Ruth 2 (New Living Translation)
Ruth Works in Boaz’s Field
1 Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.
He is “a prominent rich man,” or more literally, “a mighty man of strength,” a phrase more often used of warriors than of landholders.
–Patricia K. Hull
2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”
Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” 3 So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters.
Leviticus 19:9-10 (New International Version)
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.”
Barley is a versatile cereal grain, used for animal fodder, certain alcoholic beverages, and foods like soups and breads. Some scholars believe that barley was the first domesticated grain in the Near East. Cheaper than wheat, it was often mixed with wheat to make a flour that people would use in “barley bread,” which was a staple of the poor. Now barley is the fourth-largest cereal crop in the world, grown in about 100 countries world-wide. It is a good source of fiber, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Today would be a good day for some beef and barley soup and a nod to Ruth!
And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.
4 While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said.
“The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied.
5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”
6 And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. 7 She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”
by Phillips Brooks
Sweet Moab gleaner on old Israel’s plain,
Thy simple story moveth like a power.
Thy pure, calm face looks from the ripened grain,
Wherein thou gleanest, on our toil and pain,
And in the light of thy soft eyes again
Our dead lives bud and blossom into flower.
But lives like thine, sweet Ruth, are holy things,
Rich, simple, earnest in their wealth of duty;—
God’s love forever to their music sings,
His angels shield them with their sheltering wings,
His spirit truth and trust and comfort brings,
And God Himself smiles on their godlike beauty.
Brooks is best known for writing the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
8 Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. 9 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”
Proverbs 11:25 (New International Version)
A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”
Philippians 2:3 (New International Version)
In humility consider others better than yourselves.
11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”
13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”
14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.”
This is a mistranslation of course. The original word in ancient Hebrew is “Hometz.” Which not only sounds a bit like “Hummus,” but also resembles the word “Himtza,” the Hebrew name of chick-peas.
So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.
15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. 16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”
Proverbs 14:21 (English Standard Version)
Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
Oh, Boaz, you have come across a prize! And “once you have found her, never let her go.” From South Pacific, “Some Enchanted Evening.” This classic song is sung by Sir Thomas Allen, with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.
from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon,
revised and updated by Alistair Begg
So she gleaned in the field until evening.
Let me learn from Ruth, the gleaner. As she went out to gather the ears of corn, so must I go forth into the fields of prayer, meditation, the ordinances, and hearing the word to gather spiritual food.
The gleaner gathers her portion ear by ear; her gains are little by little: so must I be content to search for single truths, if there be no greater plenty of them. Every ear helps to make a bundle, and every gospel lesson assists in making us wise unto salvation.
The gleaner keeps her eyes open: if she stumbled among the stubble in a dream, she would have no load to carry home rejoicingly at eventide. I must be watchful in religious exercises lest they become unprofitable to me; I fear I have lost much already—O that I may rightly estimate my opportunities, and glean with greater diligence.
The gleaner stoops for all she finds, and so must I. High spirits criticize and object, but lowly minds glean and receive benefit. A humble heart is a great help towards profitably hearing the gospel. The engrafted soul‐saving word is not received except with meekness. A stiff back makes a bad gleaner; down, master pride, thou art a vile robber, not to be endured for a moment.
What the gleaner gathers she holds: if she dropped one ear to find another, the result of her day’s work would be but scant; she is as careful to retain as to obtain, and so at last her gains are great. How often do I forget all that I hear; the second truth pushes the first out of my head, and so my reading and hearing end in much ado about nothing! Do I feel duly the importance of storing up the truth?
A hungry belly makes the gleaner wise; if there be no corn in her hand, there will be no bread on her table; she labours under the sense of necessity, and hence her tread is nimble and her grasp is firm; I have even a greater necessity, Lord, help me to feel it, that it may urge me onward to glean in fields which yield so plenteous a reward to diligence.
18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.
19 “Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”
So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”
20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”
21 Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.”
22 “Good!” Naomi exclaimed. “Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”
23 So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz’s fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she continued working with them through the wheat harvest in early summer. And all the while she lived with her mother-in-law.
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.