Jehovah Grants “A Perfect Wage”
“May Jehovah reward the way you act, and may there come to be a perfect wage for you from Jehovah the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”—Ruth 2:12.
1-3. (a) Conversation between Naomi and Ruth suggests what about communication in a loving family? (b) What surprise resulted when Ruth told Naomi about the day’s gleaning work, and whose guidance thus becomes evident?
“MAY there come to be a perfect wage for you from Jehovah.” Elderly Boaz had said it to the Moabitess Ruth. That had been his heartfelt wish for this fine young woman who had sought protection under the wings of Israel’s God. (Ruth 2:12) But would that wish become reality? If so, in what way? We shall see.
2 In a loving family, older persons are interested in the activities of younger ones. All of them welcome opportunities to share thoughts and relate the day’s activities. It was no different in the humble home at Bethlehem where Naomi and Ruth joined in pleasant conversation during the evening hours. Listen!
3 “Where did you glean today, and where did you work?” The good amount of grain and food that Ruth has brought home has prompted Naomi’s question. Obviously someone has shown the Moabitess special consideration. “May the one who took notice of you become blessed,” says the older woman. But each of them is in line for a heartening surprise. “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz,” replies Ruth. How splendid! Surely God’s guidance is evident. “Blessed be he of Jehovah, who has not left his loving-kindness toward the living and the dead,” exclaims Naomi. “The man is related to us. He is one of our repurchasers.”—Ruth 2:19, 20.
4. How would you define a “repurchaser” of ancient Israel?
4 How their spirits are lifted! These women know that a repurchaser (Hebrew, go·ʼelʹ) is a kinsman (a brother, or other male blood relative) with the right to recover, redeem, repurchase or buy back the person, property or inheritance of the next of kin. For instance, he can buy a hereditary tract of land before it is placed on the public market and thus keep it within the family. Just think! By chance Ruth has lighted on the field of Boaz and he is a repurchaser, a man of Elimelech’s family.
5. Unlike Jacob’s daughter Dinah, what example does Ruth set regarding association with others?
5 Moreover, Boaz desires that Ruth stay close to his young workers until the entire harvest has been completed. Of course, Naomi approves, saying: “It is better, my daughter, that you should go out with his young women, that they may not annoy you in another field.” So the Moabitess will continue gleaning in the field of Boaz for some two to three months, until both the barley and wheat harvests end. Unlike Jacob’s daughter Dinah, who kept company with Canaanite girls and brought calamity upon herself and distress to her family, Ruth keeps dwelling with her mother-in-law, while also guarding her own associations. A fine example!—Ruth 2:22, 23; Gen. 34:1-31; 1 Cor. 15:33.
HUMILITY IN ACTION
6. How does Naomi show that she unselfishly wants good things to be enjoyed by Ruth?
6 The weeks pass and the harvest draws to a close. Naomi asks Ruth: “My daughter, ought I not to look for a resting-place for you, that it may go well with you?” (Ruth 3:1) The elderly widow is not selfishly trying to hold the young Moabitess to her, but wants Ruth to know the rest, the comfort, the settled heart and security that would come to her in the home of a good and loving husband. But Naomi also is concerned about preserving her husband Elimelech’s name in Israel. (Deut. 25:7) In that regard, she discloses a special plan of action, and her humble daughter-in-law is glad to comply with it. So Ruth bathes, rubs herself with oil, puts on her mantles, or outer garments, and heads out on her noble mission.
7. In winnowing barley, what procedure is followed by Boaz?
7 Meanwhile, Boaz—a man of means, but also a hard worker—has been taking advantage of the evening breezes by winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Threshing has broken the grain kernels loose from the chaff, and the straw has been cut into small pieces. Now, in winnowing, all of this is thrown into the air against the wind with a large fork or winnowing shovel. The breeze blows the chaff away, carries the straw to the side, and lets the kernels fall to the threshing floor. This is a happy time, and so these labors are followed by a delightful meal. Boaz eats and drinks and his heart is “feeling good,” though there is no indication that he has partaken to excess. (Ps. 104:15) Then he lies down “at the extremity of the grain heap,” and soon is sleeping soundly under the starry dome of the heavens.—Ruth 3:1-7.
