Last week our story began with an introduction: we met a man from Bethlehem, from the Ephrathite clan, a well-respected man from a well-respected family. And the writer showed us how this man used his wealth and good social standing to flee his home country when trouble came. And we saw how this led to disaster for him and for his sons. By the end of the first chapter, all that remained of his family was his widow, Naomi.
And we saw how she finally came home, bitter, depressed, wondering if God is actually good or if he is simply harsh, unforgiving, judgemental, like all the other gods in the world. Is God Shaddai, the Almighty Judge? Or is he Yahweh, the Covenant-Keeping God who loves his people with an everlasting love? And we ended last week with this question: what hope does Naomi have, now that she has lost everything?
Today, at the beginning of Chapter 2, the writer begins, again, with an introduction: we meet a man from Bethlehem, from the Ephrathite clan, a well-respected man from the same well-respected family as Naomi’s husband from Chapter 1. But there is an important difference. Where Naomi’s husband used his wealth to escape from trouble, this man — named Boaz — apparently remained behind, in the land, when trouble came.
So what is the writer doing by introducing this man Boaz right here at the beginning of the 2nd Chapter? He wants us to notice the difference between these two men. He wants to grab our interest and make us wonder: could this man be an answer to our question, “What hope does Naomi have?”
Her husband’s disobedience led to her losing everything.
Could it be that this man’s obedience will lead to her gaining everything back?
This is what we are supposed to be wondering as we get into the story today.
So, at the end of Chapter 1, we were told that Naomi arrived home just as the barley harvest was beginning. The famine is over. God has provided rain for the winter crops, and now, in the spring, the first harvest is ready.
But Naomi has just arrived. She wasn’t there in the winter to help plant the barley, so how is this harvest going to benefit her? Normally the ones who plant are the ones who also reap. Just as, in our culture, it is the one who works who gets paid.
However, God’s law allowed even the poor to benefit from the harvest. Moses wrote it all down very carefully; this is how it worked:
The men would go first, grabbing the stalks with their left hand and cutting with a sickle in the right hand. Then they had cut enough, they would make a bundle out of it and leave the bundle on the ground. Then the women would follow up behind, gathering up the bundles and carrying them away to the barn.
And this was a messy process — stalks would get dropped, grains would shake off onto the ground — so God’s law said that the poor were allowed to follow after the women and pick up what had been dropped. In fact, God said, very clearly, that if a worker looked around and realized that they had dropped something on the ground, or had left a bundle behind, they were not allowed to go back to get it. In fact, God promised a special blessing for those who deliberately left stuff behind.
So even though Naomi was not there for the planting, she can still get food from the harvest.
All she has to do is go out and pick it up.
So after they’ve been home for a couple of days, Ruth says, “Mom, let me go to the fields and pickup the dropped grain. I’ll ask for permission and everything, just to make sure I don’t get into trouble.”
Now, according to God’s law, Ruth does not have to ask permission. The law says that the right to “glean” — pick up the leftovers — is for “the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow.” Ruth is all three: foreigner, fatherless, and widow.
However, as we all know, people don’t always obey God’s law, especially when they are dealing with foreigners. And the writer deliberately reminds us that Ruth is a foreigner, he tells us in verse 2: And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields…
And the original readers would have known at once, “Uh oh, this might not go very well.” Racism is a universal human problem. So is sexism. The world can be a dangerous place for young women. It can also be a dangerous place for foreigners. Ruth is a young woman and a foreigner. What she is proposing is potentially very dangerous.
And just in case you doubt me, just in case you want to say, “Oh, come on! This is Israel! These are God’s people! They wouldn’t be like that!” allow me to remind you that the story of Ruth takes place during “the days when the judges ruled.” The Book of Judges contains a horrible story about a young Israelite woman from Bethlehem who is savagely violated and murdered while she is travelling through the territory of another Israelite tribe. She wasn’t even a foreigner from another country, she was just a foreigner from another tribe and that happened to her!
