Ruth Lesson Eight

The Royal Line – Ruth 4:13-22

13 Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name become well known in Israel. 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and took care of him. 17 The neighbor women said, “A son has been born to Naomi,” and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

David’s Genealogy from Judah’s Son

18 Now this is the genealogy of Perez:

Perez fathered Hezron.

19 Hezron fathered Ram,

who fathered Amminadab.

20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon,

who fathered Salmon.

21 Salmon fathered Boaz,

who fathered Obed.

22 And Obed fathered Jesse,

who fathered David. (HCSB)

The concluding section of chapter four is broken down into two parts: the narrative around the child born to Boaz and Ruth and a ten-generation genealogy.

Verse 13

Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

Facts to note concerning this verse.

  • Boaz fulfilled his promise to marry Ruth.
  • Ruth’s social progression has reached its conclusion.
    • A Moabite foreigner (2:10).
    • Lowest on the servant scale (2:13)
    • Maidservant (3:9).
    • Boaz’s wife.
  • Boaz fulfilled his promise to continue the family line of Mahlon.
  • Ruth becomes pregnant through Yahweh.
    • Ruth was married to Mahlon for ten years but was not able to get pregnant.
    • Ruth quickly became pregnant after marrying Boaz, maybe on the wedding night.
    • Yahweh closed Ruth’s womb during a marriage that was not based on obedience.
    • Yahweh opened Ruth’s womb and honored the prayers presented in verses 11-12.
  • At least nine months elapse between the beginning of the verse and the end.
  • Ruth gives birth to a son, establishing Mahlon’s lineage.
  • The royal line is preserved through the actions of these two humble and obedient people.

Verses 14-15

14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name become well known in Israel. 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

The women are likely neighbors or at least townspeople who know the situation surrounding Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. In the Old Testament, praise or blessings denoted positive relationships between the two parties. The women also acknowledge that a family redeemer has now arrived on the scene for Mahlon’s lineage.

The one question in verse 14 is who is “his name” referring to, Yahweh or Obed?

  • The focus on the verse seems to be on Obed and not Yahweh, although Yahweh is to be praised.
  • The last part of verse 14 indicates that the “name” is currently not well known in Israel.
  • Obed’s name will become well known throughout Israel in the future, if for no other reason than he’s King David’s grandfather.
  • The “name” is clearly referring to Obed.

In verse 15, the women discuss the implications of the birth of a son.

  • When Naomi first returned from Moab, she was bitter and destitute.
  • With the birth of Obed, her fortunes have completely reversed.
  • Naomi no longer needs to be concerned about her future welfare.
  • The idea that Ruth is better than seven sons is a remarkable statement.
    • In Israel, the ideal family consisted of seven sons – the women are saying Ruth is better than an ideal Israelite family.
    • This also could be a prophetic reference to David, as he had seven brothers and became Israel’s greatest king.

Verses 16-17

16 Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and took care of him. 17 The neighbor women said, “A son has been born to Naomi,” and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Some clarification is needed on verse 16, depending on the translation you are using. Some translations use the terms “bosom” and “nurse” in this verse. Those terms can be misleading as Naomi doesn’t become a wetnurse to her grandson. The original Hebrew word that is misleadingly translated to “bosom” is actually referring to the front of a person’s body and is implying embracing a loved one. The original word that refers to “nurse” is better translated as a nanny, someone to care for the child. In essence, verse 16 is saying that Naomi will take care of Obed as any joyous and loving grandmother would care for their grandchild. In Naomi’s case, her fortunes have come full circle. Once stripped of all male support and protection, she now has an immediate redeemer/protector in Boaz and a future redeemer/protector in Obed.

Verse 17 concludes the story of Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi in the birth and naming of the baby boy. There are several things to note about this.

