Front Page

Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Ruth

(Return to Old Testament Contents)


INTRODUCTION TO RUTH [+ ch. 1 & 2 - scroll down]

Why read Ruth:
Ruth is a story of family distress and redemption. The main players are Naomi who becomes a widow, Ruth who also becomes a widow, and Boaz who becomes a Kinsman-Redeemer. It is the only place we see this aspect of the Law being worked out. The story is simple and straight forward and can be easily read in one sitting in under a half an hour. It comes from a culture that is very different from our own in the West today, but has a simplicity and caring about it that perhaps should speak volumes into our own needy day. It is an historical account with profound significance which we hope you'll see as you read the text and the notes.



FRAMEWORKS: Ruth 1: Naomi Loses Her Family but gains Ruth


v.1-5 Naomi's family are lost

v.6-13 Naomi sends her daughters-in-law home

v.14-18 Ruth commits herself to Naomi

v.19-22 Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem



v.1-5 Naomi's family are lost


v.1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.

v.2 The man's name was Elimelek, his wife's name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

v.3 Now Elimelek, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons.

v.4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years,

v.5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.


[Notes: We note this was still the time of the judges. A famine occurs and this particular man takes his wife and two sons to Moab, that presumably wasn't suffering the famine. Unfortunately, the man and his two sons all die, but not before the sons had married Moabite women. His wife, Naomi, finds herself left with two foreign daughters-in-law in a foreign land.]



v.6-13 Naomi sends her daughters-in-law home


v.6 When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.

v.7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

v.8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother's home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.

v.9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”

Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud

v.10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”

v.11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?

v.12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons—

v.13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord 's hand has turned against me!”


[Notes: When she hears the famine in Israel is over, she makes plans to return home and sets off with her two daughters-in-law. However this doesn't seem right so she encourages the two girls to go back and stay in their own land and find new husbands. Initially they insist on coming with her but she tells them to stay.]



v.14-18 Ruth commits herself to Naomi


v.14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

v.15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

v.16 But Ruth replied, “Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

v.17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

v.18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.


[Notes: One of them says goodbye and returns but the other one, Ruth, insists that she wants to stay with Naomi, return with her and become part of her people.]



v.19-22 Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem


v.19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

v.20 “Don't call me Naomi, [Naomi means pleasant] ” she told them. “Call me Mara, [Mara means bitter] because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.

v.21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

v.22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.


[Notes: The two women return to Judah and to Naomi's home town of Bethlehem [which will become significant in the long term! – see the Nativity story!]. She acknowledges to friends that the experience of leaving was not a good one! They arrive at the start of the barley harvest – the first of a number of providential coincidences that prove significant in the outworking of the story.]




FRAMEWORKS: Ruth 2: Ruth Meets Boaz in the Grain Field


v.1-3 Ruth ‘chances' to work in the field of Boaz

v.4-9 Boaz welcomes here in his field

v.10-17 Boaz cares for her

v.18-23 Ruth reports back to Naomi


v.1-3 Ruth ‘chances' to work in the field of Boaz


v.1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.

v.2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favour.”

Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.”

v.So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.


[Notes: Boaz is given an early mention by the chronicler but his significance is not yet realised. Ruth's background is kept to the fore, a Moabite [also 1:22, 2:21, 4:5,10] which will become more significant later on. To work in accordance with the Law – Lev 19:9-, 23:22, Deut 24:19 – the poor were allowed to follow the harvesters and glean the leftover cereal decreed by the Law – so this she does. She just ‘happens' to choose a field belonging to Boaz.]



v.4-9 Boaz welcomes here in his field


v.4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”

“The Lord bless you!” they answered.

v.5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”

v.6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi.

v.7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.' She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”

v.8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don't go and glean in another field and don't go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me.

v.9 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.”


[Notes: Boaz is revealed as a godly employer and when he spots Ruth in the field, he enquires of his field manager who she is. He gives her a good report and so Boaz encourages her to stay there and receive the protection of his workers and take the water provision there.]



v.10-17 Boaz cares for her


v.10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

v.11 Boaz replied, “I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.

v.12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord , the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

v.13 “May I continue to find favour in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”

v.14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”

When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over.

v.15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don't reprimand her.

v.16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don't rebuke her.”

v.17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. [probably about 30 pounds weight of barley!]


[Notes: She asks why he is being so kind to her, a foreigner, and he confesses he has heard all about her. She expresses her appreciation. He continues to make friendly overtures and express care. Thus she is able to collect a large amount.]



v.18-23 Ruth reports back to Naomi


v.18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.

v.19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”

Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.

v.20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.” [The Hebrew word for guardian-redeemer is a legal term for one who has the obligation to redeem a relative in serious difficulty (see Lev. 25:25-55).]

v.21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.'”

v.22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else's field you might be harmed.”

v.23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.


[Notes: When she returns home to Naomi, Naomi expresses some surprise at the amount gathered, and when Ruth tells her what happened, Naomi is excited because she knows that Boaz is part of the family and in line to operate the law of protection of widows, as what was called a ‘guardian-redeemer'. Thus Ruth carries on going to his fields each day, following the harvesters.]