So, yes: what Ruth is proposing is potentially very dangerous. The original readers would have felt an immediate rise in tension.
We are supposed to feel that tension as well.
And Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.”
Does Naomi not see the danger?
She must. But maybe their situation is so desperate they have to take risks in order to feed themselves. Poor people have take those kinds of risks all the time!
But if Naomi knows the risks, and knows how desperate they are, why doesn’t she join Ruth? That would minimize the risk, because Naomi is not a foreigner, she has connections in town: her husband’s relative Boaz, for one. So she could go with Ruth into the fields and that would help protect Ruth.
But she doesn’t. Why not?
Well, writer doesn’t tell us why, but in the 1st Chapter we saw how losing everything turned Naomi into a nasty, bitter, angry woman. It could be that Naomi simply doesn’t want any food; maybe she just wants to give up and die, and she doesn’t want Ruth to go out and find something to eat; maybe she’s hoping that Ruth will recognize the danger and realize she’s better off going back home to Moab.
Well, if that is what Naomi wants, she is disappointed: Ruth goes out and goes to work. And “as it turned out” — simply “by chance” — she ends up in a field belonging to Boaz, this well-respected man from the same well-respected family as Naomi’s husband.
And the writer is being ironic here: this did not happen “by chance”!
And then — “by chance” again — Boaz comes to see how the harvest is going.
And this turns the tension up even higher. Ruth is a young woman and a foreigner, so she’s already in danger. On the other hand, we’ve already gotten a hint that Boaz is a good man, obedient to God. Is he going to be angry that this foreign girl is gleaning in his field, or is he going to be okay with it?
He greets the harvesters: “The Lord be with you! ”
“The Lord bless you! ” they answered.
Soooo…that sounds promising. Boaz sounds like he could be a nice guy.
So — whew — dial the tension back down.
But then, verse 5, Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”
Oop. Turn the tension back up! Because Boaz sees a stranger in his field, a young woman, and he asks, “Who does she belong to?”
And this is really a way asking, “Who is she related to? Does she have a father, or a husband, some relative who can vouch for her?” Because in those days, and in that culture — just as in many asian cultures today — who you are related to matters a lot.
So now a lot depends how how the overseer answers. If he says, “Oh, she is related to so-and-so rich man in town,” then Boaz will certainly treat her with respect. But if the overseer says, “Oh, she’s just a foreigner, she’s not related to anybody important…” then there is potential for Boaz to treat her badly.
 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi.
Oh. Oh, that is not a good start. Two times he emphasizes that she is a foreigner. The only good news is that she is related to Naomi. But…Naomi is not rich, powerful, or respected. She’s just an old widow. So if Boaz takes advantage of Ruth somehow he could basically get away with it. She has no relatives who can take him to court and get justice for her.
The overseer goes on:  She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”
Mmmmm…that sounds more positive. The overseer is pointing out that she actually asked for permission — even though she didn’t need to — and that she seems to be a hard worker.
So…what is Boaz going to do? Is he going to chase her away? Is is going to let her keep working?
 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me.  Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
Oh! Whew! Dial the tension back down!
Not only does he tell her to keep working, but he also gives her protection from the men. And as a final touch he tells her to drink from the company water bottles — which is actually the most profound part. We miss it, but the original readers would have understood the theological significance at once because, in ancient Israel, foreigners were supposed to be the water-carriers. But here, Boaz completely reverses that structure. Instead of telling her to go carry water for his men, he tells her she can drink the water that his men have carried.
This is astonishing. This is shocking! for the readers — and for Ruth:
 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”
And at this point we find out that Boaz has already heard about her. Bethlehem is a small town. Everyone knows everyone, and apparently everyone has been talking about the young foreign girl who followed Naomi home. And no wonder! She left everything behind to come and live as a foreigner in a foreign country, just so she can help take care of her mother-in-law. And that is strange! Who does that? Who takes that kind of risk?
So Boaz answers and basically says, “I’m being so kind to you because you have been so kind to Naomi.  May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
And Ruth says,  “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord. You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”
And it is possible that at this point the writer just turned the tension back up.