  • This is the only reference in the Old Testament where women, other than the mother, were present at the naming of a baby.
    • However, this doesn’t mean the women had a role in naming the baby.
    • But it does mean they were there to witness the celebration and share in its significance.
  • The child is a son.
    • The form is in the normal form of an ancient Near East birth announcement, as found in Isaiah 9:6 and Jeremiah 20:15.
    • Because the family needed a male child to act as the future kinsman-redeemer, the birth of a son was a significant event for the family.
  • The name Obed is not explained in the text.
    • It is a form of the Hebrew word meaning “to serve.”
    • It is an abbreviated form of Obadiah, which means “servant of Yahweh.”
    • Is the boy to be viewed as a servant of Yahweh or a servant of Naomi?
      • If it is the first, then the child will take away the bitterness that Naomi mentions in 1:20-21 and to redeem the estate of her late husband.
      • If it is the second, the child serves by restoring her prosperity and providing security in her old age.
      • It could be a combination of both.
  • The historical significance does not lie in Obed directly. His significance lives on and is achieved through his grandson David.

Verses 18-22

As the book of Ruth closes, the author presents the importance of the book in a concluding genealogy.

  • The biggest need in the period of the judges was a king, since “everyone did whatever he wanted” (Judges 21:25).
  • The faithful actions of Naomi, Boaz, and Ruth led not only to a restoration of the family but also the provision of a king.
  • As the grand narrative of the Bible progresses, we see how Yahweh keeps His covenant faithfulness through His people.
  • The genealogy, which points to David, has a greater significance for us. This exact same list is included in Jesus’ genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew.
    • We see that the story of Ruth points not just to David, but ultimately to Jesus.
    • Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of all humanity if they place their trust in Him.

Summary and Conclusion on Ruth

  • The book begins with a funeral and ends with a wedding.
  • It opens with famine and closes with fullness.
  • Ruth’s love and obedience brought joy and blessing.
  • Prophetical.
    • God shows His disfavor on Israel because of their disobedience (chapter 1).
    • God uses a gentile (Ruth), just as later gentiles would be reached with the Gospel (Acts 15:14).
    • Naomi’s blessing came after Ruth’s wedding. In the same way, Israel will be restored and blessed after Christ and His church are united.
  • Typical.
    • Boaz is a picture of Christ.
    • Jesus is the ultimate kinsman-redeemer.
      • He is the Lord of the harvest.
      • He supplies our needs.
      • He redeems us.
      • He gives us rest.
  • Practical.
    • Backsliding has its consequences.
      • Naomi lost her husband.
      • She lost her sons.
    • No matter how tough the circumstances we are experiencing, the best place to be is in the will of God.
    • God is willing to forgive and restore backsliders.
    • The time we spend in disobedience can never be regained.
    • But we can regain our joy and testimony.

Applications

  • Do we rejoice in the blessings and celebrations of others? If we don’t, is it because of jealousy? Just as we share in the sorrows of those around us, we should also join in their celebrations, giving glory to God for each one of them.
  • Do we keep all parts of our promise? Boaz fulfilled everything he vowed to do. Do we resemble him in our actions, or do we stop short of total fulfillment if it gets tough or we just feel like it?
  • Have we been redeemed by Jesus? If you haven’t placed your eternity in His hands, why?
  • If you’ve been redeemed but have backslidden, don’t wait to return to Him. He stands with open arms to welcome back each truly repentant heart who realizes the mistake they’ve made. Don’t let pride or guilt stand in the way of blessings.

Ruth Lesson Seven

The Redemption – Ruth 4:1-12

4 Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz called him by name and said, “Come over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Then Boaz took 10 men of the town’s elders  and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down. He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, is selling a piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.  I thought I should inform you: Buy it back in the presence of those seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you want to redeem it, do so. But if you do not want to redeem it, tell me so that I will know, because there isn’t anyone other than you to redeem it, and I am next after you.”

“I want to redeem it,” he answered.

Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased man, to perpetuate the man’s name on his property.”

The redeemer replied, “I can’t redeem it myself, or I will ruin my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption, because I can’t redeem it.”

