The Redeemer Appears – Ruth 2:1-16

2 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side named Boaz. He was a prominent man of noble character from Elimelech’s family.

Ruth the Moabitess asked Naomi, “Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain behind someone who allows me to?”

Naomi answered her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” So Ruth left and entered the field to gather grain behind the harvesters. She happened to be in the portion of land belonging to Boaz, who was from Elimelech’s family.

Later, when Boaz arrived from Bethlehem, he said to the harvesters, “The Lord be with you.”

“The Lord bless you,” they replied.

Boaz asked his servant who was in charge of the harvesters, “Whose young woman is this?”

The servant answered, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. She asked, ‘Will you let me gather fallen grain among the bundles behind the harvesters?’ She came and has remained from early morning until now, except that she rested a little in the shelter.”

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Don’t go and gather grain in another field, and don’t leave this one, but stay here close to my female servants. See which field they are harvesting, and follow them. Haven’t I ordered the young men not to touch you? When you are thirsty, go and drink from the jars the young men have filled.”

10 She bowed with her face to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind to notice me, although I am a foreigner?”

11 Boaz answered her, “Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband’s death has been fully reported to me: how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and how you came to a people you didn’t previously know. 12 May the Lord reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

13 “My lord,” she said, “you have been so kind to me, for you have comforted and encouraged your slave, although I am not like one of your female servants.”

14 At mealtime Boaz told her, “Come over here and have some bread and dip it in the vinegar sauce.” So she sat beside the harvesters, and he offered her roasted grain. She ate and was satisfied and had some left over.

15 When she got up to gather grain, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her even gather grain among the bundles, and don’t humiliate her. 16 Pull out some stalks from the bundles for her and leave them for her to gather. Don’t rebuke her.” (HCSB)

Chapter 2 of Ruth begins the journey out of the emotional and spiritual valley that Naomi and Ruth were in after the multiple tragedies in Moab. This section of chapter two is broken down into two main sections, verses 1-3 and 4-16. Verses 4-16 are further broken down into three subsections. Let’s examine the passage.

Verses 1-3

2 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side named Boaz. He was a prominent man of noble character from Elimelech’s family.

Ruth the Moabitess asked Naomi, “Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain behind someone who allows me to?”

Naomi answered her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” So Ruth left and entered the field to gather grain behind the harvesters. She happened to be in the portion of land belonging to Boaz, who was from Elimelech’s family.

Whereas Naomi was the primary character in chapter one, Ruth takes on that role as the story unfolds. There are several key points to remember.

  • Once again, Ruth is referred to as “the Moabitess.”
    • She is an alien in a foreign land.
    • She is not going to wait for something good to happen to her; she will play an active role in making a better life for herself and Naomi.
    • However, she was at the lowest rung on the local social ladder.
  • Mosaic Law comes into effect here.
    • Leviticus 19:9-10  “When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 You must not strip your vineyard bare or gather its fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God.
    • Leviticus 23:22 When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap all the way to the edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am Yahweh your God.”
    • Deuteronomy 24:19 “When you reap the harvest in your field, and you forget a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It is to be left for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
  • Because Ruth was a Moabite and a widow, she qualified on two counts. But for the same reasons, their cooperation was not guaranteed, which is why she was hoping to glean behind someone who would allow her.
  • Ruth going to Boaz’s field by “accident,” God’s hand had been at work from the beginning.
    • Elimelech taking the family to Moab during the famine.
    • Removing the famine to bring them back.
    • Their arrival at precisely the beginning of the barley harvest.
    • Guiding Ruth to Boaz’s field and having them meet.
  • Ruth’s “chance” arrival at Boaz’s field is divine for two reasons.
    • Boaz was gracious, and Ruth would find favor in his eyes.
    • Boaz was from the same clan as Elimelech, allowing him to be her kinsman-redeemer.
  • The long-term Davidic royal line would have never happened except for this encounter.
    • It required someone from the same clan to be Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer.
    • It required a gracious man who would not chase away aliens or widows.
    • It required a man with the financial resources to redeem Ruth.
    • Boaz proves to be a humble God-fearing man who can redeem Ruth.

Verses 4-16

As I mentioned previously, this passage is broken down into three parts.

