We continue in our Ruth 2 commentary…
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 1
2:1 ¶ And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
Alright, so with 2:1 we have the end of the introductory material. Now we get to the action. But first, let’s not pass over some of the details we just saw. Our time frame is the beginning of the harvest time for barley. This would have been in the Spring. And also we need to note that Naomi had a kinsman, a relative. He’s a mighty man of wealth – a GIBOR CHAYIL. And you probably don’t know it, but this phrase was used in the book of Judges a few times. Yeah, it was used of Gideon and Jephthah. So, we’re kind of left wondering – is Boaz going to be like these men? Someone who has great potential but ultimately disappoints? We’ll see.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 2
And with all that background out of the way, with Noami and Ruth in Bethlehem, with Boaz as a kinsman of Elimelech, Ruth decides it’s time to get out of the house and help provide for herself and her mother-in-law. Verse 2.
2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
So, Ruth’s just going to go somewhere – anywhere – where she can find some grace – someone to help her and allow her to glean some crops.
Gleaning crops during harvest time was anticipated by the Law of Moses. It’s harvest time around here in Wisconsin. And you see fields that once were filled with corn or beans. And now they’re basically bare. You might see a few stalks here and there left by these modern harvesters. But there isn’t much left by the end. Things were different in ancient Israel. The reaping was done by hand or perhaps with smaller hand tools – perhaps with animals. But no matter how efficient the reapers could be, what God desired and commanded was that Israelite farmers wouldn’t harvest everything in their field. They need to leave some. Why? Because he wanted the poor and needy in the land to be able to come to these fields and sustain themselves. They would come and glean the fields for leftover crops. So, Ruth knew this was available to her, so she goes and does it. Verse 3.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 3
3 And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: [So she just comes to some field] and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.
What a chance happening! Ruth just happens to come across Boaz’s field. Boaz – the kinsman of Elimelech. No, it wasn’t a chance happening. God was in it. But, to all human actors involved, this wasn’t pre-meditated. It wasn’t planned. It just… happened. Providentially.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 4
Now, we’re still wondering what kind of man Boaz is. Is he a Gideon? Is he like Jephthah? Verse 4.
4 And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, [Out to his fields, which were outside of the city] and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.
I think of our men who work in the world. What would you think if your boss came in tomorrow morning and said, “The Lord be with you, brothers” and he said it to all of the employees? It would be a shock. I think even for those of us who work in ministries, it would be almost a little surprising to hear this kind of thing from our bosses. But here comes Boaz – in a day when lawlessness reigned, when everyone was doing right in their own eyes. He comes and blesses his workers in the name of the Lord. And so then he checks up on things in his field. Verse 5.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 5 – 7
5 Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? 6 And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: 7 And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.
How would Boaz react to this news? Verse 8.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 8 and 9
8 ¶ Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? [Or, “Hear this!”] Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: 9 Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.
Boaz didn’t have to be so kind to Ruth. And at this point I really don’t think there’s any romantic interest. Boaz is being abundantly kind to Ruth without any ulterior motives. He’s providing safety for her. He’s providing her food. He’s making her feel included among his servants. What kind of reaction does that elicit in Ruth? Verse 10.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 10 – 12
10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? [I’m not an Isralite. I’m a foreigner from a pagan nation.]
11 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. [In other words, “I’m showing you a level of kindness that I hope matches and even exceeds the kindness you’ve shown to my relative Naomi.”] 12 The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
That’s a beautiful statement. Ruth is seeking refuge under the protecting comforting wings of the Lord. And so Boaz would like to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands to repay Ruth for the kindness and selflessness that she’s shown to Naomi. So, faced with such kindness, such loyalty, such righteousness, what can Ruth say? Verse 13.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 13
13 Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.
And Boaz isn’t finished with his effusive lavish kindness to Ruth. Verse 14.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 14 – 16
14 ¶ And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime [Probably lunch] come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her [Or “served her”] parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
15 And when she was risen up to glean [After lunch], Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: 16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
So, “give her more than just the gleanings. Basically, just let her take whatever she wants.” Can you imagine how Ruth would have taken in this whole situation? How grateful she would have been. Verse 17.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 17 – 22
17 ¶ So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley. [I’ve been told that an ephah is about 5 gallons, by the way. So, basically, she got a lot of barley. Verse 18.]
18 And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed. 19 And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. [It’s kind of hard to remember that what’s transpired so far in this chapter really amounts to only one day.] And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz. 20 And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness [His CHESED, his loyal love.] to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen. 21 And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest. 22 And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.
And, believe me, in the days of the Judges, Ruth could have come across some really unrighteous individuals in the fields of Israel. Remember the incident in Gibeah – a.k.a. “New Sodom”???
And finally verse 23 serves as conclusion to the second scene of the book.
Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 23
23 So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.
So, let’s just recap what we’ve seen from our characters so far.
We have Naomi. Her actions at the beginning were questionable at best. But she does seem to know the Lord and has apparently made him known to Ruth.
Ruth – originally a pagan Moabite – has come to take refuge under the wings of the Lord. She’s faithful to her mother-in-law. She’s a hard worker. A noble woman, though she’s poor. And apparently she had no children from her 10 year marriage to Mahlon.
Boaz is a wealthy man. He’s a righteous man – in the midst of a nation overrun by wickedness. He’s a faithful and loyal man in a nation where those two virtues were practiced only when they seemed right in the eyes of those who practiced them.
What a contrast, then, we have here to what we’ve seen in the book of Judges. The book of Ruth shows us that in the midst of chaos and disorder, the Lord was preserving righteous people. And not just righteous people in general – but in particular, the Lord was working to preserve the line of the coming king of Israel through very dark days.
We’ll see more of the development of this story – and actually finish it – in two weeks.