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Deeper Commentary

Ruth 2:1 Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz-
"Kinsman" is literally 'one who knows'. Boaz ["strength", as in 1 Kings 7:21] is presented as a manifestation of Yahweh. He knew the situation exactly (:11), he was a gibbor ["mighty man"], with the wealth required to resolve the situation. 'Might' in those days was understood not just as monetary wealth, but in terms of wives and children. It is Sunday School Christianity to imagine him as a single man. And yet Naomi seems to have forgotten about him, or at least assumed her apostacy was such that he would be unable to assist. Again we see a similarity with the prodigal son, who returns to his father's relative wealth but with the assumption he might just be able to get a job as a day labourer with him but instead is welcomed into the family. Indeed the parable of the prodigal has so many similarities with the story of Ruth. The connections suggest that Naomi had indeed sinned and wasted her inheritance in Moab. Boaz was a descendant of the prostitute Rahab and Salmon, a prince of Judah (Mt. 1:5; Lk. 3:32); and a case can be made that he was one of the spies who first spent the night at her brothel. So he had Gentile blood within him, and was aware that Gentile women, even questionable ones, could be accepted into the community of God's people.

The goel or redeemer role played by Boaz was representative of that played by Yahweh; the word is often used about His desire to be that redeemer figure for His people once they returned to the land. I suggested on Ruth 1:16 that the book was rewritten, under Divine inspiration, and applied to the exiles as an encouragement for them to return to the land, bringing Gentile converts with them.

Clearly Boaz is a type of the Lord Jesus. He was from Elimelech's family, who were original Ephrathites from Bethlehem (Ruth 1:1,2 cp. Gen. 35:19). And this relatively obscure town was to be the birthplace of the Lord: "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days” (Mic. 5:2).

Ruth 2:2 Ruth the Moabitess-
This is emphasized six times (Ruth 1:22; 2:2,6,21; 4:5,10). The exiles who returned became very xenophobic against Gentiles, and one intention of the book of Ruth being reissued amongst them (see on :1) was to remind them that God deals with individuals, and there were faithful Gentiles as well as unfaithful Israelites. Her tatoos would've been noticeable and fascinating to untatooed Israelites, probably in honour of Moloch and Chemosh, she looked different, spoke Hebrew with a heavy accent and made grammatical mistakes, had a different body language.

Moabites were forbidden to enter Yahweh's congregation, i.e. they could never become part of His people, and that is why marriage with Moabites is specifically outlawed (Dt. 23:3-6). The Rabbis argue that this only applied to male Moabites and therefore Ruth was able to enter Israel. I prefer to see it that Ruth was faced with an impossible situation- she desperately wanted to follow Yahweh, but it seemed her nature and simple fact she was a Moabitess alienated her from God, as well as from Israel- because at the time of the judges (Ruth 1:1), Moab were enemies of Israel (Jud. 3:12,15 the conflict with Eglon king of Moab; and Jud. 11:17 implies Moabites were connected with Ammonites during their conflict with Jephthah). But there is no alienation by nature from a truly loving God. Boaz perceived that and therefore didn't allow God's law to become a chain. The whole story of Ruth is full of this theme- that the spirit and not the letter of laws was discerned and obeyed (e.g. about Levirate marriage, gleaning etc]. He married Ruth to redeem the inheritance of Elimelech- who it seems had broken all the principles of separation from Moab by going to live there, and his sons had married Moabite women. Elimelech went there, a distance of only 50 miles from Bethlehem, because he perceived there was rain and therefore food in Moab, but not in Israel. He ought to have perceived that this was a specific judgment of Israel by God. Because they were only 50 miles away.

Said to Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find grace-
If Naomi had Boaz in mind as a saviour, she surely would have suggested Ruth went and gleaned in his field. But she apparently doesn't suggest this, and is pleasantly surprised when she finds out Ruth happened to encounter Boaz. The encounter with grace is always a surprise to the recipient, for this is the nature of grace, and Naomi responds exactly as we would expect if she had indeed assumed Boaz would not help her. Ruth casts herself completely upon grace. To glean for dropped grain was for the poorest of the poor (Dt. 24:19); and this is what they were.

