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To Boaz’s Field and Back
III. THE FAVOR GRANTED (Ruth 2:4-17)
Victor M Eskew
III. THE FAVOR GRANTED (Ruth 2:4-17)
A. The Arrival of Boaz (Ruth 2:4)
And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.
1. “And, behold…”
a. This is a “Stop and Take Notice” Moment.
b. Boaz, the mighty man of wealth and owner of this part of the field, has arrived.
2. “…came from Bethlehem…”: Landowners usually dwelled in the cities and commuted to their land each day for work (Judg. 9:27, 42; 19:16).
3. “…and said to the reapers…”
a. Boaz did not see himself as too high and lofty that he could not speak to his workers.
b. Boaz understood and appreciated the role of the reapers in his success.
4. “…The Lord be with you…”
a. How many times have you ever been greeted by a business owner or a boss with these words?
b. Boaz openly acknowledges the Lord in a greeting to his workforce.
1) Cooke: “A religious spirit governs the relations between employer and employed in this estate” (as quoted by Atkinson, 64).
2) “There is no separation in the Old Testament between the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’: the whole of life is lived as ‘before the face of God’” (Atkinson, 64).
3) “…even the ordinariness of daily work is seen by Boaz and his men in the context of faith in the covenant God whose land it is” (Atkinson, 64).
c. “The Lord”
1) These are the very first words that we hear Boaz speak in the book.
2) Words are an expression of the heart.
3) What was first and foremost on the mind of Boaz was his God.
d. May the Lord be with you.
1) This was a common blessing in ancient Israel (I Sam. 17:37; 20:13; I Chron. 22:11, 16).
2) Boaz desires for the Lord to be with his reapers.
a) He wants the Lord to part of the daily lives of his reapers.
b) There is no greater desire that we can have for others.
3) Theological point: “Not only is God transcendent above His creation, but He is also near His people (Deut. 4:7; I Kings 8:59; Ps. 46:1; 73:28; Acts 17:24-28)” (Stewart, 67).
e. NOTE: At this point, the name of the Lord (Yahweh) has been found on the lips of each of the three main characters: Naomi (1:8-9, 21, see 2:10), Ruth (1:17), and Boaz (2:4; see 2:12; 3:10, 13)” (Stewart, 67).
5. The reapers reply: “The Lord bless thee.”
a. The reapers are also aware of the God of heaven.
b. They also know that God is the one who is the provider of all blessings (James 1:17).
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
c. God’s prosperity is essential for both the reapers and for Boaz.
1) If the reapers are blessed, Boaz is blessed.
2) If Boaz is blessed, the reapers will be blessed.
3) Blessings were dependent upon God.
B. The Acquisitiveness of Boaz (Ruth 2:5-7)
1. The Inquiry (Ruth 2:5)
Then said Boaz to his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
a. The servant was a manager, an overseer for Boaz.
1) Knowledge and ability put him in this position.
2) It would have been he who would have allowed individuals to glean in the field.
b. Whose damsel is this?
1) Boaz sees Ruth and does not recognize her.
2) He is curious about this mysterious stranger.
3) He wonders to whom she is connected.
a) Usually women of the ancient world would receive their identity from the men in their lives.
b) “During her youth, Ruth had been the daughter of her Moabite father (2:11). When she was married, she became the wife of Mahlon (1:4). However, he had died and Ruth had not given birth to any sons. Since she had not returned to her father’s house in Moab, she does not really belong to any man – a precarious position indeed!” (Stewart, 69).
2. The Identification (Ruth 2:6-7)
And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab. And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.
a. Country of origin: “It is the Moabitish damsel.”
1) She is a foreigner.
2) She is a specific damsel about which Boaz probably had heard (See Ruth 1:19).
b. Connection to Naomi: “…that came back with Naomi…”
1) This answers the question of Boaz directly.
2) It also affirms the accounts that Boaz may have heard about Naomi’s return. She had not returned alone.
c. Conversation with Ruth: “And she said, I pray you, let me glean…”
1) Boaz learned that Ruth was polite. She first asked permission.
2) Boaz also learned that Ruth was poor. She had to glean for food.
d. Committed to work: “…continued from the morning until now.”
1) She was not a slacker. She worked until it was time for a break.
2) Now she was resting in the house, most likely a make shift shelter for the reapers and gleaners.
e. NOTE: Boaz has now seen a woman who is beautiful, pleasant, loyal, and diligent in her labors. There may have been a couple of negatives in that she was from Moab and that she was poor. However, she was also associated with Naomi. Boaz knew Naomi and had a connection with her.
C. The Acceptance by Boaz (Ruth 2:8-9)
Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens. Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? And when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.
a. Hearest thou not?
