Scriptures

Ruth 2

Introduction

‘Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side of the family named Boaz. He was a wealthy, prominent man from the clan of Elimelech. One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the fields so I can gather grain behind whoever permits me to do so.’ Naomi replied, ‘You may go, my daughter.’ Ruth 2:1+2

We’re informed that Naomi had a kinsman related to her husband by the name of Boaz. He is described as a man of great wealth, although this can also mean a

‘man of valour.’

It seems Ruth is anxious to find work in the fields since it was harvest time and no doubt they needed food.

Notice her request to Naomi.

‘Let me go to the fields so I can gather grain.’

Again, we see the dedication and respect of Ruth to her mother-in-law seeking her permission first.

According to Mosaic law the poor were entitled to gather grain that fell from the hands of the reapers and also the corners of the fields were left so that the poor might glean the grain. This was the time for the barley harvest not corn as the AV implies.

Leviticus 19:9-10 ‘When you gather in the harvest of your land, you must not completely harvest the corner of your field, and you must not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. You must not pick your vineyard bare, and you must not gather up the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You must leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.’

Leviticus 23:22 ‘When you gather in the harvest of your land, you must not completely harvest the corner of your field, and you must not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. You must leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.’

Deuteronomy 24:19 ‘Whenever you reap your harvest in your field and leave some unraked grain there, you must not return to get it; it should go to the resident foreigner, orphan, and widow so that the LORD your God may bless all the work you do.’

‘So, Ruth went and gathered grain in the fields behind the harvesters. Now she just happened to end up in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech. Now at that very moment, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, ‘May the LORD be with you!’ They replied, ‘May the LORD bless you!’ Ruth 2:3-4

Ruth wasn’t determined to go to any particular field it just so happened she went to the field of Boaz but what appears to be an accident can be seen as the providence of God. Boaz comes to inspect the work that is being done and noted the presence of a stranger in his field.

The greetings between Boaz and the gleaners is interesting and unusual and isn’t the typical kind of greetings between us as Christians today.

‘May the LORD be with you!’ And they answered him, “May the LORD bless you!’

Suppose we greeted each other today as they did, what would happen?

‘Boaz asked his servant in charge of the harvesters, ‘To whom does this young woman belong?’ The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, ‘She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab. She asked, ‘May I follow the harvesters and gather grain among the bundles?’ Since she arrived she has been working hard from this morning until now – except for sitting in the resting hut a short time.’ Ruth 2:5-7

Boaz immediately notices Ruth. Ruth’s appearance and dress was no doubt different from that of the girls he usually saw gleaning behind his reapers. Perhaps being a Moabite her dress may have been different from that of the Jewish women.

The reply was almost derogatory and at the same time complimentary.

‘It is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.’

She had asked permission to gather in the field of Boaz. When the overseer gave her permission, she worked diligently throughout the day except for a short period of rest which would be expected of any of the workers.

‘So, Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Listen carefully, my dear! Do not leave to gather grain in another field. You need not go beyond the limits of this field. You may go along beside my female workers. Take note of the field where the men are harvesting and follow behind with the female workers. I will tell the men to leave you alone. When you are thirsty, you may go to the water jars and drink some of the water the servants draw.’ Ruth 2:8+9

Hearing and then observing the diligence of Ruth as she gleaned in his field and no doubt her physical appearance, she is asked by Boaz not to go to another field to glean but to remain in his own field where she could join the women who were directly behind the reapers. The poor were allowed to gather.

It seems that other women would follow the reapers and bind the sheaves left by the reapers as they cut the barley. In saying this there is a suggestion that he would provide for her needs. In fact, Boaz had already given instructions to his workers to keep Ruth from harm. Furthermore, she is instructed to drink of the water provided for the workers in Boaz’ field.

‘Ruth knelt before him with her forehead to the ground and said to him, ‘Why are you so kind and so attentive to me, even though I am a foreigner?’ Ruth 2:10

Ruth was so moved by his words of kindness that in an act of humility she bowed down before him and asked,

‘Why are you so kind and so attentive to me, even though I am a foreigner?’

Under ordinary circumstances being a foreigner she wouldn’t have been given such a privilege as Boas offered her. Her very question showed a spirit of humility and modesty.

