Book Of Ruth
"Guidance to Boaz's Field"
J. Deering, AncientPath.net
1. Master Study
Introduction, Visualized Text with Commentary and Q&A, Charts
First, we have a quick summary of the previous lessons.
We want to keep stressing our three applications of this book. First is the beautiful story of Ruth and Boaz, second is the parallel imagery that reflects the relationship between God and His people Israel, and thirdly the parallel imagery that reflects the relationship between God and His believers in this age of The Church.
Chapter one sets the stage for the main theme of the book – Redemption by the Kinsman Redeemer. In chapter one we have the people of God living in the "Promised Land" and they are deep into the chastisement of God (famine) for not keeping His commandments, especially the first two (see chart below – using the Jewish (Talmudic) divisions). (chart – wikipedia.com public domain)
"I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods before me and you shall not make for yourself an idol."
The people of Judah had entered into the practice of taking foreign (gentile) wives and adopting their religions (other gods). So much so that God had begun to chastise the nation through famine.
As we follow the parallels in the book Elimelech and his family head off to greener pastures in Moab, and their sons take Moabite wives (Ruth 1:1-3).
Parallel 1 – The Nation of Israel (Judah specifically) sees the greener pastures of other gods, including holding themselves as their god (Book of Judges – everyone did what was right in their own eyes). In doing so they began to take wives from the pagan countries around them as well as their pagan religious beliefs and systems of belief.
Parallel 2 – In some believers' lives there comes a time when God's will is too hard for them. They see temptation as an opportunity to "grab the gusto," or "get more out of life," than they feel God wants for them. They make themselves, their property, their wealth, and their accomplishments into their own graven images and "worship" them instead of the Almighty God in whom, through Jesus Christ, they have believed. Often we call these believers "back-sliders," for they have slid back to the old ways of the natural man. Some, in a more literal sense, have taken upon themselves the unequal yoke of marrying out of the faith and are influenced by that other faith of the unbeliever. Whatever the sin is – it is one that separates the believer from God's graceful fellowship.
In verses 3-5 we see the hand of God in His chastisement upon Naomi's family. Elimelech, and their two sons die apparently because of their choices in leaving God.
Parallel 1 – Judah is under famine through the Lord's judgment upon her. Many will die during this time as a result of turning away from God.
Parallel 2 – The wayward believer's life is full of the conviction of the Holy Spirit – as it should be. God puts His hand upon the wayward one and applies whatever pressure He must to bring his little sheep back into the fold. Sometimes God must bring sickness and even death because of the stiff and willful heart. It is important to remember, at this time, that we are not talking about the unsaved, or the possibility of a believer loosing their salvation – no this story is all about those in a covenant relationship (Israel was a covenant nation, in a relationship with God and protected by God). The believer is likewise placed into a covenant relationship with God when they believe. The issue here is FELLOWHIP with God as a member of His family.
We are not told what Naomi's motivation is for trying to dissuade Orpah and Ruth from returning to Judah with her. It could be that along with hearing that "God had visited His people with food," she may also have heard that the nation has repented of their foreign gods and their foreign wives. If this is the case there would be little advantage for Orpah and Ruth to go to Judah.
Whatever the motivation the result has a winnowing effect. Orpah, who no doubt loved Ruth, loves her a lot, but not as much as she lovers her own family and land and she leaves for home. Ruth, on the other hand, loves Naomi, Naomi's home, and Naomi's God so much that she is determined to make the journey to Naomi's home, people, and God. Many commentators put the emphasis upon turning to the God of Israel as her God as Naomi's motivation. What a wonderful thing it is to be an unbeliever and learn of our wonderous God while living in the home of another believer.
Parallel 1 - This indicates that Judah has turned around (repented) of their waywardness and returned to God and His will for the famine has ended. In the years before their repentance the nation has gained many foreigners "who knew not God." During this time many of them turned from their idolatry to the God of Israel. When Israel repented so also did many of these proselytes. So the nation had to deal with these foreign wives – some as pagans, and some now under the covenant of Israel – some who had to go away, and some who had to be kept.