  • Boaz and the harvesters 4-7
  • Boaz and Ruth 8-14
  • Boaz and the harvesters 15-16

Verses 4-7

Later, when Boaz arrived from Bethlehem, he said to the harvesters, “The Lord be with you.”

“The Lord bless you,” they replied.

Boaz asked his servant who was in charge of the harvesters, “Whose young woman is this?”

The servant answered, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. She asked, ‘Will you let me gather fallen grain among the bundles behind the harvesters?’ She came and has remained from early morning until now, except that she rested a little in the shelter.”

The narrative now switches from Ruth to Boaz. God’s hand is at work again.

  • Boaz arrives at the field on the first day that Ruth goes there.
  • Ruth arrived before Boaz made his visit. If she were late, they wouldn’t have met at this point.

But there’re several important points to note here regarding the interaction between Boaz and the workers.

  • The noble character mentioned in verse one is in full display.
    • He greets his workers in the name of Yahweh.
    • The workers reply by asking Yahweh to bless him. A sign that he is a respected boss.
  • He recognizes Ruth as being new and asks who she is.
  • The workers give two critical pieces of information.
    • She is Naomi’s daughter-in-law and a Moabite, mentioned twice.
    • She has been hard at work since early morning.

Verses 8-9

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Don’t go and gather grain in another field, and don’t leave this one, but stay here close to my female servants. See which field they are harvesting, and follow them. Haven’t I ordered the young men not to touch you? When you are thirsty, go and drink from the jars the young men have filled.”

As Boaz speaks to Ruth, there are several things to note.

  • Boaz addresses her as “my daughter,” much like Naomi in the first chapter.
    • Boaz breaks down any of the barriers that would naturally separate a Moabite woman and a Jewish man.
    • It likely reflects the age difference between the two.
    • Boaz feels a genuine sense of responsibility to protect and provide for Ruth.
  • Ruth is not to go to another field, so there is no need for her to leave.
  • Ruth is to stay close to his female servants.
  • Ruth doesn’t need to worry about the male servants harassing her as Boaz has told them not to bother her.
  • Ruth can drink freely from the water already collected for the workers.
    • Normally foreigners would draw water for Israelites.
    • Women would draw water for men.
    • The allowance to drink from the water already collected may seem simple, but from a historical and cultural context, it is remarkable.

Verse 10

She bowed with her face to the ground and said to him, “Why are you so kind to notice me, although I am a foreigner?”

Bowing with her face to the ground is the biblical understanding of worship, seen many times in the Old Testament. Ruth is astonished at the grace shown her by Boaz.

  • Ruth understands her social status as a Moabite woman and a widow.
  • Boaz has treated her as if she was the same social status as an Israelite field worker.
  • In Boaz’s eyes, she is a person to be treated with respect and dignity.

Verses 11-12

11 Boaz answered her, “Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband’s death has been fully reported to me: how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth, and how you came to a people you didn’t previously know. 12 May the Lord reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”

Boaz continues the conversation with Ruth, essentially explaining part of the reason she has found such favor with Boaz.

  • Although the leader of the servants had not mentioned Ruth’s name, describing her as a Moabite woman had caused Boaz to realize her identity.
  • She resembles Abraham in her actions.
    • She left her family.
    • She left her homeland.
    • She committed to the unknown.
    • The one difference is that Yahweh didn’t command her to go; she did it out of loyalty to Naomi.

God’s providence is also revealed in Boaz’s speech. Ruth didn’t explicitly pray for Ruth in verse two, but she did in an implicit manner. Boaz is kind because Yahweh has prepared his heart.

Boaz now sends a prayer to Yahweh on behalf of Ruth. The prayer falls into three parts.

  • He prays that Yahweh would reward Ruth for her actions.
  • He prays that Ruth would receive a full reward, understood as full wages or payment.
  • He prays that Ruth would be sheltered under the full protection of Yahweh.

Verse 13

“My lord,” she said, “you have been so kind to me, for you have comforted and encouraged your slave, although I am not like one of your female servants.”

Ruth expresses heartfelt gratitude for Boaz’s actions.

  • Boaz has calmed her emotions by giving comfort.
  • Boaz has spoken compassionately and sympathetically to Ruth. He understands what the young woman has endured.

