Ruth is GLEANING. Gleaning is this: After a field has been harvested by whoever owns the land or whoever is responsible for harvesting the property, the owner of the property allows people to scour the property and glean (or collect) from the field whatever was passed over or left behind from the harvest. In some situations and cultures, this method is used as a welfare system for those who can’t afford their own fields or to buy produce from others.
Ruth is probably gleaning because that is the only way she and Naomi would be able to eat. They don’t have a man to provide for them and they don’t live in a culture or time period where women have careers. Ruth’s gleaning is probably the only way they can put food on the table.
Ruth is gleaning in Boaz’s field. (Remember Boaz? You can go back and review the last post if you’ve forgotten).
Boaz greets everyone “The Lord be with you” which is indicative of his relationship with God. And everyone’s response “The Lord bless you” is a picture of the culture that also worshipped and honored the Lord.
Notice when Boaz asks about Ruth, she is explained as the “Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi.” She isn’t even identified by her name, only by her culture – a culture which does not acknowledge God as God.
There is a world of difference between the man who owns the field and the woman who is gleaning from them. From the man who worships God and the woman from Moab.
Sometimes we don’t just glean from the land. Sometimes we glean habits, sometimes we glean behaviors, sometimes we glean words and phrases, sometimes a gleaning process gives us new friends and new family, sometimes in the gleaning process we are the ones leaving something behind – but if we are smart about where we glean, we can glean wisdom.
Ruth’s gleaning is going to land her a lot more than some produce from a field, I can promise you that.