We could however take the reference to Boaz in :1 as meaning that Ruth at least was aware of Boaz, and is describing him as the one in whose eyes she should find grace. It was Israel who were to find grace in Yahweh's sight (s.w. Ex. 33:16); so perhaps the spiritually minded Ruth was looking for a person who would reflect Yahweh's grace to her. And indeed Boaz has been set up in :1 as a manifestation of Yahweh's strength and power to save. Ruth was proactive in seeking for grace, however, as we will see when she takes the initiative in proposing to Boaz that he marry her. We could also note that Dt. 24:19 doesn't make allowing gleaning a binding law upon landowners. That's why Ruth says that she will have to find someone who shows her grace in allowing her to glean. The text simply states that "When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It shall be for the foreigner, for the fatherless and for the widow". By allowing gleaners to come and pick up dropped grain, Boaz's grace was going far beyond the letter of the law. This would account for the hint in :22 that not every landowner allowed gleaning in their fields. Likewise he extrapolates from the law of Levirate marriage to marry Ruth; but as noted on Ruth 3:13, this  showing far more grace than the law actually required, seeing that the Levirate law only affected "brothers dwelling together".    

It could be argued [from Dt. 24:1 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, if she finds no favour in his eyes because he has found some unseemly thing in her, he shall write her a bill of divorce"; 1 Kings 11:19; Esther 5:8; Jer. 31:2 "The people who were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest... Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love" cp. Ruth 1:9 "Yahweh grant you that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband"] that to find grace in the eyes of a man meant that he would marry her. I suggest we are being told that subconsciously, this was Ruth's secret fantasy. Likewise Boaz's question "Whose is this woman?" betrays his subconscious fantasy of marrying her. It is a true romance, and looks ahead to our relationship with our redeemer, the Lord Jesus. Ruth perhaps entertained the hope or fantasy that she would find a wealthy landowner who would marry her. For this, humanly speaking, was the only way out of their desperate situation. It's rather like Joseph suggesting to Pharaoh that a man be appointed over Egypt's future harvests, and having the spiritual ambition to have himself in view for the appointment. Or Abigail asking David to "remember your handmaid" (1 Sam. 25:31), another possible idiom for marriage. And as with Ruth, that spiritual ambition paid off. What seemed impossible, that a Moabite Gentile beggar could marry a wealthy Israelite landowner and be welcomed into the community of Israel, actually came about. And I suggest Ruth had this spiritual ambition. Although when it began to come true, she was awed by the grace being shown to her.

She said to her, Go, my daughter-
Naomi was effectively a surrogate mother to Ruth. The idea of Ruth marrying Boaz had not initially even occurred to Naomi. She wishes her well in finding someone who would let her glean in their field, and that is all. It is only when Naomi tells her that a man called Boaz was kind to her, that the possibility appears to form in Naomi's mind. For levirate law didn't really envisage someone of such a distance from Ruth as Boaz marrying her to raise up seed. See on Ruth 3:9.

Ruth 2:3 She went, and came and gleaned in the field behind the reapers-
The barley was reaped by women, who tied the reaped grain into bundles, which were then gathered together into shocks for transport by the men to the threshing floor. See on :7.  

And she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech-
They practiced strip farming, the strips being defined by landmarks. This situation arose because of the land being constantly split up in inheritances, and was one reason why the anonymous kinsman didn't want to mar his inheritance which he would leave by buying land which would revert to the son he was to have by Ruth, and would not remain in his name but in the name of that son. There was of course no "chance" to this ["she happened to.."]. One simple message of the book is that there is no chance. All was clearly meant to be, as God worked to respond to Ruth and Naomi's desire to come to Him. "She happened to come" is AV "Her hap was to light on...". The same phrase is used by Solomon in lamenting how such time and chance happens to all (Ecc. 2:14,15; 9:2,3). He failed to learn the lesson from his great ancestor; that in fact there is no such thing as chance happening in the lives of those who love God.

Ruth 2:4 Behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, Yahweh be with you! They answered him, Yahweh bless you!-
We have here an insight into the spiritual mind of Boaz, openly using the Yahweh Name in the workplace. It is this kind of day by day spirituality which is the essence of the believing life. Yahweh's 'blessing' and 'being with' His people is however directly associated with generosity to those like Naomi and Boaz: "The foreigner living among you and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates, shall come and shall eat and be satisfied, that Yahweh your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do" (Dt. 14:29). Perhaps the blessing called out upon Boaz by the people in his field was because they recognized that he was indeed blessing the foreigner, fatherless and widow. So his interest in helping Ruth and Naomi was genuinely spiritually motivated; the fact that Ruth was an eligible and perhaps attractive younger woman wasn't the primary motivation for his grace.     

