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Ruth chapter 2

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New International Version

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King James Version

14And 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. 15And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: 16And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not. 17So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley. 18And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed. 19And her mother-in-law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned today? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she showed her mother-in-law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought today is Boaz. 20And 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. 21And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest. 22And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter-in-law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field. 23So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother-in-law.
New King James Version

What does Ruth chapter 2 mean?

Ten years prior, an Israelite family fled a famine in Judah and settled in Moab. The father died, and the mother, Naomi, found local wives for her sons. Not long later, the sons died. When Naomi heard that the famine had ended, she resolved to return to Bethlehem. Her daughters-in-law insisted on accompanying her. When Naomi explained how much easier their lives would be if they stayed, Orpah agreed. Ruth didn't. Naomi's friends were glad to see her again, but her bitterness dragged her into despair (Ruth 1). In this chapter, Naomi finds hope again.

Ruth 2 begins with an introduction that sets the stage. The narrator reveals the presence of a man named Boaz who is of the same clan as Naomi's husband. Back at home, Ruth requests Naomi's permission to glean barley behind the harvesters. As Ruth seeks an owner who will show her favor in her work, she happens upon a field owned by Boaz (Ruth 2:1–3).

Sometime during the day, Boaz appears to check on the harvest. He sees Ruth and asks his foreman who she is. Word has gotten around the small town, and when the servant mentions that Ruth came with Naomi, Boaz realizes she is the Moabite woman who abandoned her country, people, and gods for an Israelite widow (Ruth 2:4–7).

Boaz determines that such a sacrifice deserves a response. He insists that Ruth glean only from his fields, so she will be safe. He orders his harvesters to intentionally leave out stalks from the bundles so she can gather more. And he invites her to lunch as if she were one of his servants. Ruth is overwhelmed by his kindness (Ruth 2:8–16).

At day's end, Ruth has harvested and threshed nearly six gallons—about twenty-four liters—of barley grain. Naomi is shocked at the amount and realizes Ruth must have had a benefactor. When Ruth mentions the man's name, Naomi reveals that Boaz is one of her husband's kinsman-redeemers. Beyond the provision of food, Naomi is even more grateful that Boaz has taken precautions to protect Ruth. Foreign widows working in the field face more dangers than just starvation (Ruth 2:17–22).

The last verse provides a summary statement of the following weeks. Ruth not only gleans for barley, but she also stays for the wheat harvest, as well. At night, she returns to Naomi in Bethlehem. Meanwhile, her continued lovingkindness toward Naomi is not going unnoticed (Ruth 2:23).

By the end of the harvest, the women likely have enough to live on for a year. Even so, they realize that Boaz can provide more than grain, if he's willing. Naomi is thinking about Ruth's future. She suggests that Ruth go to Boaz in a way that essentially asks him to care for her (Ruth 3:1–5). Naomi has also told Ruth that Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer. That means he can buy Naomi's husband's land and give Naomi the money to live for the rest of her life. He could also provide a son to carry on her husband's name. Ruth asks Boaz to fulfill this role (Ruth 3:9).

Commentors such as those at The Bible Project point out that chapters 2 and 3 have the same organization. They start with Ruth and Naomi planning, progress to an interaction with Ruth and Boaz, and finish with Ruth and Naomi waiting to see what will happen next. Chapter 2 sets the stage. In chapter 3, Ruth will invite Boaz to provide more than just grain. In chapter 4, Boaz will accept his role as the vessel through which God has chosen to bless the women. In the process, he becomes the great-grandfather of King David.
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