See, this verse is a verse that scholars have discussed a great deal. Because there appears to be a very subtle kind of word-play going on here. A very literal translation would read like this:
“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord. You have put me at ease by whispering sweetly to the heart of your slave girl — though I do not have the standing of one of your slave girls.”
This seems to be a double entendre, a sexual second meaning underneath Ruth’s words. Let me explain:
First, the Hebrew word translated “kindly” in this verse means “tenderly, gently”; it can also mean “seductively”.
Second, the Hebrew word translated “servant” in this verse actually means “slave girl”, the lowest of the low. There is another Hebrew word that Ruth could have used, a higher-class word that means “servant girl”. And we know she could have used this word because she does use this word in Chapter 3. But here she calls herself a “slave girl”. Why? Well, a higher class “servant girl” could potentially become a mistress or a concubine. A “slave girl” could not.
So on the surface Ruth is saying, “Thank you! I really don’t deserve your generosity!” But on another level, Ruth could be saying, “Thank you for speaking so unbelievably kindly to me. I hope you continue to be so generous even if I do not sleep with you in return.”
It could be that Ruth is a bit worried about Boaz’s motivations here. And that’s fair, because — after all — when a rich man suddenly offers a poor woman a lot of money, what is he usually buying?
Now, the reason scholars debate about this is because it is a very subtle word-play, and because some scholars do not want to see any sexual tension in this chapter at all. They don’t like to think that Ruth was in any potential danger when she went out to find work, and they don’t like to think that Ruth would suspect the saintly Boaz of something like this.
Other scholars think those scholars are being a bit naive. We already know from the Book of Judges that Israel could be a dangerous place for young women. We know from almost every other book of the Old Testament that rich men tend to take sexual advantage of young women. Besides, as readers, we don’t know yet if Boaz is saintly. He seems like a good guy. He says he is being generous to Ruth because Ruth has been generous to Naomi — but how can we know for sure what his real motives are?
So it could be that the writer has just turned the tension back up. Ruth is no longer in danger from random attack, because Boaz has offered her his protection.
But why? Does he expect to be repaid somehow?
The story goes on: Ruth works for a while. And then, at lunchtime, Boaz says, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”
— that’s basically the sambal for the bread —
and then, when she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain.
— that is, he gives her a nasi bungkus. And he does this with his own hand, which is symbolic, actually. It is a way of announcing to everyone: “This young woman is my guest now. She is under my protection!”
She ate all she wanted and had some left over. And then she goes right back to work!
So Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her.  Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”
So Boaz is confirming that Ruth really is allowed to work there. And he is telling his men to deliberately drop extra grain on the ground.
And again: rich respected man being obviously generous to poor foreign girl…why? why? why? What does he expect in return?
But at least Ruth is safe for the moment. So she works all day. She threshes the barley herself, breaking off the shells and keeping just the grain. And in the end she has enough to feed herself and Naomi for several weeks.
No wonder Naomi says, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
Naomi knows Ruth didn’t harvest all this just by picking up scraps! She must have caught the eye of some rich guy, and Naomi is wondering, “What did you do to earn all this? And may God bless that man whoever he is!”
Then Ruth told her mother-in-law, “The name of the man I worked with today is…Boaz.”
 “The Lord bless him! ” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.”
Suddenly Naomi sees the hand of God at work.
This morning, when Ruth went out, Naomi still believed God was out to get her. She was in despair, without hope. She believed that God was Shaddai, the Judge.
But here, suddenly, in this heap of grain, she realizes that God is still Yahweh, the Covenant-Keeping God. She uses that covenant word “kindness” again, just as she did last week. She says, “He has not stopped showing his everlasting covenant love to the living and the dead.” Last week she used the right words, but it was clear she did not really understand the concept. This time, she understands a little more. She is realizing that God has been taking care of her all along, even through all the dark years in Moab. Yes, she went away full, she came back empty, but now — at least for this moment and for the next few weeks — she is no longer empty.
