1Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, "My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you?
One of the laws of Israel was that the closest male relative (typically a brother but could be farther removed) of a deceased husband would go into the widow such that her name would be continued on in Israel (Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Genesis 38:8). The man who did this was called the kinsman redeemer. Naomi was thinking that Boaz, being a close relative, might be the one whose duty it would be to give Ruth a child. This indicates that she was thinking of Ruth’s welfare and future.
2"Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight.
Verse 21 of the previous chapter emphasized Ruth’s foreign birth, calling her Ruth the Moabitess. Yet, Naomi in verse two of this chapter refers to Boaz as being both her kinsman and Ruth’s. He obviously was not her relative by descent, but Elimelech’s heir, Mahlon, was Ruth’s husband. The line of Elimelech can be thus continued through Ruth, even though she was foreign born. She informs Ruth that he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor that same night.
3"Wash yourself therefore, 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.
4"It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do."
5She said to her, "All that you say I will do."
Naomi instructs Ruth to do her part of explaining her desire and need for Boaz to be her kinsman redeemer. Following the custom of the day to ask Boaz to marry her, she was to wash herself, anoint herself (probably with some fragrant oils), and put on her best clothes. She was to go to Boaz’s threshing floor, but she was not to let him see her until after he was finished eating and drinking. When he laid down, she was to go and uncover his feet and lie down. This would clearly communicate to Boaz Ruth’s desire that he redeem her, and he would tell her what she would need to do at that point in time. It was his choice to accept or reject this command of God. Ruth agreed to do what Naomi had said.
6So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her.
7When Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came secretly, and uncovered his feet and lay down.
8It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet.
So Ruth went to the threshing floor and waited for Boaz to finishing eating. He laid down, his heart being delighted and satisfied, perhaps after a hard day’s work and plentiful harvest, the famine being ended. She came secretly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. He was sleeping through all of this, and it was only in the middle of the night that something startled him such that he awoke to see a woman at his feet with his feet uncovered.
9He said, "Who are you?" And she answered, "I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative."
10Then he said, "May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.
11"Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.
12"Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I.
13"Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning."
Ruth identifies herself and explains that he is a close relative. Boaz understands what is going on and what she is asking, and he blesses her. She did not go after some other young men for her own sake, but she considered Naomi’s family line, an act of extreme kindness. She chose to ask Boaz to help her bear a child rather than trying to be married and failing to continue Naomi’s line. This is utterly selfless, and Boaz says that he will do whatever she asks. He explains that he is sure that she is a woman of excellence and that she has come with God-honoring motives. But he cannot fulfill Ruth’s request for marriage immediately because he is not the closest relative, though he is close. He tells Ruth to lie down until morning. In the morning, he will go and find the other relative and see if he will redeem her. If he does, all will be well, but if he does not, Boaz says that he will do it. Ruth has put herself in a very humble and vulnerable position, and Boaz very tenderly and gently treats her honorably and with great respect, leaving her great assurances and comfort. (It is likely that Boaz was quite a bit older than Ruth, so this is probably why he didn’t feel comfortable approaching her as her redeemer.)
14So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, "Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor."
15Again he said, "Give me the cloak that is on you and hold it." So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city.
Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet for the remainder of the night as they slept. She arose before it was light enough to see one another’s faces, and he told his servants not to tell anyone that she came to the threshing floor, lest false rumors be spread about her intentions. He sent Ruth on her way with six measures of barley.
16When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, "How did it go, my daughter?" And she told her all that the man had done for her.
17She said, "These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, 'Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.'"
18Then she said, "Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today."
She went back to the city and came to her mother-in-law. Naomi wondered how things went, and Ruth told her all that Boaz had done for her. He explained that he wanted her to have food for Naomi, thus he sent her with the six measures of barley. Naomi counseled Ruth to wait patiently because she was confident that Boaz would sort things out before the day was over.