At an earlier period in Israel, a man removed his sandal and gave it to the other party in order to make any matter legally binding concerning the right of redemption or the exchange of property. This was the method of legally binding a transaction in Israel.

So the redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy back the property yourself.”

Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. 10 I will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his home. You are witnesses today.”

11 The elders and all the people who were at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is entering your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built the house of Israel. May you be powerful in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem. 12 May your house become like the house of Perez, the son Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring the Lord will give you by this young woman.” (HCSB)

Once the sun comes up, Boaz wastes no time in bringing his promise to a conclusion, regardless of whether he or the unnamed male relative is the one to redeem the land and Ruth.

This section is split into four parts.

  • Boaz preparing for “court” action, verses 1-2.
  • The court proceedings, verses 3-8.
  • Boaz’s response to the outcome of the court proceedings, verses 9-10.
  • Public reaction to the court proceedings, verses 11-12.

Verses 1-2 – Boaz preparing for court.

Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz called him by name and said, “Come  over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Then Boaz took 10 men of the town’s elders and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down.

From a cultural standpoint, many important meetings or decisions took place around the gates of cities, especially small or mid-size ones. The gates were also the location of official administrative and judicial business for the local community. Boaz now begins the legal process to acquire the land that belonged to Elimelech, as well as Ruth for the purpose of marriage. The citizens of Bethlehem would recognize and understand that Boaz was there on legal business.

We also see the hand of God at work here as the first verse says, “Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by.” This wasn’t a mere coincidence; this was the divine work of God to bring this specific man through the gate soon after Boaz had arrived and sat waiting for him.

Now that the two principal players in the legal proceeding are present, Boaz needs to gather the men as the required legal assembly for the action of redeeming the land and Ruth. A few observations on this.

  • They were citizens of Bethlehem.
  • As elders, they would be responsible for the administrative actions in the city.
  • The fact that they quickly responded to Boaz’s request signifies his stature in the community.

Now the scene is set for the legal proceedings to commence.

Verses 3-8 – The court proceedings.

He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, is selling a piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.  I thought I should inform you: Buy it back in the presence of those seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you want to redeem it, do so. But if you do not want to redeem it, tell me so that I will know, because there isn’t anyone other than you to redeem it, and I am next after you.”

“I want to redeem it,” he answered.

Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased man, to perpetuate the man’s name on his property.”

The redeemer replied, “I can’t redeem it myself, or I will ruin my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption, because I can’t redeem it.”

At an earlier period in Israel, a man removed his sandal and gave it to the other party in order to make any matter legally binding concerning the right of redemption or the exchange of property. This was the method of legally binding a transaction in Israel.

So the redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy back the property yourself.”

According to Mosaic law, the land under question was never intended to leave the family, and the concept of a kinsman-redeemer was an Israelite custom, designed to keep it in the family.

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.

Although the beginning of Ruth doesn’t specify, it is more than reasonable to assume that Elimelech was in financial trouble and sold the land in question before moving the family to Moab. Now, it is time for the land to return to its rightful family.

Another discussion point is contained in 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.’

From this passage, it would seem that the legal levirate obligation to marry the widow only applied to the immediate brothers of a deceased man. However, it is possible, if not highly likely, that Israelite custom would follow the pecking order in the inheritance law in cases where no immediate brother existed. Numbers 27:9-11  If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. 11 If his father has no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative of his clan, and he will take possession of it. This is to be a statutory ordinance for the Israelites as the Lord commanded Moses.”

From Ruth 2:1, we know that Boaz was from the clan of Elimelech but below the unnamed redeemer now meeting with Boaz.

Boaz now gets right to the point.

  • Naomi is selling the family land.
  • The unnamed man has the first right to redeem it.
  • Boaz asks for the man to make a decision regarding the redemption before the witnesses gathered.
  • Boaz asks the man to make his right then because Boaz will redeem it if the man declines.
  • Boaz is carrying through with his pledge to resolve the issue as soon as it is possible.