8. What action does Ruth take with regard to Boaz at the threshing floor, and is her purpose immoral?
8 Stillness prevails until a shadowy figure approaches slowly, quietly, unobserved. It is a woman, who uncovers slumbering Boaz at his feet and lies down there fully clad. At midnight he begins trembling, bends forward, and is startled to find a woman lying, apparently crosswise, at his feet! Unable to recognize her in the darkness, he asks: “Who are you?” and hears the reply: “I am Ruth your slave girl.” But she quickly adds: “And you must spread out your skirt over your slave girl, for you are a repurchaser.” (Lev. 25:25) Surprised though Boaz is, he is neither embarrassed nor indignant. Nor is the Moabitess there for any immoral purpose. Humbly, by means of this symbolical action and her words, she has carried out Naomi’s instructions. Ruth has made the elderly Judean aware of his obligation as a repurchaser, a kinsman of her late husband Mahlon and of his deceased father Elimelech. Naomi had been certain that this venture would be successful, and the younger woman evidently was confident that Boaz would deal with her in an honorable manner. (Ruth 3:4, 7-9) But how will he react?
9. (a) How has Ruth expressed her loving-kindness in what Boaz calls the “first instance” and the “last instance”? (b) Is Ruth “an excellent woman” because of wealth, hairstyle and expensive garb, or what?
9 Boaz blesses and commends the humble and loyal Moabitess, saying: “Blessed may you be of Jehovah, my daughter. You have expressed your loving-kindness better in the last instance than in the first instance, in not going after the young fellows whether lowly or rich.” In the first instance, Ruth displayed loyal love for Naomi. Now, rather than seeking companionship with marriageable young men, the Moabitess is willing to marry a much, much older man in order to raise up a name for her deceased husband Mahlon and for her mother-in-law, Elimelech’s aged widow. But how does Boaz feel about that? Reassuringly, he remarks: “And now, my daughter, do not be afraid. All that you say I shall do for you, for everyone in the gate of my people is aware that you are an excellent woman.” Ruth has not loudly proclaimed her virtues, and surely it is not wealth, hairstyle and expensive garb that causes others to admire her. Rather, the young woman’s fear of Jehovah, her good works, her quiet, mild spirit, her loyal love, her industriousness—acts and traits like these have caused people to view her as “an excellent woman.” Is there a godly woman alive who would not desire such a fine reputation?—Ruth 3:10, 11; compare Proverbs 31:28-31; 1 Timothy 2:9, 10; 1 Peter 3:3, 4.
10. Why will Ruth not immediately become the wife of Boaz?
10 Will Boaz immediately take Ruth as his wife? No, for there is a closer male relative of Elimelech and Mahlon. “But if he does not take delight in repurchasing you, I will then repurchase you, I myself,” avers Boaz with an oath, “as sure as Jehovah lives.” Boaz will attend to the matter in the morning.—Ruth 3:13.
11. What prompts Boaz to give Ruth six measures of barley?
11 Since the hour is late, Boaz has Ruth remain until early morning. But nothing immoral takes place, and they arise while it is still dark, evidently to avoid starting any unsavory and groundless rumors. Before the Moabitess departs, Boaz fills her cloak with six measures of barley, perhaps to signify that, just as six working days are followed by a rest day, so the young woman’s day of rest is at hand, because he will see to it that she will have a “resting-place,” a home with a husband. (Ruth 1:9; 3:1) Of course, generous Boaz also does not want Ruth to return empty-handed to her mother-in-law.
12. Why does Naomi ask: “Who are you, my daughter?”
12 The Moabitess finally arrives home, and Naomi calls out: “Who are you, my daughter?” Perhaps she does not recognize the one seeking admittance in the dark, but this question may pertain to Ruth’s possible new identity in relationship to her repurchaser. Apprised of the past night’s events, Naomi is confident that Boaz will keep his word and act quickly. “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out,” she urges the young woman, adding, in her feminine wisdom and understanding of human nature, “for the man will have no rest unless he has brought the matter to an end today.”—Ruth 3:12-18.
