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Day 1 in Bethlehem Naomi and Ruth had returned to Bethlehem in what looked like a bleak future … they would have to depend on family charity and whatever.

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Presentation on theme: "Day 1 in Bethlehem Naomi and Ruth had returned to Bethlehem in what looked like a bleak future … they would have to depend on family charity and whatever."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Day 1 in Bethlehem Naomi and Ruth had returned to Bethlehem in what looked like a bleak future … they would have to depend on family charity and whatever food they could scrounge for themselves Naomi and Ruth had returned to Bethlehem in what looked like a bleak future … they would have to depend on family charity and whatever food they could scrounge for themselves But in the midst of the darkness at the very end of Ruth 1, there was a tiny sliver of light …they arrived in Bethlehem "at the beginning of barley harvest" (Ruth 1:22) But in the midst of the darkness at the very end of Ruth 1, there was a tiny sliver of light …they arrived in Bethlehem "at the beginning of barley harvest" (Ruth 1:22) Naomi saw the progression in her own life as being from fullness to emptiness, but the movement for her people had been the opposite Naomi saw the progression in her own life as being from fullness to emptiness, but the movement for her people had been the opposite God’s people had gone from famine as the story opened to the brink of a new harvest in the Promised Land; there was food once again in Bethlehem … God's hand of judgment had been lifted from his people God’s people had gone from famine as the story opened to the brink of a new harvest in the Promised Land; there was food once again in Bethlehem … God's hand of judgment had been lifted from his people Now if that trajectory from emptiness to fullness was possible for Naomi's people, perhaps her own future was not as dark as she imagined it to be … Now if that trajectory from emptiness to fullness was possible for Naomi's people, perhaps her own future was not as dark as she imagined it to be …

3 Ruth Chapter 2

4 Ruth 2:1-7 [Now Naomi had a relative of her husband's, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.] 2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” 3 So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech. 4 And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

5 Ruth 2:1 “Now Naomi had a relative of her husband's, a worthy man (gibbor hayil) of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.” It was necessary to state that Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side of the family Makes clear that blood relationship of Boaz is with Naomi’s husband and not with her since Israelite marriage was endogamous (within a specific ethnic group) This verse is like a giant parenthesis in which one of the major characters is introduced. Who is introduced behind the scenes? What relation is he to Naomi? What kind of man is Boaz? What is being foreshadowed here? What clan is Boaz from? Why is this important? As we will see in chapter 3, the social responsibilities of Boaz as a redeemer (goel) is determined by his blood relationship with Elimelech

6 A Worthy Man (Gibbor Hayil) The phrase gibbor hayil is difficult to translate into English The phrase gibbor hayil is difficult to translate into English – The word gibbor comes from root meaning “mighty” and is frequently translated as “warrior” – The word hayil can mean “strength, power, ability, capability, wealth,” and its meaning depends on context In military setting it refers to warrior, particularly one who has distinguished himself in armed combat In military setting it refers to warrior, particularly one who has distinguished himself in armed combat In other contexts, it can refer to wealth (2 Kings 15:20) or ability (1 Kings 11:28). In other contexts, it can refer to wealth (2 Kings 15:20) or ability (1 Kings 11:28). It designates one who possesses social standing and a good reputation It designates one who possesses social standing and a good reputation  In this context, it connotes not only wealth and status but also ability, honor, and capability; it is clearly used here as a description of character  Thus, “A real, substantial man of character” might capture the nuance here

7 Ruth 2:2 “And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” What very practical matters did Naomi and Ruth need to deal with when they arrived in Bethlehem? What help and encouragement did Ruth and Naomi give each other as they addressed these practical concerns? What character qualities are evident in Ruth’s interactions with Naomi and in the way she responds to the needs of the moment? While they returned to Bethlehem because they had heard there was food again, its availability did not automatically alleviate hunger. Somebody had to “bring home the bacon.” Whatever the status of Elimelech’s property (to be discussed later in Ruth 4), they did not have a crop to harvest or money to buy food from someone else. Moreover, Naomi gave no indication that the nearer kinsman, Boaz, or anyone else was available to help. Described Ruth’s emotional state on “Day 1” of this new life in which she has found herself?

8 Ruth 2:2 “And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” Why do you think Naomi stayed behind when Ruth went out to glean? Several possibilities come to mind: Perhaps Naomi did not think Ruth could find her way around town Maybe after 10-20 years Naomi did not know where Boaz was or if he was alive Boaz will later mention a nearer kinsman (Ruth 3:12) and Naomi may have thought that any hope of help resided with him rather than Boaz Naomi may have said nothing because no man was legally bound to marry his relative’s widow, & she did not want to raise any false hopes Why did Naomi not tell Ruth to glean in the field of Boaz?

