NLT Study Bible Blog.
Ruth behind the Harvesters (Ruth #4)
Ruth 2:2-3 talks about Ruth going out into the fields “behind the harvesters”:

One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”

Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. (Ruth 2:2-3a)

Why did Ruth do this, and why did she think she could go gather grain for free? The study note on Ruth 2:2 provides some guidance for understanding this custom:

2:2 to pick up the stalks of grain left behind: Harvesters were to leave some grain for the poor to glean (see Lev 19:9-10; 23:22; Deut 24:19-22). God provided the poor with food.

So we learn that Ruth was exercising a right that God’s law had provided for her (as recorded in the referenced passages). She was doing it because she and Naomi were very poor, as ch 1 makes clear.

Ruth had a right to gather grain after the harvesters had gone through the fields, but Boaz showed her kindness beyond the requirement of the law by letting her gather right behind the harvesters and share in their supply of water, by giving her lunch, and by instructing his harvesters to leave her extra grain on purpose. Boaz’s kindness became the context in which Naomi recognized Boaz as one of their family redeemers, to which we turn in the next installment.
posted by Sean Harrison at 6:00 PM

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