And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
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. Let me go to the field and glean — Which was permitted to the poor and the stranger, Leviticus 19:9; Deuteronomy 24:19. And Ruth was neither ashamed to confess her poverty, nor would she eat the bread of idleness. After him in whose sight I shall find grace — Perhaps she did not know that poor strangers had a right to glean as well as the poor of Israel; or rather, out of her great modesty, she would not claim it as a right, but as a favour, which she would humbly and thankfully acknowledge. And she said, Go, my daughter — This shows, that Naomi was in a very poor and low condition as to temporal things; for had she been otherwise, it is not likely that she would have suffered her daughter- in-law to go and glean among the lowest of the people.
And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.Ruth 2:3. Her hap was, &c. — It was a chance in appearance, and in reference to second causes, but ordered by God’s providence. God wisely orders small events, even those that seem altogether contingent. Many a great affair is brought about by a little turn, fortuitous as to men, but designed by God.
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. And said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you, &c. — Such was the piety of ancient times, that it manifested itself even in men’s civil conversation and worldly transactions, and induced them to pray to God for a blessing on the labours of those whom they saw to be honestly and usefully employed, who were wont in return to pray in a similar manner for them. The Lord be with you; and the Lord bless you — This was the beautiful language of religion in those days; too little known, alas! in ours.
Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:
And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.Ruth 2:7. She said, I pray you, &c. — She did not boldly intrude herself, but modestly ask leave of us. Till now — She is not retired through idleness, for she hath been diligent and constant in her labours. The house — In the little house or tent, which was set up in the fields at these times, and was necessary in those hot countries, where the labourers might retire for a little repose or repast. Being weary with her continued labours, she comes hither to take a little rest.
Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:Ruth 2:8-9. Abide here by my maidens — Not by the young men, to avoid both occasion of sin, and matter of scandal. Herein he shows his piety and prudence. That they shall not touch thee — So as to offer any incivility or injury to thee.
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.
Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?Ruth 2:10. Then she fell on her face — This was the humblest posture of reverence, either civil, when performed to men, or religious, when to God. And thus she shows both the lowliness of her mind and her gratitude. That thou shouldest take knowledge of me — That is, shouldest so much as notice me, and especially show me any respect or kindness.
And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
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.Ruth 2:12. The Lord recompense thy work, &c. — Thy dutiful kindness to thy mother-in-law, and thy leaving thy country and kindred, and all things, to embrace the true religion. This implied such a work of divine grace wrought in her, and such a work of righteousness wrought by her, as was sure to be crowned with a full reward. Under whose wings thou art come to trust — That is, under whose protection and care. An allusion, either to hens, which protect and cherish their young ones under their wings; or to the wings of the cherubim, between which God dwelt.
Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.Ruth 2:13. She said, Let me find favour — Or, I find favour, &c. For it is evidently an acknowledgment of the kindness she had already received, and not a petition for a further kindness. Though I be not like, &c. — That is, though I have not deserved it, being a person more mean, obscure, and necessitous, than one of thy handmaidens — A stranger, and one born of heathen parents, and not of the holy and honourable people of Israel, as they are.
And 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.Ruth 2:14. Eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar — In the term bread is comprehended all the provision which was made for the reapers, with which they had vinegar for sauce, it being very cooling and refreshing in hot seasons, as the time of harvest there was. He reached her parched corn — Which was a usual and no mean food in those countries, as appears from 2 Samuel 17:28. Either Boaz, or the servant set over the reapers, gave her this. It is no disparagement to the finest hand to be reached out to the needy. And she sat by the reapers — Not with or among them, but at some little distance, as one inferior to them.
And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:
And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.Ruth 2:16. Let fall also some of the handfuls — What an amiable picture of piety and virtue in private life have we here in Boaz! In the midst of riches he is laborious, diligent in husbandry, plain without luxury, delicacy, sloth, or pride. How affable, obliging, and kind to his servants! The Lord be with you, says he, even to his reapers. What an obliging humanity, as well as generosity, does he show when he desires Ruth not to go into any other field to glean, but to abide fast by his maidens, to eat and drink with them; and in the order he gives his reapers to let her glean even among the sheaves, and to let fall some of the handfuls on purpose for her, that she might gather them without being ashamed! What a noble pattern have we here to instruct us in what manner to bestow benefits, namely, so as to spare those whom we oblige the confusion of receiving, and ourselves the temptation of vain glory in giving.
So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.Ruth 2:17-18. An ephah — About a bushel of our measure. Gave to her what she had reserved — At dinner, after she had eaten, and was sufficed — Or satisfied. This shows Ruth’s care of her mother-in-law, whom she had in her mind when she was feasted with the reapers with more than she could eat, and therefore brought what she left home for her refreshment.
And 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.
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 shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.Ruth 2:19. Where hast thou gleaned to-day? — It is a good question to ask ourselves in the evening, “Where have I gleaned to-day?” What improvements have I made in grace or knowledge? What have I learned or done, which will turn to account?
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 kinsmen.Ruth 2:20. His kindness to the living and to the dead — That is, the kindness which he formerly showed to my husband and his sons while they were living, he now continues to us their relicts.
And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.Ruth 2:21. Thou shalt keep fast by my young men — Or, young people, as the word נערים, negnarim, although of the masculine gender, here signifies, and particularly the maidens, to whom he bid her keep close, Ruth 2:8. And thus both the Seventy and the Chaldee expound it; and so Naomi, as appears by the next verse, understood it. Until they have ended all my harvest — Both barley-harvest and wheat-harvest. She tells what kindness Boaz had showed her; but not how he had commended her. Humility teaches not only not to praise ourselves, but not to be forward in repeating the praise which others have given us.
And 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.Ruth 2:22. That they meet thee not in any other field — Whereby thou wilt both expose thyself to many inconveniences, which thou mayest expect from strangers, and incur his displeasure, as if thou didst despise his kindness.
So 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.