Parallel 2 – During the time the believer is wayward from the Will of God and His hand is upon them, God provides the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The job of this conviction is to make you yearn for the country of God and His returned fellowship. And there is also that time of the repentant believer (turning back to fellowship with God and away from sin) when there are responsibilities as the result of their time in sin. Others are involved in your sin, problems and perhaps even tragedy has been involved in your sin and these responsibilities don't end for you just because you repent and return to His fellowship.
Parallel 1 – The nation of Israel returns to God from idolatry. She is standing at the threshold of grace, in the time between repentance and receiving the joys and fulfillment of being totally back in fellowship.
Parallel 2 – When the believer returns to fellowship through confession there can be bitterness in giving up those things that seemed so wonderful at the time. Some believers only get this far – they end their outward waywardness but are still bitter with God because what they wanted did not fit into God's plan for them.
In Chapter 2 Ruth will be introduced to her Kinsman-Redeemer and Naomi will work hard at making sure that Ruth does all the right things in meeting him.
THE VISUALIZED TEXT (NASB) (conjunctions & prepositions (and other important words) underlined, words not in original text in italics) (alternate text in purple)
had a kinsman of her husband,
a man of great wealth,
of the family of Elimelech,
whose name was Boaz.
Brief Commentary on Ruth 2:1
The word now introduces a change in direction. The book so far has been about waywardness, chastisement, and then repentance. Now we move along to that time when, after have been disciplined, we are introduced to a deeper relationship with God. Naomi has returned to Bethlehem alone with Ruth. She still has a relationship to Elimelech's family and is mindful of the rite of Levirate marriage. We already know that she does not see herself as qualifying for the rite, but she sees that Ruth does – Ruth, if she would be married and have children, would be able to continue not only Mahlon's family line but Elimelech's as well. The story introduces us to Boaz, a man who is wealthy and unmarried and a close relative of Elimelech's.
The Faithfulness of Boaz
1. Faithful - In spite of war and famine – still master of considerable wealth
2. Faithful – stayed in Bethlehem, Judah
3. Faithful – member of Elimelech’s family
4. Faithful – to Israel
5. Faithful – to God
6. Faithful – to the Abrahamic line – a point in the book, both physical and spiritual
Questions and Answers about Ruth 2:1
Who was Naomi's husband?
(Elimelech – from Bethlehem, Judah)
What is a "kinsman"?
(Close male relative who fulfilled the position of "avenger" within the extended family. It was his responsibility to make contracts and make sure that estate dealings were equitable)
Look up and find information
on "The Kinsman Redeemer."
(The Kinsman Redeemer is the one in the family who is responsible to redeem (buy back) the paternal estate which his nearest relative might have sold through poverty or, in Ruth's case, buy back property which has been transferred to another family member due to death. In this case it is inferred that among the duties of a kinsman (goel) redeemer was that of marrying the widow of a deceased brother's widow.)
Did Naomi's kinsman have
(nothing is said of the rightful close relative who should have been the kinsman redeemer, but Boaz being the next in line, and willing to be kinsman redeemer, was a man of great wealth – even after years of war and famine in the land)
Would he be in a position
to acquire her as a wife?
(Kinsman number one's position and condition is not told, but Boaz, under Jewish law, yes, but only as he responded to the commitment of the Levirate marriage law, also he was apparently a man of wealth and property)
Under the law, would he have
to marry her?
(Actually the Levirate marriage law did not require anyone except a brother to the deceased man to marry his sister-in-law. Apparently in Ruth's situation Elimelech's brother (we suppose) was not able to fulfill this requirement (wife, property, problems, etc.) and Boaz volunteered to take the responsibilities upon himself. Boaz could have been a younger or half-brother, or even a cousin (the scriptures do not say which)
What relationship was he
(only that he was a kinsman in the family)
What relationship was Ruth
(possibly Ruth's mother-in-law's husband's brother, half-brother, or cousin – not a blood relative of Ruth's)
said to Naomi,
"Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor."
