Ruth 2:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 2:9, NIV: Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.'

Ruth 2:9, ESV: Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.”

Ruth 2:9, KJV: Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.

Ruth 2:9, NASB: Keep your eyes on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have ordered the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.'

Ruth 2:9, NLT: See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.'

Ruth 2:9, CSB: See which field they are harvesting, and follow them. Haven't I ordered the young men not to touch you? When you are thirsty, go and drink from the jars the young men have filled."

What does Ruth 2:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In her search for someone to give permission to glean—to scavenge edible grain— Ruth has happened upon Boaz's field (Ruth 2:2–3). Boaz has heard of Ruth and how she left everything to make sure her mother-in-law returns home safely and is cared for (Ruth 2:11–12).

He immediately tells Ruth that not only may she glean from his fields, but he also expects her to glean only from his fields. This is for her protection and benefit. She must stay close behind his female servants who bundle the grain the men have cut (Ruth 2:8), even when they move to the next field. Boaz will instruct the men to leave her alone; she will not fear from harassment—or worse. And she will drink and eat with his servants, even though she will take home everything she gathers. In fact, Boaz will arrange things so that she will harvest about twenty times more than what the harvesters take home (Ruth 2:15–17).

Besides the protection and the extra grain, Ruth understands the honor Boaz is giving her. Drawing water is typically the job of foreigners and women (Joshua 9:21; Genesis 24:11, 13; 1 Samuel 9:11). That she will drink water drawn by Israelite men is incredible.

It's apparent that Boaz hasn't spoken directly to his laborers yet, but he will (Ruth 2:15–16). Either he has told his manager, expecting him to pass on the word, or he is so used to being obeyed that he speaks as if the matter is settled. "Touch you" can have any number of connotations. Especially in that era, women were not safe in fields. Left alone, unscrupulous men can harass them so much they can't work. At worst, the men can rape the women (Deuteronomy 22:25) or kidnap them and take them as their wives (Judges 21:20–21). Ruth is a widowed foreigner under the care of an older Israelite woman. She has no man to protect her—until now.

Some passages in Ruth have been unnecessarily sexualized. The most common is the scene which takes place at the threshing floor (Ruth 3:7–9). Scholars point out that the comment about drinking in this verse can also be interpreted salaciously. Proverbs 5:15–20 compares a man who is faithful to his wife with one who drinks from his own cistern. Nothing in the context of this story fits such an idea, however. Boaz is literally talking about water. He is not telling Ruth to have sex with him or his servants.