9 Sinking into Despair? It is not clear why Naomi did not also go out and glean; she was perhaps in her fifties at this point in the story and evidenced no obvious crippling disability that made her unable to go out and work It is not clear why Naomi did not also go out and glean; she was perhaps in her fifties at this point in the story and evidenced no obvious crippling disability that made her unable to go out and work Was there nothing she could have done in the field to help in their need? Two certainly would have been safer than one and might have expected to bring home at least a little more food Was there nothing she could have done in the field to help in their need? Two certainly would have been safer than one and might have expected to bring home at least a little more food She has apparently consumed all her energies in worrying: and has none left to try to do anything that might actually resolve her problems. She has apparently consumed all her energies in worrying: and has none left to try to do anything that might actually resolve her problems. Whether or not despair is what drives Naomi's inaction, it is certainly a problem in our own experience Whether or not despair is what drives Naomi's inaction, it is certainly a problem in our own experience When we stop believing in God’s goodness and give ourselves over to doubt and worry, we easily sink into a despairing activity -- this can lead to a downward spiral in which our inactivity makes our situation worse and deepens our despair, which in turn makes us feel less inclined than ever to step out into what we believe to be a hostile world. When we stop believing in God’s goodness and give ourselves over to doubt and worry, we easily sink into a despairing activity -- this can lead to a downward spiral in which our inactivity makes our situation worse and deepens our despair, which in turn makes us feel less inclined than ever to step out into what we believe to be a hostile world. The key to breaking that cycle is grasping hold of God's covenant commitment to do us good. If we can once look to the cross and grasp the height and depth of the love of God for us in Jesus, then how can we doubt his desire to give us everything necessary for life and godliness? The key to breaking that cycle is grasping hold of God's covenant commitment to do us good. If we can once look to the cross and grasp the height and depth of the love of God for us in Jesus, then how can we doubt his desire to give us everything necessary for life and godliness? We will still not know what the future holds, yet if we know that the one who holds the future cares for us, that first step upward on the long road back to obedience becomes possible again. We will still not know what the future holds, yet if we know that the one who holds the future cares for us, that first step upward on the long road back to obedience becomes possible again.

10 Grain Farming in Israel Harvesting grain involved the following steps: 1.Reaping by cutting the ripened standing grain with hand sickles, usually done by men 2.Binding the grain into sheaves, usually done by women 3.Gleaning, that is, gathering stalks of grain left behind 4.Transporting the sheaves to the threshing floor, often by donkey and sometimes by cart 5.Threshing, that is, loosening the grain from the straw, usually done by treading of cattle, but sometimes by toothed threshing sledges or the wheels of carts 6.Winnowing, done by tossing the grain into the air with winnowing forks so that the wind, which usually came up for a few hours in the afternoon, blew away the straw and chaff, leaving the grain at the winnower’s feet 7.Sifting the grain to remove the residual foreign matter 8.Bagging for transportation and storage

11 The Law of Gleaning Deuteronomy 24:19-22 institutes the law of gleaning: Deuteronomy 24:19-22 institutes the law of gleaning: “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.” What did God command in these verses? For whose benefit did God institute the law of gleaning? What reasons does God give for being kind to the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow? What does this reveal about His heart? How should this motivate us?

12 The Law of Gleaning Leviticus 19:9-10 – “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.” What additional provision to the law of gleaning does this passage stipulate? In addition to providing a source of food for the destitute, what other benefits resulted from the law of gleaning? Although the law of gleaning was a characteristic of the culture of ancient Israel, what can it teach us 21st century American Christians? How was the law of gleaning a kind of “Welfare to Work” program?

13 Economics as Covenantal Thermometer These charitable provisions of the law and the theology behind them reminded God’s people of their unique status among the nations of world These charitable provisions of the law and the theology behind them reminded God’s people of their unique status among the nations of world While everyone had to “make a living” and “put food on the table,” … making a living was not to consume the attention of God’s people While everyone had to “make a living” and “put food on the table,” … making a living was not to consume the attention of God’s people One could work to meet your financial commitments and still not lose sight of ministering to others in God’s name One could work to meet your financial commitments and still not lose sight of ministering to others in God’s name God’s provision for His people frees them to look out for the interests of others and thereby treat others as God had treated them God’s provision for His people frees them to look out for the interests of others and thereby treat others as God had treated them  Thus, economics had a missional outlook and functioned as a covenantal thermometer to measure the vitality of Israel’s love for God and neighbor

