After the events of Ruth 2:1-17, Ruth returns home with the grain she had obtained from her gleaning in the fields of Boaz. First, she gives the leftovers from her meal to Naomi to eat, and then Naomi, noticing how much she had brought back, asked her where she had been allowed to glean. Ruth tells her that she has been gleaning in the fields of Boaz, and Naomi is quite pleased.
Naomi knows that Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer, which comes from the Hebrew word ga’al which means “kinsman-redeemer”, rendered by the NIV as “guardian-redeemer”. A kinsman-redeemer is a relative who is obligated to “redeem” the property, and sometimes the life or marriage, of a relation who has fallen into severe distress. For example, if there is real property that is owned by a widow, the kinsman-redeemer might buy that property so that the widow, who couldn’t farm it herself, has an income to live off of. They might also pay off a mortgage, take the person into their household, or marry a brother’s wife if they have no children so that the brother can live on through her children. In the case of Boaz, he was a kinsman-redeemer for Naomi, since he is related to her husband. In the case of Ruth, he is a relative of her husband as well, but the fact that Ruth is a Moabite would give Boaz an “out” if he wished to avoid his responsibilities to the family. Finally, we must remind ourselves that there had been a famine in the land 10 years earlier, and we do not know how long it lasted. A famine in the Promised Land would tell us that God’s Law was not being obeyed in that generation, thus Boaz may or may not be the kind of man who would honor this obligation. Naomi seems to think that he will do his duty, based upon Ruth’s report.
As a result of all of this, Naomi advises Ruth to continue gleaning in Boaz’ field, and to visit no others, since Boaz has decided to see to her safety… and that is exactly what Ruth did. When we get together again tomorrow, Naomi will give Ruth some advice that is shocking, to say the least!