Blessings Return – Ruth 2:17-23

17 So Ruth gathered grain in the field until evening. She beat out what she had gathered, and it was about 26 quarts of barley. 18 She picked up the grain and went into the town, where her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. Then she brought out what she had left over from her meal and gave it to her.

19 Then her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you gather barley today, and where did you work? May the Lord bless the man who noticed you.”

Ruth told her mother-in-law about the men she had worked with and said, “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz.”

20 Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, who has not forsaken his kindness to the living or the dead.” Naomi continued, “The man is a close relative. He is one of our family redeemers.”

21 Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also told me, ‘Stay with my young men until they have finished all of my harvest.’ ”

22 So Naomi said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “My daughter, it is good for you to work  with his female servants, so that nothing will happen to you in another field.” 23 Ruth stayed close to Boaz’s female servants and gathered grain until the barley and the wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law. (HCSB)

In this lesson, we see Ruth continuing to pick the grain and take it home to Naomi. Ruth then tells the events of the day, how she met Boaz, and the instructions that Boaz gave to her and his servants. Although most of the passage occurs on the same day, the last verse indicates that anywhere from six to ten weeks have elapsed between verses 22 and 23.

Verses 17-18

These two verses seem relatively straightforward, but a closer look reveals some startling details.

  • Ruth was obviously very industrious. She has worked the entire day, except for the mid-day meal in the last section.
  • Separating the grain from the stalks is no easy task. It requires some type of stick to beat the heads of the barley to remove the grain.
  • The amount of grain gathered was 26 quarts or about one ephah. That is an incredible amount of grain for one person to harvest in just one day. Estimates range between 30 and 50 pounds of barley.
  • Not only did Ruth harvest that much grain, but she also transported it back to Naomi’s house. We don’t know for sure, but it is probably safe to say, due to Ruth’s circumstances (Moabite and widow), that she had to carry it herself. Even if it was a short distance, not likely, that is quite an accomplishment for one woman.
  • Ruth shares the leftovers from her noon-day meal with Naomi.

Comparing the circumstances that the two women found themselves in while in Moab to the results of just one day of gathering grain, the reader sees a remarkable change of fortune. They left Moab with nothing but what they wore and maybe a few possessions, and now they have an overflowing abundance of grain. The once bitter Naomi is now overflowing with joy and optimism. This demonstrates a couple of characteristics of Yahweh.

  • If we repent and turn back, His anger lasts for only a moment.
  • His love and favor are never-ending.
  • Genesis 24:27  and said, “Praise the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His kindness and faithfulness from my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”

Verses 19-22

19 Then her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you gather barley today, and where did you work? May the Lord bless the man who noticed you.”

Ruth told her mother-in-law about the men she had worked with and said, “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz.”

20 Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, who has not forsaken his kindness to the living or the dead.” Naomi continued, “The man is a close relative. He is one of our family redeemers.”

21 Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also told me, ‘Stay with my young men until they have finished all of my harvest.’ ”

22 So Naomi said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “My daughter, it is good for you to work  with his female servants, so that nothing will happen to you in another field.”

Although we can’t read the “tone” of Naomi’s statement when Ruth comes home, we can certainly infer that she was at least mildly surprised by the amount of grain she harvested. Before even knowing who it was, Naomi is asking Yahweh to bless the man who showed such kindness and allowed Ruth to not only work but to bring a bountiful harvest home. When Naomi hears the name of Boaz, she proclaims a second blessing and tells Ruth that Boaz is a blood relative, and more importantly, a kinsman-redeemer. The relationship of Boaz to Naomi is a critical point as events unfold. Let’s review a couple of passages that talk about the kinsman-redeemer.

