Ruth 3:7—Doesn’t this verse imply that Ruth had intercourse with Boaz after he was drunk in order to obligate him to redeem her?
Problem: After Boaz had eaten and drunk, he went to lie down. After he lay down, Ruth came up softly, uncovered Boaz’s feet, and lay with him. Doesn’t this imply that Ruth had intercourse with Boaz to obligate him to redeem her?
Solution: No! There is nothing in the text of Ruth that indicates any moral impropriety on the part of either Boaz or Ruth. First, Ruth did not come at night to hide an immoral relationship with Boaz. Rather, she came in the night so that Boaz would not feel the pressure of public scrutiny. Boaz would have the opportunity to decline the proposal to redeem Naomi and marry Ruth without facing any public embarrassment.
Second, the uncovering of the feet is not a euphemism indicating that Ruth had intercourse with Boaz. Rather, it is a literal description of a customary practice to demonstrate subjection and submission. Ruth merely pulled back the covering from over the feet of Boaz as a symbol of her submission to Boaz and willingness to become his wife.
Third, the passage states that after uncovering the feet of Boaz, Ruth lay down (v. 7). However, this is not the normal way to indicate sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is usually indicated by the phrase, “he lay with her.” Without the accompanying indication of laying “with” someone, the word normally indicates merely that someone reclines.
Fourth, it was also a symbolic act for Boaz to spread the corner of his garment over Ruth. This refers to the practice of a man spreading a covering over his wife as well as himself. Ruth reminds Boaz of his responsibility according to the law of levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5–10). The word translated “wing” in the nkjv recalls the earlier blessing which Boaz pronounced upon Ruth at their first encounter (2:12). Ruth had sought refuge under the wings of the God of Israel, now she seeks refuge under the wing of Boaz.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.