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TO BOAZ’S FIELD AND BACK
II. FIELD CHOSEN (Ruth 2:2-3)
Victor M. Eskew
II. FIELD CHOSEN (Ruth 2:2-3)
A. The Conversation (Ruth 2:2)
1. The Asking (Ruth 2:2a)
And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, Let me now go to the field and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace.
a. Her race: Ruth the Moabitess
1) The fact that Ruth was from Moab would always follow her.
2) In gleaning, it could present a problem.
- She would be a foreigner.
- She would be considered a possible enemy of God’s people.
b. Her request: Let me now to the field…
1) We are impressed with the respect that Ruth continues to demonstrate for Naomi. Before going to glean, she seeks her permission.
2) The two are again seen to have changed places. Naomi had come to the fields of Moab to find food (Ruth 1:1-2). Now, Ruth seeks food in the land of Canaan.
3) Gleaning “ears of corn” is not a good translation for us today. It is better: “…ears of grain…” “The old English term ‘corn’ was used more generically than it is today” (Stewart, 63).
- This is a key word of the chapter. It is used 12 times in Ruth 2.
- It indicates the poverty of the two women. They would not have to eke out a meager existence. This is part of the warning that Naomi had given to Ruth before she followed her to Bethlehem.
- “…after him in whose sight I shall find grace.”
+ It appears that the landowner had some say in who he would allow to enter his field to glean.
+ Ruth hoped for “grace”
= Favor (NOTE: Ruth was a needy person who stood in need of another’s favor).
= This author prefers the word “help” to favor. Grace involved the superior helping the one who was inferior and in need.
= It involved an inferior gaining acceptance from a superior.
= It also involved kindness being shown from another.
2. The Approval (Ruth 2:2b)
And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
a. Naomi allows her to go.
b. NOTE: There is no indication that Naomi tells her where to go.
c. Naomi still refers to Ruth as “my daughter.” Just because they had begun a new life in Bethlehem did not mean that she saw Ruth any differently than she did in Moab.
B. The Choice (Ruth 2:3)
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 to Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.
a. “All the area around Bethlehem that was able to be cultivated was called the field and various residents of the city owned portions of it” (Peipman, 140).
1) This field could stretch out for miles.
2) Pathways and stone markers marked one landowner’s property from another. (NOTE: In the OT there is a warning given against removing the ancient landmarks, Deut. 19:14; 27:17; see Job 24:2; Prov. 22:28; 23:10).
b. Boaz was one of many landowners within this field.
2. The text reveals that Ruth’s “hap” was to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz.
1) Strong (4745): something met with, that is, an accident or fortune
2) BDB: unforeseen meeting or even, happening, chance…fortune, fate
3) See Philemon 15
For perhaps he departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever.
b. One wonders what it was about this field that caused Ruth to choose it.
1) More grain
2) Fewer reapers
3) Close to the house
4) The friendliness of other workers
5) First field she came to
c. “It is a curious coincidence that out of all the fields, Ruth should happen to pick one belonging to a rich relative…” (Peipman, 141).
1) “Here we have yet another reinforcement of our author’s faith in the gracious providence of God” (Atkinson, 61).
2) “Block notes the irony of this statement, contending that ‘its purpose is to undermine purely rational explanations for human experiences and to redefine the reader’s understanding of providence’” (Stewart, 65).
3) “What to Ruth was sheer coincidence in an unplanned set of circum-stances, we understand…as part of the outworking of God’s gracious care” (Atkinson, 61).
4) The paradox of providence
a) “Here in the story of Ruth we see clearly illustrated the truth that God’s gracious providence does not over-ride human decision and human action” (Atkinson, 62)
b) “And his gracious providence is expressed through the outworking in our space and time of our free human choices, decisions, and respon-sibilities” (Atkinson, 63).
c) No intervention of God caused Ruth to desire to glean. God did not tell Naomi to instruct Ruth where to go. Ruth selected a field of her own choosing, “not of God’s choosing.” Or, was it?
d) “This is God’s world, and even our chance ‘haps’ are part of his over-ruling providence” (Atkinson, 63).
3. “…who was one of the kindred of Elimelech.”
a. This is the aspect of Ruth’s choice that shows the providence of God at work.
b. How many other landowners were there? Yet, Ruth just happened to choose the one that belonged to one of Elimelech’s kinsmen.
c. He would be the kinsman who had both the means and the desire to redeem Ruth.