Thinking that it is an easy decision, the man agrees to redeem it. Now Boaz presents the complicating portion of the redemption. If the man redeems the land, he will also assume responsibility for the welfare of Ruth, which contains several issues.

  • He will assume responsibility to care for and protect Ruth.
  • Not only is Ruth a widow, but she is also a Moabite, an enemy of Israel.
  • Since Mahlon and Ruth didn’t have a child together to carry on the family name, the unnamed man will need to have a child with Ruth to carry on Mahlon’s family name.

Although the primary reason for Naomi to develop this plan was for Boaz to redeem the land and Ruth was for the protection and well-being of Ruth, we see in the last portion of verse five the most critical piece of the transaction. The continuation of the family line. The next lesson will illuminate the importance of the child.

The unnamed man is now faced with a decision, of which there are four possible courses of action.

  • He could accept the moral responsibility for Elimelech’s estate, redeem the field, marry Ruth, have children with her, and take care of Naomi.
  • He could redeem the field and pledge to marry Ruth but break the pledge after completing the deal. However, doing this would tarnish his reputation and standing in the community.
  • He could reject the offer and cede the rights to Boaz. This would not have been irresponsible as Boaz has already indicated he will redeem the land and Ruth if given the opportunity.
  • He could accept the responsibility to redeem the land but reject the responsibility to marry Ruth and have children, ceding that to Boaz. This would be dangerous on two counts. First, it would have cost him respect and honor in the community in the short-term. Second, any child between Boaz and Ruth could later claim the land costing him financially in the long-term.

Considering the economic and moral ramifications of the possible decisions, he chose the third course of action. From his response, it appears he only considered the first and third choices as viable. His decision was likely based on three main factors.

  • The economic factor.
    • Cost of redeeming the property.
    • Cost of supporting Naomi.
    • Cost of marrying Ruth.
    • He probably considered these cumulative costs as exceeding the positives of acquiring the land.
  • Implications of raising a child to carry on the name of the deceased.
    • It is possible she would have only one child.
    • The child would legally be considered a descendent of Elimelech.
    • The child would legally acquire the land in question in the current discussion.
    • The child would be eligible for at least a portion of the unnamed man’s estate.
  • Ruth was a Moabite.
    • How would the ethnic implications appear to others?
    • His estate could fall to a child that was half Moabite.

Upon reaching his decision, he removed his sandal and presented it to Boaz to signify that he had forfeited his right to redemption. The first portion of verse seven indicates that this may no longer have been an understood custom and the time Ruth was written. He also tells Boaz to buy the property himself. This concluded the court negotiation, and the decision is final and binding.

Verse 9-10

Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. 10 I will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his home. You are witnesses today.”

The land now belongs to Boaz, and he has acquired the right to marry Ruth, as well as take care of Naomi.

If anyone in the future questions Boaz’s right to the land and for marrying Ruth, he can produce both the sandal that was given to signify the legality of the transaction as well as the witnesses who were present during the proceedings. Boaz had three goals, as presented in these two verses.

  • To establish the name of the deceased on his own patrimonial ancestral land.
  • To prevent the name of the deceased from being cut off from his relatives.
  • To prevent his name from being cut off from the gate of his home.

Verses 11-12

11 The elders and all the people who were at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is entering your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built the house of Israel. May you be powerful in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem. 12 May your house become like the house of Perez, the son Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

Considering the background of Ruth, the response by the elders at the gate is extreme in the positive sense of the word. Their response can be broken down into three parts.

  • The elders pray that Yahweh would elevate Ruth to the level of two of the matriarchs of Israel, Rachel, and Leah.
    • The term “built a house” refers to having children and establishing a family line.
    • Calling upon Yahweh to bless falls in line with Psalm 127:1a  Unless the LORD builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain.
  • They pray that Boaz would be “powerful in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem.” The meaning is that Boaz would be blessed in his marriage and for the marriage to prosper.
  • The reference to Tamar needs some explanation because of the background of her becoming pregnant.
    • The story of Tamar is probably the most well-known concerning levirate obligation and betrayal. This caused her to disguise herself as a prostitute and bear twins from her father-in-law, Perez and Zerah.
    • They were the ancestors of the tribe of Judah, with Perez’s descendants playing the more significant role in Israel’s history.
    • Perez is the ancestor of Boaz’s clan that is living in Bethlehem.
    • The reference to Tamar is not an endorsement of her behavior, but rather to the idea that the family line continued even though the behavior was sinful. How much greater would the blessing be for Boaz and Ruth, who had acted in the highest moral standards.
    • Their prayer is answered by the birth of David and the establishment of the eternal royal line.

