About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Meets Boaz (ch. 2:1 - 23)
In verse 1 we see a man
named Boaz. He was a man of
great standing, which in context I believe means, he was a man of
wealth. He was also a
relative of Elimelech, Naomi's late husband.
The mere mentioning of this fact might tell us that Naomi had the
kinsman redeemer in mind when she returned to her homeland.
Here's another hint of things to come when thinking of the
spiritual significance to this story.
Rahab was the prostitute
who aided Joshua and his army to attack
In verse 2 Ruth asks
Naomi if she could go into the fields and pick up the produce which the
hired men, the harvesters of barley, dropped as they harvested the crop.
This tells me that Ruth understands the laws of
The Law of Moses provided
for poor people to follow behind the harvesters while they harvested.
Anything the harvesters dropped on the ground would be given to
the poor people following behind, and because of poor harvesting
techniques compared to us, there was lots of barley dropped on the
ground. The harvesters were
also told by the Law that they couldn't harvest in the corners of their
fields or along the edges of their fields.
That was to be harvested by the poor.
This was a right of the poor according to the Law of Moses.
It was not an act of kindness by the land owner or the harvester.
This is called the Law of Gleaning. (Leviticus 19:9-10, 23:22,
This law of gleaning is
interesting and maybe even important for us today when it comes to
helping the poor. The Law of
Moses provided for the poor, but not through a simple hand out.
The poor had to work for what they got.
This might well be something to think about in today's world of
It appears that Ruth had
no particular field in mind to glean from.
Whatever harvesters would find favour with her, she would glean
from. Some might not find
favour because she was not an Israeli.
Verse 3 tells us that
Ruth just happened to pick Boaz's field to glean in.
From the text, as I read it, she didn't have this particular
field in mind. This was no
happenstance, so to speak. Hebrews
back then didn't believe in happenstance or luck.
This, as we will see was clearly God's will for Ruth. That being
said, the text doesn't say that Ruth had divine guidance in her choice
of fields to glean in. As
the Psalm says, the Lord will direct the steps for those who acknowledge
Him. (Psalms 37:23) I think
this is what is happening here. Both
Naomi and Ruth were women who acknowledged the presence of Yahweh in
their lives, so the Lord directed the steps of Ruth to the field that
would benefit her most, and that was Boaz's field.
This principle is important when attempting to understand the
will of God for one's life. There
are many ways the Lord shows us His will.
Sometimes it is through direct speaking to us, whether in a
vision, or simply being led by the Spirit.
But here, we see another way.
Jesus directs our paths without even us knowing it.
Of course, this only happens when we are walking with the Lord as
we should be.
It appears that Boaz was
a righteous man. I say that
because when he came from
Note that Boaz came from
In verse 5 Boaz asked his
foreman of the fields who the young woman belong to.
Some Bible teachers suggest that Boaz saw how beautiful Ruth
looked and fell in love with her at first sight.
I think that's pure speculation and stretching things. Those who
see that here simply want to make this into more of a love story than
what it really is. The text
says nothing about Boaz being struck by love at first sight.
Boaz probably knew most, if not all, the people in the area.
He had simply not ever seen Ruth before, although we will see
that he had heard of her.
need to note here who Ruth belonged to.
All women belonged to someone.
That was the nature of all cultures back then.
It wasn't like today. Women
wouldn't like being viewed as belonging to anyone today.
All woman belonged to a man back then, whether a father or a
husband. If you didn't
belong to a man, as was the situation with Ruth, it was somewhat
disgraceful. Ruth actually
belonged to Naomi, and belonging to a woman back than was nothing like
belonging to a man.
In verse 6 the foreman of
the harvest said that she was Ruth the Moabite who returned to
Verse 7 portrays Ruth as
a very hard worker. She
gathered all day long, only resting for a short time. Being poor didn't
mean she was lazy.
Note the term
"gather among the sheaves". Sheaves were bundles of barley,
wheat, or whatever was being harvested.
The harvesters would tie the crop together in these bundles, but
as they tied the bundles some would drop to the ground.
This is what Ruth was gleaning, and, the Law of Moses forbid the
harvesters to pick up what they dropped from the sheaves.
In verse 8 Boaz calls
Ruth "my daughter". This
doesn't mean that Boaz was her father.
It is simply a kind expression to a young lady that Boaz had
never met, but respected because of what he heard concerning her.
We also know that Boaz was much older than Ruth; how much older
we don't know. He had to be
old enough to be her father, thus another reason for calling her
"my daughter". The irony here is that "my daughter"
would soon become "my wife".
I believe the time in
which this event takes place is during a time of revival in Israel. I say that because the
famine that I believe was God's judgment is over and God is now blessing
Israel. He'd only bless
In verses 8 and 9 Boaz
basically raises the status of Ruth being a poor gleaner to Ruth being
like one of his own workers. She
was allowed to gather with the workers.