13. How may we profit from considering the faith of Naomi and Ruth?
13 As those two needy widows bide their time in that humble dwelling, we may profitably consider their faith. Like Naomi, do we personally have confidence in our faithful fellow believers? And, like Ruth, do we readily rely upon Jehovah in times of crisis, sure that his arrangements and provisions are of the very best? (Ps. 37:3-5; 138:8) Think about Ruth. She does not even know that male relative with the first right in this matter; she has no knowledge of his temperament, and yet she is willing to comply with Jehovah’s law on levirate marriage. She must be certain that God will make things work out well. Comparably, are we personally confident that Jehovah “makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God”?—Rom. 8:28; 1 Pet. 5:6, 7.
BOAZ ACTS DECISIVELY
14, 15. (a) Who is the repurchaser more closely related to Elimelech than Boaz is? (b) Apparently because of Naomi’s impoverished state, what must she do, and therefore what needs to be done, either by the nearer relative or by Boaz?
14 The light of a new day has come to Bethlehem. People are moving in its streets, merchants are displaying their wares, small groups are conversing in the open space before the city gate and farmers are leaving for their work in the fields surrounding the town. And seated here at the city gate is Boaz. His eyes seek out the faces of all those passing by. Suddenly, he calls out: “Do turn aside, do sit down here, So-and-so.” (Ruth 4:1) Why, this otherwise unnamed man is none other than the repurchaser more closely related to Elimelech than is Boaz. He could possibly have even been a natural brother of the deceased Elimelech.
15 The city gate is where business transactions are recorded and elders sit in judgment. Therefore, since Boaz is about to represent absent Naomi and Ruth in matters of repurchasing and levirate marriage, he assembles 10 of Bethlehem’s elders right there at the gate. (Deut. 16:18; 22:15; 25:7, 8) Then Boaz tells the closer repurchaser: “The tract of the field that belonged to our brother [or, relative] Elimelech, Naomi . . . must sell,” apparently because of her impoverished state. (Ruth 4:3) If a poverty-stricken Israelite has to sell the family’s land, the repurchaser has the right to redeem it by paying a price based on the number of years left until the Jubilee, when such hereditary property will be returned to the original holder. (Lev. 25:23-25) Rather than trying to bypass the nearer relative and buy the land secretly, honorable Boaz fairly presents the facts publicly. If the nearer relative will repurchase it, fine; otherwise Boaz will do so.
16, 17. If the unnamed relative wants to buy the field from Naomi, what else must he do? What is his reaction to that?
16 “I shall be the one to repurchase it,” says this closer relative. Apparently he is glad to obtain the land and thus increase his holdings. But he is in for a surprise, because Boaz continues: “On the day that you buy the field from Naomi’s hand, it is also from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead man [Elimelech’s son Mahlon], that you must buy it so as to cause the name of the dead man to rise upon his inheritance.” (Ruth 4:4, 5) If this relative wants that field, he is obliged to marry Ruth and produce offspring to his kinsman—a son who will inherit that tract of land.
17 Now, that is a different matter altogether. “I am unable to repurchase it for myself,” says the unnamed near relative, “for fear I may ruin my own inheritance. You repurchase it for yourself with my right of repurchase, because I am not able to do the repurchasing.” (Ruth 4:6) Just how this kinsman would ‘ruin his own inheritance’ he does not say. But he would spend money for the land, and to that extent would reduce the value of his estate. And then Ruth’s son, rather than any sons the near relative might already have, would get the field. None of that for selfish So-and-so! Hence, ‘Buy it for yourself, Boaz.’
18, 19. By what act does this closer relative renounce his right of repurchase in this case, and so what does Boaz do?
18 At that, the unnamed relative follows the prevailing custom concerning right of repurchase and the exchange. He removes one of his sandals and gives it to Boaz. By doing this before witnesses, he is renouncing his right of repurchase in this case. Doubtless his selfish course is the reason he is left unnamed. Now Boaz is authorized to do the repurchasing.—Ruth 4:7, 8; Deut. 25:7-10.