Last week, during our Q&A, we discussed whether Naomi’s return to Bethlehem was a true, heart-felt repentance. And we concluded that it was a true physical repentance, it was a true act of faith — but that Naomi is still on that journey: she is still learning little by little who God really is and what repentance really means.
Here, she has taken another step in that journey. First, she physically returned to Bethlehem, trusting God even though she wasn’t yet sure if God would take care of her. Now God has proven that he is Yahweh, the God who cares for his people, and in response Naomi has taken another step closer to him.
In this, she is no different from any of us. We all learn the same way.
Then Naomi says this: “By the way, Ruth, that man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.”
Wow. Naomi is suddenly Pleasant again. A couple of days ago, when they arrived in Bethlehem, she refused to even acknowledge that Ruth was with her. Now Ruth shows up with some food and suddenly Naomi is all, “our close relative…our guardian redeemer!”
Hmmmm! What is going on here? Is it really so easy to cheer Naomi up? Give her some food and suddenly she’s fine?
Well, a lot of it has to do with this concept of the “guardian-redeemer”.
What is a guardian-redeemer?
A guardian-redeemer was a bit like the ancient version of an insurance policy. God wrote this concept into his law so that, if any of his people got into trouble, if they lost all their money or all their land for whatever reason, they would have a way to survive and not lose everything.
This is how it worked: let’s say misfortune comes on some family, there’s a famine or a flood or a fire and they lose all assets. All they have left is their land and their bodies. They have two options:
1. Sell their land for cash. 2. Hire themselves out for money.
Option 1 is very risky because land is an asset. If they invest the cash and don’t get a good return on it, then they’ve lost the money and the land, and then they are in real trouble!
Option 2 is also risky, because employers can be abusive, especially if they know the person they have hired is down on their luck and desperate. The poor tend to get taken advantage of, partly because they can’t affort to take their employer to court.
Now, the guardian-redeemer is the nearest relative to that family who can afford to buy the land, or can afford to hire the family. That way the land stays in the family, which makes it easier to buy back later. That way the employer is related to the employee, which increases the likelihood that the employer will be fair to the employee.
So when Naomi tells Ruth, “that man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers,” she is really saying, “that man, Boaz, is actually obligated by God’s law to hire us and help take care of us.” So no wonder Naomi is suddenly so pleasant to Ruth! No wonder she says, “our relative, our guardian-redeemer”: she is a bit elderly to be working in the fields, but Ruth is young and strong. She will be able to work and support them both. And she has guaranteed employment now!
And now Ruth, in verse 21, basically says, “Ohhhhhh! Now it all makes sense! Because, by the way, he also said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”
Ruth had asked Boaz why he was being so kind to her, and his answer was, “Because you’ve been so kind to Naomi.” Ruth might have been wondering all afternoon if Boaz had something more on his mind — but now she knows that Boaz really is just being generous. By being generous to Ruth, he is actually being generous to Naomi. By giving Ruth a job, he is actually supporting his relative, Naomi — which he is obligated by God’s law to do anyway!
And Naomi agrees: “Great! Work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”
What a relief, right? Dial the tension back down! Ruth has a job. Naomi has food. Problem solved.
Ruth does have a job — but only until the harvest is finished. Naomi has a guardian-redeemer — but he can only offer Ruth low-class, low-paying jobs. Because: Ruth is still a foreigner. She has taken shelter under the God of Israel — but she is still not a member of God’s covenant people. Really these ladies need a more long-term solution.
And they know it.
And we know they know it because of what they just said to each other. Our English translation does not quite capture the nuance. On the surface Ruth just said, “He offered me a job for the rest of the harvest!” and Naomi just said, “Great! Take it!” And that is correct.
But what Ruth literally says is this: “He told me to stay close to his young men until the harvest is finished.”
And then Naomi says, “It would be good for you, my daughter, to go with his young women.”
