Ruth: A Love Story (Part 4)
"Now Boaz said to her [i.e., Ruth] at mealtime, 'Come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.' So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed parched grain to her; and she ate and was satisfied, and kept some back. And when she rose up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, 'Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. Also let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her; leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.' So she gleaned in the field until evening, and beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley" (Ruth 2:14-17).

As a gleaner, Ruth was not one of Boaz's employed workers; she had no right to eat and drink with them in the field. However, he invited her to join himself and the reapers when it was time for a meal. When parched grain was offered to her, she ate what she needed and was thoughtful enough to save some to share with Naomi later that day. Boaz instructed his men to make it easier for Ruth to gather plenty of grain. Even with all of the favors of Boaz, Ruth did not let up in her work. She continued gleaning and, by the end of the day, beat out about a bushel of barley.

"Then she took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. So she brought out and gave to her what she had kept back after she had been satisfied. And her mother-in-law said to her, 'Where have you gleaned today? And where did you work? Blessed be the one who took notice of you.' So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked, and said, 'The man's name with whom I worked today is Boaz.' Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, 'Blessed be he of the LORD, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!' And Naomi said to her, 'This man is a relation of ours, one of our close relatives.' Ruth the Moabitess said, 'He also said to me, "You shall stay close to my young men until they have finished all my harvest."' And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, 'It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, and that people do not meet you in any other field.' So she stayed close by the young women of Boaz, to glean until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law" (Ruth 2:18-23).

Naomi gladly received the grain and offered a blessing for the giver even before she knew who it was. Naomi believed that God, through Boaz, was now showing kindness to the living and the dead (i.e., to Naomi and Ruth as well as their deceased husbands). Naomi identified Boaz as a close relative (or "near-kinsman"). Naomi instructed Ruth to obey Boaz and glean in his fields only.

The chapter closes with Ruth doing what she was told throughout the barley and wheat harvests. During this time period, there is no doubt that Boaz continued to treat Ruth with kindness and generosity, as she provided for Naomi.

Next week we will consider chapter 3, where this beautiful story of love intensifies.