Reflecting on this chapter, we see four characteristics that distinguish Boaz from the unnamed kinsman who refused to redeem the land and Ruth.

  • Willingness – Boaz didn’t hesitate in taking on his responsibility, and he settled it on the first day possible.
  • Purposeful – All of Boaz’s actions were deliberate and well-thought. He didn’t leave anything to chance and made sure everything was done correctly.
  • Faithfulness – He fulfilled all the promises he made to Ruth the night before.
  • Unselfish – His actions were to maintain the name of the deceased husband with the property in question.

Once again, we see Boaz as a typology of Christ through his redemptive actions on behave of Naomi and Ruth.  Boaz was able to be the kinsman-redeemer because of three factors.

  • He was a near relative.
  • He was able to pay the redemption price.
  • He was willing to redeem the land and Ruth.

Christ is the ultimate kinsman-redeemer.

  • Jesus became flesh and blood, becoming our “near kinsman” for all eternity.
  • Jesus paid the eternal redemption price, His blood, and life on the cross.
  • Jesus willingly went to the cross on our behalf to restore us to “land” we had before the fall, fellowship with God in His presence.

Applications.

Although not many, if any, of us will ever have an opportunity to act as a redeemer in the same manner as Boaz, we can exhibit the same characteristics.

  • Do we willingly take on our responsibilities? These could be across a broad spectrum of actions, family, job, financial, kingdom work.
  • Are we purposeful in how we plan and execute our daily tasks? This doesn’t mean we don’t rely on the Holy Spirit, but it does mean we don’t just “wing it” every day.
  • Do we display faithfulness? Do we keep our word to do the things we have promised to others?
  • Are we unselfish in our actions? Do we do things to receive something in return, or do we do things because we want to shine the light of Christ, bless others, and love our neighbors as ourselves?
  • One final application in conjunction with the Great Commission. Are we willing and purposeful in seeking opportunities to share the Gospel? Are we faithful in accurately portraying the Gospel message, not adding or taking away from it as some heretical teaching does? Do we give God glory, or do we try and take credit for the souls that are saved? 

Ruth Lesson Six

Naomi’s Plan – Ruth 3:1-18

Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, shouldn’t I find security for you, so that you will be taken care of? Now isn’t Boaz our relative? Haven’t you been working with his female servants? This evening he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfumed oil, and wear your best clothes. Go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let the man know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, notice the place where he’s lying, go in and uncover his feet, and lie down. Then he will explain to you what you should do.”

So Ruth said to her, “I will do everything you say.” She went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law had instructed her. After Boaz ate, drank, and was in good spirits, he went to lie down at the end of the pile of barley. Then she went in secretly, uncovered his feet, and lay down.

At midnight, Boaz was startled, turned over, and there lying at his feet was a woman! So he asked, “Who are you?”

“I am Ruth, your slave,” she replied. “Spread your cloak over me, for you are a family redeemer.”

10 Then he said, “May the Lord bless you, my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before, because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say,  since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.  12 Yes, it is true that I am a family redeemer, but there is a redeemer closer than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning, if he wants to redeem you, that’s good. Let him redeem you. But if he doesn’t want to redeem you, as the Lord lives, I will. Now lie down until morning.”

14 So she lay down at his feet until morning but got up while it was still dark. Then Boaz said, “Don’t let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he told Ruth, “Bring the shawl you’re wearing and hold it out.” When she held it out, he shoveled six measures of barley into her shawl, and she went into the town.

