The name Elimelech means “God is King.” His wife’s name, Naomi, signifies “pleasantness,” “pleasant one.” Mahlon and Chilion were their two sons. Mahlon means “sickly,” “one having an infirmity,” and the thought of Chilion is “pining” or “wasting.” Both of the sons’ names suggest a process of illness, a sickly condition. In antitype they represent the Jewish people, the ten-tribe and the two-tribe kingdoms, who rejected Jesus. Jesus said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt. 23:38).
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Ruth ended up in “a part of the field” that belonged to Boaz. At first glance, her being there seemed to be by chance, but she was providentially guided. The “field” was actually a valley or a plain, so the thought is that Ruth went to Boaz’s portion of the plain.
The Law required that corners of the field not be reaped in order to leave them for the poor. Therefore, the poor were at liberty to enter the corners and glean there. However, Ruth “gleaned … after the reapers”; that is, she gathered the “crumbs,” the residue, after the reapers had gone through. Whatever fell to the ground when the grain was bound in bundles was also to be left for the poor.
The Book of Ruth is a beautiful story of the Gospel Age from the standpoint of principle and the things that endear the Ruth class to Boaz (Jesus), but when Ruth and Naomi came back to Israel, it was the time of harvest. Hence, at that point, the picture shifts down to the end of the Gospel Age. Ruth 2:23 says that Ruth gleaned through both the barley and the wheat harvests. In gathering the wheat, she threshed only for her private use. Regarding the end of the age, the collective standpoint is also significant. Ruth gleaned to the end of the barley and wheat harvests and dwelled with her mother-in-law.