1) This is a call to attention with the desire that one hears.
2) Oftentimes this is coupled with a desire that one obeys what is heard.
3) LESSON: Boaz’s status and position does not keep him from addressing this woman who is in need. Boaz does not see himself as “above” others. He is a model of humility.
Positive (in community) Negative (stranger, woman, widow)
b. My daughter
1) A term of endearment
2) A term that shows respect and indicates to Ruth that she has nothing to fear (See I Timothy 5:2).
The elder women as mothers; the younger women as sisters, with all purity.
3) May express the significant age difference that existed between them
4) Assuming the authority of a father also gives Boaz the right to tell Ruth what she may and may not do (Peipman, 154).
c. The permission to glean
1) Negatively – Go not…neither go from hence…
a) Not unusual to grant permission to glean
b) Highly unusual to ask one not to go elsewhere
2) Positively – But abide here fast by my maidens
a) “Abide here” is the same word as “clave” in Ruth 1:14.
b) She is given the status of one of Boaz’s servant girls, even though she does not bring him any profit.
c) She was to follow Boaz’s maidens
- This would insure that she would not cross boundaries into another field.
- She would pick up the stalks of grain they might drop in the bundling process.
a. “Rape was not unknown in the ancient world (gen. 34:1-2; Deut. 22:25-29; II Sam. 13:1-19), and the period of the Judges was notorious for such abuse (Judg. 19:25-27; see 21:15-18; 19-23)” (Stewart, 76).
b. Boaz promises protection in his field. He has commanded the young men not to “touch” her.
1) To come into physical contact with her
2) Harm or bother, including the idea of sexual molestation
a. There were two groups in the field: the servants of the landowner and the poor. The poor were not allowed to touch the provisions of the servants.
b. Boaz grants Ruth an unusual privilege.
1) Normally foreigners would draw water for the Israelites (Deut. 29:11; Josh. 9:21, 23, 27).
2) Also, women would draw water for men (Gen. 24:11; Exo. 2:16; I Sam. 9:11; John 4:7, 15).
c. NOTE: “Ruth had told Naomi that she wanted to glean in a field belonging to someone with whom she would find grace (Ruth 2:2). She has indeed found grace, that is, unmerited favor, from Boaz” (Peipmen, 159).
D. The Amazement of Ruth (Ruth 2:10)
Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
1. Veneration: “Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground…”
a. There is both respect and gratitude shown in this action of Ruth toward Boaz.
1) She recognizes his position as the superior and hers as the inferior.
2) She realizes the grace that has been show toward her.
2. Question: “Why have I found grace in thine eyes?”
a. She had desired to find grace, but not to this magnitude.
b. She realized that what Boaz was doing for her was most unusual.
c. LESSON: Couldn’t we ask this same question of God who has manifested His grace toward us?
1) Some of us might forget how great this grace is (Eph. 2:4-9)
God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us, through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
2) Some of us might think that we were deserving of God’s grace.
3. Evaluation: “…that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?”
a. Ruth knew exactly who she was.
b. She also understood and accepted that the elite and powerful did not accept individuals of her position.
c. NOTE: There is a play on words in the Hebrew text: take knowledge (nakar) and foreigner (nakri). “Fuerst writes that ‘it is analogous to saying “notice the unnoticed”’” (as quoted by Stewart, 78).
d. Three things played a role in Boaz’s taking knowledge of Ruth.
1) His relationship to her dead husband (to this point, this is unknown to Ruth).
2) “No doubt Boaz had a soft spot in his heart for such foreigners due to the fact that he descended from Rehab, the harlot from Jericho who was spared in the Conquest and incorporated into Israel (Josh. 2:1-21; 6:23, 25; Matt. 1:5; Heb. 11:31; Jas 2:25)” (Stewart, 78-79).
3) Boaz had heard of the loving relationship between Ruth and Naomi and the wonderful care that Ruth had provided to her mother-in-law.
E. The Answer of Boaz (Ruth 2:11-12)
1. The Report (Ruth 2:11)
And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been showed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come to a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
a. It hath fully been showed me
a) Strong (5046): To announce (always by word of mouth to one present), specifically to expose, predict, explain, praise
b) BDB: to be conspicuous, tell, make known…to be told, be announced, be reported
2) LESSON: Others are watching all of our works. They are also telling others what they have seen whether it be good or bad.
b. There were three things reported to Boaz:
1) Her service (compassion): All that thou hast done unto thy mother in law… (NOTE: This was done after the death of her husband. She was under no obligation to do these things).
2) Her sacrifice (courage): …how thou hast left thy father and mother, and the land of thy nativity. In this respect, she was somewhat like Abraham (Gen. 12:1; 24:7).
