(Ver 1.1) In chapter one of Ruth we were introduced to many of the characters of the story of Ruth, but not all. If you did not read Part 1 of this series I would suggest that you go back and read the foundation and introduction and all of the information that I covered in chapter 1. I will not normally repeat myself so if you missed it, you just missed it.
So far we have seen that Naomi and Ruth have returned to Bethlehem during the time of the Barley Harvest and that they are in desperate shape financially. All of the men in their family have died and they have great needs just to survive. So let’s get into chapter 2 and the introduction of another primary character that will come to save the day.
Rth 2:1 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
We are immediately introduced to some new concepts and a new character in the very first verse of Chapter 2. Boaz is described as a near relative of Elimelech, the dead husband of Naomi. This is where it starts to become important to learn and know what the law says. Because of God’s wisdom, the law provided for the situation that Naomi and Ruth now were facing. The law says that if a man should die without leaving any heirs, that a brother or near relative of the dead man was required to marry the widow and to have a child by her to become the heir of whatever was owned by that man who died. This would also mean that the dead man’s family name would not perish from the face of the earth. One of the men that was qualified to fulfill this requirement was a man who just so happened to be a very wealthy man and his name was Boaz. Here is the law of Moses that pertains to this matter:
Num 27:8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.
Num 27:9 And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren.
Num 27:10 And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father’s brethren.
Num 27:11 And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.
What we see is an order of precedence and responsibility being established by the law of God. God declares a specific inheritance order when a man dies. God does this by design and for a purpose, that I will not get into in this blog. Let’s look at the order and analyze it, the order is always from the firstborn son, then the next born son, until the youngest son. If the man who dies has no sons, then his daughters can inherit in the same order from the firstborn to youngest. Next, if he has no living children, then the inheritance goes to the brothers of the man who died, again from the firstborn to youngest in that order. If he has no living brothers you go up the family tree to your father’s brothers, from oldest to youngest. The responsibility is thus passed to whomever is still living in the family from oldest to youngest, to inherit the dead man’s possessions. But, of course it is more complex than that. You also get the man’s debts and you must pay off those debts and redeem them. You just don’t get to take whatever he owned and make it yours, especially if his wife is still alive. Because she was also his and by the law of marriage she was one with him. So she has now also become your responsibility and there is more to it than that also. Here is more of the Law concerning widows and the brothers obligations:
Deu 25:5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
Deu 25:6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.
Deu 25:7 And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.
Deu 25:8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
Deu 25:9 Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.
Deu 25:10 And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.
This is some very strange stuff, however as you continue to read in Ruth you see that they definitely follow these rules and protocols as the law of God dictates. God says that if a woman is a widow it is up to her husband’s brother to marry her and raise up an heir for his dead older brother. If you recall it was the eldest who inherited everything anyway and the younger son would have had to work for the older son because he would have inherited it all from their father. This was just how it was in the Law. By the younger son refusing to marry the older son’s wife they had legal recourse to take it to the elders and thus the reputation of the younger son who refuses to take his brother’s wife, his name would be disgraced and he would no longer be a person of any significance within the House of Israel. They would change his name to “Him that has his shoe loosed”. We will talk about this more later as we go through the rest of the chapters of Ruth. For now let’s go to verse 2 of chapter two:
Rth 2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
Obviously Ruth and Naomi are hungry and in need of food. Ruth asks Naomi if she can go into the field and glean to find food for them to eat. Fortunately for Ruth and Naomi God also provided for them in the law of Moses. God wrote a commandment that establishes a principle that we should probably even be following today:
Lev 19:10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
God told the children of Israel not to pick their crops totally bare. Harvest time was a time to go and reap the crops, but it was also a time to leave some for the poor to come and get also. However, this was not a welfare system like a US government type of program. God did not give anyone anything for free. If the poor wanted to come and work and pick the crop to eat, they could eat, but if they wanted to have someone come and drop it off at their feet, they would go hungry. We can clearly see that Ruth had to go into the field and work to gather their food supply. Being a lone individual, she was unable to get rich from what she picked, but at least they could eat and not go hungry. Ten times in chapter two, it speaks of Ruth going into the harvest field to glean. Boaz happens to own the field that Ruth is working in and he sees her and asks his people who is this and they tell him Ruth the Moabitish who returned with Naomi from Moab. Boaz makes some commands and grants Ruth some extreme favor and grace. He commands his workers to help her gather and not to touch her. She is granted the ability to rest in their facilities and to drink from their water pitchers. This Gentile woman has found extreme favor with the right man and she does not even realize it yet. However, Ruth has one quality that exemplifies her beyond any other that might also be gleaning, she is humble. Humility is always the key to receiving grace.
