Following Ruth gleaning the field and being seen favorable in Boaz's eyes, Ruth 2:22 (NIV) says:

Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”

What kind of harm can we infer that Naomi is referring to common for women in the same position as Ruth? Earlier in chapter 2, Boaz tells his workers to not reprimand or rebuke Ruth. Is this the type of harm Naomi is mentioning or was there more serious harm to be fearful of like physical and sexual harm?

Thank you.

  • 1
    The context of the narrative is farming in Israel, which would pose potential of harm in various ways. The context of the entire book is redemption so one would suppose the circumstantial danger would have an allusion to the harm which is resolved in redemption. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 13, 2020 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


Ruth was a beautiful foreign woman in the land. That's the danger.


Her name is a contraction of reuth, which may either be the word for “the act of seeing,” “sight” and hence, as in English, objectively “a sight,” “something worth seeing”—or the word for “friendship” or “a female friend,” like reu in Reuel, “friend of God.” If the former etymology be adopted, we must ascribe the name to the early beauty of the child; if the latter, it may be due to the exhibition in infancy of that amiable and affectionate disposition which was so characteristic of the woman.

Both meanings of the name were true of Ruth, for as a beautiful girl from Moab she was certainly a sight worth seeing, and her character revealed her to be a woman capable of rare friendship.

What were some prospects of a beautiful foreign woman alone in a field?

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

meet her in another field alone, or rush upon her at once and unawares, and reproach her, or beat her, or indeed force her

Pulpit Commentary mentions the danger of meeting "some lewd and lustful men".

So Naomi gave her some good advice in Ruth 2:22

Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”

It was double protection. She would be protected by the top boss Boaz and his working women so she would not be alone in the field. It was the smart advice of a caring mother-in-law.

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    That's generally valid for that time period in basically any culture. There was no police force as we know today, and government was very decentralized. If people wanted to harm you, they would have to fear your relatives or your boss taking revenge. If you belonged no nowhere, they had to fear nothing, no state police was there to start an investigation. However if you're regularly seen traveling in the company of the servants of an influential man, it would signal to everyone that you are likely under his protection.
    – vsz
    Dec 14, 2020 at 13:47
  • Is the John Gill quote from his commentary on 2:22? Do you have a link to the Pulpit Commentary's mention? Nov 2, 2021 at 17:27
  • biblehub.com/commentaries/ruth/2-22.htm
    – user35953
    Nov 2, 2021 at 17:31

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