Ruth knows they need a long-term solution. And she knows that the best long-term solution is marriage to some local boy. Then she will become a citizen, a member of God’s covenant people: better jobs, better benefits, better opportunities. And she knows that harvest season is the best time to catch a husband: young men, young women, working together in the fields, laughing at each other’s jokes…for ancient people harvest was time of celebration and romance. So Ruth knows that if she goes and works among the young men, chances are some young man is going to take an interest. And Boaz will be there as a father-figure for Ruth, to make sure that if the young man likes it he puts a ring on it.
And we would expect Naomi to agree! But instead Naomi says: “Actually, it would be better for you to work among the young women.”
Why is Naomi telling Ruth to stay away from the young men? Doesn’t she want Ruth to get married? It really is their best long-term solution, and Naomi must know that!
Well…I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story, but I will tell you this: just like Ruth, Naomi has marriage on her mind. However, just like many older wiser women, she is thinking strategically…
And that’s all the hint I’m going to give you. You need to come back next week to find out what scheme this old woman has got going on in her head!
So anyway, the writer has been turning the tension up and down on us all the way through this chapter, and just when we might expect him to dial it down and bring us in for a nice smooth resolution — he cranks it back up in the very last verse, and leaves us with a cliff-hanger ending:  So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
The barley harvest would last about a month, the wheat harvest followed directly after for another month. Lots of opportunities for romance! — but Ruth obeys Naomi: she sticks close to the women. And at the end of it she’s got some grain saved up…but no husband, no long-term solution. In the end she is still living with her mother-in-law.
What a wasted opportunity!
What is Naomi doing?
Well, okay then. A brief recap to see where we are in Naomi’s story:
When we left her at the end of Chapter 1, Naomi wasn’t even sure who God is anymore. She was so blinded by bitterness and despair that she couldn’t see any evidence at all of God’s mercy in her life. She was ready to just give up and die.
But now, at the end of Chapter 2, Naomi has remembered who God really is. She is seeing the evidence of God’s mercy in her life, because she has food now, she has a guardian-redeemer. And she apparently has some kind of plan for the future.
We have been asking, “What hope does Naomi have now that she has nothing left?” Now we are seeing that God himself is the answer. Naomi’s God — our God — is Yahweh, the one who keeps his promises, the one who reaches out to save those who have nothing left to save themselves. And Naomi is beginning to see this as well.
But how did all this happen? Did God provide food through a miracle? Did he send Naomi a vision or a dream to guide her?
No. God sent Ruth to do for Naomi what Naomi could not do for herself. It is Ruth who went out and took the risks. It is Ruth who worked hard all day. It is Ruth who “by chance” ran into the one man in Bethlehem who could and would actually help them.
So what we are seeing here in this chapter is that God really does take care of his people, and that ordinarily he does this through the obedience of his people.
But this chapter is not just about food and faith for Naomi. It is also about salvation for Elimelek.
The Book of Ruth is the story of two women: Naomi and Ruth. It is also the story of two men: Elimelek and Boaz.
We have seen how Naomi has struggled to understand who God really is. We have heard the writer asking, “Who is going to redeem Naomi?” And we are seeing that Ruth is part of God’s answer to that question. Ruth is beginning to do for Naomi what Naomi cannot do for herself.
But running underneath Naomi’s story is the story of Elimelek. It is Elimelek who forgot who God really is, long before Naomi did. It is Elimelek who led his family to disaster and death in a foreign land. So underneath the question, “Who is going to redeem Naomi?” is the deeper question, “Who is going to redeem Elimelek?” In Chapter 1, the writer introduced Ruth as a potential redeemer for Naomi. Here, in Chapter 2, he has introduced Boaz as a potential redeemer for Elimelek. It could be that Boaz will do for Elimelek what Elimelek could not do for himself.
Now, I know that this not how we think, these days. Our instinct is to say, “Man, that dude is dead! His story is over! He can’t be redeemed!” But that is not how ancient people thought about these things. For them, the dead are only physically dead: they live on in spirit, they live on in reputation. When Naomi looks at her situation, she is not just concerned about food. She is concerned about her dead husband, and her dead sons, who have been buried in a land far away from the land of the covenant. She is concerned that Elimelek’s family line is going to disappear. And in the land of ancient Israel, according to God’s own law, this was the worst kind of curse a man could experience. And it is clear that Naomi believes she is under the same curse, because she was bound in covenant relationship with her husband at the time when the curse came upon him.
