Focal Passages: Ruth 3:8-13; 4:13-17
Love anyone? The rituals of love and mating can be both unique and unusual.
The Puritans did not believe in lavish diamond rings – too extravagant and worldly.
Therefore, a young bride-to-be would receive a thimble from her fiance.
The thimble would be used for sewing items needed for the house or for a wedding dress, and when all those duties were completed, she could have the thimble tip cut off, leaving her a very practical wedding band.
Around the same period of history, the Welsh exchanged “love spoons” as a sign of romantic intent. The young man would labor many hours crafting his spoon, offering to his female crush a most magnificent utensil that was sure to warm her affections.
Ancient Israel also had some interesting and unusual mating customs. Like the Puritans and Welsh, they were very practical. Levirate marriage was a means of providing children for the family when the original husband had died childless.
A brother, or another family member, could marry the childless widow and procreate (father) a child for the deceased brother or kinsman. We see this custom authorized and practiced in Genesis 38, Deuteronomy 25 and in the book of Ruth.
Naomi, upon her return to Bethlehem, had concluded that the kinsman Boaz, if he could be convinced of Ruth’s potential as a mate, would be the perfect choice. Not only could Boaz provide her and Ruth financial stability, he could provide them with a son to continue their family line. What mother doesn’t want to be a grandmother?
Well, Ruth indeed warmed Boaz’s feet and his heart. He was overjoyed that the attractive Ruth had chosen him over the many other younger potential suitors. However, there was a slight catch. Another man, who was closer kin to Elimelech, had first dibs on Ruth. But once he realized a marriage to Ruth would cost him inheritance-wise, he “removed his sandal” (4:8) and gave the prized first rights to Boaz.
Boaz became Ruth and Naomi’s redeemer.