And she said to her,
"Go, my daughter."
Brief Commentary on Ruth 2:2
It is harvest time and Ruth is aware of the Jewish law called "The Right of the Poor." God considers that the crops are a gift from Him to all His children, the Jew first, and then the stranger (Gentile). He also considers that the owners of land are merely stewards of that land and the harvests from the land. God even put in place laws about the return of land that was sold (usually because of poverty) to another reverted back to the original owners once every fifty years. This time was called the year of Jubilee.
Ruth says "Please let me go…." Her heart is still full of love and service for Naomi. She knows that Naomi is older and work in the fields would be a great burden for her, so she wants to go in her stead. Without a rightful place in the community (a married place) they need the food that can be legally gleaned from the fields in order to keep themselves fed.
Ruth also seems to know the dangers of the fields. There is a small but interesting word play here in that the word for reapers, later in the text, literally means "those who follow along behind," and Ruth is asking to "follow one in whose sight I may find favor." Finding favor will at least offer her protection while she is in the field.
Naomi gratefully says "Go, my daughter." Naomi no longer refers to Ruth as "my daughter-in-law," but now has become "my daughter." Naomi and Ruth have become much closer through their time of trials and travels.
Returning to the Lord in repentance is often a difficult task whether it be a nation or an individual. We are glimpsing into that period of time when the one bringing repentance is introduced to The Lord God in a new way. After chastisement we expect more chastisement when we come face to face with God, but like the father in the Prodigal Son story, He is waiting patiently and gracefully for our willing return, ready to heap treasurers upon us for returning.
Questions and Answers about Ruth 2:2
Why bring up the fact that
Ruth was a Moabitess?
(Much of the importance of the story is the inclusion of Gentiles in God's plan for the nation of Israel and for the family line of Messiah)
Why would Naomi let Ruth
go to Boaz's field instead of going herself?
(Naomi was now an old woman and she also knows that there is/are redeemers out there)
Why was Ruth going to the
(Naomi and Ruth are pretty much indigent and they need food. Jewish law provided for the poor and the stranger at harvest time by allowing them to "glean" the leavings during the harvest)
Why would Ruth want to be
in the favor of the owner of the field?
(Not all Jewish farmers were that fond of the "gleaning" law. She could be told to leave, treated rudely, or even beaten for gleaning in the field)
gleaned in the field
after the reapers; and
she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz,
who was of the family of Elimelech.
Brief Commentary on Ruth 2:3
Ruth goes and does. That is an enormous statement of obedience. A foreign, unmarried, woman travels to the workplace where there are Hebrew men and women who have worked with each other for years and humbles herself to "glean" after the workers.
Then she "happens" to work in the field of Boaz. Our God does not believe in happenstance. If you seek Him, He will find you – He will make your ways straight to Him. Ruth goes seeking a redeemer and the field of Boaz finds her.
Are you repentant as a believer having turned from sin – have you sought after Him? If you have, He will find you and welcome you with open arms.
Questions and Answers about Ruth 2:3
What did Ruth do?
(She departed and gleaned – very courageous considering the possible dangers to a foreign Moabitess alone in the fields, helping herself to the leavings)
Why go to glean grain following
(That's where the grain stalks fall. That's where the grain will be freshest. That's where you can pick-up the grain before the birds get it. If she went before the reapers she would have been arrested, beaten and perhaps stoned)
Did Ruth "happen"
upon Boaz's field intentionally or unintentionally?
(Certainly the hand of God is active in this. While the text does not directly say it there seems to be some conspiracy between Naomi and Ruth. It's possible either way – she knows, she doesn't, but it's easy to see God's hand bringing Ruth and Boaz together, as well as providing for her immediate circumstance)
Horizontal Chart for Ruth 2:1-3
Ruth 2:1-3 "Guidance to Boaz's Field"
Verse Percentage Chart for Ruth 2:1-3
Verse Percentage Chart for Ruth 2:1-3
1. Master Study
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