Naomi wants that curse lifted from her husband, and from herself. She had given up hope of this ever happening because, after all, how can anyone redeem the dead? — but when Ruth showed up with food from Boaz the guardian-redeemer, Naomi realized that there is one option open to her. There is a way to lift the curse, and Boaz is the key.
— but, again, I don’t want to say too much more about what Naomi is thinking because I want us to experience the drama of this story the same way the original readers would have. Suffice it to say: the writer does want us to realize at this point that Boaz possibly has something more to offer than just food and protection. There is a bigger, deeper story going on here, and Naomi getting food here is just a foretaste of the full redemption to come.
Okay, so, practically speaking, then: what are we to believe? What are we supposed to do? What is our application?
Well, Naomi has a problem, and her problem is bigger than food. Her problem is: she doesn’t belong anymore. When her husband took her away to a foreign land, and then he died there under the curse of God, she lost her place in her society. When she comes back as a widow, she doesn’t belong to anyone any more. She needs more than food, she needs her identity restored in her community.
And the thing is, she can’t do that by herself. You can’t just walk in and say, “Hey, I want my social status back.” It doesn’t work that way! Naomi needs someone else to get her back in, to give her a place to belong.
We are just like Naomi. We need a place to belong, we need a place to belong to, and you can’t buy your way in. You can’t get there just by saying, “Hey, I’m here!” You always have to pay, you always have to be brought in by someone else.
And this concept of belonging is found all the way through this chapter. It is especially clear in Boaz’s first comment when he sees Ruth: “Who does that young woman belong to?”
Now, in our age I know that many people respond to this with, “Oh, what a primitive patriarchal culture! Boaz thinks Ruth only has value if she belongs to some man?” But that’s not actually what the writer is saying. The writer is saying that no one has any value unless they belong to someone.
Boaz knows this. He knows that he belongs to God, and that God is the source of everything that he enjoys in life. So when he sees that young woman, he thinks, “Does she belong to someone? Is she being cared for, or is she alone?” He is not trying to demean her, he is trying to make sure she is lifted up and cared for, just as he is being lifted up and cared for by God. And then to his delight he discovers that Ruth is related to Naomi! So by helping to care for Ruth, he is also helping to care for Naomi.
But even so, at the end of this chapter we see that these two women still do not quite belong. And the cliffhanger ending is designed to make us wonder how all this is going to be resolved.
So what is our practical application? What should we believe, what should we do?
Well, the first thing we need to believe is this: you can’t buy your way into belonging. Someone has to take you and bring you in. And of course for us that person is Christ.
So if you are here today and you are not a part of Christ, if you have not been baptized and joined his people, then do this: ask him. He will bring you in.
And if you are part of Christ, a baptized believer, then continue to believe that. Christ is the one who brought you in. Christ is the one who keeps you in. And do this: continue to believe. Continue to trust. Naomi has seen the firstfruits of the restoration that is coming to her, and we also have the firstfruits of the redemption that is coming for us.
And now we’ll close with this concluding unscientific post-script:
At the end of Chapter 1 we learned that Naomi arrived back home at the beginning of the barley harvest. In other words: she arrived home during the Passover season. She ended her exile in Moab just in time for the feast that celebrates the end of Israel’s exile in Egypt.
Now, at the end of Chapter 2, we learn that the barley and wheat harvests are finished. In other words: it is time for the festival of first-fruits, the feast of Pentecost, a feast that celebrates God’s promises to provide for his people. The writer of the Book of Ruth is pointing us forward, and that’s what I’ve got to do as well: what we’ve got here in this life is just a foretaste of the redemption to come. Our Messiah has come, and gone, and one day he is going to come again, and this is our hope.