1Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.
2And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor." And she said to her, "Go, my daughter."
3So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.
4Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, "May the LORD be with you." And they said to him, "May the LORD bless you."
Leviticus 19:9-10 explained that the harvest should not be reaped to the corners of the land and that the gleanings (the leftover grain from the first reaping) should be left behind for the needy to gather, particularly the foreigners, orphans, and widows (Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:19-21). Ruth decided one day with Naomi’s permission that she would go and join the other reapers who were seeking such fields. She happened upon a field that belonged to a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband whose name was Boaz, a man of great wealth. Boaz came and saw the reapers, of which Ruth was one, and he generously blessed them and encouraged them to reap from his field.
5Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, "Whose young woman is this?"
6The servant in charge of the reapers replied, "She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab.
7"And she said, 'Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.' Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while."
8Then Boaz said to Ruth, "Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids.
9"Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw."
Boaz asked about Ruth, and his servant explained that she was a Moabitess and the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Boaz would have recognized Naomi’s name, since he was related to Elimelech. Thus he spoke to Ruth in great kindness, telling her to only glean from his field so that she could be assured of food and safety. He had commanded his servants not to touch her but to let her glean and drink from their water source.
10Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, "Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?"
11Boaz replied to her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.
12"May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."
Ruth was amazed at the kindness which Boaz showed her, and she asked him why he would treat her like this, being a foreigner. Boaz explained that he had heard of all the kindness that Ruth had showed Naomi since all of the difficulty had befallen her. He complimented her for being willing to leave her own people and come to Judah. He prayed that God would reward her for her kindness and her labor, giving her all that she needed. She had sought shelter under the wings of God (c.f. Psalm 91:1), and he believed that God would honor her for honoring Him (c.f. 1 Samuel 2:30).
13Then she said, "I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants."
14At mealtime Boaz said to her, "Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar." So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.
Ruth replied to Boaz that she had found favor in his sight because of his kindness toward her, since he treated her as he would one of his female servants even though she was not one of them. Then at mealtime, Boaz asked Ruth to come and eat with the other reapers, eating of the bread and dipping it in the vinegar. Boaz made sure that the law was upheld and that there was no discrimination against Ruth. In addition, Boaz himself served her, giving her roasted grain that she ate until she was satisfied. She even had some left.
15When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, "Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her.
16"Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her."
17So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
After mealtime, she got back up to glean more, and Boaz commanded his servants to let her glean even among the sheaves (as she had requested in 2:7) and to not insult her. The law did not require Boaz to let anyone glean from the sheaves, for much time, money, and labor had been spent to put the grain into sheaves. Yet Boaz allowed Ruth this special privilege, saving her time and energy. Boaz also told his servants to intentionally leave some grain from the bundles behind for her to glean. This was essentially giving her free food and not even having to work for it, other than to beat it out. She gleaned until evening, and had about an ephah of barley, which is equivalent to over half of a bushel.
18She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.
Ruth returned with the barley to the city, and gave Naomi what she had left after she ate and was satisfied. There was more than enough to go around.
19Her mother-in-law then said to her, "Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed." So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, "The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz."
20Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "May he be blessed of the LORD who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead." Again Naomi said to her, "The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives."
Naomi realized that Ruth had gleaned a substantial amount of barley for one day, and she asked where she had gleaned. She wanted whoever had shown her such kindness to be blessed. Ruth explained that she worked with Boaz. Naomi blessed Boaz in the name of the Lord, and she praised God for not withdrawing his kindness to the living (her and Ruth) and the dead (for Boaz’s kindness honored her husband’s name). Naomi explained that Boaz was one of their closest relatives, being of Elimelech’s family.
21Then Ruth the Moabitess said, "Furthermore, he said to me, 'You should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.'"
22Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, "It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, so that others do not fall upon you in another field."
23So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
Boaz told Ruth to stay close to his servants until they finished the harvest, and Naomi affirmed that she should indeed stay with his maidservants, lest she risk putting herself in harm’s way. So Ruth did this until the end of the barley harvest and wheat harvest. She continued to keep her word of living with and caring for Naomi.