Chapter one of Ruth sets up the story of a man who moves his family out of Israel to another country because of famine. The story ought to ring a bell. A famine moves Abraham and Jacob to Egypt, and Isaac to Philistia. In each case, God does something important.
Deuteronomy 25 specifies that if a man died without male heirs, his brother was to take the widow as his wife and have a child by her so that the deceased’s name would not die in Israel. Also, it was to preserve the inheritance of the dead brother and provide for the widow.
The law only occurs once in the Old Testament and by the time of Ruth, it had been modified somewhat to include not just a brother, but the nearest male relative.
Naomi is determined to get Ruth a husband, and she feels that Boaz would be a good candidate. So . . . she encourages Ruth to ‘pretty herself up,’ wait for the right time (after he’s put in a hard day, had a good meal, and settled in for the night, and present herself to him.
Ruth’s forwardness (and she is forward) is not what any of us would advise our daughter, but remember, these are desperate times. Boaz is much older. He would not have imagined Ruth to be available to him and so, he never made a move. Sometimes, guys need a push.
It is to Boaz’ credit that though he could have been more forward himself, he has Ruth’s honor and safety at heart. He keeps her there for the night for her own protection, but sends her home early enough to protect her reputation.