Last Updated September 3, 2001
1:16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave
thee, or to return from following thee: for whither thou goest, I will
go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people
and thy God shall be my God.
The Book of Ruth tells the story of Naomi and Ruth.
Naomi was married to Elimelech and they moved to Moab, a land generally
inhabited by a hated breed of people that was a mixture of races, through
political annexations, that were dominated by descendants of Ham the son
of Noah whose descendants are are called Hamitic or Black.
.Judah was surrounded by these Black descendants of Ham,
with Zidonites, Philistines and Moabites on nearly every side. Even the
very land upon which they were building, Caanan, was inhabited by these
descendants of Ham for hundreds of years while the Jews were in slavery
in Egypt. Moabites were hated by Jews and the Mosaic law forbade them from
having any dealing with Moabites. Deut.23:3-6 points out that Moabites
were prohibited from mixing with Jews,
even if a person had just one tenth Moabite blood. In Numbers 25:3
Jewish men were warned not to have relationships with Moabite women.
Naomi's husband moved to Moab because there was a famine in
Israel. He lived there for many years. His sons married Moabite women.
After a while however, he died and both his sons died, leaving his wife
and his daughters by law, all widows. Naomi, now an old woman, decided
to return to Israel and both her daughter's by law decided to come too.
One daughter turned back however. The other, Ruth, decided to follow Naomi
back home, not knowing how she would be received by Jews who hated Moabites,
or whether she would live or die.
It was a decisive and courageous move. It was an act of faith
that is unparalleled. At best Ruth could be characterized as a Black woman
by native association. At the least she would have to be characterized
as a hated woman by all Jews by virtue of her race. The peculiar circumstance
of her race is what makes her decision to follow Naomi so impressive.
Chapter 2: 19,20
2:19-20 "And her mother-in-law said unto her,
Where hast thou gleaned to day? 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 to day
is Boaz. And 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
The Mosaic law made special provisions for the poor.
In Leviticus 19:9 the law commands: "And when ye reap the harvest of your
land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt
thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest." The same principle was repeated
in Deuteronomy 24:19 "When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field,
and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch
it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow:
that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands."
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The law of gleaning was God's way of providing for
the poor. If corn fell to the ground it was to be left for the poor or
widows. None of the corners of any field were to be harvested. The poor
and the widows would glean the corners. Fruits that fell to the ground
were to be left for the gleaners.
It was God's way of taking care of those who would
be in need.
Ruth, as a gleaner, probably expected to gather
just enough to make a meal at the end of the day. There were hundreds of
gleaners that waited until the day's end for their chance at a meal. She
would have been happy to get just enough to get by. However, in her gleaning
she came across Boaz, a relative, who recognized her as a widowed relative.
In 2:11 Boaz tells Ruth that they had informed him
that she was a widow and they had noted her family connection. In verse
12 Boaz says: "The LORD recompense thy work and a full reward be given
thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust."
In essence he said, the Lord has recognized your
work in the fields and will reward you because you have labored while trusting
After she left his presence Boaz ordered his supervisors
to "let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose." The supervisors were
told to order their men to drop large amounts of corn near her and leave
them on purpose so that she could glean them. If she happened to glean
near the sheaves that were still on the stalk, they were ordered not to
Ruth returned to her gleanings. Much to her
surprise the workers seemed unusually sloppy. There were more corn ears
than ever in her path. She quietly gathered them without causing attention
and returned home.
When she returned, Naomi asked the question: "Where
hast thou gleaned today?" "Where wroughtest thou?" Where did you glean
today? Where have you been? Ruth showed her gleanings and overwhelmed Naomi.
Each day she returned her gleanings were bountiful.
Boaz typifies Christ. Ruth typifies every
believer. When we trust, obey and serve we are rewarded bountifully by
many acts of kindness, mercy and grace from our Lord.
Just as Boaz told Ruth: The Lord will reward
your work because you trust in him, so does the Lord say to every believer:
"Trust in me and you shall receive a reward."
While there are gleanings or blessings available
for everyone, God has special blessings for those who trust in him. He
has ordered them placed conveniently in our path. Those who serve him and
trust him will find them..