The Lord God of heaven took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred…
3) Her semblance (commitment): …and art come to a people which thou knewest not.
2. The Recompense (Ruth 2:12)
The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
a) Strong (7999): to be complete, to reciprocate
b) BDB: to be requited, repaid
2) Full reward
a) Strong (4909): wages or reward
b) BDB: wages
b. The Lord recompense thy work
1) “The theological understanding behind Boaz’s blessing is that God repays people for their deeds, whether they are good or evil (Deut. 7:9-10; Judg. 1:7; 1 Sam. 24:19; 2 Sam. 3:39; Ps. 28:4; 94:2; Prov. 13:21; 19:17; 25:21-22; Isa. 59:18; 66:6; Jer. 16:18; 25:14; 50:29; 51:124, 56)” (Stewart, 80-81)
2) It would be through Boaz that this would come to pass. Boaz was simply an instrument of God.
c. Full reward
1) This verse repeats the sentiments of the previous statement in different words.
2) It involves the payment of wages also.
a) Von Wolde: “Just as Boaz pay their wages to his workers, so he hopes that God will pay Ruth” (as quoted by Stewart, 81).
b) The wages would be “full” or “complete.” Nothing would be held back from her.
d. Twice we find from whence the blessing would come, “the Lord.”
1) This time, Boaz refers to God as “the Lord God of Israel.” In a special sense, He was their God (Exo. 19:5).
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.
2) LESSON: All blessings come from the hand of God (James 1:17).
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
e. Ruth was now trusting in the shadow of His wings.
1) She had told Naomi that Naomi’s God would be her God (Ruth 1:16).
2) The language is a metaphor comparing God to a mother bird, perhaps an eagle (See Exo. 19:4).
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.
3) These words describe “the loving (Ps. 36:7) and protective (Ps. 57:1) nature of God.”
a) Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
b) Even though God offers His protection, it is possible for men to refuse it (Matt. 22:37; Luke 13:34).
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.
F. The Appreciation by Ruth (Ruth 2:13)
Then she said, Let me find favor in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.
1) Strong (2580): graciousness, that is, subjectively (kindness, favor)
2) BDB: favor, acceptance
1) Strong (5162): properly to sigh…pity, console
2) BDB: to be moved with pity, have compassion, be consoled
1) Strong (3820): the heart
2) BDB: inner man, mind, will, heart (of moral character
2. Let me find favor in thy sight
a. Ruth had desired to find favor when she left her home (Ruth 2:2)
b. It was extended to her by Boaz (Ruth 2:8-9)
c. She questioned “why?” it was extended (Ruth 2:10)
d. Now she requests that it continue. The imperfect verb could be translated: “May I continue to find favor.”
G. The Appeal of Boaz (Ruth 2:14)
And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
1. Sufficient food
a. Boaz continues to bless Ruth. Here, he blesses her with a sufficient amount of food to eat during the day.
a) Bread was an every day staple.
b) “Since it was consumed so often, the phrase ‘eat bread’ (Gen. 37:25; 43:25, 32; Exo. 2:20; 18:12) and ‘brake bread’ (Acts 2:46) became synon-ymous with sharing a meal” (Stewart, 85).
2) Dipped in vinegar
a) It was common to dip a piece of bread in a sauce in order to soften and flavor it (Pro. 18:24; 26:15; Matt. 26:23; John 13:26).
b) “In this case, the sauce is called ‘vinegar’ (chomets), which was normally a sour wine that relieved one’s thirst and cooled the body (Num. 6:3; Ps. 69:21; Prov. 10:26; 25:20; See Matt. 27:48)” (Stewart, 85).
3) Parched corn
a) Roasted grain (Lev. 2:14; 23:14; Josh. 5:11; 1 Sam. 17:17; 25:18; @ Sam. 17:28).
b) “Barley that is in its natural state, that is not pearled, has a honey like, naturally sweet, nutty flavor. Parching it brings out even more of its delicious flavor; it is reminiscent of roasted chestnuts. Barley is one of those rare near perfectly balanced foods giving the optimum pro-portion of protein, carbohydrates, and fat the body needs” (Peipman, 178).
b. A picture of Boaz
1) In addition to hospitality and generosity, Boaz displays his social accept-ance of Ruth. “In the ancient world, one would not eat with another whom he did not accept (Gen. 43:32; John 4:9; I Cor. 5:11; Gal. 2:12)” (Stewart, 85).
