“Look about you: the harvest is ready to be reaped.”
Boaz looked about him with satisfaction. The workers were busy with the barley harvest; the wheat was ripening well. He walked through the field, greeting the workers, until he came up with the supervisor. “Who is that young woman over there?” The supervisor followed his gaze. “That is the girl who came back from Moab with Naomi. She asked if she might glean after the reapers, as is our custom. She has been here since early this morning.”
“Oh, yes, I have heard of her,” mused Boaz. “Right. Keep an eye on her. Make sure the young men don’t trouble her. Maybe drop a little extra … she is gathering for Naomi, after all.”
He approached Ruth, saying in his gentle way, “Good day, daughter. You are welcome to glean in my fields. Stay close to my reapers. I have given orders that the young men should not bother you. When you are thirsty, get a drink from the pitchers the young men have filled.”
Ruth was overcome with shy gratitude. “Thank you, sir. Why are you so kind to me, a stranger?”
“Your kindness to Naomi has been told me; how you chose to come with her, to live as one of our people, to worship our God. The Lord God of Israel will reward you. At the mealtime, come and sit with us, and share our meal.”
“Thank you,” said Ruth again. “Your kindness is of great comfort.”
That evening Ruth returned home with a goodly supply of grain, surprising Naomi, who asked where she had gleaned. In her reply, Naomi recognized the person of Boaz, relative of her deceased husband, Elimelech. She explained the relationship to Ruth, and was satisfied when Ruth told her that Boaz had instructed her to stay close to his reapers throughout both the barley and the wheat harvests.
Through the harvest, Ruth gleaned alongside Boaz’ reapers, accepted by the women, watched over by the supervisor and the young men.
Boaz regularly visited his fields, encouraging his workers, taking note of the bounty of the yield. It was a good harvest, and the weather was holding well. He looked forward to the day when the threshing would be finished, and the grain safely stored in the barns.
He also watched Ruth, noting with satisfaction the growing sympathy between his workers and the industrious girl. It would be good to have the grain stored in the barns, but what would Ruth do when the harvest was at an end?
Naomi was puzzling over the same thought. At length she spoke to Ruth of a plan she had in mind. Ruth considered her mother in law’s advice, and answered her. “I will do as you say.”
Boaz was at the threshing floor. It had been a rewarding but tiring day. After his meal he lay down near the heap of grain and fell asleep. Ruth came in quietly and uncovered his feet, lying next to them. At midnight, Boaz awoke with a start. A woman was lying at his feet.
“Who are you?” he asked.
Ruth explained in the words of Naomi. “I am Ruth, your handmaid. You are near kinsman to my dead husband. I am here to claim your protection.”
Boaz considered her request, touched by her simplicity and obedience to her mother in law, and to the customs of the people she now lived amongst. “What you say is right. I will do all that you ask. However, there is a relative closer than I. Tomorrow I will speak to him.”
Before it was fully light, Ruth returned to Naomi, taking a generous gift from Boaz. Naomi was satisfied that Boaz would complete the matter before night.
Early, Boaz sought out Naomi’s other relative, gathering witnesses to hear his proposition. Naomi had a field to sell, it was required that a near relative should buy. Other Relative agreed to buy. Now Boaz explained that with the purchase came the responsibility of marriage to Ruth to ensure a successor to her dead husband. At this, Other Relative changed his mind. This might jeopardize the inheritance of his other sons. In the presence of the witnesses, he ceded his right to Boaz.
Boaz married Ruth. God blessed their marriage with a son. Little Obed became the light of Naomi’s eyes. She entirely agreed with her neighbors, who said, “Ruth is better to you than seven sons!”
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