In Numbers chapter 1, God orders Moses to take a census of all the men of war in Israel. And God appoints which man will stand as the head of the army of each tribe. The head of the tribe of Judah was a man named Nahshon, son of Amminadab. He was a man of great significance in the leadership of Israel at that time (Num. 7:12, 10:14, Ex. 6:23).
His son Salmon, we don’t know much about. He most likely fought under Joshua and Caleb when the Israelites invaded Canaan. And he is the man that took Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho, as his own wife. And the son of Salmon and Rahab was a man named Boaz. The book of Ruth says that Boaz was a very mighty warrior. We also know that Boaz was an Ephrathite, one of the older, established families in Bethlehem. As one commentator put it, “Boaz’s fullness is the counterpart to Naomi’s emptiness.”
2:2-7 Ruth Gleaning
The right to glean after the harvesters was a right reserved to the poor by the law of God (Lev. 19:9-10, 23:22, Deut. 24:19-22). Ruth has made it to Bethlehem just in time to participate in the harvest and wastes no time in getting out there. In God’s providence, Ruth ends up gleaning in the field of Boaz. When he visits his field, Boaz takes notice of Ruth immediately. She has already distinguished herself in the eyes of overseer of the harvesters. But Boaz already knows of her for another reason.
2:8-12 Boaz’s Favor
What Naomi had seemed to think was Ruth’s foolishness before (limiting herself to this family), Boaz now turns into a blessing. The farewell blessing of Naomi on Orpah and Ruth (1:8) is now being fulfilled in the field of Boaz (2:12). And the vow that Ruth made to Naomi (1:16-17) is now the basis for Boaz’s kindness to her (2:11). So we see two characteristics of Ruth that have been testified to in this chapter. First, she is a hard- working woman (2:7). Second, she is a woman of deep loyalty (2:11).
Notice that Boaz sees Ruth’s devotion also as a conversion. She has come under Yahweh’s wings (Ps. 57:1, Ps. 61:4, Ps. 91:4). There are several layers here.
1. Ultimately, this is about the line of Jesus. She has walked away from everything to give herself to Jesus (see Mat. 1:5).
2. The author of this story probably saw this in terms of the line of David (Ruth 4:17-22). 3. And a simple reading of this story would just see this as her giving herself to Naomi. It’s just the story of a really good friendship.
But even Boaz sees this as about an unreasonable and sudden devotion to Yahweh, and seeking refuge in him. Faith in the Old Testament, looking forward to Christ, had a different content, but the same object. We shouldn’t hesitate to be reading Christ back into these stories, even though they probably would not have been able to express the content of their faith in the same way that we would describe it for them.
2:13-18 God’s Provision
Boaz sees to it that Ruth’s gleaning is profitable. He also ensures her protection and provision throughout the day. When it was all over Ruth had gleaned a full ephah of grain – probably equal to just under 30 pounds, which is rather tremendous. At this time, this was equal to two full weeks wages for a field worker. But this is only a small thing. The provision proves that she has found favor in Boaz’s eyes, which is a far bigger deal.
2:19-23 Returning to Naomi
Ruth is quick to get home and share her proceeds with Naomi. Naomi sees that a possibility has been opened up that she did not anticipate. She advises Ruth to take her “all-in” attitude and focus it on Boaz.