Ruth 3:2 – “And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshing floor.”
Naomi asks a second question in this verse. This question will be the answer to her first question, which showed her desire to find rest for Ruth. Her second question is about Boaz, the one who will provide that rest. She already knows the answer, the answer is yes, and though it is posed as a question, it is a statement, there is only one answer. It is both a reminder and a reassurance to Ruth. In Naomi’s words we also see the dual relationship that Boaz has with Ruth, he was her kindred and he was her master.
Naomi says to Ruth: “And now is not Boaz of our kindred?” This is who Boaz is. This is a fact, it is undeniable and this will be the basis for Ruth’s request of Boaz. He is not only someone who is related to them, “our kindred,” but he is our “next kinsman” and because he has this relationship, he is one who bears the title and responsibility of “kinsman-redeemer” and through that title he can truly meet the need of Ruth and give her “rest.”
Naomi says to Ruth: “with whose maidens thou wast?” This is who Ruth is. She belongs to Boaz, and she serves Boaz, for he is her Master. Ruth was one of those maidens that belonged to Boaz and this is another tie that binds her closer to him. This is a fact, a truth that Naomi reminds Ruth of, it is past tense, it is not in question and it shows that Ruth is done gleaning. She is ready to step into another role, another relationship, a deeper, more personal one.
Just as Ruth did, we have a dual relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He is both our Redeemer and our Master. He is our “kindred,” the Son of Man as well as the Son of God; both give Him the right to redeem. He was “made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” (Heb 2:17). He is our “kinsman-redeemer,” our Redeemer – He was “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:4-5). Paul shows us the progression of that relationship that began as servants, with the promise is sonship, and the potential is full mature sons. Jesus is our Master, our Lord; He is the One that we serve. Paul tells us that He “gave himself or us” first that He might “redeem us from all iniquity and purify” us, with the result being that we would be “zealous of good works” (Tit 2:14), we would be good servants!
What does Naomi say Boaz would be doing? – “Behold he winnoweth barley.” Strong’s says this word “winnow” means: “to toss about, disperse, scatter (away), spread.” Webster says it means: “to remove chaff, separate, sift, free of unwanted elements; to get rid of what is undesirable.” Here we see Boaz as the “Lord of the harvest” and he is separating, removing, examining. He is laboring right alongside with his servants in the final stage of the harvest. Think about what this says about Boaz, here is a “mighty man of wealth” working alongside with his servants in winnowing his barley. This harvest means something to him, as do his servants. This “winnowing” speaks of separation, the removal of the bad from the good and it is not an easy process. There was the literal separation of the grain (wheat/barley) from the chaff and there is another separation of what goes on in our lives that the Lord will do. It is the separation of Truth from Error; it is the separation of good works from bad works. If the works are built on error, the Lord will see, and will separate. He will “try every man’s work” and there will be a reward or loss of reward (1 Cor 3:13-15). John the Baptist spoke of Jesus with a “fan (for winnowing) in his hand” (Mt 3:12) and with this fan He would “purge his floor” and “gather his wheat.” This speaks of an examination by the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be an examination. Nations will be examined and separated (Mt 25:31-46) and some will enter into the Kingdom. Saints will be examined at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10; Ro 4:10) and Sinners are examined at the Great White Throne (Rev 20:11).
The time that this takes place is at night: “tonight.” The harvesting of the grain was done during the day and the winnowing of the grain was done during the night. Most commentators say that the reason for winnowing at night was because of the breeze that came at sunset, it was this breeze that helped in the separation of the chaff from the grain.
“The winnowing process is performed by throwing up the grain, after being trodden down, against the wind with a shovel. The threshing-floor, which was commonly on the harvest-field, was carefully leveled with a large cylindrical roller, and consolidated with chalk, that weeds might not spring up. The farmer usually remained all night in harvest-time on the threshing-floor, not only for the protection of his valuable grain, but for the winnowing. That operation was performed in the evening, to catch the breezes which blow after the close of a hot day, and which continue for the most part of the night. This duty at so important a season the master undertakes himself: and accordingly of ancient manners, Boaz, a person of considerable wealth and high rank, laid himself down to sleep on the barn floor, at the end of the heap of barley that he had been winnowing.” (Jamieson, Fausset)
The place for the winnowing was “in the threshing floor.” This word comes from “to smooth,” it was an “open place,” “a floor” and was made by “smoothing” the ground. This place was usually “outdoors” or “on a hill” usually near the fields and they were highly valued. The site for the temple in Jerusalem was originally a threshing floor that David purchased (2 Sam 24:18; 1 Chron 21:15). The threshing was the first step; it took place first and was at a specific location. The threshing was done in several different ways. Sometimes a “sharp threshing instrument” (a solid object studded with flint) was used. (Isa 41:15). Sometimes oxen were used to pull a sled with a board with spikes over the grain or they would be used to walk over the grain. (Deut 25:4), and sometimes the grain would be beaten with heavy sticks. (Judges 6:11). The “winnowing” was the second step; it took place after the threshing. This is where the final work was done, where the grain was separated from the chaff.
Naomi is telling Ruth that the time to approach Boaz is when the threshing and winnowing has been accomplished and the labor is finished. This is a time of rest for Boaz. The work of the laborers has been examined, judged and rewarded. Now Ruth will ask for and receive her reward, and it is a greater reward! Boaz is also guarding that which belongs to him. No one will steal this harvest, the master guards it! In Boaz we see a picture of Jesus guarding what belongs to Him. He gives us this assurance, that none can take away what belongs to Him. We have eternal life, no man can pluck us out of His hand or His Father’s hand (John 10:28-29); none will ever be lost (John 17:12; John 18:9). Nothing that belongs to the Lord will ever be taken, stolen or lost, for He both guards what belongs to Him. In Ruth we see a picture of those who come to Jesus and lay claim to all that is His, they lay claim to that greatest reward of all – that place by His side as His bride!