We left Ruth 1 when Naomi’s life seemed to be pitch black. Famine in the land, a move to Moab, Elimelech her husband died, Mahlon and Chilion her sons died, Orpah returned, Ruth clung, all to enter back into Bethlehem with no source of food, shelter, or money and no one to take care of them. They were hungry, homeless, and hurting. BUT, we also saw that the sun still shines even when the clouds block its light, and that God is up to more than the eye can see. As we enter chapter 2 we’ll continue to see the clouds scatter to let more of the sunlight beam through.
Read chapter 2
Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.” So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied. And her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you glean today? And where have you worked? Blessed be the man who took notice of you.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz.” And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.” And Ruth the Moabite said, “Besides, he said to me, ‘You shall keep close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’” And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, lest in another field you be assaulted.” So she kept close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
I love manly things. I love watching manly movies, doing manly dirty things, and being manly. In 2:1 the author lets us in on something that Naomi and Ruth don’t know, Naomi has relative in Bethlehem. This relative is “the man” of the story. His name is Boaz. Boaz is the man’s man. Not only does he have a cool name, “Boaz”, but his name means “strength.” This means that Boaz is the “dude of dudes”, and we’ll see shortly that Boaz is much more awesome than the other men we’ve met so far in the book of Ruth. Boaz is a relative of Naomi’s former husband Elimelech, he’s rich, and he loves God valiantly. Because he’s such an awesome, stud-ly, guy, you’d think he’d be married, but “it just so happens” that he’s still very much available and “on the market.”
In 2:2 Ruth expresses her desire to go and get food for her and Naomi, by doing what is called “gleaning in the fields”. Now in the OT God commanded the field owners to not harvest all their crop, but leave some leftovers around the edges for the widows, orphans, and foreigners. These often overlooked people would come and be allowed to “glean” in order to feed their families by these extras and leftovers. “Gleaning” is the Hebrew equivalent of “welfare”. So off Ruth went, to find a field where she could “glean.” Gleaning was not ideal labor, especially if you were a woman. The ones who gleaned were usually in the back, not cared about, and just kind of there. Often women who gleaned were raped (2:9 and 2:22) by the servants of the field owner.
So Ruth was running off into dangerous work to feed herself and Naomi.