16 She went to her mother-in-law, Naomi, who asked her, “How did it go, my daughter?”

Then Ruth told her everything the man had done for her. 17 She said, “He gave me these six measures of barley, because he said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’ ”

18 Naomi said, “My daughter, wait until you find out how things go, for he won’t rest unless he resolves this today.” (HCSB)

There are three sections to this passage.

  • Verses 1-5: Naomi’s plan.
  • Verses 6-15: The execution of the plan.
  • Verses 16-18: The results of the plan.

Naomi’s Plan

Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, shouldn’t I find security for you, so that you will be taken care of? Now isn’t Boaz our relative? Haven’t you been working with his female servants? This evening he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfumed oil, and wear your best clothes. Go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let the man know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, notice the place where he’s lying, go in and uncover his feet, and lie down. Then he will explain to you what you should do.”

So Ruth said to her, “I will do everything you say.”

Although not explicit in the conclusion of chapter two, it is safe to infer that Naomi expected Boaz to pursue Ruth in a manner that was more than a landowner being kind to a foreigner. Naomi was expecting Boaz to pursue Ruth in a way that would lead to marriage and a secure future for both her and Ruth. For whatever reason, Boaz does not follow that path, and Naomi decides to take matters into her own hand.

Verse 1

Naomi’s question to Ruth contains two parts.

  • Shouldn’t Naomi do something to find security for Ruth?
  • Shouldn’t Naomi do something so that Ruth will be taken care of and not have to worry about her future?

From a historical contextual standpoint, this was a critically important point. Women in Israel longed for the security and tranquility in the home of a loving husband. Naomi’s single reason for doing this is the welfare of her daughter-in-law. Also, it was the duty of the mother-in-law to see to the security and welfare of the widowed daughter-in-law. In this case, there is added weight as Ruth has pledged her life to Naomi until death separates them. These two women display a covenant relationship with each other where they place the other’s welfare above their own.

Verse 2

Typically, barley was threshed after the wheat was harvested, usually late May to June. The best threshing floors were rock outcroppings on hilltops. This would take advantage of the open area and wind to separate the grain from the chaff. It is also likely that the threshing floor in question here was at least on the outskirts of town, if not farther away. The rationale for doing it at night would be gentler breezes.

Verse 3-5

Although on the surface, it appears simple enough, a lot going on in the first sentence of verse three.

  • Wash – This was a typical first step in preparing for a sexual encounter or marriage.
  • Put on perfumed oil – The Hebrew verb means to anoint and likely refers to perfumed olive oil. Due to the hot climate and lack of modern deodorants, this was necessary to combat body odors.
  • Wear your best clothes – This is likely not a correct translation of the Hebrew word. Likely, Ruth was still wearing some type of clothing to indicate mourning, and changing clothes would imply a shift from mourning to everyday life.

Another reason for Boaz, or anyone, to be there at night was to act as security to ensure the grain wasn’t stolen.

Ruth wasn’t to let Boaz know she was there until he had finished eating and drinking. There is no indication that Boaz was drunk, either implicitly or explicitly. In addition, the idea of Boaz being drunk would conflict with the characteristics describing Boaz earlier in the book.

The situation gets even more complicated when Naomi tells Ruth to uncover his feet/legs and lie down with him. Understanding the cultural norms at that time make it even murkier.

  • At winnowing time, the threshing floors often became a place of illicit sex.
  • Since men often spent the night in the fields next to the collected grain, prostitutes would often visit them to offer their services.

Although Ruth’s actions could be interpreted as seductive, her actions so far and through this encounter suggest that was not the intent. Ruth is anything but a typical Moabite. Instead, Ruth possesses the characteristics of Israelite hesed, steadfast love, kindness, faithfulness, and loyalty within a relationship.

This is confirmed by Boaz’s words to her in verses 10 and 11.

  • May the Lord bless you.
  • You are a woman of noble character.

Boaz could interpret Ruth’s actions in one of three ways.