Ruth 2:5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was set over the reapers, Whose young woman is this?-
Boaz asking [in the Hebrew] whose is she, rather than who is she, might suggest it was love at first sight and he was immediately holding in mind the possibility of marrying her. It could be Ruth had the same feelings (see on Ruth 2:13; 3:2,10). The question 'Who is this?' as asked by Boaz of Ruth is to be understood as a statement of intended action and not read on face value. For he knew exactly who she was (:11). The same kind of question is asked by David about Bathsheba, even though he knew who she was because she lived next door to him and was the wife of his close friend (2 Sam. 11:3). Likewise when Saul enquires about who David is after his victory over Goliath (1 Sam. 17:56), it is not because he doesn't know him. For David had been already at the court of Saul. The question 'Who is this?' means that the questioner wants to do something for the person being enquired after.

"To whom does she belong?" are Boaz's first words. To which man, husband or slave owner- that was the question. And we can assume that he asks the question not just out of random interest, but because he was interested in changing that ownership and having her for himself. Ruth was unusual; her commitment to Israel's God had driven her to absolute poverty, homeless and hungry. But she was free- she belonged to nobody. Just to Yahweh. She was in that sense very attractive. She was vulnerable, but this is what brought her to the shadow of Yahweh's wings. Her behaviour at the threshingfloor in chapter 3 appears out of character with her, but apart from that, she presents as a woman of intense spirituality and utterly devoted to Yahweh and serving Him for nothing. He says that after observing her at work. This can be read as anything from love at first sight, to the abusive grooming interest of a powerful man in a vulnerable weak woman. There is no reason to think Boaz was single. And at this point, he didn't know anything about Ruth and her background- he noticed a woman whom he found attractive, possibly from observing her bending down to glean sheaves, and began finding out how he could get her for himself. His attraction to her was on a human level. The language is that of David enquiring after Bathsheba, in order to have her for himself sexually. But he becomes her saviour / go'el, and typifies the apparently random interest of God in those whom He wishes to love and save.

Ruth 2:6 The servant who was set over the reapers answered, It is the Moabite woman who came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab-
This implies that she was already well known in the small town. Her Moabite nature is twice stressed. But :11 suggests that the servant / foreman told Boaz all the back story on Ruth. Because it would've been natural for him and the other workers to ask this foreigner what her story was.

Ruth 2:7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves’. So she came, and has continued even from the morning until now, although she stayed a little in the house-

The foreman reports that Ruth had asked to gather among the sheaves. This could be understood as meaning that she had the ambition and initiative to ask to not just glean, but gather some sheaves; or at least to go to where the bundled sheaves had been lying before transportation, and glean what grain had fallen there from the sheaves as they awaited transportation. The law required landowners to leave the edge of fields unharvested and not to return to harvest stalks which had escaped harvest in the center of the field. The barley growing at the edge of the fields was mixed with weeds and of lower quality than that growing in the center of the field. But she asks for more than this. She made a special request, to glean after the reapers in the center of the field, and Boaz confirms his agreement to it in :15. Boaz asks that Ruth not be put to shame for her request. Presumably she was driven to this shameful special request by the desperation of hunger. Likewise her throwing of herself at Boaz in chapter 3 was motivated by desperation. It is depseration that leads us to Boaz, our redeemer, the Lord Jesus. She didn't cynically think that Bethlehem, the house of bread with plentiful harvests, was not in fact coming true for her. She continues her humble devotion to coming somehow into the land shadowed by God's cherubic wings. She is hereby presented as having no extended family and being really desperately hungry and poor. With no legal hope of marrying into Israel. We observe the same forwardness in her coming to Boaz in Ruth 3 and offering herself in marriage to him. The narrative bids us reflect and interpret- was she "forward" and self seeking, or, spiritual and modest, but simply driven by desperate hunger to this uncharacteristic boldness?

"The house" refers to a temporary booth where workers could take rest in the brutal heat. The law about gleaning didn't at all require that people should be allowed to glean right behind the reapers, "among the sheaves". It simply stated that if a sheaf was forgotten, the farmer should not return to collect it, but leave it in the field for the poor. That Ruth's utter poverty lead her to beg to be allowed to pick up the grain "among the sheaves" was far beyond this. That Boaz and his servant allowed it indicates how he saw beyond the letter of the law to the spirit, and this is what will be seen again in the very generous and far reaching extension he makes to the law of levirate marriage. The whole story is in fact about moving beyond the letter of the law to the spirit of it, which is grace. Ruth could be interpreted as being forward, but it seems to me that really she was driven to such going beyond the letter of the law because of her desperate need.

"Although she stayed a little in the house" is understood by LXX as meaning that she worked all the time, and didn't even take a break in the rest booth. The foreman is commending her hard working nature. And this is indeed how she presents- hard working, taking the initiative, yet totally devoted to Israel's God. And God responds to that.

