He looked at her and an unfocused jealousy rose in him. He was so much older than her, and he had never been sure she was his, really his woman, not deep down in her. At first she seemed so conventional, so good and meek. Beyond that, under that, were things he did not understand. Wildness, recklessness. And the baby in her arms, both his and not his. His first-born, and yet the understanding from the start had been that the child would not be truly his.
Dark, intense, she cradled the child as though to be parted from him for a second would be agony. ‘I would like to call him King,’ she said.
‘Unlucky,’ he said, ‘And we don’t have kings, not like your people. No, we shall call him “Obed”, Servant,’ he hesitated, ‘You will do it then? You will give the dearest thing you have?’
She looked at him, and something he did not understand was there in her face.
‘What you give comes back to you richer. I will give up the name of King and call him Servant. I will give him away and he will come back. He is your child, yet he will be reared as the son of another. And he is still our child, ours, our first-born. Yes, you know I have chosen.’
He looked so glum that finally she understood. ‘You do know, Boaz, that I only choose as I want to choose. That I chose you on the threshing floor, and I did it because I wanted to. That I chose to be your woman, and that I made you mine, even as you made me yours. And now I follow the old custom and give this child to my first husband’s mother, to Naomi, that she, who has lost all her sons, may have a child to call her own.’
She saw doubt and relief, and a growing happiness in his face. That too was what she wanted. And then she got up and left, because if she did not do this thing soon, she might not do it at all. Because she was not sure how well she could hide other, still deeper, currents.
And Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.