Inner Strength Manifests Itself in Outward Actions


Ruth approached Boaz on the threshing floor and made a bold request—“Marry your servant, for you are a guardian of the family interests” (Net Bible translation).

Boaz’ responded by blessing her and calling her a “worthy woman” (3:10–11). The idea here is that Ruth is a woman of strong or noble character.

Earlier in the book, the narrator describes Boaz with a similar phrase “a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech” (2:1, ESV).

If you take the time to look at these texts in a few different versions, you’ll notice the translators use a variety of English wordings. So, I want to take a moment to look at the Hebrew text.

The similar word in the comparison between Ruth and Boaz is the Hebrew word hayil, meaning “strength, wealth, or army.”

Literally, Boaz calls Ruth a “woman of strength” (the context rules out the other two possible definitions—she wasn’t wealthy nor a soldier in an army).

The narrator describes Boaz as a “mighty man of strength/wealth” (probably not army, possibly strength or wealth).

So, was the author focusing on Boaz’ external wealth or his inward character displayed by his outward actions? Or, perhaps both?

I suggest that the author focuses on Boaz’ strength of character just as Boaz would later refer to Ruth by her strength of character.

Character reveals itself in one’s actions, and Boaz and Ruth both showed inward strength through their sacrificial actions on the behalf of others.