Ruth 2:8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, Listen, my daughter: Don’t go to glean in another field, and don’t go away from here, but stay here close to my maidens-
The girls in view are the reapers, for the reapers were usually women, and it was the men who gathered the sheaves into shocks and transported them to the threshing floor. We note how the Lord likens His Angels to reapers, when this was a typically female work. 

Ruth 2:9 Let your eyes be on the field that they reap, and go after them-
"Go after" the other women is to be connected with how Boaz later commends Ruth for not 'going after' men in the hope of marriage (Ruth 3:10). So we can conclude that he is directing her attention to the field before her; for already there was forming in his mind a plan to get a field for her of her very own. And by directing her eyes to the field he was surely hoping that the same possibilities would form in her mind too.

Haven’t I commanded the young men not to touch you? When you are thirsty, go to the vessels, and drink from that which the young men have drawn-
Boaz perhaps feared Ruth would go after the young men who were his harvesters. Again we have a picture of his subconscious attraction to her, and his fear that she would be snapped up by one of the young men. Although he and they greeted each other in spiritual terms, clearly that may have been a mere formality as they were likely to abuse a vulnerable single woman. He commends her later for not having gone after young men (Ruth 3:10). It would seem that Boaz fell in love at first sight, but the basis of his attraction was her spirituality and devotion to Israel’s God (2:12,13).

Moabites were excluded from entering the congregation of Israel because they didn't give bread and water to Israel in the wilderness (Dt. 23:4-7). Boaz was a Godly man who makes allusion to the Torah in his words. So he was surely aware of this; and he is providing bread [grain] and water to a Moabitess. He understands grace and is reversing what Moab did to Israel, rather than simply legalistically obeying the law. Although he was in love with her, he also shows her the grace which is beyond the law. This going beyond the law in his attitude to her gleaning and to the Levirate marriage laws is a major theme of the book.

Ruth 2:10 Then she fell on her face and bowed herself to the ground, and said to him, Why have I found grace in your sight, that you should take knowledge of me, since I am a foreigner?-
Falling on the face, bowing and saying these very words is all what Moses did before Yahweh in the context of entering the covenant and entering the land (Ex. 33:12,13). Abraham and Joshua did likewise (Gen. 17:3,17; 18:3; Josh. 5:14). All the way through, Ruth sees Boaz as representing Yahweh, and his acceptance of her and redemption of her represented that of Yahweh. For she had come to Israel primarily because of her commitment to Yahweh and the covenant.

Ruth's feelings at this point, probably perceiving that Boaz also was in love with her as well as being gracious to her, all point to our feelings when we grasp the grace and special interest of God in little me.

But to 'find grace in the sight' of a man also means to be accepted by him as a wife (Dt. 24:1). The words of both Ruth and Boaz always seem to have hints in them towards marriage; their feelings and hopes were clearly mutual, and this is the beauty of the story as romance. See on :13. Ruth is awed that he should give her grace in his eyes although she was a Gentile. She was aware of the prohibition upon Moabites entering Yahweh's congregation. But one of the themes of the book is that the spirit and not the letter of the law is to be followed. God cares for individuals and ultimately has relationship with persons rather than nations en masse. Ruth obviously lived in the hope that she could indeed enter the congregation of Yahweh and the letter of the law need not apply to her. She used the Yahweh Name and had specifically chosen to follow Naomi to Israel because of her commitment to Naomi's God, whom she had declared to be her God- whether or not  God's people accepted her. She was therefore thrilled to see hints that Boaz likewise was thinking outside the box, beyond the constrictions of mere legalism. And in Boaz she sees the representation of Yahweh towards her.

Ruth 2:11 Boaz answered her, I have come to know all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband; and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth-
The reason for Boaz's kindness was not therefore that he simply was showing grace to some random stranger. He was aware of Ruth's story from his servant as discussed above. Or we may ask: From whom would he have known all Ruth had done for Naomi, unless he had spoken with Naomi? For they were relatives. This paves the way for my suggestion on Ruth 4:3,5 that Naomi, the seller of the land, had made a condition of buying the land that the purchaser also married Ruth. It could be that Naomi and Boaz had spoken and therefore he respects how she left her parents- implying they were still alive. But he would only have learned this from Naomi.

Again there is a double entendre in Boaz's words. For in Gen. 2:24, marriage is defined as leaving father and mother and being joined to our partner. He says that she has indeed left father and mother- to come to Israel. But his words are pregnant with the implication that now she had left father and mother, she was to marry. And his grace toward her in entering the marital covenant was to reflect Yahweh's covenant being extended to her. These ideas are developed in Ruth 3. planned the whole legal situation we encounter in Ruth 4.

