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Ruth 2: The Fields of Boaz

Original Publication Date
October 3, 2016
Updated
Oct 25, 2022 3:22 AM
Tags
PovertyRelationshipsBoazRuthChapter StudyAllegoryMessiah
Bible References
Ruth 2
Status
Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on October 3, 2016 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

The last few verses of Ruth 1 we find out Ruth and Naomi have arrived during the barley harvest, a perfect reason to introduce Ruth to Boaz. We find out more about him in Ruth 2. Touted as the perfect man by people today, Boaz is generous, kind, and a savior figure. It's not surprising that we are so intrigued with him, when you dive into his relationship with Ruth we see a perfect foreshadowing of Christ's relationship with His church. No wonder Boaz seems like the perfect husband, right?

Ruth in the Fields of Boaz

If you've studied the books of law, you'll remember that the Israelites were commanded not to pick their fields dry. Instead, they were to leave some for the poor to glean. Despite the era of the judges being wrought with disobedience, the book of Ruth shows that at least some of the Israelites were adhering to God's law. Ruth goes to glean the fields so that she and Naomi can survive. God places her in the fields of Boaz, a wealthy relative of Elimelech (Naomi's deceased husband), although based on Ruth 2:10, it seems Ruth is not aware of the relationship.

Boaz is Sympathetic

Boaz's greets his servants pleasantly, humbly, and in the name of God, as though they are his friends and equals. Boaz is immediately curious about Ruth; he inquires of the servants about her origins and purpose. The Bible doesn't expound upon why Boaz was so curious about Ruth, but there are plenty of logical reasons. Sure, she could have been gorgeous, but it also could have simply been the fact that she was a new face. Boaz was probably used to the same people coming by to harvest his leftovers each day.

Harvesting in the fields as a foreign woman probably wasn't the safest occupation for Ruth. If being alone as a woman is dangerous today, which it is, then it was definitely dangerous back then. Boaz was acutely aware of this and instructs his servants that Ruth is not to be harmed. On top of guaranteeing her safety, Boaz allows her to drink the water his servant draw from the well instead of forcing her to retrieve her own. This bit of mercy may indicate a romantic interest, but moreso, it shows that Boaz recognized he was in a position of power and by wielding that power, he could help someone in need.

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Boaz's action is a perfect example of generosity. He didn't just hand Ruth the grain, she had to do the work herself, but he made a way for her. Boaz's actions ensured that if Ruth did her part, she would succeed. Unlike many people in his position tend to do, he didn't stand in her way. Similarly, Jesus ensures us a way into Heaven as long as we believe in Him (do our part).

Just as we would be shocked by this type of generosity in today's society, Ruth is shocked by Boaz's kindness. Her inquiry as to how and why she has found grace in the eyes of this man even as a stranger, echoes the question we ask when Jesus accepts us despite our many faults. Knowing her sacrifice and commitment, Boaz acknowledges Ruth's loyalty to Naomi the same way Jesus will acknowledge our commitment to Him. Boaz even reminds Ruth that God will reward her.

If Boaz wasn't already playing the part of a knight in shining armor, he also allows Ruth to dine with him and instructs his workers to purposefully drop grain for her to retrieve. Due to his generosity, Ruth is able to glean an ephah[1] of barley. This was much more than the table scraps the poor generally gleaned. While Boaz's generosity certainly played a role in Ruth's ability to glean so much, Ruth's hard work also played a role.

Naomi's Reaction

Naomi is shocked that Ruth gathered so much and acknowledges that Ruth has found favor. This seems to restore Naomi's faith in God. She and Ruth agree that Ruth should stick close to Boaz, gleaning only in his field for the rest of the harvest. Naomi uses this opportunity to reveal their kinship to Boaz, and Ruth sticks by Naomi (who is likely too old to harvest for herself).

Shelter in the Storm

Ruth and Naomi had been through a lot, and on top of that, they were poor. When Ruth decided to glean fields, she was basically deciding to do hard labor for scraps. Ruth had no way of knowing if her efforts would provide enough food for them, but because God was looking out for her, she found a generous benefactor. Boaz provided safety and peace of mind for Ruth to accomplish her mission. Jesus does the same for us. He will protect us and remove obstacles we are unable to defeat while we walk in His purpose for us and accomplish our mission. Ruth finding Boaz isn't about the helpless damsel being rescued by the valiant prince; it's about a hardworking woman finding someone who could shelter her in a storm. Really, it's an allegory for Jesus redeeming His followers.

An Example for Today

When you think of Boaz's generosity, it should strike you as odd that there are many Christians in the US who are staunchly against the idea of government assistance. Boaz could have said "this is my field; I worked for it, and I bought it, go harvest your own field." This would have echoed the mindset of many today, that we have worked for what we have and do not owe anything to those who do not have. Of course, God commanded otherwise.

Why? Probably because there were so many factors limiting someone like Ruth from simply harvesting her own field. For one, she probably didn't have a field. Even if she did have a field, she would have needed to plant crops and cultivate the land in advance; during the time she would have needed to be planting, her husband might not have even been dead yet. To plant the crops, she would need money, something else she didn't have.

Ruth was willing to put in the work, but she needed someone to give her the opportunity. How many people today are stuck in an unfortunate circumstance, but working as hard as they can to make their life better? Sure, we probably all know a few lazybones who are simply mooching off the system, but I definitely know people who need someone like Boaz to make a way from themβ€”from children who've lost their parents to drug addicts trying to turn their life around.

When you think of Boaz, don't just remember him as the perfect husband, remember his generosity. Remember, when you meet people who are struggling, if you have the power to help them follow Boaz's example.

References and Footnotes

  1. An ephah is a measurement used in ancient Israel that is a little more than a bushel according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

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