But Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
I will die where you die and will be buried there. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!"
So when Naomi saw that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her, she stopped urging her.
So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was stirred by their arrival. "Is it really Naomi?" the women asked.
"Don't call me Naomi," she told them. "Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.
I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty. Why should you call me Naomi when the LORD has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy?"
So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi's husband, Elimelech.
One day Ruth said to Naomi, "Let me go out into the fields to gather leftover grain behind anyone who will let me do it."And Naomi said, "All right, my daughter, go ahead."
So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.
While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. "The LORD be with you!" he said."The LORD bless you!" the harvesters replied.
Then Boaz asked his foreman, "Who is that girl over there?"
And the foreman replied, "She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi.
She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes' rest over there in the shelter."
Boaz went over and said to Ruth, "Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don't go to any other fields. Stay right behind the women working in my field.
See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to bother you. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well."
Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. "Why are you being so kind to me?" she asked. "I am only a foreigner."
"Yes, I know," Boaz replied. "But I also know about the love and kindness you have shown your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers.
May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully."
"I hope I continue to please you, sir," she replied. "You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not as worthy as your workers."
At lunchtime Boaz called to her, "Come over here and help yourself to some of our food. You can dip your bread in the wine if you like." So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her food -- more than she could eat.
When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, "Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her.
And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don't give her a hard time!"
So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it came to about half a bushel.
She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the food that was left over from her lunch.
"So much!" Naomi exclaimed. "Where did you gather all this grain today? Where did you work? May the LORD bless the one who helped you!" So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. And she said, "The man I worked with today is named Boaz."
"May the LORD bless him!" Naomi told her daughter-in-law. "He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers."
Then Ruth said, "What's more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed."
"This is wonderful!" Naomi exclaimed. "Do as he said. Stay with his workers right through the whole harvest. You will be safe there, unlike in other fields."
So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz's fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she worked with them through the wheat harvest, too. But all the while she lived with her mother-in-law.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)