"Left your father and mother" is an allusion to "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife” (Gen 2:24). Boaz is presented as clearly having marriage with Ruth on his mind at least subconsciously. He also is alluding to "“Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house unto the land that I will show thee" (Gen. 12:1); and he applies these words about Abraham to Ruth, as if he sees her as spiritually one of Abraham's seed. Although his reference to Gen. 2:24 suggests he was her as eligible for marrige, his allusion to scripture and his Godly way of greeting his workers suggest that he was a Godly man, but one who fell deeply in love with Ruth at first sight and wanted her for himself. He uses the same Hebrew word for "cleave" in :8 "stay here close to my maidens". Subconsciously at least, he had Gen. 2:24 in mind and was thinking of marrying Ruth. Boaz was so distant as a relative that he was not at all obligated to marry Ruth. Any obligation for her could have come under the legislation of Lev. 25:23 about caring for your relative who has fallen upon hard times. 

And have come to a people that you didn’t know before-
She had of course "known" Israelites before. So Boaz is using the idea of 'knowing' in the Hebraic sense of having relationship with. She realized that relationship with Yahweh means a relationship also with His people. John's letters likewise point out how the vertical relationship with God must have a horizontal dimension also. Boaz realizes this and wants therefore to manifest Yahweh's acceptance of Naomi. Her coming to Israel was therefore seen as coming to know God.

Ruth 2:12 May Yahweh repay your work, and a full reward be given you-

We may query Boaz's idea that Ruth's devotion to Yahweh should be rewarded with 'full wages'- which he imagines is his marrying of Ruth and production of a child by her. The language appears very works-centered. Grace is nowhere implied. And Ruth clearly left Moab without expecting any such reward. She came to Israel expecting that in line with Dt. 23:3-6, she would be unable to marry in to Israel. She came expecting nothing material in response to her devotion to Yahweh- and neither should we. But by grace she was given it. Boaz however reasoned that she should get 'full wages' for her devotion to Yahweh, and thus appears as less spiritual than her. Naomi likewise had said that Ruth should receive "hesed" / grace from Yahweh because of the "hesed" / grace Ruth had shown to Naomi. She prays Ruth will be rewarded with marriage and family in Ruth 1:9 and then in Ruth 3:1 she uses the same word in seeking to find Naomi such "rest" by her own device and scheming. The story line bids us enquire whether this 'measure for measure' approach is in fact right; we continually encounter God's gracious hand of providence, such as Ruth 'happening' to glean in Boaz's strips of land. As if to show that God's grace is of a different nature to the 'measure for measure' expectation of Naomi and Boaz [representing the entire Protestant work ethic], that good words should be rewarded by God.

These are the very words of the new covenant offered to Judah in Gentile lands (Jer. 31:16). Again, as noted on Ruth 1:16, the book of Ruth was clearly rewritten with phrases and wordings designed to encourage the exiles to make the journey of Ruth and Naomi, and to accept Gentile converts and not oppress women, nor anyone, but to perceive the value of persons as Boaz had done. The fact Boaz says these words to her again shows him to be Yahweh manifest to her. He was to recompence her "labour" with practical care and the marriage covenant, and thereby was manifesting to her God's covenant acceptance of her.

John writes that it is our ‘labour’, in the sense of hard mental effort, to know Him and believe in Him, which will have a ‘full reward’ (2 Jn. 8). John here is alluding to the LXX of Ruth 2:12, where a ‘full reward’ is given to Ruth for working hard all day gleaning in the fields. It may be that this allusion was because “the elect lady” addressed by John was in fact a proselyte widow, like Ruth. John's allusion indicates that he understands Boaz as using "labour" to refer to her mental labour of coming to faith in Yahweh. But the point is, we have to labour, as much as one might work hard walking around a lake or gleaning in the field, in order to know the Lord Jesus Christ. For He told those who walked around the lake that they should not do that labour for food, but for relationship with Him.  

From Yahweh, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge-
Again, he sees himself as manifesting that refuge which Yahweh was extending over Ruth. This was why he was preserving her life and her personal safety as she worked in his fields. See on Ruth 3:10. After "Yahweh, the God of Israel", the LXX adds “to whom you have come”, implying that Ruth’s motivation for coming to Israel was in order to come to the God of Israel and take her place under His wings. Ruth was smart and spiritually ambitious; she sees Boaz as representative of Yahweh in that she later literally takes refuge under the wings of Boaz's garments in 3:10.

