“Who is she?”
The familiar voice of my master, Boaz, startled me out of my thoughts.
“Hmm? Who?” I asked.
Boaz pointed across the acres of ripe barley, the endless field spotted with reapers working hard to gather the sheaves as well as women gleaning, picking up what dropped to the ground. It wasn’t unusual for women to glean in Boaz’s field; he had a reputation for being kinder and more gracious than other field owners.
“That one there, whose young woman is she?”
My gaze shifted to align with Boaz’s finger and landed on Ruth.
“Oh, that’s Ruth the Moabitess,” I replied, glancing at Boaz, but at his questioning gaze, I realised he had no clue who she was. “Don’t you know? She’s the widow who insisted to come back with Naomi – excuse me – Mara,” I explained. “They came back from Moab after Ruth’s husband and father-in-law passed away. She asked permission to work in this field and she’s been gleaning since early this morning, taking only one short rest.”
Boaz nodded thoughtfully before stepping out of the house. I didn’t follow, getting the feeling that Boaz wanted to talk to Ruth personally. She was, after all, a very attractive woman and Boaz was a very wealthy man and also very single. I watched from the distance as Boaz talked to Ruth for a short while. Then, to my utmost surprise, Ruth dropped to her knees, bowing her head to the ground. Boaz, ever the gentleman, helped her to her feet, urging her to stand. She said something in return then Boaz made his way back to where I stood.
“I want you to give instructions to the men. Make sure they do not trouble Ruth or cause her harm,” he said firmly. “And make sure the servants always have the water buckets filled. I’ve given her permission to drink freely and I don’t want anyone saying otherwise.”
My eyes widened, thoroughly surprised at the extent of Boaz’s display of kindness towards that particular woman. Sure, I knew Boaz was kind but to show such special treatment to a foreigner, and not just any foreigner, a foreign woman? It was almost unheard of. But I could see that Ruth was special and destined for something greater. Even from the short conversation I had with her when she asked for permission to glean, I had the feeling she was an exceptional woman.
“Yes, my lord. It will be done,” I replied before getting to work and giving out Boaz’s instructions. It was easy to see the surprise on their faces as they received the instructions but they knew better than to question it.
Meal time came around and I joined the rest of the rest of the reapers, partaking of roasted grain and bread with vinegar, and talking jovially with them. But a hush fell over us as Boaz approached with Ruth by his side. He sat her down and served her food. Food meant for those higher on the social ladder. I glanced around at the other men, seeing that they were uncomfortable with Ruth’s presence. Even I was a little hesitant unsure of what to do or say. Conversation wasn’t as easy as usual since no one quite knew what to think about this new development. I watched as Boaz made sure Ruth had enough to eat and even allowing her to take extras back to her mother-in-law. It wasn’t until Ruth left to continue gleaning that Boaz addressed the reapers.
“Listen to me carefully,” he began. “I want you to let her glean, not only from the ground but also from the sheaves -”
“But my lord, -” one of the reapers began. He was cut off with a look from Boaz.
“-and do not insult her or scold her. Also, I want you to purposely pull out stalks of grain from the sheaves and leave them for her to pick up. Understood?” Boaz continued.
“Yes, my lord,” they replied and got back to work.
I approached Boaz. “If I may ask, my lord, why do you favour her so much? She is but a foreigner.”
He was quiet for a while and I was beginning to think I’d angered him with my question when he spoke softly in reply.
“ She is special. Not like the other women I know. How many women would leave everything they’ve ever known to follow their mother-in-law to a strange land?” he said. “And I am a close relative of Naomi so it is my responsibility to take care of them.”
“As a kinsman redeemer?” I asked.
“Only if she will have me,” he replied.
I nodded and watched silently as Boaz left. The rest of the day was uneventful as was the harvest season. I saw Ruth everyday, from the break of dawn to the setting of the sun, she was out in the fields gleaning and joining the men during meal times at Boaz’s insistence
Then one day, after the harvest season was over, Boaz disappeared into Bethlehem on urgent business. No one was sure what was going on exactly but rumors were flying that Ruth had claimed Boaz as her kinsman redeemer by lying at his feet the previous night. It was difficult for me to keep the reapers focused on threshing the barley and I had to keep reminding them that what their master did was not their business to speculate about but I myself was beyond curious.
It wasn’t until a few hours later that Boaz came back and it was all I could do not to pepper him with questions. I didn’t have long to wait until the official announcement though. Boaz agreed to marry Ruth. There was a small wedding and celebration to unite the couple and a few months later, news came that they were expecting their first child.
And me? Well, I’m just glad that I could tell the love story of my master and a Moabitess. This family was special, chosen by God. In what way, I do not know but I’m contented to have been a part of it.
*~From the house of God’s grace~*