Tuesday, Dec 01st

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Ruth 2

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Verses 1-3

  1. And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.

  2. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.

  3. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.

Naomi was related by marriage to a local businessman named Boaz, who was a ‘kinsman’ of her late husband (same tribe). He is described as a “mighty man of wealth”, which tells us he had great power and was very rich. His main business was in “the city”, Bethlehem, which tells us that the place was at that time prosperous. Later, in the time of Christ, it was a poor village. The Chaldean translation calls him “mighty in law”, which meant he had excellent knowledge of God’s laws. A businessman who was also a strong believer. Unusual! If only modern businessmen were as faithful to God. (Some are, but it is rare).

Boaz (‘fleetness’) was an ancestor of David, and a major employer in the area. Ruth told Naomi she would go to the fields below, to “glean ears of corn”, and hopes the owners would allow her to do so. As a widow she had no means of support, and the idea was to enter the fields after the reapers had cut the corn, to pick up grain left on the floor of the field. It was either that or starve, and it was allowed by Israelite law. Naomi agreed. So, Ruth made her way to the fields and waited until the reapers had done their work. Then, she followed behind and began to pick up corn heads fallen to the ground. She began by picking up corn owned by someone else, and slowly moved on to the field owned by Boaz (as she later discovered).

Verses 4-7

  1. And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.

  2. Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?

  3. And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:

  4. And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.

Ruth was busy picking up corn kernels when Boaz returned from business in Jerusalem a few miles north. He greeted his reapers: “Jehovah be with you!” They replied in similar fashion: “Jehovah bless thee”. Though a very brief exchange it suggests he was a loved employer and had care for those who worked for him… a rare occurrence nowadays in big business.

Boaz looked around his field and asked the foreman of the reapers “whose damsel is this?” indicating Ruth. He told Boaz Ruth was a Moabite who came with Naomi when she returned home. (By now Ruth was a proselyte* – a foreigner who chose to follow the God of Israel). He knew Naomi because she was married to his relative. The foreman told Boaz Ruth had asked permission to pick up the corn that fell to the floor. She had been working all day with only a short respite “in the house”. Though Naomi could easily have pressed upon her relative to provide for them, she did not, and struggled to maintain herself and Ruth on her own. Some modern Christians have fallen into the socialist trap of not working. They prefer a life of low income from the state without expending energy. This is not God’s way – we must all work for a living, with no excuses! Not even ‘conditions’ should prevent us from doing so.

(*Proselytes in Israel were considered to be of two types – those who were ger tzedek, or ‘righteous proselytes’, devout and fully engaged in Judaistic worship, and ger toshav, ‘gate proselytes’ who were partial followers. The righteous ones were accepted as full members of Israel and Ruth was evidently of this kind).

No Christian should try to persuade or expect a relative or fellow believer to help them… help must come because the Spirit has prompted the Believer to do so. This is why ministries that continually seek donations are not acting properly nor biblically. God will make sure a ministry continues if it is genuine and has been brought into being by Himself (my ministry has continued mainly unaided for 35 years!). I also have issue with churches passing around a collection box. The box, if used, should be in a quiet place and not forced upon people.

Ruth and Naomi were, then, poor. They were reduced to picking up ears of corn that fell after reaping. Sadly, it is a fact that those who are poor, even amongst Christians, are hardly given a second glance… one’s worth is counted by clothing, cars, house, money and status! And so, many miss the greatness that can be within the poor believer. His words count for little and his fellows seem to congregate around the wealthy members (if any), whether they are of spiritual help or not. Naomi and Ruth simply got on with their poverty so they could have simple food. And that is to their commendation. There are many well educated Christians today in lowly jobs, but God is on their side! There is a Latin that translates: “No labour is a reproach”. At least the one whose job is well below his education and abilities, can hold his head up high. There is another Latin saying; “Youth should work” and not lay around playing computer games or listening to infernal music! If they have no paid work they should offer their services voluntarily!

