Ruth 2:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 2:4, NIV: Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, 'The LORD be with you!' 'The LORD bless you!' they answered.

Ruth 2:4, ESV: And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.”

Ruth 2:4, KJV: And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.

Ruth 2:4, NASB: Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, 'May the LORD be with you.' And they said to him, 'May the LORD bless you.'

Ruth 2:4, NLT: While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. 'The LORD be with you!' he said. 'The LORD bless you!' the harvesters replied.

Ruth 2:4, CSB: Later, when Boaz arrived from Bethlehem, he said to the harvesters, "The Lord be with you.""The Lord bless you," they replied.

What does Ruth 2:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

If this book were a scripted film or television show, this would be the dramatic moment in which the hero enters the scene. Boaz is a well-respected and powerful man in Bethlehem. It's likely that he is a hero of the wars between the Israelites and their enemies. He is descended from the chief of the tribe of Judah during the time of the exodus (Numbers 2:3; Ruth 4:20–21). He is at least middle-aged, if not older (Ruth 3:10), but his nickname means "lively."

The land around Bethlehem had been in famine for ten years, but now it is the barley harvest (Ruth 1:1, 4, 6, 22). It was this famine that led Boaz's kinsman Elimelech to take his wife and two sons into Moab to find food. Boaz has heard that Elimelech and his sons have died but his wife, Naomi, has returned. He's also heard that Naomi's Moabite daughter-in-law has come with her, abandoning her family, people, and gods to make sure Naomi is cared for (Ruth 2:11).

What Boaz doesn't know is that Ruth is gleaning in his field.

Before they entered the Promised Land, God told the Israelites that if they obeyed Him, He would bless their crops so much they would have to move the previous year's harvest to make room for the new (Leviticus 26:9–10). If they rebelled and worshiped foreign idols, He would harden the land and banish the rain, sending famine on the people (Leviticus 26:18–20). Apparently, after a time of rebellion, the people have repented and cried out for mercy. God has responded.

"The LORD be with you!" is a kind of prayer that God will fulfill His covenant promise of good harvest. In the book of Ruth, the narrator doesn't mention God much; God is recorded as acting directly only twice: when He brings Bethlehem food and Ruth a son (Ruth 1:6; 4:13). The characters, however, often ask God to bless each other (Ruth 1:8–9; 2:12, 19–20; 3:10).