Ruth Chapter 2

Ruth in Boaz’s Field (1828) by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Ruth in Boaz’s Field (1828) by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husbands, a man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.  And Ruth the Moabitess 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 forth 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 family 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 servant who was in charge of the reapers,  “Whose maiden is this?”  And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered,  “It is the Moabite maiden, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab.  She said,  ‘Pray, let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, without resting even for a moment.”

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 maidens. Let your eyes be upon the field which they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to molest 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, when 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 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 recompense 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,  “You are most gracious to me, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not one of your maidservants.” 

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 parched 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; she showed her mother-in-law what she had gleaned, and 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,  “Blessed be he by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her,  “The man is a relative of ours, one of our nearest kin.”  And Ruth the Moabitess said,  “Besides, he said to me,  ‘You shall keep close by my servants, till they have finished all my harvest.’”  And Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law,  “It is well, my daughter, that you go out with his maidens, lest in another field you be molested.”  So she kept close to the maidens of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests; and she lived with her mother-in-law. Ruth 2:1 -23


The Harvest in Ancient Israel:

In ancient Israel the barley and wheat harvests started at First Fruits and ended around the time of Shavuot a.k.a. Pentecost. That would be April /May to June/July on the Gregorian calendar that we commonly use.  That is 50 long days of hard work to bring in these seed grains by hand.  No great combines moving across the vast prairie land.  Just small fields with lots of people bent over with hand scythes.   After the  barley and wheat harvest comes the fruit harvest. So the work never ends.  See Harvest Seasons of Ancient Israel

This is one of the reasons Ruth is traditionally read at Shavuot.  Shavuot is the festival that celebrates Israel being presented with a mohar, a.k.a. wedding gift.  Today in our culture we give a ring as the wedding gift.  But in ancient Israel a price was agreed upon by all parties, and a small portion of it “the mohar” would have been presented to the bride. It is at Shavuot that the children of Israel received the Ten Commandments, and it is at Shavuot that the Holy Spirit was sent to the early believers in Messiah.   Once the mohar is accepted by the bride, it is a binding marriage contract.

Ruth and Naomi were in a pretty desperate situation.  They had no money and no means of support. There is only Naomi’s family.   So Ruth offers to glean.  Not something that goes on much with our modern farming techniques. Naomi must have been either too old or infirmed for this kind of work. Before mechanical harvesters like combines, crops where picked by hand, and quite a lot fell to the ground.  This was to be left for the poor.  They could come and pick it up for their own.  This provided them with food, and the dignity of having worked for it.  Something that has been lost in our modern society.  It is back breaking to stoop down all day picking up seed heads. There is no time for profligate or irresponsible living if one has to glean all day.  There is however dignity in this work.    And as we shall see Boaz has been watching.

The Law of Gleaning:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. Lev. 19:9

When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. Deut. 24:21

When Boaz arrives, he notices Ruth.  He wants to know about this woman.  He has already heard from friends and family that Naomi has returned with her daughter-in-law, but this is the first time he has seen her.  The text doesn’t say what he is thinking, but his actions speak very loudly down through the centuries, it is very clear this man was smitten.  He praises her, and tells her that she is to work his and only his fields.

He tells her that he knows of her, and that she has left all for the God of Israel.

under whose wings you have come to take refuge!

Through out the Bible God’s protections and  provisions are often express with a metaphor of vulture wings.

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Ex. 19:4

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, Deut. 32:11

Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of thy wings, Psa. 17:8

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say,  ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”Luke 13:34-35

She is invited to share in the meal with his workers.  He gives her more than she can eat.  Then he arranges that more barley be put in her path.  He is going to make sure that this woman and her mother-in-law are provided for.

When she arrives at home, the first thing Naomi notices is that this is way more than one woman could have gleaned.  Here is a Biblical ephah conversion chart to whatever measurement you are most familiar with.  When finding out all that Boaz has done, she blesses the Lord, for He has sent a righteous man from her dead husband’s family to help them.  Now Naomi has just one remaining question, will he be a kinsman redeemer for them?

When one sets out to follow God’s law, he will see that there is sufficient provision. For the Law of God provides for sufficient provision. But He also requires that one works for it.

For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. 2Th. 3:10

He has provided the law of gleaning, He has provided the law of redemption of land, and He has provided the raising up of children for the dead.  All these laws are in play, in the Book of Ruth.  As long as God’s people follow His laws there is no one left out of the benefits of His people.  It is when sin is allowed to continue in the community, that the laws of justice and recompense fall on the evil, and the community that tolerates them.

The history of the world shows that the more of God’s laws a people or culture follow, the more stable or blessed a people or culture are.  Whether they acknowledge God or not.

The first four commandments make clear exactly where a people are in relation to God.  Do the people acknowledge more than one God?  Is there Idolatry?  Is God’s name shamed or His name made empty by their actions?  But the one that really tells a nation’s or culture’s heart is, do they keep sabbath?  Or are they too greedy?  Because it always comes down to greed, and coveting.  We want what the pagans have.  We want their fun holidays. We want gods we can control.  We want to live for ourselves.  We want the money we could make if we just work on the sabbath.

We suffer for want of righteous men.

We once had righteous men who taught the Ten Commandments.  But now the dispensationalist have so overwhelmed the people of God, with their ubiquitous false teaching that “the law has passed away”.  They parrot this line over and over as if it came from the Bible itself.  The very lawlessness that we were warned was to come [2Th. 2:1-12].

 and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 2Th. 2:10

The first four commandments teach us to love God with all our hearts, minds, and spirits,  The last six teach how to love our neighbour’s as ourselves.

So the world and the dispensationalist have worked very hard to remove God from the people, the law of God.  When a culture or people stop honoring God, they have no center.  With the first four done away with, now the last six are becoming a distant memory.  The people  are no longer trying to love their neighbors as themselves, they are spending their time learning how to love themselves.  This is total selfishness.  It brings no fulfilling life, it only brings more guilt.  It is plain and simple self worship.  Man as the center of the universe.  Where God has spelled out exactly how He wants and does not want to be worshiped, we vainly go on about it, our way.  It is as if He never gave us a law at all.  Pleasing God is not our goal, self loving is.

The real Holy Spirit has been replaced by Hindu mantras that have been disguised as praise songs.  Yes God is an awsome God, but the mantra never gives any reason for that statement.  These mantras give the whole church an artificial high, that is merely a self induced hypnotic state, that leaves everyone open to whatever nonsense that leader chooses to put into their open, but no longer critical thinking brains.  No longer do we study the Word of God.  No longer do we sing great Hymns about the majesty of God.  No, we repeat the same simple line over and over again, till like the pagans we are in a heighten sense of self.  Then the leaders are free to give simple minded homilies about how faith is like a football game, or driving a car, or baking a cake, etc..

Real religious ecstasy come from studying the Word of God.  It is something that is never corporate.   In the Song of Songs one comes into the kings chambers alone.  Others may rejoice that you have had the experience, but they will never fully share it.  Everyone stand before God alone. There is nothing so exhilarating as to find oneself standing presence of God, after hours, days, weeks, months, and years of study.  There are no shortcuts to the throne.  The working of the real Holy Spirit takes time and effort, on a single individuals part.

We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 2 Cor. 10:5-6 

We must return to the Word of God.  We must return to righteousness.  Like Boaz we must know the law, and our responsibilities under it, than do it.  They are not suggestions, they are Commandments.

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. Rom. 3:31


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