The Word Made Fresh
1Naomi had a relative by her marriage into Elimelech’s family. He was a wealthy and prominent man named Boaz.
2Ruth, who was a Moabite, told her, “Let me go and glean in the barley fields behind someone who will allow me to do it.”
Naomi said, “Yes, daughter, go ahead.”
3She did and was able to glean in the fields behind the reapers. She happened to come into the field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech, 4and just as she began to glean there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem. He said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you.”
“The LORD bless you!” they answered.
5He asked his servant who was over the reapers, “Whose young woman is that?”
6The servant said, “When Naomi returned from Moab, she brought this young woman with her. She asked me if she could glean among the sheaves behind the reapers, and she has been working steadily since early this morning. She hasn’t taken a single break.”
8Boaz approached Ruth and said, “Listen, daughter, don’t leave this field to go and glean in another. Stay close to my young women, 9and follow them to whichever field they are harvesting. I have told the young men not to bother you. Whenever you are thirsty, go and drink from the vats the men have filled.”
10Ruth knelt and bowed her face before him. She asked, “Why have you done me this favor? You have surely noticed that I am a foreigner.”
11Boaz said, “I have been told everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband died — how you left your own parents and your homeland and have come to a people you did not know. 12May the LORD, the God of Israel under whose protection you have come, reward you richly for what you have done.”
13She answered, “I hope I continue to please you, my lord. You have spoken kindly and been good to me even though I am not one of your servants.”
14At mealtime Boaz invited her to join them. “Come,” he said, “Have some of this bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” So, she sat with the other women, and he gave her a large helping of roasted grain. She ate her fill, and still had some left. 15When she got up to return to the field Boaz told his young men to let her glean even among the sheaves. “Don’t hold her back,” he said. 16“Pull some stalks out of the standing sheaves and leave them on the ground for her to glean.”
17She worked until the evening. When she beat out what she had gleaned it amounted to more than half a bushel. 18She carried it with her into town and showed her mother-in-law what she had gathered. She removed some for herself and gave her mother-in-law the rest.
19Her mother-in-law asked, “Where did you glean today? May God bless the man who allowed you to work there.”
Ruth said, “The name of the man who allowed me to work there is Boaz.”
20Naomi said, “May the LORD whose kindness extends to the living and the dead bless him!” And she added, “That man is a close relative of ours.”
21Ruth said, “He even told me to stay close to his servants until they finish the harvest.”
22Then Naomi told her daughter-in-law, “It is best that you do just that. You might be bothered if you go into another field.”
23So, Ruth stayed close to the young women who worked for Boaz until the barley and wheat harvests were finished, and she continued to live with her mother-in-law.
1-7: The barley harvest is in full swing, and Ruth goes to the fields to glean, that is, to pluck whatever is left over by the harvesters. She winds up in the field of Boaz, Naomi’s husband’s wealthy relative. He arrives and greets his workers in such a way that assures us that he worships the true God, as do they. Ruth is in a safe place, and we are relieved. Boaz notices her and asks about her, and is told that she is with Naomi, and that she is a hard worker. Everybody is impressed with Ruth.
8-13: Boaz approaches Ruth (it’s about time!) and gives her permission to glean in his fields where he assures her that she will be safe. He tells her that he is familiar with her story, and that she has come to a place of refuge under God. She is grateful.
14-16: Boaz is obviously taken by her and gives her special treatment among the reapers. He instructs them to let her reap among the standing grain rather than glean from the grain they’ve already stripped. Things are definitely moving along nicely here.
17-23: Naomi is thrilled at Ruth’s success in the fields this first day, and even more thrilled when she hears about Boaz. Now the wheels are turning; Naomi has plans for Ruth and Boaz. She tells Ruth to stick to the fields of Boaz, and only to the fields of Boaz.
As the chapter comes to a close, so do the wheat and barley harvests. Already we can see that the relationship between Ruth and Boaz will be nothing like the relationship between the Levite and his concubine. After Judges, Ruth is refreshing! The story of Ruth will heal us of that awful chapter in Israel’s history.