She could drink water when she was thirsty.
She could be with other young girls in the fields, and, the young
men were told not to touch her. This
last statement probably tells us something about young men who were
probably uncultured as we know uncultured.
I'm sure the temptation was there for men to touch, and maybe do
more than just touch, young women who were gleaning, especially when the
young woman was a Moabite and not an Israeli.
They would have had no protection. They could have easily been
taken advantage of by the harvesters while in the field.
Most Bible scholars say
by verse 9 we are at the wheat harvest, which is around the time of the
Feast of Pentecost, which again, his another hint to the typological
significance here. It is
interesting to note that the acceptance of a Gentile woman by Boaz took
place around what would become Pentecost.
This is significant if you read Acts 2 where the Holy Spirit was
given to the church, first to the Jews and then soon after to the
Boaz says in verse 9,
"watch the field where the men are harvesting".
Boaz told Ruth that whatever field the men are harvesting in, go
with them. In my thinking,
this tells me that Boaz had more than one field.
One day the harvesters would be in one field, the next day in
another field. Verse 1 told
us that Boaz was a man of standing, probably meaning "a man of
money", as seen here, a man with many fields.
In verse 10 we see that
Ruth was taken back by what Boaz had told her. She
asked why he was acting so kindly to her, especially because she was a
Moabite woman. This would
only be a natural question to ask. Here
is a wealthy older Jewish man treating a younger pagan woman kindly.
Ruth's association with Naomi had something to do with this.
Those who want to make this into a love story suggest that love
at first sight caused Boaz to be so kind, but again, the love story
aspect to this should be minimized, or so I believe.
Besides, love at first sight here is pure speculation.
If Boaz was the righteous
man that I've portrayed him to be, and, if he attempted to follow the
ways of Yahweh, some might believe that he would not be interested in a
Moabite pagan woman in a romantic sense.
Others might argue the fact that Ruth was a Jewish convert so
that would make it proper for Boaz to be interested romantically in
Ruth, and they may have a point.
In verses 11 and 12 we
see the real reason why Boaz was so kind to Ruth.
He said that he has
heard how kind she was to Naomi. She
left her family, her homeland, and taken up residence with Naomi in a
land that wasn't her own. He
had heard of her commitment not only to Naomi, but to
Notice the word
"wings" in verse 12. Wings
in the Old Testament are often symbolic of protection.
Ruth not only left her homeland for the promised land, but she
left her pagan gods to find shelter and protection under the wings of
Yahweh. We will see later
that she will find shelter and protection also under the wings of Boaz.
In verse 13 Ruth was very
appreciative of what Boaz is doing for her.
She called him "lord'. Notice
"lord" with a small "l", not a capital
"L". The word is
"Adonai" in Hebrew, not "Yahweh".
Ruth is being very respectful and thankful to Boaz because, as
she says, she's not one of the Jews.
She's not even on the same level as one of Boaz's servant girls.
She is a poor pagan widow. That's
pretty much at the bottom of the barrow, so to speak. Such an
appreciative spirit is something we all need, but is something that is
progressively lacking these days.
In the world of internet and blogging, we all want to be seen as
experts, not as the servants of the Lord we should be seen as.
Boaz has already offered
Ruth land to glean from, but here in verses 14 and 15 he invites her to
a meal, something that a good Israeli wouldn't and shouldn't do.
One should never eat with a pagan.
Again, since Ruth was a Jewish convert, eating with Boaz probably
was not a big deal and would have been permissible.
Boaz feeds her bread and wine.
This should yet be another hint of the typology that this story
is. I'll talk further about
this at the end of this study of Ruth. Ruth
is well fed at this meal. She
eats as much as she wants, and has leftovers to take back to Naomi.
In verses 15 and 16 we
see yet another step in the acceptance of Ruth by Boaz.
She not only could pick of the crop that falls to the ground, but
Boaz told his harvesters to purposely drop some of the crop from the
sheaves for Ruth to pick up. This
isn't really gleaning. This
went far beyond what the Law of Moses said must be done.
A kind act of graciousness this was.
Notice how Boaz cared for
Ruth. In verse 15 we see
Boaz telling his harvester "not to embarrass" Ruth.
I don't believe that Boaz was saying this or doing any of what he
was doing because he had romantic ideas.
He simply cared for Ruth as if she was his own daughter.
Remember, Boaz was old enough to be her father. I'm
sure the men in the fields could have easily said very embarrassing
things to Ruth. Men can be
In verse 17 Ruth goes to
the "threshing floor" in the evening.
This threshing floor was normally high on a hill where the wind
could be felt. It was an
easy way to separate the chaff from the barley or wheat.
You'd throw the barley in the air and the wind would blow away
the light chaff while the barley would fall to the ground to keep.
After being at the
threshing, Ruth went home to Naomi.