Verses 14-16

14 At mealtime Boaz told her, “Come over here and have some bread and dip it in the vinegar sauce.” So she sat beside the harvesters, and he offered her roasted grain. She ate and was satisfied and had some left over.

15 When she got up to gather grain, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her even gather grain among the bundles, and don’t humiliate her. 16 Pull out some stalks from the bundles for her and leave them for her to gather. Don’t rebuke her.”

The extraordinary kindness that Boaz has been extending to Ruth continues. From the context of the passage, the meal in question must have been the mid-day meal as she continues to gather after the meal is finished. Looking at verse 14 of the passage, there are five points to consider.

  • Boaz invites Ruth, not part of the regular crew and a Moabite, to join them for a meal.
  • Not only is Ruth invited to join them, but she will also be enjoying the food prepared for the workers.
  • Ruth is invited to dip her bread in the condiment used to moisten and spice up dry bread.
  • Boaz serves Ruth roasted grain personally.
  • Ruth is given enough food to be satisfied with some leftovers.

Verse 14 is not about feeding a hungry person or one that had fallen on hard times. Instead, it’s about how Boaz took an ordinary event, lunch, and made it into a beautiful demonstration of compassion, generosity, and acceptance.

Verses 15-16 end the passage with Ruth once again participating in gathering grain. Outside of Ruth gathering grain, there are four parts to these two verses.

  • Ruth is to be allowed to gather even among the harvested bundles.
  • The workers are not to humiliate Ruth; she’s a widow, a Moabite, and in difficult circumstances.
  • The workers are to set aside some of the harvest for Ruth.
  • The workers are not to insult Ruth in any way.

As we work our way through the book of Ruth, and especially in the passage covered in this lesson, we see in Boaz a picture of Christ.

  • Verse 1
    • Boaz was a relative of Ruth and a man of considerable resources.
    • Jesus left heaven and became our relative, taking on human flesh. As the God-man, Jesus is a man of standing with access to all the resources at God’s disposal.
  • Verse 4
    • Boaz was a godly man. He knew that Yahweh was at the center of his thinking and actions.
    • Jesus, in human flesh, was the godliest man that ever lived. He was fully God and fully man.
  • Verses 6-7
    • Boaz was obedient to what was in Scripture, i.e., Deuteronomy 24:19.
    • Jesus was completely obedient to the Father, even to the point of death on a cross.
  • Verses 8 and 14
    • Boaz didn’t treat Ruth as a foreigner but as a family member.
    • Jesus welcomes all. Our background has no bearing on being accepted by Jesus.
  • Verses 8-9
    • Boaz was considerate to Ruth, telling her to stay with the servant girls.
    • Jesus was considerate in dealing with each fallen person He came in contact with; the widow, the prostitute, the troubled parent, the tax collector, and even His mother as He hung dying on the cross.
  • Verses 9-10
    • Boaz provided for Ruth both physical nourishment and protection by instructing his workers to treat her with respect.
    • Jesus provides for all who follow Him. Although that may not be fully realized in a fallen world, it is realized in our eternal fellowship with Him.
  • Verses 14-16
    • Boaz was generous to Ruth, to the point of overflowing generosity.
    • Jesus’ death on the cross provides overflowing generosity in protecting us from the judgment of sin and providing eternal life for all who place their faith in Him.

There is one overarching concept on display in this passage. Those who have abundant resources and are in a place of power or influence have the ability to choose two paths. They can choose to be selfish with what they have. Or they can choose to be generous and bless those around them, even those who would appear to be outsiders.

Applications.

  • Do we allow our prejudices, we all have them whether we are willing to admit it or not, affect how we interact with others? Or do we know them and refuse to allow them to act in a manner that would stain the image of Jesus?
  • Do we treat all people with dignity and respect, regardless of their background or circumstances?
  • Are we generous to those less fortunate and provide opportunities for those who have fallen on hard times to get back on their feet again?
  • If we are in a position of responsibility, do we treat our subordinates in a respectful and dignified manner and expect the same of them towards their subordinates?
  • There is also a picture here of the spiritual family of God. It doesn’t matter what our ethnicity, nationality, gender (male or female), skin color, or socioeconomic status; we are all equals in Christ. Do we treat our Christian brothers and sisters the same, even if they are different than us?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s