14 Reality of Gleaning We tend to have idealized images of how gleaning actually worked – we’ve seen lovely pastoral paintings of gentle maidens scooping up armload of golden grain We tend to have idealized images of how gleaning actually worked – we’ve seen lovely pastoral paintings of gentle maidens scooping up armload of golden grain In reality, gleaners were often mistreated and went home hungry In reality, gleaners were often mistreated and went home hungry A landowner might choose to keep them out or eject them if he pleased A landowner might choose to keep them out or eject them if he pleased Harvesters could get rough Harvesters could get rough Unattached women were especially at risk and were victimized Unattached women were especially at risk and were victimized Then, of course, gleaners competed with one each other Then, of course, gleaners competed with one each other

15 There’s the Law …then there’s Practice  The law may have told God’s people how to live, but it could not coerce godly conduct Job 24:21 – “They wrong the barren, childless woman, and do no good to the widow.” Psalm 94:6 – “They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless Isaiah 1:23 – “Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow's cause does not come to them.” Malachi 3:5 – “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 10:2 – “To turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!” What dangers did Ruth risk by going out to glean?

16 How Big is a Corner? How Wide is an Edge? Area for reapers to harvest grain (remaining green is for gleaners) Field is white unto harvest … How thoroughly do I want my workers to clear my fields of grain, given the fact what we only have one chance to clear it? How much will I leave behind for the poor? Walking with God stretches our capacity for sacrifice and our imagination for obedience!! Why is it easier to live by the letter of the law than by the spirit?

17 Ruth 2:3 “So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.” The phrase “she happened to come” literally means “and her chance (miqreh) chanced (wayyiqer).” This is used here as a rhetorical device, hyperbolic irony. By excessively attributing Ruth’s good fortune to chance, the phrase points ironically to the opposite, namely, to the sovereignty of God. Ruth (without any intention to do so) ends up gleaning in the field that belongs to Boaz Thus God, who is constantly working behind the scenes, is pictured as directing and controlling the situation through His gracious providence As Ruth goes out and chooses from all the fields of Bethlehem, in whose field does “she happen to come”? What fact does the author repeat about Boaz in this verse? Why do you think this fact is repeated?

18 Ruth 2:4-7 4 And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” What is the spiritual tone of the greeting Boaz gives to his fellow workers? What does he say? What did his co-workers shout back to him in the same verse? How is this exchange of greetings significant when you compare it to the spiritual climate of Israel during the time period of the Judges? Who does Boaz notice? What question does he ask his young foreman about her? What else does the foreman reveal about Ruth? What does he say about her work ethic? What surprising thing had Ruth requested to do? Humility – gleaning in the fields was a menial task Diligence – gleaning was hard work, requiring much effort for meager return Courage – she gleaned among workers who might physically attack her Initiative – she didn’t wait for God to miraculously provide food for her & Naomi How has Ruth already shown that would make her an excellent wife?

19 A Surprising Request Traditionally, we’ve understood Ruth to be asking permission to glean in Boaz’s field Traditionally, we’ve understood Ruth to be asking permission to glean in Boaz’s field But this seems unlikely since the law already permitted gleaners … asking permission to glean was akin to asking a traffic cop for permission to walk on the public sidewalk But this seems unlikely since the law already permitted gleaners … asking permission to glean was akin to asking a traffic cop for permission to walk on the public sidewalk Remember, when harvesting a field, typically the hired men went first reaping the standing grain stalks with sickles Remember, when harvesting a field, typically the hired men went first reaping the standing grain stalks with sickles Female workers followed, gathering and binding cut grain into bundles to be carried to the threshing floor Female workers followed, gathering and binding cut grain into bundles to be carried to the threshing floor Gleaners came last and were permitted in the fields only after both teams of hired workers finished and bundled sheaves of grain removed from the field Gleaners came last and were permitted in the fields only after both teams of hired workers finished and bundled sheaves of grain removed from the field  Ruth is actually requesting Boaz to suspend the gleaning practice for her. She didn’t want to pick up leftover scraps for Naomi. She wanted to feed her mother-in-law  Ruth asked to “glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.” In other words, Ruth asked to go where gleaners were not permitted, to go among the hired ladies who were binding the grain after the reapers

20 Comparison of Major Characters BOAZ Powerful Powerful Wealth & Resources Wealth & Resources Full Full Stands on his own Stands on his own NAOMI & RUTH Powerless & vulnerable Powerless & vulnerable Poverty & hunger Poverty & hunger Empty Empty Derive identity & significance from men Derive identity & significance from men Boaz gets the shock of his life when a first-time gleaner – a foreigner at that – takes him to a higher level of obedience Ruth is pressing Boaz to color outside the lines of his understanding of God’s law. The letter of the law says, “let them glean.” The spirit of the law says, “feed them.” Two entirely different concepts. Ruth’s bold proposal exposes the difference … how would Boaz respond to this challenge?


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