Ruth 2 = There is Hope!
Bible Background: The 4 chapters of Ruth are like 4 ‘acts’ of a drama. In Act 2, Ruth goes to glean leftover grain from a field, which happens to belong to a rich man named Boaz, who happens to be related to Naomi’s late husband. The despair of chapter 1, is turning around!
Digging Deeper: 1. Ruth and Naomi, back in Bethlehem, are still in a tough situation. Ruth decides to go glean in a field so they have food to eat. Leviticus 9:9-10 and Deuteronomy 24:19 required landowners to leave some grain in their fields from the harvest for “the alien, the orphan, and the widow”, those who would have no harvest of their own. Our version of this today, is the food pantry! One tough question though is: Do the poor just get the leftovers after the rest of us have taken all that we want?
2. We meet Boaz and learn that he is rich and respected. He notices the new woman gleaning in his field. He finds out who she is. He instructs his workers to look out for her and to leave extra grain (which he could have kept or sold) for her.
3. Some key words in the Hebrew language of this story are:
+The verb “to see”. Boaz sees and notices Ruth. The reader is reminded that Ruth is an outsider. Boaz sees that too, but quickly makes her an insider.
+The verb “to know” and “be known” -Boaz and Ruth are unknown to each other. Soon, we learn that Boaz is known to be a relative of Naomi.
+The verb “to stay close, cling”, is the same word used in 1:14 when Ruth promises to cling to her mother-in-law. Ruth is to stay close to the women workers, and to stay in Boaz’s field.
+The noun “go-el” which is the word for redeemer, as in the relative who has the right or the duty to redeem or buy back the name or the property or the family members of a deceased relative. This title applies to Boaz, as we shall see in chapter 3!
4. What’s at stake in chapter 2 of Ruth? What risks does Boaz take if he shows special treatment to this one foreigner? Will all the poor flock to his fields? Will his own workers extra favors too? Will someone badmouth him for helping?
Who are the “Ruths” in our world today? In our community? Who are the ones who cannot make it without the generosity of others? Or the help of food pantries or the food stamp program? Who are the “Boazs” in our world? In our community? Who shows love to the neighbor in need regardless of their race or background or immigration status? Who will advocate for people like Ruth?