‘Boaz replied to her, ‘I have been given a full report of all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband – how you left your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously. May the LORD reward your efforts! May your acts of kindness be repaid fully by the LORD God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!’ Ruth 2:11+12

Boaz by inquiring about Ruth no doubt learned of her faithfulness to her mother-in-law. Leaving the land of one’s nativity was considered a real sacrifice. Her willingness to take on a different culture (Jewish ways) indicated a complete rejection of the ways of the people of Moab and their worship of idols.

Boaz said,

‘I have been given a full report of all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband – how you left your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously.’

This had to be impressive not only to Boaz but to all those who lived in Bethlehem. Also, Boaz knew he alone could not adequately repay Ruth for her faithfulness, he prayed that Ruth might be abundantly rewarded by the Lord

‘from whom you have sought protection.’

Ruth has found a place of refuge under the God of Israel, as a hen gathers her young under wings to protect them from harm, so God protects those who come to him for safety.

Matthew 23:37 ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!’

‘She said, ‘You really are being kind to me, sir, for you have reassured and encouraged me, your servant, even though I am not one of your servants!’ Ruth 2:13

Her words,

‘For you have reassured me’

indicates she had been deeply stirred by the remarks of Boaz. She felt herself unworthy of his great kindness even though she was not a Jewish woman.

No doubt probably because of her poverty, her Gentile nationality, and her heathen background she felt unworthy of his kindness. His kindness to Jewish women is understandable, but his kindness to her was nothing but pure grace.

‘At mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.’ When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over.’ Ruth 2:14

Boaz’s generosity extended even further by inviting her to eat with his workers at mealtime, he made it a point to see that she had plenty to eat. So, she sat beside the reapers at mealtime. He had parched grain passed to her but she kept back some of it obviously so she could take it home to her mother-in-law.

‘As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, ‘Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.’ Ruth 2:15+16

As she is ready to resume her work in the field Boaz gives instructions to the young men, (reapers),

‘Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her.’

Usually the gleaners took only the grain that had not been found in the sheaves.

However, Boaz made special provision for Ruth, they were to let some of the grain from the bundles to fall so that she might glean. One translation renders this

‘Pull out some for her.’

They were providing for her in a special way that would not have been done for the other reapers yet without her knowing it was being purposefully done for her, they weren’t to rebuke her for gleaning.

Under Moses’ Law she had a right to take all that was accidentally left behind. The point seems to be that the reapers saw to it that an abundance of grain was left for her.

‘So, Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.’ Ruth 2:17+18

The grain being small it was beaten out by means of a stick to separate the grain from the chaff. That evening when she had finished beating out the grain it amounted to

‘about an ephah of barley.’

This amounted to approximately three pecks, dry measure. it was enough to support Ruth and Naomi for about five days.

When Ruth arrived back home in Bethlehem, Naomi no doubt was very surprised to see the amount of barley Ruth had brought home. Ruth also gave Naomi the parched grain she had left over after eating with Boaz’s servants. Again, we see the deep dedication she had for her mother-in-law.

‘Her mother-in-law asked her, ‘Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!’ Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. ‘The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,’ she said.’ Ruth 2:19

Naomi seeing the large amount of grain that Ruth had brought home immediately asked,

“Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!’

Ruth informs her that it was in the field of Boaz. Boaz was both a wealthy landowner and a close relative of Naomi.

As such he could be expected to buy for the family its rightful land and also look after the helpless members of the family as was the case with Ruth and Naomi.

Leviticus 25:25 ‘If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold.’

‘The LORD bless him!’ Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. ‘He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.’ She added, ‘That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.’ Ruth 2:20

Naomi breaks forth on a statement of praise. By caring for the widow of Mahlon, Boaz was providing for the dead as well as showing kindness to the living. Moses’ Law saw to it that the surviving widows should be provided for by their near kin. Even though Ruth wasn’t of the tribe of Judah nor a Jew yet the act of Boaz was fulfilling the requirement of the law to provide for a widow.

Deuteronomy 25:5-7 ‘If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfil the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfil the duty of a brother-in-law to me.’

‘Then Ruth the Moabite said, ‘He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’ Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, ‘It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.’ So, Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.’ Ruth 2:21-23

Naomi sees this as a good omen, it’s obvious that Boaz has shown unusual kindness to Ruth. Therefore, Naomi’s advice to Ruth is to continue to work in his field and with his maidens.

She isn’t to be hesitant to accept his generosity, she encourages her to continue not only until the end of the harvest but also the wheat harvest.

Go To Ruth 3

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Romans 12:2

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