Ruth 2:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 2:2, NIV: And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, 'Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.' Naomi said to her, 'Go ahead, my daughter.'

Ruth 2:2, ESV: And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”

Ruth 2:2, KJV: 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.

Ruth 2:2, NASB: And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, 'Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain following one in whose eyes I may find favor.' And she said to her, 'Go, my daughter.'

Ruth 2:2, NLT: One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, 'Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.' Naomi replied, 'All right, my daughter, go ahead.'

Ruth 2:2, CSB: Ruth the Moabitess asked Naomi, "Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain behind someone with whom I find favor? "Naomi answered her, "Go ahead, my daughter."

What does Ruth 2:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Ruth and Naomi are in Bethlehem. They have no man to protect or provide for them, and no source of income. If a widow doesn't have a family, her options are to beg, become a prostitute, sell herself as a slave, or glean. Fortunately, the two women arrive at the beginning of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:22).

God gave the poor and sojourners in Israel the right to glean from others' fields (Leviticus 19:9–10; Deuteronomy 24:19–22). Harvesting consisted of several steps. First, men walked through the fields and gathered stalks in their hands or the crooks of their elbows. Their opposite hands cut the stalks with a sickle. They then laid the stalks on the ground. Women followed, gathering the stalks, and tying them into bundles. Finally, men came later in the day and gathered the bundles and took them to the threshing floor.

Gleaners followed behind the women and gathered the stray stalks that were not in bundles. Although harvesters were not allowed to go through their field a second time, they were very adept at gathering everything they could. While gleaners were allowed to take the loose stalks, there wouldn't be much left.

Sojourners were allowed to glean, but it's unclear if Ruth qualifies. By law, a sojourner was a Gentile who lived in Israel and followed the ceremonial parts of the Mosaic law, like the Sabbath and the feasts (Exodus 12:43–49; 20:10; Numbers 9:14). Because of their vile inhospitality toward the Israelites (Numbers 25:1–9), Moabites were not allowed "in the congregation" unless they were the eleventh generation to live in the land (Deuteronomy 23:3). Ruth has only been at most a few days.

In addition, Ruth is a young foreign widow with no family status working in a situation known for assault (Ruth 2:22). The law protecting engaged women from rape in the fields suggests the crime isn't uncommon (Deuteronomy 22:25); without a fiancé or a father, Ruth is even more vulnerable.

The book of Ruth is the last of three Bethlehem stories in the time of the judges. The first two are not pleasant. In the second, men from the tribe of Benjamin gang-raped a woman from Bethlehem so violently she died (Judges 19:22–30). In response, fighting men from throughout Israel attacked Benjamin, decimating the tribe's army (Judges 20). To rebuild the errant tribe, the Israelites told the remaining Benjamite men to kidnap women who were worshiping God at the vineyards near Shiloh (Judges 21:17–24).

There is nothing safe about Ruth going to glean in an Israelite's field. She is wise to request permission from the harvest manager.

In chapters 2 and 4, when Ruth is interacting with new people who have power over her future, she is often identified as a Moabitess. In chapter 3, when she challenges Boaz to provide more than food, he affectionately calls her "daughter." Ruth's foreignness, which may slip our minds, constantly reminds her how vulnerable she is.