Ruth 2:13 Then she said, Let me find grace in your sight, my lord-
As noted on :10, to 'find grace in the sight' of a man also means to be accepted by him as a wife (Dt. 24:1). The words of both Ruth and Boaz always seem to have hints in them towards marriage; their feelings and hopes were clearly mutual, and this is the beauty of the story as romance. She was here summoning the courage to indirectly suggest to Boaz that he could accept her as his wife. In the same way as she had the courage to throw herself upon Yahweh and claim covenant relationship with him, despite being a Moabitess.

Because you have comforted me, and because you have spoken to the heart of your handmaid-
This is very much the language of the restoration prophets in their message of encouragement to Judah in Gentile lands to return to the land (Is. 40;1; 66:13; Ez. 3:10). As explained on Ruth 1:16, the book of Ruth was rewritten under inspiration as encouragement to the exiles.

Although I am not as one of your handmaids-
This is one of a series of connections with the parable of the prodigal. As the son wanted to return to the Father as a servant although somewhat different from them, as he was a relative also, so Ruth felt. There’s an ambiguity in the last part of Ruth’s words here. It could be translated as “I don’t wish to merely be as one of your maidservants” (see NEB), with the implication, however vague, that she was thinking of marriage. This was then extended into the effective proposal she later makes to Boaz (see on Ruth 3:2,10).

Ruth 2:14 At meal time Boaz said to her, Come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your morsel in the wine-
Bread and grape juice was indeed appropriate fare for workers in the oppressive heat of harvest. But the invitation from Boaz to Ruth to partake of "bread and wine" is framed as having religious overtones. For nearly all Biblical references to "bread and wine" together have a spiritual, covenantal dimension or context. He was again seeking to encourage her that she had indeed entered covenant with himself and with Yahweh whom he represented to her.

This is the direct equivalent of the office girl being invited out for lunch with the boss. The invitation to dip her bread in his bowl of wine was an invitation to close friendship; the Lord used the same to Judas as a desperate last minute appeal to him to accept His love. When you've only just started work. But Ruth didn't as it were work for the firm. It was as if some random homeless person who goes around checking the bins at a factory... gets noticed by the CEO and invited to lunch with him. And this is God's grace to us. The fact she even said "Yes" says something about her. She was looking out for providential answers and ways forward, and was not just dumbly acceptive of her station and place. The random homeless person would likely decline such an invitation, at the very least because there is obviously some whiff of possible sexual expectation in it. But Ruth said yes. Here and in :15 we see Boaz not merely looking after the widow and foreigner, but showering her with attention and gifts. This can be read as nothing more than falling in love, or desiring her as his own. We need to perceive the absolute grace and wonder of having been invited to the Lord's table, to eat His bread and drink His wine; and never presume upon it, by getting offended that some human refuses to break bread with us. And never think to exclude others from that table and grace. For Ruth would hardly have turned around and told others to get away from Boaz's table.

She sat beside the reapers, and they reached her parched grain, and she ate, and was satisfied, and left some of it-
The legal requirement was that a poor person could pick grain and rub it in their hands to give a little food (Dt. 23:25). But this was taking that law way beyond what it said, in a spirit of grace. She was given no passing snack; she ate so much that she left some of what she was given. And we will see that this is what Boaz does with the levirate marriage law too. But the parched grain was extended to her by the reapers. They too had absorbed the spirit of grace shown by their master. And indeed, ways of grace are contagious. The superabundance of grace is shown by her having more than enough to eat, and taking back for Naomi what she had left over from the meal (:18).

Ruth 2:15 When she had risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and don’t reproach her-
The women reaped, tying the reaped grain into bundles, which were then gathered together into shocks for transport by the men to the threshing floor. It was unsurprising that there should be some protest at this gleaner picking up as much grain as they themselves were going to take home. "Reproach" is the word used in the restoration prophecies of how a repentant, regathered Judah would not be reproached (Is. 45:17; 50:7; 54:4). Her boldness in asking to glean even among the sheaves was not forwardness; she was driven to it by hunger and poverty. And it was that same desperate but proactive seeking for grace which led her to as it were propose to Boaz. Ruth was childless and a widow, both of which were a reproach to a woman (Gen. 30:23; Is. 4:1; Lk. 1:25). Boaz again is hinting that he wished to take away her reproach amongst men- by marrying her. And it was Israel in exile who were a reproach (Ps. 44:13), which could be removed from them by God's plan of redemption. "Fear not the reproach of men" (Is. 51:4) was God's word of restoration to the exiles, but it was based upon Boaz's words to Ruth. They would forget the reproach of their widowhood and never be ashamed again (Is. 54:4; Jer. 31:19), after the pattern of Ruth.

