Ruth 3 carries obvious sexual undertones.

7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then Ruth went in secretly, uncovered his feet, and lay down.

8 At midnight, Boaz was startled, turned over, and there lying at his feet was a woman!

9 “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, for you are a kinsman-redeemer.”

10 Then Boaz said, “May the LORD bless you, my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before, because you have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now do not be afraid, my daughter. I will do for yo u whatever you request since all my fellow townspeople know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Yes, it is true that I am a kinsman-redeemer, but there is a redeemer nearer than I. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning, if he wants to redeem you, good. Let him redeem you. But if he does not want to redeem you, as surely as the LORD lives, I will. Now lie here until morning.”

14 So she lay down at his feet until morning, but she got up before anyone else could recognize her.

Why does Boaz keep calling Ruth "my daughter" as if he is going to marry this woman? Does not that sound incestuous?

  • +1 Thanks so much for the question. I could have kept reading Boaz' awkward 'term of endearment' for years to come and not thought to dig. :-]
    – tblue
    Apr 19, 2021 at 22:40

3 Answers 3


The word, בַּת (bath) = daughter was a rather "flexible" term used, amongst other things according to BDB as:

f. used in kindly address, בִּתִּי Ruth 3:10,11 (Boaz to Ruth), compare Psalm 45:11; בְּנוֺתַי in mouth of ׳י Isaiah 43:6 ("" בָּנַי).

Note that Boaz was a "man of standing" (Ruth 2:1), a landowner, employer and city elder. Ruth had no legal status in Israel because she was a foreigner and Moabitess.

Thus, Boaz used the common idiom of address - "a term of endearment" common for a superior to an inferior in Ruth 3:10, 11. Presumably, shortly after this incident in Ruth 3 when they became engaged, Boaz began calling her "my darling" or equivalent.

  • 1
    Indeed. Why do we say "sonny", after all? Apr 20, 2021 at 12:46

Why does Boaz keep calling Ruth “my daughter”?

Under the subheading "Daughter​—is it always an immediate female offspring?" of the Insight on the Scriptures:

The term “daughter” was applied to relationships other than one’s immediate progeny. For example, under certain circumstances the term referred to a sister (Ge 34:8, 17), an adopted daughter (Es 2:7, 15), a daughter-in-law (Jg 12:9; Ru 1:11-13), a granddaughter (1Ki 15:2, 10, where the Hebrew word for daughter, bath, is rendered “granddaughter” in Mo, NW; see 2Ch 13:1, 2), and a descendant.​—Ge 27:46; Lu 1:5; 13:16.

Aside from these direct relatives, the term “daughter” was applied to women in general (Ge 6:2, 4; 30:13; Pr 31:29); women of a particular land, people or city (Ge 24:37; Jg 11:40; 21:21); and female worshipers of false gods (Mal 2:11). It was used as a general address of kindness by one with authority or by an older person to a younger woman. (Ru 3:10, 11; Mr 5:34) Forms of the word bath are also used when referring to “branches” of a tree (Ge 49:22) and “dependent towns” of a larger city. (Nu 21:25; Jos 17:11; Jer 49:2) The term for “daughter,” in its many senses, occurs over 600 times in the Bible. (bold mine)

As to Boaz's actions, not only was he a respectable and wealthy man but a God-fearing man as well. The article "Boaz" describes his demeanor and how it was Ruth that initiates the levirate marriage arrangement:

Now Boaz was a true Judean, a devout worshiper of Jehovah. Not only did he greet his harvesters with “Jehovah be with you,” but, after observing Ruth’s loyalty toward Naomi, he also said to her, “May Jehovah reward the way you act, and may there come to be a perfect wage for you from Jehovah.” (Ru 2:4, 12) When Ruth reported these things to her mother-in-law, Naomi exclaimed: “Blessed be he of Jehovah . . . He is one of our repurchasers.” (Ru 2:20) Furthermore, when the harvest ended, Naomi explained to Ruth the customary way of bringing this matter to Boaz’ attention. As Boaz was sleeping at his threshing floor, he awakened to find Ruth lying down at his uncovered feet, asking that he repurchase Elimelech’s estate by levirate marriage. (See BROTHER-IN-LAW MARRIAGE.) Ruth was to be the substitute for Naomi, who was beyond the age of childbearing. Wasting no time, Boaz the next morning summoned another kinsman more closely related, but this person, referred to in the Bible only as So-and-so, refused to comply with the divine arrangement. Boaz, however, was quick to do so and took Ruth as his wife, with the blessing of the townspeople.


There are two spellings of a singular 'daughter' in Hebrew (MT). One is "bath", the other "b(i)th". Of the occurrences found, there are approx. 225 of 'bath'; 60+ of 'b(i)th'.

Rachel and Leah were both 'b(i)th', Dinah (except in one case), Zipporah (Moses' wife), etc. (Oddly, Rebekah and Esther have 'bath'.) Also, one of the kings gave his b(i)th to a man as reward for conquering some land for him.

Exo. 20:10 - But the seventh(7637) day(3117) the sabbath(7676) of the LORD(3068) thy God:(430) thou shalt not(3808) do(6213) any(3605) work,(4399) thou,(859) nor thy son,(1121) nor thy daughter, [b(i)th](1323) thy manservant,(5650) nor thy maidservant,(519) nor thy cattle,(929) nor thy stranger(1616) that(834) within thy gates:(8179)

Strong's gives other options as 'apple of one's eye' / branch. To me, neither of these are adequate answers. Perhaps it is a physical attribute that designates that one is a 'cut above'? Of a particular spiritual root? Don't know. Just seems that the use of 'b(i)th' has deeper meaning.

ADD-ON: Possible clue? The name B(i)thih/Bithiah, listed as Pharaoh's daughter in 1Chr. 4:18, is translated as "Daughter of Yah" or "House of Yah".

In Ex. 15:2, Moses connects Yah with Savior. Psa. 89:8, Yah is Yahweh Eloah of Hosts. Isa 26:4 connects Yah to the rock of eons (oulmim).

So, I'm wondering if "b(i)thi" is the contracted form for "daughter/house of Yah". If so, curious as to what visible characteristic alerted Boaz to the designation. Thus far, I've been unable to find sources making the connection between Bithiah and 'bithi'.

However, I think it is significant that the Book of Ruth has 10 occurrences of 'bithi'. Three of those are in verses where Naomi calls Ruth both daughter-in-law and 'bithi' in the same verses (2:22, 3:1, 3:16). In v. 2:19, Naomi is speaking of Boaz when she says "one recognizing of you being blessed".

Too cool. Hebrew OT rocks! No English translation can touch an interlinear Tanakh, for sure. Forever grateful to scripture4all.org for opening the fullness of Scripture to a once-clueless agnostic. AND grateful to the BH Forum folks who spur seemingly 'simple' searches that blossom into wonder, once again. :)

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