  • Boaz could wake up and interpret her actions as those of a prostitute and partake of the services offered.
  • Boaz could wake up and interpret her actions as those of a prostitute, but as a noble and virtuous Israelite chase her away.
  • Boaz could wake up and immediately recognize the true intentions of Ruth’s actions and respond favorably.

This is a reminder that sex is a wonderful gift from God to be enjoyed by a man and woman in a marriage relationship after the couple is married.

Verses 6-15

She went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law had instructed her. After Boaz ate, drank, and was in good spirits, he went to lie down at the end of the pile of barley. Then she went in secretly, uncovered his feet, and lay down.

At midnight, Boaz was startled, turned over, and there lying at his feet was a woman! So he asked, “Who are you?”

“I am Ruth, your slave,” she replied. “Spread your cloak over me, for you are a family redeemer.”

10 Then he said, “May the Lord bless you, my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before, because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say,  since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.  12 Yes, it is true that I am a family redeemer, but there is a redeemer closer than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning, if he wants to redeem you, that’s good. Let him redeem you. But if he doesn’t want to redeem you, as the Lord lives, I will. Now lie down until morning.”

14 So she lay down at his feet until morning but got up while it was still dark. Then Boaz said, “Don’t let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he told Ruth, “Bring the shawl you’re wearing and hold it out.” When she held it out, he shoveled six measures of barley into her shawl, and she went into the town.

The section is divided into two parts.

  • Verses 6-13 occurs at the threshing floor, likely between evening and midnight.
  • Verses 14-15 occur between midnight and morning and ends with Ruth returning to town with the grain.

The first subsection, verses 6-13, contains four points.

  • Ruth takes charge of the situation after Boaz wakes up and asks her who she is. This is remarkable for several reasons.
    • Ruth just described herself as a slave, and Boaz is her master.
    • Ruth is uninvited and on his turf.
    • Ruth is a woman, and Boaz is a man.
    • Ruth is a foreigner, and he is a native.
  • Because of the flipping of the roles, it begs the question, “Who is Boaz?”
  • With no warning, Ruth asks Boaz to marry her.
    • The Hebrew phrase that is translated as “Spread your cloak over me” actually means “to spread one’s wings over” and is a metaphor for the protection and provision that Yahweh provides.
      • Ruth is demanding that Boaz takes her under his wings and assume responsibility for her.
      • In Hebrew, the term “to spread one’s wings over someone” was a way to propose marriage.
      • It signified the husband’s declaration to provide for his future wife.
    • Boaz correctly interprets Ruth’s actions not as a request for sex but as a marriage proposal.
  • The basis for the proposal is that Boaz is the kinsman-redeemer for Naomi and Ruth.
    • Ruth fully understands this Israelite custom, likely from discussions with Naomi.
    • Ruth, although a Moabite, is aware and accepts the custom.

Boaz’s response is also remarkable. His response breaks down into four parts.

  • A blessing and eulogy for Ruth.
    • Asking Yahweh to bless her.
    • Acknowledgment of kindness towards Boaz.
    • Acknowledging that although Ruth could have pursued younger men, she didn’t.
  • A promise.
    • Remove any fear.
    • Boaz will pursue the marriage Ruth proposed.
    • The townspeople already recognize her noble character and would welcome the marriage.
  • A disclosure of a complication.
    • Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer.
    • However, there is a kinsman-redeemer with a closer blood tie than Boaz. That man, unnamed, will have to be given the first chance before Boaz can fulfill the promise.
  • Words of reassurance.
    • Boaz tells Ruth to rest as they can do nothing more about the situation until the morning when the issue of redemption can be brought up before the town and the man first in line to redeem Elimelech’s inheritance.
    • Boaz’s determination is expressed in the phrase “as the LORD lives,” which is an oath to make it happen.

Before moving on to the next section of the passage, let’s consider the nature of the marriage that Naomi and Ruth likely discussed and which Boaz agreed to enter.