She offered her some barley as well as the leftovers from her
lunch she eat with Boaz and the other harvesters.
Again, there is typological significance here that I will discuss
In verse 19 Naomi asked
where Ruth gleaned that day. It's
clear that she was wondering who was so kind to Ruth because of all she
had brought home. It was
also obvious that Ruth did more than simple gleaning, just picking up
the leftovers. She actually
harvested barley and brought part of her lunch home with her.
Naomi is now very curious. Ruth
tells Naomi that the man's name was Boaz.
In verse 20 we see a
change in the way that Naomi is feeling since chapter 1.
In the first chapter she was quite depressed, thinking the Lord
had forsaken her, and even punished her.
Now she says, "the Lord has not stopped showing His kindness
towards the living and the dead".
Naomi was now beginning to clue in to what could soon happen.
The living in this verse probably
refers to her and Ruth. The
dead probably refers to Elimelech, Naomi's deceased husband and Ruth's
deceased husband. Naomi is
beginning to think in terms of kinsman redeemer and redemption now.
Now that Naomi knows the
name of the man who blessed Ruth, the light bulb goes off in her head,
as I've just said. Naomi
tells Ruth that Boaz is a relative, "one of their kinsman
redeemers", meaning there is more than one kinsman redeemer as we
will soon see. I'm not sure
if Ruth understood what this meant, but I'm sure Naomi did, and for this
reason, her spirits were lifted.
At this point I will set
forth in brief what a kinsman redeemer is.
First of all, a kinsman redeemer isn't necessarily the brother of
a dead husband who would marry a widow as in what is call the Levirate
Marriage Law of the Law of Moses. A
kinsman redeemer is a relative. He
does not have to be a brother of a dead husband or even part of what we
would call an immediate family member. The
closest thing I would compare him to, that is, in terms of is
responsibility, would be the executer of an estate, a power of attorney
over every aspect of an estate, and even then, that is a poor example.
If a woman's husband dies, she could seek out a kinsman redeemer.
He had all the rights of the
deceased husband. The
kinsman redeemer would be on the husband's side of the family.
If there was no kinsman redeemer on the husband's side, you could
find one of the wife's side of the family. The kinsman redeemer would
marry the widow. He would be
her husband so she could have children to carry on the family line.
He could buy back any land lost due to the death of the wife's
husband or for any other reason for the loss of property.
He would avenge the murder of the wife's husband if he was
murdered. He'd find him and
have him executed. He would
simply do anything and everything to restore the family, and not only
the family, but the clan the family was in.
That was the ultimate goal of the kinsman redeemer, that is, to
do what was necessary to keep the clan or the tribe in existence.
The kinsman redeemer, as
some say, evolved from the Levirate Marriage law.
The kinsman redeemer is not specified in the Law of Moses.
Some poor widows would have fallen through the cracks of the
Levirate Law that specified a brother of the dead husband was to marry
the widow. Naomi had no such
brother-in-law. So, for
those like her, Levirate Marriage expanded into the kinsman redeemer to
help widows like Naomi.
"redemption" is an important word when it comes to the kinsman
redeemer. Both the widow and
the land were redeemed. See
Leviticus 25. More than a
love story, the book of Ruth is all about "redemption".
Now, I'm sure you can
imagine what was going through Naomi's mind when she heard the name
Boaz. All that she lost when
her husband and two sons died might now be redeemed, might now be
restored back the way they were.
There is a textual
situation here that you might have noticed.
In my 1978 version of the
NIV the text states, "… the Lord has not stopped showing His
kindness …" Newer
versions of the NIV and other translations insert the pronoun
"he" instead of the Lord.
It appears that the Hebrew name for Lord, "Yahweh", is
not in the original text, but has been interpreted to be there in the
1978 NIV. Somewhere along
the line, the NIV translators have decided that the pronoun
"he" is what is to be in our English text.
The question then is asked, "who does 'he' refer to"?
Some might suggest that "he" refers to Boaz, but I
believe "he" refers to "Yahweh", as
"Yahweh" is seen in the first half of this statement.
It is the Lord who is now blessing the living and the dead, is
now blessing Naomi and Ruth. He
is doing so through Boaz.
In verse 21 Ruth tells
Naomi that Boaz told her to stay with the harvesters throughout the
harvest. Ruth was no longer
seen as just a poor pagan widow.
Again, I'm sure Naomi's
heart leaped within her. In verse 22 Naomi responds by saying,
"this is good for you ..."
And, "good for me", she might have thought.
Notice in verse 22 that
Naomi told Ruth to stay in Boaz's field because she might be banned in
another field. I suggest the
reason for this banning would be because she is a Gentile, a Moabite.
This chapter ends with
verse 23. Ruth simply did as
Naomi told her. She stayed
in Boaz's fields until both the barley and wheat harvest were over,
which, as I've said before is around what would become Pentecost.