Ruth’s very footsteps were led by God, because she worked her way through one field until she happened to come into a field owned by Boaz. She had no idea who the fields belonged to… but God has His ways, and His plan included her getting noticed by Boaz. So, the Holy Spirit directed her and God’s wondrous plan was slotting into place! In our day, if we are faithful to the Lord He will guide our path, so we should not think any part of our day is lost. We will probably not realise that what we do is in His hands, but we must always act as though the Lord is actively making us do what is necessary, even if what happens is onerous or seemingly unwanted.

Verses 8-12

  1. Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:

  2. Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.

  3. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?

  4. And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.

  5. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

Boaz approached Ruth with concern and called to her. He urged her not to wander into other fields but to stay in his own, alongside the other maidens of his household who were reaping. He warned the men of his staff not to harass her and to allow her to draw from the water urns. Ruth was overwhelmed by his generosity and care and fell on her face before him, asking why he was so kind to her, a stranger.

Boaz told her he had information that she looked after her mother-in-law after leaving her home and family to do so, and travelled to Israel without knowing how she would fare. Boaz then said “The Lord recompense thy work” and told her God would give her a full reward for trusting in Him. Exactly the same happens today! Trust in God and do what is good, and He will give rewards. But, not otherwise!

Verses 13-16

  1. Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.

  2. And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.

  3. And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:

  4. And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.

After such a godly response from Boaz, Ruth thanked him for his kindness and hoped-for favour, even though he did not personally know her, and she was not even one of his staff. Boaz again responded, evidently pleased with her attitude, and invited her to eat with everyone else at lunch. It is amusing to note that what they ate would not be unusual even today – bread dipped in vinegar! This is a typical Mediterranean snack, sometimes mixed with olive oil. When it was time to eat, though she was not on Boaz’s payroll, she sat with the reapers and ate the bread. Boaz added a portion of parched (roasted) corn (similar in appearance to modern popcorn, but softer and tastier) to her meal, which shows tenderness in his attitude. When she had finished her meal, Ruth left. Romance was in the air!

Ruth went back to picking up corn. Meanwhile Boaz told his servants to allow her to pick up corn even amongst the plants not yet gleaned. He even ordered them to secretly put handfuls of corn onto the ground so Ruth could gather more. He was certainly looking after her! Likewise, we should look after each other, not out of duty alone but of loving concern. All Christians say they ‘love’ their brethren or God, but few show it in practical ways. It is a truth, that we can read scripture every day, but unless we put its words into practice it is useless head-knowledge only. We must do what God commands while we still have time; hours pass and cannot be retrieved. When we do not practice what God commands, we have forever lost the opportunity as God watches us waste the time. Such who do this will not have His blessings.

Verses 17-19

  1. So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.

  2. And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed.

  3. And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.

Ruth worked tirelessly at her back-breaking task throughout the hot day until evening. In total she gathered an ephah of grain. This is about 40 litres in weight, though rabbinical sources might half that amount (between 20 and 40 kilos). Ruth ground the grain down to meal on the spot to make it easier to carry, and took it back home, weighty though her pack was. She did not ask for assistance. Today, some believers ask for help and do not instead try their best to do what they can for themselves. On the other hand, when they need help, how many fellow believers offer it, quietly, without fuss or demand for recognition?

Ruth also brought back food she did not finish at her lunch, and gave it to Naomi. Naomi asked where she had picked the corn. Ruth told her she had worked in the field owned by a man named Boaz. God was bringing together even more strands of His secret plans…

Verses 20-23

  1. And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.

  2. And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.

  3. And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.

  4. So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.

Naomi was happy that Boaz had shown such kindness to Ruth, and “to the dead”, meaning he had thereby helped Naomi, a widow. She told Ruth that Boaz was a close relative of hers, through marriage. Ruth continued to tell her how Boaz instructed his reapers to assist Ruth until the end of the harvest. Naomi praised the fact that Ruth did not need to go to other fields. So, Ruth went out every day until the harvest was completed, gathering as much grain as possible. As Christians we should be just as industrious in our work and dealings in the things of God, while there is still time. He has given each of us a service to do, and, with every moment, we have that opportunity. Let us never waste our time. I am sometimes told to rest and do not do so much… but, my life is short and the Lord requires me to do His will!

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Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Wales
United Kingdom