Ruth: Chapter 2
1. Who was Boaz?
Boaz was “a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech” (Ruth 2:1). Thus, he was suited to do the duty of a kinsman to Ruth, on behalf of her late husband. Boaz was the son of Rahab (Matthew 1:5), presumably the same Rahab who protected the Israelite spies in Jericho and was thus spared destruction (Joshua 2:1-7; 6:17, 23-25). Although Boaz was an older man (Ruth 3:10), this would place the story of Ruth very early in the period of the Judges. As the son of a Canaanite woman, Boaz may have been predisposed to show kindness toward gentiles.
2. What did Ruth ask to do?
“So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, ‘Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor’” (Ruth 2:2). In the Law of Moses, God made very careful provision for the needy, especially strangers and widows, by prohibiting landowners from reaping the entirety of their crops, so that the needy could have some (Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-22). Ruth simply requested Naomi’s permission to do so.
3. How did Boaz greet the reapers and how did they reply?
“Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’ And they answered him, ‘The Lord bless you!’” (Ruth 2:4). This was, apparently, a standard greeting (Psalm 129:5, 8). However, it demonstrates the proper attitude of a master toward his servants (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).
4. What did Boaz inquire of the foreman and what answer did he receive?
“Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, ‘Whose young woman is this?’ So the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered and said, ‘It is the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ So she came and has continued from morning until now, though she rested a while in the house’” (Ruth 2:5-7). Ruth had already earned a good reputation (Proverbs 22:1) for having accompanied Naomi into Judah. Here, she builds on that reputation by politely asking permission to do what the Law of Moses plainly allowed her to do (Leviticus 19:9-10; 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-22).
5. How did Boaz address Ruth and what did he tell her?
He addressed her as “my daughter” (Ruth 2:8), thereby indicating a significant age discrepancy between the two, yet simultaneously implying affection that a Gentile was unlikely to receive from Israelites. He instructed her not to glean elsewhere, but to remain with his people on his land (Ruth 2:8), saying that he had already ordered his men to leave her alone (Ruth 2:9). Also, she was to help herself to the water that his servants had drawn (Ruth 2:9). He was taking her under his very thorough protection, yet with respect for her dignity by allowing her to work for herself and her mother-in-law, rather than simply receive alms.
6. How did Ruth respond?
In humble gratitude, she prostrated herself before Boaz, asking him why he favored her, a foreigner (Ruth 2:10). Of course, she was probably unaware of his Gentile heritage (Matthew 1:5; Joshua 2:1-7; 6:17, 23-25).
7. What was Boaz's answer and how did he bless her?
He confirmed that her reputation preceded her (Ruth 2:11). Indeed, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1). Then, he blessed her for seeking protection from “the Lord God of Israel” (Ruth 2:12). Notice that afterward she no longer identified herself as a “foreigner,” but as his “maidservant” (Ruth 2:13). This was a turning point for Ruth.
8. What transpired at mealtime?
Boaz personally invited Ruth to him and his workers for lunch, passing enough food to her so that she was full and had leftovers to spare (Ruth 2:14). Boaz honored Ruth (Luke 14:7-11) and continued to provide for her.
9. What did Boaz instruct his workers concerning Ruth?
He ordered them to allow her to glean “even among the sheaves” and to “let some grain fall purposely for her” and not to rebuke her at all (Ruth 2:15-16), all of which would supply her and Naomi with abundance, yet with dignity for having worked. Boaz was mindful of Ruth’s feelings as well as her material requirements. He made this provision for her without her knowing it, just as our God supplies for us beyond our knowledge (Ephesians 3:20-21).
10. Until when did she glean? What did she do with what she had gleaned?
“She gleaned in the field until evening” (Ruth 2:17), having begun in the morning (Ruth 2:7). She labored all day outdoors. When she was done gleaning, she “beat out what she had gleaned,” so she wasn’t even finished yet.
11. What did Ruth bring to Naomi?
Besides the “ephah of barley” she had gleaned (Ruth 2:17-18), she also gave her mother-in-law the prepared food she kept back after eating lunch (Ruth 2:14, 18).
12. What did Naomi want to know and who did she bless?
She asked Ruth where she had worked and blessed the one who had taken notice of her (Ruth 2:19). The amount Ruth brought must have been am impressive sum to warrant this type of reaction.
13. Who did Naomi bless when Ruth answered her and what fact did she inform her daughter-in-law of?
In a sense, she blessed both Jehovah and Jehovah’s man Boaz (Ruth 2:20). She told Ruth that Boaz was a relative, which made him a potential redeemer.
14. What did Naomi think of Boaz's instructions to Ruth?
She regarded it as “good” that Ruth remain among Boaz’s people, not only because of the prosperity he provided but also because thereby she would avoid encounters elsewhere by those less favorably inclined toward a foreigner among them (Ruth 2:22).
15. Did Ruth comply?
Yes, she did, until both barley and wheat harvests were complete (Ruth 2:23), a period of a couple of months.