In ancient Israel the law said that when farmers harvested their fields they should leave anything that fell for the poor. In modern times, when farmers harvest, they will often make more than one pass through the fields to be sure to collect all the crop. But in Israel this ‘second pass’ was to be left for the poor. They would follow behind the harvesters and glean the small bits left behind to have food to eat. This way anyone willing to work could eat.
Because Naomi and Ruth did not have husbands or sons this was one of the only ways they could obtain food. So Ruth went out to glean during the harvest. Now is when we begin to see God rewarding Ruth’s faithful behavior. She just so ‘happened’ to select the fields of Boaz to glean in. Now Boaz was a godly, kind man and a close relative of Naomi’s as well. Why did that matter? Well remember that Ruth is a Moabite and the Israelites don’t really like them. It is very likely she could have been treated unkindly by many people. However Boaz respected her for leaving her home and false gods and coming back to care for Naomi. Because of this, he instructs all his workers to be kind to her, and leave extra behind for her to gather. He also invites Ruth to join his workers for a meal. Boaz then invites her to glean in his fields throughout the harvest where she will be safe.
Ruth gathered a large amount for the day and returns home to Naomi. Naomi is surprised by how much she has gleaned and asks where she worked. When Ruth tells Naomi all that occurred, Naomi praises God because she realizes that God is using their relatives to care for them. God always provides for His faithful. When we follow God’s laws He is faithful to reward and provide us with what we need. We just need to keep trusting like Ruth and Naomi!
Look up what barley looks like in the field before harvest. Talk about harvesting it by hand.
Take a large bag of small items like beans or small blocks (Legos) and dump them out in a line. Then you harvest (scoop in the bag) the first pass. Then have your kids glean the rest. Talk about the hard work but at least they had a way to eat!!