Reinterpreting Ruth

While doing some studies in Ruth lately, I couldn’t help but wonder what her interaction with Boaz might look like if it happened in 2009 with some modern sensibilities.

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Upon returning to Bethlehem, Naomi and Ruth found a homeless community that welcomed them. It was a shanty town on the edge of the big city with a large agribusiness compound just to the southwest. Naomi remembered the word of the Lord and said unto Ruth, “Do not stand at the street corners begging for coins from passers-by. Rather, go to yonder farm and glean from the wheat what the farmers have seen fit to leave.”

Obeying the voice of her mother, Ruth set out for the great fields but found nothing to glean. All was harvested clean. She found a young man in business suit and tie, and she asked of him, “Where are the gleanings? For does not your God command you to leave the corners of your field unharvested so the poor and the needy may not go hungry?”

The young man, named Boaz, looked at her scornfully, finding her appearance and obvious poverty distasteful. “What socialist nonsense is this?” he asked. “I have investors to answer to and profit projections to meet. I cannot spare any of my wheat for those who feel entitled to profit from my hard work.”

“Have mercy, sir,” begged Ruth. “I am but a poor Moabite who has traveled  with her mother-in-law who is too old to gather for herself. Let me take some food to her so her spirits may be lifted.”

“I can spare nothing,” Boaz answered, “for I must invest this quarter’s earnings into new farm equipment because the government is unfairly making me replace some combines that would leave trace (though nonlethal) deposits of asbestos and lead into my wheat. Also, I have to pay compensation to some workers who had to go and get ergot poisoning in my fields. On top of this, the data plan for my phone just went up.” He began dialing his phone furiously.

“If your mother-in-law wants food, she should pull herself up by her bootstraps and put her nose to the grindstone. As for you, I have no time for illegals looking for handouts. Good day!” He stormed away just as his call went through. “Hello, immigration? Yes, I’d like to…”

Ruth headed home to tell Naomi the terrible news, but she never completed her journey. She was seized on the road by immigration officers and deported to Moab. Naomi never knew what became of her and died alone on the streets that winter, and Boaz spent evenings watching the news and patting himself on the back for what a good citizen he was.

***

God’s law in the Old Testament was as much about generosity and kindness as it was about righteousness and morality. God’s blessings are available to all, regardless of background, race, economic status, or any other variable you can imagine. His love and kindness toward us is unlimited and conditional on only one thing: that we come to Him in humility and obedience. Others should be able to see that graciousness in us as easily as Ruth saw it in the real Boaz.

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