19 Without delay, Boaz purchases from Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and his sons Chilion and Mahlon. Also, he buys Ruth “as a wife to cause the name of the dead man [Mahlon] to rise upon his inheritance” so that his name “may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his place.” Yes, Mahlon’s name, and therefore that of his father Elimelech, will be remembered by the people and elders gathered in the future at Bethlehem’s gate. “You are witnesses today,” states Boaz. In attestation, all the people and older men shout: “Witnesses!”—Ruth 4:9-11.
JEHOVAH GRANTS RUTH “A PERFECT WAGE”
20. What do the witnesses desire that Jehovah grant the wife that is coming into the house of Boaz, and to whom do they give credit for the prospective son through Ruth?
20 It is touching to hear those witnesses add: “May Jehovah grant the wife who is coming into your house to be like Rachel and like Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel [for their offspring became numerous]; and you prove your worth in Ephrathah and make a notable name in Bethlehem. And may your house become like the [very populous] house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, from the offspring that Jehovah will give you out of this young woman.” (Ruth 4:11, 12) Yes, those witnesses already give credit to Jehovah for that prospective son through Ruth, the loyal Moabitess.
21, 22. Why do the neighbor ladies say: “A son has been born to Naomi”?
21 So it is that Boaz takes Ruth as his wife and has relations with her. Jehovah grants her conception, and she bears a son. What happiness prevails! To the joyful grandmother, Naomi, Bethlehem’s womenfolk say: “Blessed be Jehovah, who has not let a repurchaser fail for you today; that his name may be proclaimed in Israel. And he has become a restorer of your soul and one to nourish your old age, because your daughter-in-law who does love you, who is better to you than seven [natural] sons, has given birth to him.” Delighted Naomi puts the child in her bosom and becomes its nurse, or caretaker.—Ruth 4:13-16.
22 “A son has been born to Naomi,” the neighbor ladies are saying. They consider the child to be the son of Elimelech and his widow. And why not? Ruth did become the wife of Boaz in behalf of aged Naomi, in harmony with the law of levirate marriage. Boaz and Ruth have performed a service to Jehovah, and it is noteworthy that the women of the neighborhood name the child Obed, meaning “servant” or “one serving.” The young one is the legal heir to the Judean house of Elimelech.—Ruth 4:17.
23. How has Boaz become an instrument in the blessing he had wished for Ruth?
23 Some months have passed since Boaz said to Ruth: “May Jehovah reward the way you act, and may there come to be a perfect wage for you from Jehovah.” (Ruth 2:12) Now, by fathering Obed, Boaz has become an instrument in the blessing he had wished for the young Moabitess. One day, Obed, a descendant of Judah through Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon and Boaz, will have a son named Jesse, who will become the father of David, Israel’s second king.—Ruth 4:18-22.
24. (a) The drama just considered gives evidence of God’s guidance in what respect? (b) What, then, was the “perfect wage” granted to Ruth by Jehovah?
24 This real-life drama provides evidence of God’s guidance in selecting individuals for the preservation of the most important human line of descent, the one leading to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. True, Israelite women married to men of the tribe of Judah had the possible prospect of contributing to the Messiah’s earthly lineage. (Gen. 49:10) But that a Moabitess was so privileged illustrates the principle that “it depends, not upon the one wishing nor upon the one running, but upon God, who has mercy.” (Rom. 9:16) Ruth had chosen Jehovah as her God, and in great mercy he granted her “a perfect wage” in permitting that humble woman to become a link in the Messiah’s line of descent.—Matt. 1:3-6, 16; Luke 3:23, 31-33.
25. How should we be affected by considering the “perfect wage” that God granted to Ruth?
25 Surely, that “perfect wage” granted by God to loyal Ruth should move thoughtful persons to approach him in implicit faith, confident that Jehovah exists and that “he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb. 11:6) Yes, the book of Ruth portrays Jehovah as a God of love who acts in behalf of those devoted to him. Moreover, it proves that God’s purposes never fail. Hence, we can and should have the same spirit as that expressed by David, who declared: “We will cry out joyfully because of your salvation, and in the name of our God we shall lift our banners. May Jehovah fulfill all your requests. Now I do know that Jehovah certainly saves his anointed one. He answers him from his holy heavens with the saving mighty acts of his right hand.”—Ps. 20:5, 6.
[Picture on page 23]
“Who are you?” asks Boaz. “I am Ruth your slave girl”