v1 Elimelech had been Naomi’s husband. Boaz was a relative of Elimelech. Boaz was an important man. v2 Ruth was from Moab. She said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the field where I can *glean *grain. Perhaps someone will be kind to me.’ Naomi said to her, ‘Go, my daughter.’ v3 So Ruth left and went to the field. There she *gleaned *grain behind the harvesters. Now she happened to come to the part of the field that belonged to Boaz. He was a relative of Elimelech. v4 Just then, Boaz came from Bethlehem. He said to the harvesters, ‘I pray that the *LORD will be with you.’ They said to Boaz, ‘We pray that the *LORD will do good things to you.’
Verse 1 This verse tells us about Boaz before he actually comes into the story. He was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, and he was a rich and honourable man. It is important for us to know the family connection. In Israel, families owned the land. All the land was a gift from God, so each family cared very much about their part of it. Elimelech had no son to take his responsibilities, but his family tried to help Naomi and Ruth.
Verses 2-3 Ruth was younger than Naomi was. So she offered to gather grain that the men had left. It was usual to allow widows and foreigners to do this (see Leviticus 19:9-10). This was called *gleaning. God made this rule for his people. It was a way for them to share his gifts with poor people. Ruth seems to have chosen Boaz’s field by chance. However, we know that God makes good things happen. He does this when we trust him.
Verse 4 Now Ruth was working in the field. Boaz, the master, arrived. He said, ‘I pray that the *LORD will be with you.’ The workers replied, ‘We pray that the *LORD will do good things to you.’ His words to his workers show that he is a good master. He was using words that a priest would use to bless the people. The workers replied in the same way. God was there, at their place of work. His people can always be sure of this.
v5 Boaz asked his servant, ‘Who is that young woman?’ The servant was the leader of the harvesters. v6 He said, ‘The young woman is from Moab. She came back from the country called Moab with Naomi. v7 She said, “Let me *glean by the *sheaves. Let me walk behind the harvesters.” She came at dawn and has been working until now. She only rested in the house for a short time.’
v8 So Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Listen to me, my daughter. Do not go to another part of this field to *glean. Do not go away from here. Stay with my women servants. v9 Look in the field where the harvesters are. *Glean where they are. I will tell the men not to touch you. The men have filled jars with water. If you want a drink, use those jars.’ v10 Then Ruth fell on the ground and hid her face. She asked him, ‘Why are you so kind to me? Why did you notice me? I am a foreign woman.’ v11 Boaz replied, ‘They told me everything that you have done for your husband’s mother. When your husband died, you came away from your mother and father and from your own country. You came to people that you did not know before. v12 I ask the *LORD to be good to you for what you have done. I pray that the *LORD, the God of Israel, will pay you in full. That is because you came to him for protection.’ v13 Then she said, ‘You are so kind to me, my *lord, because you are giving me help. I am only a servant girl, but you speak to me like a friend. I am not even one of your own women servants.’
Verses 5-13 Verse 5 makes it clear that Boaz and Ruth had not met before. The chief worker told his master that Ruth had come to Bethlehem with Naomi. And he told Boaz that she was from Moab. She had asked him to allow her to join the other women. And he did. She worked hard. So Boaz’s chief worker had obeyed God’s law. The stranger had gathered food with the women from Bethlehem.
In verse 8, Boaz showed Ruth that he accepted her. He gave her protection. And he offered her drink from the water jugs that his young men had brought. This was more than the law demanded. Boaz was very helpful to Ruth. He was a generous master. And he was kind to those who depended on him.
Ruth had not expected so much kindness. She was very grateful and humble. She fell on the ground to show that she respected him. Her first question was, ‘Why are you so kind to me? I am a foreign woman.’ He had looked after her especially.
Boaz showed Ruth that he accepted her. Boaz’s God will accept her too. She has chosen to come and be one of God’s people, so God will surround her with his love. He will keep Ruth safe. He will be like a mother bird that provides shelter for her babies under her wings.
v14 When it was time for a meal, Boaz said to her, ‘Come with us. Take some of our bread. Put it in the *vinegar.’ So she sat by the harvesters. Boaz gave her some of the *barley, hot from the fire. She ate as much as she wanted. But some remained. v15 Then Ruth started to *glean again. Boaz told his men, ‘Let her *glean under the *sheaves. Do not stop her. v16 You can also pull out some *barley from the *sheaves. Drop it where she can *glean it. And do not tell her that she must not.’
Verses 14-16 Boaz continued to offer Ruth more than God’s law told him to do. He was happy for Ruth to share food with him. And he allowed her to take grain from the whole field, not just the edges. It was a huge gift without limits. God is a generous God who loves us. And so he gives to us in the same way.
v17 So, Ruth *gleaned in the field until the evening. Then she *threshed what she had *gleaned. She had about 20 litres of *barley *grain. v18 She took the *grain and she went to the town. Her husband’s mother saw how much Ruth had *gleaned. Then she gave her husband’s mother the food that she had not eaten at the meal time. v19 Her husband’s mother asked her, ‘Where did you *glean today? Where did you work? Good things should happen to the man who gave you help.’ So she told her husband’s mother what she had done. She said, ‘The name of the man that I worked with today is Boaz.’v20 Then Naomi said to her son’s wife, ‘I pray that the *LORD will do good things to him! He has not stopped showing his kind love to the living and to the dead.’ Naomi also said to her, ‘The man is a relative of ours. He might *redeem us.’ v21 Then Ruth, the woman from Moab, said, ‘Boaz also told me, “Stay near my servants until the end of the harvest”.’ v22 Naomi said to Ruth, her son’s wife, ‘It is good if you stay with his young women. Do not go to another field where someone may hurt you.’ v23 So Ruth stayed near Boaz’s young women. She *gleaned until the end of the *barley harvest and of the wheat harvest. She continued to live with her husband’s mother.
Verses 17-20a Ruth had gathered about 20 litres of grain. She was able to take this to Naomi, as well as what remained from her meal. First Naomi blessed the good man who had been kind to Ruth. Then she praised God for the meeting of Ruth and Boaz. God had remembered those who were dead, Elimelech and his sons. And he had remembered the widows who were still living. His kindness continues for all time. By Boaz, God will provide for them.
Verses 20b-23 Boaz was a member of Elimelech’s family (see verse 1). He would protect Ruth as she continued to find food in his fields. After the *barley harvest, it was the wheat harvest. All through the time of harvest, Ruth worked in the fields that belonged to Boaz.