Posts tagged Boaz
There is a gap between the second and third chapter of Ruth for a few months. However these months are precious months for Ruth and Naomi. At the end of Ruth two, Naomi tells Ruth to keep on gleaning from Boaz, and from what we can tell Ruth does. We see at the beginning of Ruth three that Naomi is getting desperate, and the situation does demand it.
As we have read in Ruth one, Naomi and Ruth are a alone. Both of their husbands had died in a far away land. This meant that they were sentences to lives of poverty. In the modern United States abject poverty is difficult, but in the ancient world it was unbearable. There is a famous line from one Ebenezer Scrooge which says, “Let them starve, it would decrease the surplus population.” While this sentiment is horrible to the modern reader, it was a fact of life for the ancient Israelite. Those who could not provide for themselves would starve. Naomi and Ruth were staring down the barrel of a loaded gun. The harvest season was over. The gleaning season was over and winter was coming. Naomi knew that no amount of generosity during the harvest could ensure that they would be able to survive the long winter and the spring.
Naomi was desperate, and she acted as such.
One of the greatest things about reading the bible is that bible characters are so often in the wrong until God redeems the situation. I was looking at a bookshelf which had DVDs of a popular kid’s television program and I saw one called “Heroes of the Bible” and when I saw the line up I smiled. There are definitely people in the bible who saw and did good things for the Lord, but the hero in the Bible is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The people in the bible fall, sin, make bad decisions, and even ruin their lives because of the things they have done against God. Some of them are redeemed. Ruth three is about God’s faithfulness in the midst of some pretty intense sin.
Boaz was ready to party. He had just pulled in the harvest and it was a good year. He decided to throw a party. After a long day of winnowing his barley with his workers he was going to enjoy himself with them, with some incredible food and good drink. Drink, not necessarily meaning coffee or Mountain Dew, but probably meaning wine. So he and his boys got to dinner and enjoyed themselves. After a long night of working it was the tradition of prostitutes to come in and sleep with the drunker harvesters for money. This sinful, not the right thing to do.
However, Naomi knew that if Boaz and Ruth got together that it would be worth more than a couple of bucks. Naomi knew that because Boaz was a redeemer, if she and Ruth got together it would mean a permanent bond that would require her becoming his wife, which would be a way out of poverty. So she told Ruth to get pretty. In Ruth 3:3 she tells Ruth to clean herself and anoint herself and wear a cloak to sneek down to the winnowing floor. It was tradition that a prostitute would go into the place of the workers and uncover their feet as a way of saying, “I’m here.” If they were covered with the man’s blanket they were accepted. What Naomi told Ruth to do was give herself to Boaz, and that was sinful. Ruth went along with it, and that was sinful.
Boaz had been up with the boys eating and drinking. Boaz was not drunk, but not sober. He was probably slightly buzzed as he went to bed. This was a good year, the famine was over, and he had finished a long season of harvest. Boaz was sleeping and Ruth waited. Boaz awoke, slightly impaired, and found a woman at his feet. He was not interested in her in that way.
Boaz was a man of integrity. He went on to tell Ruth that he would redeem her, but that it would be in the right way. Being a prominent member of the Israeli society, he knew God’s rules. He knew that sleeping with Ruth was not the way to bring redemption. He knew that he would have to do it the God given way. He was interested, he knew there was competition, but he served Ruth anyway. This is what happened, now what does it mean?
Boaz wore button up shirts, $200 jeans, black leather dress shoes, and a light jacket with zipper pockets and a plastic exterior to keep him dry. He drove an F-250, carried a clipboard, and used a Blackberry. He had a baseball cap and a watch that was not fashionable, but functional. Boaz was a business man, and a pretty successful one at that. He had employees that he managed, properties that he owned, and responsibilities that he took care of. He was also well respected in Ruth 2:4 he greeted his workers with “The Lord be with you!” An interesting choice for a man who, while he lived in a society dominated by religion, did not necessarily have a workforce that was interested in following all the laws of God, as we will see. However his workers answered him with “The Lord bless you.” He was respected.
Boaz was definitely not perfect. He does almost get himself into a lot of trouble a couple of times throughout Ruth, but we will get to that.
Boaz is a rare look at a business man doing business, which is usually not found in tteh bible. The bible says a lot about business, but rarely do we see a business man who is so Godly and so successful. Boaz was probably an older man, he had survived his dad who, if he was alive, would have been running the farm as Boaz was doing. We know that Boaz had farm hands, which meant that business was good enough to either employ workers or have slaves. Slaves that would need to be set on their way with land, resources, and money in the next seven years, as was the law of God. We know that he had fields and property, he ran a whole operation.
There are a few practical things that we can pull out of the life of Boaz. Boaz was successful in business while being nice to his workers. He didn’t have to be a jerk in order to be successful. He didn’t cut corners, he followed the cultural and spiritual laws that God had created. He served his employees well and they saw the love of God in him. He was a focused worker, as we will see. (more…)
So Ruth has gone to glean in the fields of Boaz, the wealthy farmer. Boaz was visiting his farm and checking up on his workers when something happened that he would probably never forget. He saw a woman, and not just any woman, a woman who was not from Israel. This would have been unusual because the Moabites were well off as a people and few Moabites lived in Israel. It would have been highly unlikely that a Moabite woman would be gleaning in the field of an Israelite. So he took notice.
Ruth was hard at work and probably didn’t notice Boaz. She was busy gleaning along with the other women. Not only that but she was working very hard, from the beginning of the morning until then with a short rest according to Ruth 2:7.
Boaz approached her. As you will read in Ruth 2:9 there was a sense of vulnerability that came with tending to the fields. As in today’s culture, single women, especially the widowed, are open to all sorts of scams and advances. Sexual harassment in the line of gleaning was rampant, contrary to what the bible says. Some women went to glean in order to become pregnant and tied to farm worker so that she could eat and provide for herself. Ruth did not go that route, she was working hard.
Boaz throws a little bit of his weight around and lines up some perks for Ruth. We don’t know why but something had obviously attracted him to Ruth. From the account we can tell that he didn’t approach every single lady who was gleaning wheat in the way that he did. He told her who to follow and where to go to get the most wheat. He instructed his workers not to touch her. He lined up water for her so she wouldn’t have to pay for water or carry any around with her. In short, he took care of her as she gleaned.
Ruth was very thankful for Boaz’s provision. She bowed down to him. She asked why she had found so much favor in his eyes, especially since she was not a person from Israel. Boaz said, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Ruth 2:11-12. Ruth was again thankful and was glad that she had found favor in Ruth’s eyes. (more…)
By: Elizabeth Schieck
I was asked to write an article about the love story of Ruth. I agreed even though I had never thought of Ruth as a love story. Ruth is one of only two books in the Bible named for a woman. It contains only four chapters but it is rich with images of care and provision. As I read and reflected on the story of Ruth I pondered about the meaning of true love.
Many people have tried to put the idea of love into words.
According to William Shakespeare :
” Love is the most beautiful of dreams and the worst of nightmares. “
It is an intriguing thought but tells us very little about the daily workings of love.
Clive Staples Lewis defined love this way:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” (more…)