OceanSide church of Christ
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To Boaz’s Field and Back
Victor M. Eskew
A. We have entitled this chapter: “To Boaz’s Field and Back.”
1. Ruth went into Boaz’s field (Ruth 2:3).
2. Ruth returned from the field (Ruth 2:18).
B. “In a culture where widows were often forgotten and thus poverty stricken, this unlikely twosome needed the basics of life” (Ruth & Esther, John MacArthur, p. 16).
1. Ruth, therefore, volunteered to go into the fields to glean.
2. Portions of the fields of the Jews were commanded in the Law of Moses to be left for the poor (Lev. 19:9, 16; 23:22; Deut. 24:19-21).
And when ye reap the harvest of our land, thou shalt not make clear riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.
a. The reason for this command was wrapped up in the character and nature of God. He is a God who executes justice for the fatherless and widow (Deut. 10:18).
He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving them food and raiment.
b. “For the land and the people belong to this covenant God, and their pattern of life is to reflect his nature” (Atkinson, 60.).
3. “But the plan was also risky and potentially humiliating given the low moral charac-ter of many of the reapers” (MacArthur, 16).
C. In this chapter we will see the Providence of God at work.
“But we, the readers are told about Boaz in this first verse. Our story-teller is preparing us with the information here for this reason: that when later Ruth meets Boaz in what seems to her to be a purely accidental way, we are in the know. Behind the apparent chances of the ordinariness of day-to-day encounters, God is expressing his providential rule and care, is covenanted grace” (Atkinson, 56).
D. We will also see a unique turn of events.
1. “This turn of events marks the point where Naomi’s human emptiness (Ruth 1:21) begins to be refilled by the Lord. Her night of earthly doubt had been broken by the dawning of a new hope” (MacArthur, 16).
2. “Naomi said before that God had stretched out His hand against her. Now that she has come back to Him, will God stretch out His arm to bless her?” (Peipma, 130).
E. Outline of Ruth 2.
i. FAMILY MEMBER (Ruth 2:1)
ii. FIELD CHOSEN (Ruth 2:2-3)
iii. FAVOR GRANTED (Ruth 2:4-17)
iv. FINDINGS REPORTED (Ruth 2:18-23)
I. THE FAMILY MEMBER (Ruth 2:1)
And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
A. This verse is a prolepsis.
1. Meaning: error in time placement
2. Boaz is introduced to us even prior to Ruth’s knowing who he is.
3. Purpose: To help the readers to see his importance to this narrative at the outset.
B. Boaz is the seventh and last person to be introduced by name in the book of Ruth.
C. We learn four things about Boaz in this verse:
1. He is a redeemer: “And Naomi had a kinsman…”
1) “By ‘family,’ of course, the Old Testament means a much wider network of relationships than our concept of the modern nuclear family of mother, father, and 2.4 children. The family in the Old Testament consists of all those who are united together by ties of blood, and who live together under the same roof” (Atkinson, 57).
2) “In Israel’s understanding of itself as God’s covenant people, there-fore, theological, social and economic realms were all bound together with the family as their focal point. Family solidarity was thus ex-tremely strong in ancient Israel, and members of the wider family had obligations to help and protect one another when need arose” (Atkinson, 57-58). NOTE: Some of these helps were placed into the Law of Moses.
b. The Hebrew word for kinsman is “moda” in this verse. In other places is the Hebrew word “goel” or “gaal” (See Ruth 2:20). The meaning of the word “goel” can include “one who frees redeems, or helps.
1) In Exodus 6:6, the word “redeem” is the word “goel.”
2) “Naomi had a kinsman who was able to free them from the bondage of poverty” (Peipman, 130).
2. He is rich.
a. There are four ways the phrase “mighty man of wealth” can be interpreted.
1) A valiant warrior (Judges 6:12)
2) A man of noble character (Ruth 3:11; Prov. 31:10)
3) A man of great wealth (II Kings 15:20)
4) A man of standing (I Kings 11:28).
b. His land, his servants, and his generosity point one toward the understanding that Boaz was a man of substance.
3. He is a relative
a. There were four social units among God’s people in the Old Testament.
1) The nation
2) The tribe
3) The clan
4) The father’s house
b. The term indicates that Boaz was of the clan of Elimelech, a very near kinsman (Ruth 2:20).
The man is near of kin to us, one of our near kinsmen.
4. He is robust
a. The name Boaz means “strength.”
b. This name stands in contrast to Ruth’s first husband, Mahlon, a name that means “weakness.”