  • So far, there has been no discussion of children.
    • The family preservation idea present in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 has not been a part of the discussion.
    • The primary reason for the marriage was not preserving Mahlon’s family name. It was to provide a secure and stable home for Ruth.
  • There are no specific instructions in the Law to cover these circumstances. Naomi’s idea is based solely on confidence that Boaz will do the right thing out of a sense of moral obligation to the family.

Boaz now senses the delicate nature of their circumstances as the sun begins to rise. Not only does Boaz need to protect Ruth’s reputation, but Boaz also has a reputation to protect as well.

  • If the workers discovered Ruth with Boaz, it would undermine his reputation and maybe his ability to effectively interact with them in the future.
  • Before allowing Ruth to leave, Boaz gives her additional grain to take back home.

Verses 16-18

16 She went to her mother-in-law, Naomi, who asked her, “How did it go, my daughter?”

Then Ruth told her everything the man had done for her. 17 She said, “He gave me these six measures of barley, because he said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’ ”

18 Naomi said, “My daughter, wait until you find out how things go, for he won’t rest unless he resolves this today.”

One can imagine that, just as Ruth and Boaz likely had a restless night, that Naomi was in the same state as she waited for Ruth to come home. Once Ruth makes it home, Naomi wants to know what happened and if her plan to join the two in marriage was a success.

The conversation then quickly shifts to the grain that Ruth brought home. In the previous section, the reader can only speculate about the reason for the gift of grain. In this section, more information is given as to the reason, and we can draw some conclusions as to why Boaz gave the grain.

  • It is possible that Boaz’s interpretation of the kinsman-redeemer principle means that he views Naomi as the true beneficiary, and his obligation is to Naomi rather than Ruth.
  • The grain could be viewed as a gift for the plan that Naomi devised.
    • Naomi encouraged Ruth to end her mourning and put on normal clothes.
    • Naomi devised the plan on how Ruth was to meet Boaz.
    • Naomi advised Ruth to present the issue of Boaz being their kinsman-redeemer.
    • Naomi was the brain behind the entire plan, and the grain is a gift in recognition of her plan.
  • It could’ve been a gift to Naomi as an indication of Boaz’s promise to redeem Ruth. Either directly or through the man who had the first chance to redeem her. In addition, since Naomi was Ruth’s legal guardian, Boaz may have intended the grain as a down payment on the bride dowry given at the time of engagement.

Naomi’s response in verse 18 indicates it is the third possibility that is the correct interpretation.

Chapter 3 continues the illustration that Boaz is a typology of Christ.

  • Redemption through a kinsman-redeemer.
    • Ruth asked Boaz to redeem her.
    • Each of us can come humbly before Jesus and ask Him for redemption from the consequences of sin, eternal condemnation, and separation from God in hell.
  • Protection.
    • Ruth sought the protection of a husband and a loving home.
    • We should daily ask for protection. This is a humble act acknowledging our reliance on God.
      • We need protection from the desires of our sinful nature.
      • From the pressures of the world.
      • From the devil, who prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
  • Responsibility.
    • Boaz accepted the responsibility to act as the kinsman-redeemer.
    • Jesus accepted the responsibility of going to the cross, demonstrating obedience to God’s plan, and accepting the responsibility of all of our sins to set us free from the condemnation we deserved.

Applications

  • Do we accept responsibility for what’s right when opportunities present themselves to us?
  • Do we act with a noble character when temptation presents itself? While Ruth was not tempting Boaz in a sexual manner, if Boaz had interpreted it that way, the situation would have had a radically different ending.
  • As we interact with our spiritual brothers and sisters, do we accept the biblical responsibility to encourage and care for each other, serve one another, sympathize with their hurts or struggles, speak the truth in love, teach and correct one another?
  • As we interact with non-Christians, do we accept the biblical responsibility to live before them in a way that shines the light of Jesus, makes the Gospel attractive to them, and share the Gospel with them?

Ruth Lesson Five

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.

Ruth Lesson Four

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?