Ruth 2:16 Also pull out some for her from the bundles, and leave it; let her glean-
Again, we see Boaz hugely expanding upon the letter of the law about gleaning. And it was this spirit which was to climax in his development of the levirate law of marriage to allow him to marry Ruth. But we note that he began with the law and extrapolated its spirit further; he didn't simply ignore it and act as he felt would be gracious according to his own native sense of justice and kindness. And there is a major lesson here. For so much that is claimed to be humanitarian aid is doing just that, and is not the same as the grace we see being developed, understood and practiced here. The law was a springboard toward grace, guiding the path and trajectory toward it; as Paul puts it, the law was a schoolmaster to lead men unto Christ.

And don’t rebuke her-
I noted on :16 that the restoration prophecy of Is. 54:4 comforted the exiles that they would not be reproached again; and the same word for "rebuke" here is used in Is. 54:9, assuring them that their restoration would mean that they would not again be rebuked. Those prophecies were clearly allusive to the story of Ruth; she and Naomi are being held up as parade examples to the exiles, to return to their land and to their God. They were not to fear that their situation had put them on the wrong side of the letter of the Mosaic law, but to accept grace and reflect it to others, especially in how they treated women and Gentiles.

Ruth 2:17 So she gleaned in the field until evening; and she beat out that which she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley-
The beating out and winnowing was done in the evening when there was generally a stronger wind. There were ten omers in one ephah, and one omer of manna could feed a man for a day (Ex. 16:16,36). So this was a huge amount of barley, enough to feed a man for ten days. The abundance of provision by Boaz is clear, but we note also the abundance of the harvest, when neighbouring Moab was perishing from famine. There is here confirmation that Yahweh was blessing Israel at this time. 

Ruth 2:18 She carried it, and went into the city where her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. And she brought out and gave to her that which she had left after she herself had enough to eat-
I calculated on :17 that this was a huge amount of barley, enough to feed a man for ten days. She also took home for Naomi what was left over from the meal of :14. The impression is that Boaz has done what the Lord Jesus also did for the hungry [including Gentiles] who loved the God of Israel, providing them with superabundance of food so that there was much left over for people who were perishing with hunger. This was all consciously orchestrated by Boaz. He had gone way beyond the letter of the law and just wanted to articulate the lavishness of God's grace. And it is for us in our encounters with people to likewise lavish a reflection of the grace we have received. 

Ruth 2:19 Her mother-in-law said to her, Where have you gleaned today? Where have you worked? Blessed be he who took notice of you!-
"Took notice" is s.w. "acknowledged" (Gen. 38:26; Dt. 21:17; 33:9). Boaz had acknowledged her as a Gentile who was in covenant with Yahweh, had acknowledged her desire to be in His family. Just as Yahweh had done. The exiles (see on Ruth 1:16) were likewise encouraged that they would be acknowledged and blessed (s.w. Is. 61:9). We too have been taken notice of, and like Ruth we go our way loaded down with Boaz's grace and special love, shown to us in the bread of the communion meal.


She showed her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, The man’s name with whom I worked today is Boaz-
We may note that she speaks not of working for a man, nor of just being given gifts; but of working together "with" Boaz ["with" is stressed twice]. She answers the question as to "where" she worked by explaining with whom she had worked. We are increasingly getting the impression that Ruth and Boaz are unconsciously working together towards the same end conclusion, as lovers do. But as those who truly love God also do.

Ruth 2:20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, Blessed be he of Yahweh, Who has not left off His grace to the living and to the dead-
Clearly Naomi recognizes that Yahweh's grace was being articulated through that of Boaz. The Bible is clear that death is unconsciousness. But Naomi perceives that through being gracious to her and Ruth, Yahweh was also being gracious to their dead husbands. Both of them had not been spiritually strong, as discussed on Ruth 1. But His grace is very deeply perceived by Naomi; she sees His grace to her and Ruth as also in a way being grace shown to their husbands, despite their bad decisions during their lifetimes. And when analyzed, Divine grace does indeed appear to have ever increasing facets and aspects the more we consider it; His grace is therefore "manifold" or multi-coloured, as a crystal refracting light (see on 1 Pet. 4:10). She may already have in mind now that if Boaz married Ruth and they had a child, this would be a grace to the dead Mahlon, as a seed would be raised up.

