Week 3: Ruth Meets Boaz – Ruth Chapter 2, verses 1 to 16

Week 3: Ruth Meets Boaz – Ruth Chapter 2, verses 1 to 16

Read Ruth Chapter 2: 1-16. Take turns in your group reading through this passage. After you have done the reading, look over the discussions below and decide which ones to have in your group (you can discuss them all if you have time). 

 Discussion 1. Chapter 2 opens with the introduction of Boaz. The narrator of the story tells us that Boaz is a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband Elimelech. This is a clue to us that his introduction into the story is providential. He is not known to Ruth at this point in the story.

 How is Boaz described in verse 1? The word hayil is translated as “worthy”. The use of this word to describe Boaz indicates that he is a person of stature, wealth, privilege, and power. According to the values of society, he is everything that Ruth is not.

 In verse 5, Boaz asks regarding Ruth, “Whose young woman is this?”. He is really asking who the man is to whom Ruth belongs. What does this tell us about his initial perception of Ruth’s importance as a person in her own right?


Discussion 2. In verse 2, Ruth “the Moabite” (a foreigner sojourning in Israel) asks Naomi for permission to glean in the fields. Why does she do this? Read Leviticus 19: 9-10 and Deuteronomy 24: 19-22. What is gleaning, and what was its purpose in the law?

 During the harvests in ancient Israel, landowners such as Boaz would hire male harvesters (the reapers) to cut their grain in the fields. Female harvesters would follow the reapers and gather and bundle the grain into sheaves. The sheaves were then collected and carted off to the threshing floor for winnowing. At this point, the gleaners would enter the fields and gather what remained. Often, this would be very little.

In verse 3, we see Ruth gleaning after the reapers. Why does this surprise Boaz, whose foreman has told him that Ruth asked to gather among the sheaves after the reapers? According to the process of gleaning, when should Ruth be doing her gleaning? How are Ruth’s actions a liberal interpretation of the gleaning law?

As a gleaner, Ruth would face competition in the fields from other gleaners, hired harvesters, and even the landowner if he was not very law-abiding with respect to gleaners. If Ruth gathered food only according to the letter of the gleaning law, she may not have been able to collect enough food for her and Naomi to survive. How does Ruth interpret the gleaning law according to its spirit rather than its letter? Read Matthew 20: 1-16. What does God think about our notion of what is fair when this notion does not provide someone with what they need?


Discussion 3. The most vulnerable persons in biblical times were:

·       Widows

·       Orphans

·       The poor

·       The alien (foreigner)

How do these four categories apply to Ruth’s situation? Now read Deuteronomy 10: 17-19 and Leviticus 19: 33-34. How do these laws provide protection for someone like Ruth? How should these laws inform our treatment of foreigners in our own country, such as economic migrants and foreign workers?


Discussion 4. In verse 8, Boaz tells Ruth to stay close to the women who are bundling the cut grain into sheaves. Why does he do this? Read Deuteronomy 22: 28-29. As a woman with no husband or father in Israel, how does this make her vulnerable? If there is no father to whom the fine described in the Deuteronomy passage must be paid, what would be the consequences for a man taking advantage of Ruth?


Discussion 5. When Boaz is told Ruth’s story, how does he respond? What impression does Ruth’s courage and character make upon him? How does Ruth giving of hesed to Naomi inspire Boaz to give hesed to Ruth? What is the significance of Ruth, a gleaner, being invited to share the meal with Boaz and the reapers? Look at Boaz’ instructions to the harvesters in verses 15 and 16. How has Ruth’s example instructed Boaz regarding going beyond the letter of the law to live out the spirit of the law?


Can you think of time in your own life when someone has shown a similar kindness to you? Can you recall the example of someone whose openness to God has inspired you to show hesed to someone else in need? How is our being willing to respond to God’s call to show hesed an essential part of how God’s love reaches people in their suffering and struggle?  

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