  • Leviticus 25:25  If your brother becomes destitute and sells part of his property, his nearest relative may come and redeem what his brother has sold.
  • Leviticus 25:47-49  47 “If a foreigner or temporary resident living among you prospers, but your brother living near him becomes destitute and sells himself to the foreigner living among you, or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, 48 he has the right of redemption after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him. 49 His uncle or cousin may redeem him, or any of his close relatives from his clan may redeem him. If he prospers, he may redeem himself.
  • A kinsman-redeemer had four roles according to Scripture.
    • To avenge the murder or rape of a relative. Numbers 35:9-11 The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 designate cities to serve as cities of refuge for you, so that a person who kills someone unintentionally may flee there.
    • To recover property forfeited by a kinsman. Leviticus 25:25  If your brother becomes destitute and sells part of his property, his nearest relative may come and redeem what his brother has sold.
    • To raise a male heir to his brother who died childless, known as Levirate marriage. Deuteronomy 25:5-10 “When brothers live on the same property  and one of them dies without a son, the wife of the dead man may not marry a stranger outside the family. Her brother-in-law is to take her as his wife, have sexual relations with her, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law for her. The first son she bears will carry on the name of the dead brother, so his name will not be blotted out from Israel.  But if the man doesn’t want to marry his sister-in-law, she must go to the elders at the city gate and say, ‘My brother-in-law refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel. He isn’t willing to perform the duty of a brother-in-law for me.’ The elders of his city will summon him and speak with him. If he persists and says, ‘I don’t want to marry her,’ then his sister-in-law will go up to him in the sight of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. Then she will declare, ‘This is what is done to a man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And his family name in Israel will be called ‘The house of the man whose sandal was removed.’
    • To support a fellow kinsman and/or their dependents or redeem them from debt. Leviticus 25:35-55 35 “If your brother becomes destitute and cannot sustain himself among you, you are to support him as a foreigner or temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you. 36 Do not profit or take interest from him, but fear your God and let your brother live among you. 37 You are not to lend him your silver with interest or sell him your food for profit. 38 I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. 39 “If your brother among you becomes destitute and sells himself to you, you must not force him to do slave labor. 40 Let him stay with you as a hired hand or temporary resident; he may work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then he and his children are to be released from you, and he may return to his clan and his ancestral property. 42 They are not to be sold as slaves, because they are My slaves that I brought out of the land of Egypt. 43 You are not to rule over them harshly but fear your God. 44 Your male and female slaves are to be from the nations around you; you may purchase male and female slaves. 45 You may also purchase them from the foreigners staying with you, or from their families living among you—those born in your land. These may become your property. 46 You may leave them to your sons after you to inherit as property; you can make them slaves for life. But concerning your brothers, the Israelites, you must not rule over one another harshly. 47 “If a foreigner or temporary resident living among you prospers, but your brother living near him becomes destitute and sells himself to the foreigner living among you, or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, 48 he has the right of redemption after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him. 49 His uncle or cousin may redeem him, or any of his close relatives from his clan may redeem him. If he prospers, he may redeem himself. 50 The one who purchased him is to calculate the time from the year he sold himself to him until the Year of Jubilee. The price of his sale will be determined by the number of years. It will be set for him like the daily wages of a hired hand. 51 If many years are still left, he must pay his redemption price in proportion to them based on his purchase price. 52 If only a few years remain until the Year of Jubilee, he will calculate and pay the price of his redemption in proportion to his remaining years. 53 He will stay with him like a man hired year by year. A foreign owner is not to rule over him harshly in your sight. 54 If he is not redeemed in any of these ways, he and his children are to be released at the Year of Jubilee. 55 For the Israelites are My slaves. They are My slaves that I brought out of the land of Egypt; I am Yahweh your God.

Ruth tells Naomi how Boaz told her to stay with his workers until they have finished all of the harvests. Boaz isn’t inviting Ruth to glean for a day or two; he tells her to continue to come until the harvest is complete.

Naomi not only approves of the offer but further explains why this is beneficial to Ruth. Boaz has female workers who participate in the harvesting. Not only did Boaz tell the male workers to leave Ruth alone, but there are also other females in the work crew, creating a safer overall environment.

Verse 23

Ruth stayed close to Boaz’s female servants and gathered grain until the barley and the wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

There are two explicit things happening here, and one that is not readily apparent.

  • Ruth is still committed to Naomi, as seen in the last sentence.
    • Ruth made an oath to Naomi, and she is sticking to it.
    • The two women are sharing in the favor of the Lord after returning to Bethlehem, the house of bread.
  • The passage specifies two harvests.
    • Barley harvest.
      • Barley was the second most important grain.
      • It was the primary grain for the lower socio-economic class.
      • The barley harvest typically began in March or April.
      • Barley was used to assess the value of the land. Leviticus 27:16 If a man consecrates to the Lord any part of a field that he possesses, your assessment of value will be proportional to the seed needed to sow it, at the rate of 50 silver shekels for every five bushels of barley seed.
      • It coincided with Passover.
    • Wheat harvest.
      • Wheat was the most important grain.
      • The wheat harvest was typically complete around the beginning of June.
      • It culminated with the feast at Pentecost, also called the Festival of Weeks, which would begin seven weeks or 50 days after Passover.
      • Deuteronomy 16:9  “You are to count seven weeks, counting the weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain.
      • Exodus 34:22 “Observe the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the agricultural year.
  • Ruth gathered grain for an extended period of time.
    • An understanding of the agricultural cycle of the region and time indicates that Ruth was able to gather grain, both barley and wheat, for approximately two months.
    • During this time, even if Ruth doesn’t continue at the same gleaning pace as on the first day, it is safe to infer that over the course of the harvest, she was able to bring an overflowing abundance to Naomi’s house to provide for their needs.

Let’s make some summary observations from this passage.

  • The Lord’s favor does not mean we will have a trouble-free life.
  • Ruth was not only a hard worker; she didn’t waste anything God had provided to her.
  • The change in Naomi occurred because of the hope she had in Boaz as a kinsman-redeemer.

Applications

  • Hard work pays off. This isn’t an endorsement of works-based salvation. However, it is an endorsement of doing our best at whatever we do. Colossians 3:23  Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.
  • Do you practice stewardship with your resources? Ruth didn’t waste any of her mid-day meal that Boaz provided. She brought what was leftover and shared it with Naomi. How often do we see others, or maybe even ourselves, take more food than we eat and then throw the extra away? This concept doesn’t apply to just food. Do we “need” a big house just because, or could we make do with a smaller place.
  • Just as Naomi and Ruth had a kinsmen-redeemer, Boaz, to rescue them, we also have a Redeemer. No matter what our circumstances or difficulties are, we can rejoice and take comfort in the fact that Jesus is our Redeemer. When we have surrendered to His lordship, we have no more worries or fears, regardless of the difficulties that we are going through.

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