We find Ruth going out to glean the fields. So, we don’t really know what that means in the 21st century. There used to be a day when after a harvest the farmer would allow those who were poor to take up what was left in the field after the workers had finished the harvest. Today with the machinery that we have, which is nearly 100% efficient, a person who is gleaning would be hard pressed to have anything left over which they might be able to glean and take home. But gleaning the fields was something that was a very part of the culture and a way in which those who had material goods could actually ensure that those who hungered could have their needs met.
We find Jesus and his disciples gleaning the fields themselves after a harvest in Matthew 12:1. This was not uncommon, and it also shows that Jesus and his disciples were very much considered “the poor”. Most Rabbis and their students would glean fields because they were considered the poor. But back to Ruth. Not only was Ruth gleaning the fields but she gets to the field of her father-in-law’s relative who treated her royally. He told his workers to even put down whole sheaves, which normally would not have been left over after a harvest, and lay them for her so that she was able to take them and use them. She was fed and handsomely and she was able to gather up more grain than most because of how she was treated by him. Remember this because he comes into play in the next chapters, as does how he treats her.
There is really a lesson here in how to treat the stranger and the foreigner. She says to Boaz: “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?” Her status as a foreigner did not elicit fear in the eyes of Boaz, but rather he treated her as he would treat anyone else who was in his midst. How do we treat the foreigner? How does God require us to treat the foreigner? Look at Matthew 25:35 and you will find the answer.