Rth 2:10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
The Bible says “God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). This is a Bible law and an established principle for receiving what you need. Boaz speaks further to Ruth and tells her that she has done well to stay with her mother-in-law and to live with a people she did not know. In other words Boaz was telling her that she had made the right choices:
Rth 2:12 The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
Boaz now tells Ruth that she is trusting in the God of Israel. Because she has placed her confidence in the true God, God will reward her. Another way to say this is there are benefits to trusting in God. Ruth left her relatives and walked away from her old familiar life into a place she did not know and she has now found the favor with God. What made Ruth different than the other hundreds of widows that were in the land at that time? Ruth had faith, she trusted God. I really have not discussed applications of any of these scriptures up until this point. I have told you that the book of Ruth contains many significant types and shadows, which are natural examples of spiritual truths. I guess you might have already noticed that Ruth appears to be a type of the church. Those who have left their old lives and followed after the living God, trusting in His grace by faith. Does this sound familiar? It ought to if you are a Christian.
Rth 2:14 And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
Continuing through the 2nd chapter we see another pattern being discussed. Boaz invites Ruth to eat with him and gives her bread and vinegar. Did you know that in Bible times you did not eat with someone casually, because by eating with them you were entering into a covenant with them. Simply by sharing bread with someone a covenant is established. If you do not understand covenants, this is not something you do with your enemies by accident or chance because it could cost you your life. A covenant is a marriage in the eyes of God so that is why you do not enter into them by accident. Boaz obviously likes Ruth a lot and has decided by this action to enter into a covenant with her, for her to become his wife. After all of this Boaz commands his reapers to grant her even more favor and let her pick anywhere she wants, even from the parts they are working in. The reapers are further ordered to leave handfuls on purpose for her to get easily. I would say Boaz has a plan.
Ruth goes back to Naomi and tells her all the good news that she knows so far. How she met a man named Boaz and what he had said to her. Naomi becomes ecstatic and almost can’t contain herself and says the following:
Rth 2:20 And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
Naomi realizes and knows the law of Moses and God. She recognizes now that God has not forgotten them or their dead husbands. It is important to note what Naomi says next about this man named Boaz. She calls him a near kin. That means he is not a distant relative. It could place Boaz in the category of a brother to Elimilech. She then calls him “one of our next kinsmen”. It is interesting to note now that she does not say our next kinsmen, just one of the next kinsmen. What’s the difference? Remember God had a specific order of priority and the oldest always had first responsibility to fulfill the law first. Now here is the introduction to one of the keywords found in the this Book of Ruth that you definitely need to know. The word “Kinsmen” is a Hebrew word that means a “Redeemer”.
What is a “Redeemer”? Obviously a Redeemer is someone who redeems? So what does that mean? It is often compared to someone who visits a modern pawn shop and sells a valuable item for cash. The owner of the pawn shop usually pays them pennies on the dollar for their item in hopes of them not coming back to redeem their item. To redeem your item means you pay the price to get your item back. Does any of this sound familiar? Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, he has paid the price for our sin and bought us back. This is redemption by God from the fact that mankind sold themselves to Satan.
Isa 52:3 For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
This is God’s message to the church. God declares that we have sold ourselves for nothing and therefore we would be bought back without money. In other words God was not going to pay any money to get us back, but that did not mean it didn’t cost anything. You see Jesus Christ gave his blood and life to pay the price of our redemption and this was more valuable than any money, gold or natural wealth.
At the end of chapter two of Ruth, Ruth tells Naomi that Boaz asks her to only work his field until the time of the end of the harvest season. I really do not know how you can read this story and not see the church and Christ throughout it. Christ owns the harvest field and the church are the laborers that are working to bring in the harvest. There is a coming time of the end of the harvest when it will be over. Jesus said in the Gospels “the harvest is great, but the laborers are few”. Jesus is not talking about a wheat or barley harvest or a natural crop. I guess because the natural Jews do not know the New Testament, they do not see the types and shadows given to them so clearly. It reminds me of a shadow portrait my son had done when he was young. I could look at it and recognize his profile immediately even though it was just an outline and showed no facial details. But, I could do this because I knew him and if you did not know him you would not know who it was a picture of. This is how the Bible is to those who do not know Jesus Christ. Because they do not know him personally, they do not recognize when they encounter a shadow that is projected and points you to him.
If you would like to continue reading this series, you can go to “Part 3“.