In the second chapter of Ruth, we find Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi living in Bethlehem with no means of support. As a result, Ruth asks Naomi’s permission to go and gather grain in the fields of anyone in whose eyes she finds favor, and Naomi agrees. We continue to see God’s faithfulness as He guides Ruth to the fields of Boaz, who happens to be a relative of Naomi’s on her husband’s side. Boaz arrives at the field and immediately issues a blessing to all the workers, who respond to him in kind. This is evidence of the kind of man that Boaz is – one who is well respected and a man of integrity.
Boaz immediately notices Ruth. We’re not told what it was that attracted Boaz’s attention; it could have been that he noticed there was an extra person in his fields or he may have been drawn by her style of dress (which was likely to have been different than that of the other Israelites). He may have been drawn by her looks, as the name Ruth means “vision of beauty”. However, another person noticed Ruth before Boaz arrives, and that was the foreman of the fields. Ruth’s polite request to work in the field and her hard labor garner his attention, and the foreman gives Boaz a favorable report of her labors when Boaz arrives at the field.
Upon hearing who Ruth is and how hard she has worked, Boaz offers his provision and his protection to Ruth. He tells her to stay in his fields with his servant girls (provision) and that he has told the men not to touch her (protection). Surprised by this favor, Ruth asks, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me – a foreigner?” (verse 10) As a foreigner, Ruth was of lower social status than the servant girls, so Boaz has also elevated her position. Boaz explains that he has heard of all of her sacrifices to accompany Naomi back to Bethlehem and, in verse 12, he speaks a blessing over her. He continues to provide for her as he invites her to lunch where she eats her fill. Later, Boaz tells his harvesters to intentionally leave some stalks for her to gather.
Ruth continues working hard all day to gather barley, and at the end of the day she threshes the barley before returning to Naomi’s home. She brought leftover food to Naomi as well as the barley she had gathered during the day, which was about three-fifths of a bushel of grain. Naomi is clearly surprised and pleased at the results of Ruth’s labor and asks her in whose field she had been working. When Ruth tells her it was Boaz’s field, Naomi speaks a blessing over Boaz and then she tells Ruth that Boaz is one of their kinsman-redeemers. A kinsman-redeemer could purchase the estate of a dead man to whom he was related, assuming that he would also marry the widow. If the nearest relative would not “buy back” the widow, another close relative would be given the opportunity.
Ruth continued to work in Boaz’s fields until the barley and the wheat harvests were completed, which was a seven week process. She continued to live with Naomi during that time.
The parallels between Boaz and Jesus are many. Jesus is our provider, our protector and our redeemer. He elevates our position from that of sinner to that of child of God. Jesus is kind, accepting and loving to us. He is also our Master. Boaz was all of those things to Ruth, and through Ruth to Naomi.
There are also parallels between Ruth and humanity. We are all in need of grace, are we not? 🙂 Ruth also approaches both Naomi and Boaz with humility and deference, two qualities that we need to have as we approach the throne of Christ. We must rely on Him to provide for us and to protect us.
What stands out to you from the second chapter of Ruth? What application did you find? Continue the conversation in the comments below, and come back next Sunday for a discussion of chapter three!