we’re beginning with our story from Ruth, and you need a little cultural context to get the full meaning of this story.
Ruth has followed her mother-in-law Naomi to Israel after the death of Ruth’s husband, and they’ve been living from pillar to post.
They have no source of income. They cannot open a small business or draw social security.
They subsist on the gleanings from the field, which are the little bits of grain leftover from the harvest that get left behind.
They are literally living on scraps.
It’s not a sustainable situation, and they know that.
So Naomi says to Ruth: “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.”
This is a euphemism. In this culture, to uncover a man’s feet while he was sleeping was to make yourself available for sex.
This is not the proper way of doing things, in case you haven’t noticed.
This was not an aboveboard courtship with polite chaperoned dates.
Naomi told Ruth to go to Boaz after Boaz had been drinking and make herself sexually available to him.
And she did it!
Ruth said to Naomi, “All that you tell me I will do.”
Ruth is taking an enormous risk. Continue reading