Naomi said to her, The man is a close relative to us, one of our near kinsmen-
Yahweh is clearly the go'el of His people; the near kinsman redeemer / go'el of Jacob (Gen. 48:16), of Israel from bondage (Ex. 6:6; 15:13); the term is used of Him so often (Ps. 19:15; 69:19; 74:2; 107:2 and throughout Isaiah). But then Israel were told that they were to redeem / be a go'el to their relatives who had fallen upon hard times  (Lev. 25:25-30). Yahweh is that close to man, our kinsman redeemer. And we are to reflect that saving interest and grace to others. Boaz went a step further by also using the spirit of the Levirate marriage laws to marry Ruth. She and Naomi made it a condition to the other 'redeemer' that re-purchase of Elimelech's property was under the condition that the purchaser married Ruth and had children by her in Elimelech's name. Boaz is the only named human to whom go'el is applied. He clearly is to be seen as a type of the Lord Jesus. His falling in love with Ruth out of all the other women around therefore speaks of how the Lord, for some reason, fell in love with us, outside the legal scope of redemption; and we took the initiative in responding. The NT frequently uses the language of redeemer and redemption about the Lord Jesus, the greater man from Bethlehem (Rom. 3:24; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). Yahweh was the go'el but was manifested through Boaz, just as His redemptive love and purpose was manifested in the Lord Jesus. This is the significance of Naomi saying “May he be blessed by the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead”. The antecedent of "whose" could be Boaz or "the LORD". Ruth showed hesed / grace / covenant kindness to Naomi (Ruth 3:10), and that grace is returned to her by Boaz on God's behalf (Ruth 4:10,13). We too can be vehicles of the reflection of God's grace to others. 

The idea of the returned exile being saved by a go'el, a redeemer, connects with the frequent descriptions of God as Judah’s redeemer at the time of the restoration; the word occurs multiple times in this context in the latter chapters of Isaiah. The possibility of a go'el marrying Ruth had apparently not occurred to Naomi in Ruth 1:11-13, where she understands the go'el to only possibly marry herself, and then her resulting sons might then marry Ruth and Orpah. That the go'el could marry Ruth had not previously occurred to her. Perhaps because this wasn't what the Levirate law legally required, or perhaps because she considered that no true Israelite ought to marry a Moabitess like Ruth. Or because she considered Boaz too old and possibly impotent. But now she sees beyond the letter of the law to the possibilities of grace. And this is indeed what affliction and providence lead us to.

Ruth 2:21 Ruth the Moabitess said, Yes, he said to me, ‘You shall stay close to my young men, until they have ended all my harvest’-
The end of all the harvest meant both the barley and wheat harvest which followed it (:23). It is emphasized that Ruth "Stay close" to the young women (s.w. :8,23). Yet she reports this to Naomi here as saying that she had been told to "stay close" to the young men. Exactly why is unclear to me. It is the same word used of how Ruth "clave" to Naomi (Ruth 1:14). It is also the word of cleaving to a partner in marriage (Gen. 2:24), and cleaving to Yahweh in covenant relationship (Dt. 30:20; Josh. 22:5; 23:8). Boaz's servants were effectively him. The language is again to demonstrate that Ruth's cleaving to Boaz was an acted parable of her cleaving to Yahweh; and his usage of the word was surely to suggest that she might cleave to him in marriage. It was God's wish that His exiled people should cleave to Him (Jer. 13:11).       

Ruth 2:22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maidens, and that they not meet you in any other field-
This could mean that not every landowner allowed gleaning in their fields.  Dt. 24:19 doesn't make allowing gleaning a binding law upon landowners. The text simply states that "When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It shall be for the foreigner, for the fatherless and for the widow". By allowing gleaners to come and pick up dropped grain, Boaz's grace was going far beyond the letter of the law. See on :2.

"Meet" is s.w. "entreat" in Ruth 1:16. Naomi could see that others might be impressed by Ruth and want her association with them, perhaps with a view to marriage. But although Boaz was old, she was sure that he had to be the right candidate for Ruth because he was the relative who could raise up seed for Mahlon. She thereby put spiritual principle first. The levirate law didn't strictly apply to Ruth and she was free to marry whom she wished.

Ruth 2:23 So she stayed close to the maidens of Boaz, to glean to the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest-
For "stayed close", see on :21.

And she lived with her mother-in-law-
This may be a reminder that despite their feelings for each other, Boaz and Ruth didn't live together before their marriage. It was the fulfilment of Ruth's promise in Ruth 1:16: "where you lodge, I will lodge". But it may also be an allusion to Gen 2:24, as there was in :11. Ruth lived with her mother, but she was to leave her and cleave to a husband. She had emigrated to Israel solely for the sake of relationship with Yahweh; she had begged Naomi not to entreat her to "leave" her (Ruth 1:16). She was resigned to a single life for the sake of her devotion to Him. But she was to be surprised by grace; she was in fact going to do just that [in terms of Gen. 2:24] when she married Boaz.