Gleaning, Generosity, and the Image of God
The book of Ruth is a great example of reversal, of tables turning in favor of God’s people. Speaking of God, He is clearly at the controls. That is, God is clearly orchestrating the events of this love story. In scene one of this story, Elimelech relocates his family to Moab because of a severe famine in Bethlehem. While in Moab, Elimelech’s two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, take wives Ruth and Orpah.
Then tragedy strikes Elimelech’s home – not only does he die but Naomi’s two sons die as well. Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah, are bereft of their husbands at a time when it was quite vulnerable to be a woman. Further, Naomi is a displaced foreigner in Moab, the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. By the end of the story, though, a great reversal occurs when the “empty” Naomi is now “full” – she gets a male grandchild. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, because Chapter 2 captures a crucial scene…
“Over and Above the Law” Generosity
In Chapter 2, we find Naomi, quite bitter from her misfortunes, and Ruth, now herself a foreigner, returning to Bethlehem. To provide for herself and her mother-in-law Ruth went looking for an opportunity to work. She “happens to find a field to glean in” that belongs to Boaz, a relative of her late father-in-law (Ruth 2:3). Upon returning from a trip, Boaz greets his reapers, “The Lord be with you.” Their response, “The Lord bless you,” suggests that Boaz treats his workers well and that his workers respect him.
Topics: Generosity, Image of God, Work and Ethics