Ruth and Boaz
Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a mighty man of wealth, whose name was Boaz. He was the owner of rich fields of barley, and his reapers were making ready to gather in the harvest of the year. Ruth said to her mother-in-law: "Let me go to the field and glean ears of corn after the reapers." And Naomi told her that she might go.
Ruth went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and it so happened that she gleaned in the fields that belonged to Boaz. And Boaz came out from Bethlehem to speak to his reapers and saw the young woman gathering up the leavings, and said to his servants: "What damsel is this?"
The servant, who was set over the reapers, replied to his master: "It is Ruth, that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab. She begged to gather after the reapers among the sheaves, 'and has been, here since the early morning."
Then Boaz said unto Ruth: "Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but stay with my maidens. I shall charge the young men that they shall not touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink the water which the young men have drawn." And Boaz looked kindly upon Ruth, for she was fair and comely.
Ruth bowed herself before the master of the field and replied: "Why have I found favor in your eyes, seeing that I am a stranger?"
To this Boaz answered: "I know what you have done for Naomi, your mother-in-law, since the death of your husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your people, and came among strangers for her sake." And he spoke still more gently to her.
He then told her to come at meal time and eat the bread and drink the wine that had been prepared for the reapers. And the reapers gave her parched corn and whatever else they had for themselves, and Ruth ate and received strength.
When she had risen from her eating, Boaz commanded his men, saying to them: "Let her glean wherever she will, even among the sheaves, and let her take what she desires and reproach her not. Also let fall some of the handfuls on purpose for her and leave them that she may glean them." And the reapers did so, and Ruth gathered in the grain for herself and her mother-in-law, and Boaz watched her as she gleaned and was pleased.
When evening had come and the gleaning was over, Ruth went into the city and showed her mother-in-law what she had gathered. Naomi said to her: "Where have you gleaned today, and where have you worked? Surely some one must have taken notice of you, and given you abundantly." And Ruth told Naomi that she had gleaned in the field of Boaz, her kinsman.
Then Ruth said to her mother-in-law: "He also told me to follow by his young men until they had ended all the harvest, and to go out with his maidens and to drink of the water in his vessels, and he was gentle to me and did give me wherewith to eat."
Naomi told her daughter-in-law that it was good for her to go out with the maidens of Boaz and to glean in the fields of her kinsman, and not to glean in any other field. So Ruth went out every day and gleaned the grain that the reapers left for her, even to the very end of the harvest, and every evening returned unto her mother-in-law.
After the harvest had been gathered, Naomi told Ruth that Boaz was going to winnow his barley. Barley is a kind of grain, like wheat. After it was gathered from the fields it had to be threshed, which was to separate the grain from the straw in which it grew. This was done by beating the straw with sticks called flails.
After the barley was threshed it had to be winnowed, which meant that the grain had to be separated from the small bits of straw that had been left in the threshing. This was done by throwing the grain into the air, and letting the wind carry off the straw while the heavier grain fell back to the floor. The ground where the threshing was done was called the threshing floor.
Boaz was to winnow his barley the night that Naomi spoke to Ruth. Naomi said to her daughter-in-law: "Wash yourself and anoint yourself with oil and go down to the threshing floor, and attend Boaz, my kinsman."
Ruth did as her mother-in-law told her, and went to the threshing floor and waited upon Boaz. After the winnowing was over Boaz had a great feast, in which he ate and drank until he was merry. Seeing the woman near him he asked her: "Who are you?" And Ruth told him who she was, and begged him to be kind to her.
Boaz was already in love with the beautiful Moabitess and told her not to fear. He said to her: "Fear not; I will do to you all that you ask, for all the people of the city of Bethlehem know that you are a good and gentle woman."
Then Boaz said to her: "Bring here the veil that you wear and hold it before me." And she brought him her veil and he filled it with six measures of barley and told her to take it to her mother-in-law.
When Naomi saw what Boaz had done, she told Ruth to wait and, see what her kinsman had in mind.
Soon after Boaz went and sat at the gate of the city. In those days the cities of Canaan had walls around them to protect the people from their enemies, and in the walls were gates for the people to go in and out. At those gates sat the rulers of the city to judge the people, and also there were markets where things were bought and sold. Indeed, when any man had a cause to present he went to the gates of the city, for many people were gathered there during the day.
Boaz sat at the gate of the city and called a man who was nearer of kin to Naomi and Ruth than he himself was. He said to the man: "Naomi sells a parcel of land, but with it must go Ruth, her daughter-in-law, according to the custom of Israel. You have the first right to buy the land and with it to take Ruth for your wife."
But the man said: "I cannot buy the land, nor take Ruth for myself. You are next kin to me; take the land and the woman yourself." And with that Boaz was well content. So he called ten elders of the people and said aloud to them:
"I have bought the land of Elimelech, that was Naomi's, and I have also taken Ruth to be my wife." And all the people who were at the gate and all the elders said: "We are witnesses."
So Boaz took Ruth and she was his wife, for he loved her. A son was born to them, which Naomi took care of and nursed. The child was named Obed, and in after years became the grandfather of David, of whom we shall learn later on.