Ruth, Boaz & Tassels
In Mosaic Law, God instructed His people; Make tassels on the corners of your garments and put a blue cord on each tassel. You are to do this for all time to come. This was to serve as a reminder of their religious obligations and responsibilities, that they were God’s people who’d been rescued from slavery in Egypt and called to keep His commandments. (Numbers 15:37-41, see also Deuteronomy 22:12)
This outer garment became known as ...
... a tallit, and eventually evolved into the prayer shawl. The tassels are tied into 613 knots, a reminder of the 613 Laws of Moses, of which there are 365 prohibitions1, and 248 affirmations2. The knots also correspond with the ineffable name of God, the unspoken yod-hey-vav-hey, Yahweh.
Jewish men use prayer shawls to cover their heads, shut out the world and so be in God’s Presence. These prayer shawls3 are white, representing the Heavens, or the dwelling place of God; the colour blue represents the Ruach HaKodesh4. The tallit could easily be what Yeshua was referring to in Matthew 6:6, when He said go into your inner room, separate from the people around, and pray in secret to your Father.
In the Ancient Near East a person’s garment was significant in that the corner tassels were representative of identity and authority.
Boaz and Ruth
Ruth went to Boaz to receive his blessing that would help her out of her difficult situation. She went to the threshing floor and slept at his feet. "In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet. 'Who are you?' he asked. 'I am your handmaid, Ruth,' she said. 'Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer’” (Ruth 3:8-9). She was asking him to identify with her. (The same Hebrew word means wing or corner of a garment.)
Boaz immediately understood and replied: Don't be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character (Ruth 3:11).
What Ruth did in asking Boaz to spread the corner of his garment over her was a symbolic way of saying she was placing herself under Boaz's authority. He did everything necessary and eventually married her.
When God spoke of making a Covenant with Israel, He pictured Himself as spreading the corner of His garment over her (Ezekiel 16:8)—a symbol of identifying with her as His bride.
So important were the corners of a Jewish man’s garment in ancient Israel that the Old Testament closes with a prophecy of the Messiah that references the corners of His garment (Malachi 4:2);
But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.
The Hebrew word for wings used in this passage is kanaf a word which specifically means the fringe-like feathers or edges of a bird's wing, not the whole wing — just like eagle or hawk circles in the sky utilising their fringe-like feathers. This word could be translated — wings or fringes.
At the heart of the Messiah’s identity would be healing—spiritual and eventually physical—for all who trusted Him.