2) Boaz has blessed Ruth graciously and will continue to do so.
a) A list of the blessings:
- No need to go to other fields (Ruth 2:8)
- Abide by Boaz’s maidens (Ruth 2:8)
- Protection from the reapers (Ruth 2:9)
- Drink for her thirst (Ruth 2:9)
- Food to eat (Ruth 2:14)
- Parched corn (Ruth 2:14)
- Glean among the sheaves (Ruth 2:15)
- Purposely let some of the grain fall to the ground that she may glean it (Ruth 2:16)
b) “What we are seeing in Boaz, therefore, is an indication of his gracious generosity which, by going beyond the letter of the law concerning gleaning, nevertheless did demonstrate the spiritual concern for which that law was framed, namely, that love for God is expressed in care and provision for the poor. By so doing Boaz is having something of the character of the God made known more fully to us in Christ, who, so the apostle teaches, is ‘able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Atkinson, 79).
2. Surplus food
a. Ruth took her place among the reapers.
b. Ruth had plenty. She was sufficed. This may have been the first time in a long time that she had been satisfied.
c. Note the phrase, “…and left.”
1) This sounds like she left the place where they were eating.
2) Some translate the phrase as, “…and had some left.” This translation seems right when one considers Ruth 2:18.
…and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed.
H. The Altruism (Ruth 2:15-16)
And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean among the sheaves, and reproach her not. And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
1. Boaz’s courtesy: “And when she was risen up to glean…”
a. Boaz is going to speak to his reapers about Ruth.
b. He does not do it in her presence. He does not want to embarrass her in any way.
c. Note that he did not just provide charity to Ruth. She still had to work and glean even from the abundance.
2. Boaz’s command:
a. Boaz lays down the law to his young men. This is the way that he wants it and this is the way it is going to be done.
1) The law of gleaners was well-known and probably strictly enforced by the reapers.
2) Boaz is about to remove the restrictions of the law for Ruth.
c. Two areas of generosity
1) “Let her glean among the sheaves”
a) The sheaves were the stalks of grain that had been bundled and stood on end in order to be loaded onto the carts for transportation.
b) During this process some of the grain often fell off and lay on the ground.
c) “It could be that most farmers frowned upon gleaning this fallen grain…Why would anyone let the poor help themselves to that which had been already reaped and set-aside for the owner? After all, even if it had now dropped on the ground, it had been set-aside before it fell” (Peipman, 181).
2) Let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose
a) As the reapers cut the grain they would have to handle the stalks. Sometimes they would have grain on their hands. Apparently, they were instructed to be very careful about collecting this grain and not allowing it to fall to the ground.
b) These handfuls were now to be left for Ruth.
d. Two prohibitions
1) Reproach her not
- Strong (3637): to wound, taunt, or insult
- BDB: to insult, shame, humiliate…to be dishonored
b) Some of the gleaners may not have always followed the law of gleaning. They may have attempted to get to the grain among the sheaves and to the fallen grain of the reapers. In such cases, they would be reprimanded.
c) This will not be allowed toward Ruth
2) Rebuke her not
- Strong (1605): to chide
- BDB: to rebuke reprove
b) In his actions, Boaz “establishes himself as the Moabite widow’s male protector” (Stewart, 87).
I. The Acquisition by Ruth (Ruth 2:17)
So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.
1. A long day: “So she gleaned in the field until even…”
a. Ruth arose in the morning to go to work (Ruth 2:7).
b. She put in a full day’s work to acquire the needs for herself and Naomi.
1) She was a widow, and she was poor.
2) There were no handouts for this woman. She labored for her food (II Thess. 3:10).
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
2. A laborious end: “…and beat out that she had gleaned…”
a. Ruth would have to take that which she had gleaned to the threshing floor. Usually, it was located on a hill near the field.
b. Small amounts of grain were beaten out with a rod or club (Judg. 6:11; Isa. 28:27).
c. “First the heads of grain had to be broken off the stalk and the head is beaten to loosen the grain from the head and to loosen the husks from around the grain. This is done on a threshing floor. After beating, the grain was tossed in the air and the wind would blow away the loosened and lighter chaff and husks but the grain would fall back down to the floor where it could be scooped up. It was now ready for use” (Peipman, 184-185).
3. A large return: “…and it was about an ephah of barley
a. Ruth was able to take back an enormous ephah (nearly five gallons…) Atkinson, 79-80).
b. “An ephah was about three pecks and three pints. A peck contains eight quarts or 8.8 liters. In other words, he has almost six and a half gallons of barley. That was an incredible amount of barley to glean in one day.
“When boiled, a cup of barley made about four or so cups of delicious
healthy food. This is perhaps enough for one day. What Ruth had gleaned in one day would feed her and Naomi for many, many days, actually about fifty days” (Peipman, 185).
c. A tenth of an ephah of manna was collected by each Israelite each day in the wilderness (Exo. 16:16, 36). Based on this information, Ruth gleaned enough for at least five days.