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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Ruth 3

 

 

Verses 1-6

CHAPTER THIRD

Ruth 3:1-6

Obedience in Innocence

1Then [And] Naomi her mother-in-law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek 2 rest [a resting-place] for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our kindred [lit. our acquaintance, i.e. relative], with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to-night in the threshing floor 3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put[FN1] thy [best] raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto [suffer not thyself to be perceived by] the Prayer of Manasseh, until he shall have done eating and drinking 4 And it shall be when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover [the place at] his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do 5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me[FN2] I will do 6 And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother-in-law bade her.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

1 Ruth 3:7.—בַּלָּט: not “secretly” (Keil), which would be superfluous here; but as in Judges 4:21, “quietly,” “softly,” so as not to wake the sleeper—in a muffled manner, cf. Lex. s. v. לוּט.—Tr.]

2 Ruth 3:9.—כְּכָפֶךָ must be regarded as dual, with the suffix defect, written (Ges91, 2, Rem1); for as the word does not stand in pause, the seghol cannot be a mere lengthened sheva (Ges29, 4, b). The Masoretic tradition, therefore, understands “wings” here, and not “skirt,” or “coverlet,” in which sense the word is always used in the singular. The covering wing is a favorite emblem of protection in the psalms and elsewhere, and is here far more beautiful and suggestive than “skirt” or “coverlet,” even though the translation of the metaphor into the language of action did carry with it an actual spreading of the skirt over one, cf. the commentary. The rendering “wings” is also adopted by Bertheau, Keil, Wright, etc.—Tr.]

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

Ruth 3:1. Shall I not seek a resting-place for thee? The peculiar proceeding which these words introduce, may appear somewhat surprising when viewed from the standpoint of modern social life and relations. At all events, this explains why its psychological significance has not yet been properly appreciated. But the narrative of the fortunes of Ruth is so deeply embedded in the characteristic life of Israel, that in order to appreciate its full beauty, it is indispensable to enter thoroughly into the spirit of that life. Perhaps no history teaches more clearly than this, that when love and trust, in their childlike and therefore divine strength, first suffer and then conquer, there is a presentation in actual history of that which the highest works of the imagination present only in idea.

That which made the fate of the daughter of Jephthah so sad, was that she never found a “resting-place” in the house of a husband. With regard to woman, marriage was viewed as the natural fulfillment of her calling, without which her life was helpless and defenseless, as that of a people without a God. Hence the prayer of Naomi, when about to part from her daughters-in-law, that they may find “rest” in the house of a husband. Orpah returns because she fears never to find it in Israel. Ruth goes with her, because she places her love for Naomi above all other considerations. Then, indeed, the hearts of them all were filled with sorrow. But since then God’s mercy has again become manifest. New hope has dawned upon their tears. What a beautiful and happy contrast presents itself now! The same mother-in-law who formerly, in her self-forgetfulness, bade her daughters-in-law return to Moab and find resting-places for themselves, is now in a position, self-forgetful as ever, to seek for Ruth the Moabitess a place in Israel, where it may be well with her. And what was the force that brought about this beautiful revolution? The love of Ruth which seeks not her own, the faithfulness of Naomi which deserved such love.

The understanding of what chap 3 relates will be chiefly facilitated by a comparison with the beginning of chap2. While the women are in distress, it is Ruth who takes the initiative; now, when hope grows large, it is Naomi. When hardship was to be endured, the mother submitted her will to the daughter,—for Ruth was not sent to glean, she went of her own accord; now, when the endeavor is to secure the joy and happiness held out in prospect, the daughter yields in all things to the direction of the mother. The thought of labor for the mother originates with the daughter; but it is the mother who forms plans of happiness for the daughter. On both occasions, Ruth undertakes a mission. The first time she sets out, a stranger, without a definite place in view, and dressed in the garb of toil and mourning; the second time, with a definite plan, encouraged by the former success, and decked in holiday attire. And yet the second undertaking was not less hard than the first. Humiliation which she had to fear on the first, might also befall her on the second. Indeed, anything that might have befallen her on her first expedition, had not God ordered her goings, would have been far less wounding to her, the foreign and needy woman, than that which on this second expedition might pierce her sensitive heart. The first undertaking was more sorrowful, the second more delicate. At the first she could act openly, at the second only secretly. Then the worst risk she ran was to suffer hunger, now her honor is at stake. The faithfulness to Naomi which she then showed was not greater than the obedience which she now manifests.

And yet Naomi is as little to be reproached for sending Ruth on this second mission, as she was for accepting her proposal to go on the first. On the contrary, her course rather shows that she did not bear her name, or had won such love among strangers, for nothing.

Neither journey of Ruth, taken with the approbation of Naomi, can be measured by modern measuring-rules. They are not attempts at speculative adventure. In both cases, what was done was in accordance with unimpeachable rights afforded by Israelitish law and custom.

When Ruth went to the field to glean, she only asked a right guaranteed to the widowed and the poor. To deny her the privilege of gleaning would have been to deprive her of her right; to injure or put her to shame in the exercise of it, would have been to diminish it. True, the liberal treatment she received from Boaz was no longer a right to be claimed, but the expression of good-will and kindness. Naomi recognized in this the providential arrangement of God. And it is precisely this also that gives courage to Ruth to claim for herself and for Naomi the second right to which she is entitled.

It was an ancient law in Israel, sanctioned by the Mosaic legislation ( Deuteronomy 25:5), that when a man died without issue, his brother was bound to marry his widow. This is a right of the woman. She can demand it of him, and if he refuses, put him openly to shame. How early and deeply this usage was rooted in Israel, may be seen from Genesis 38, where the death of Onan is ascribed to his refusal to marry the widow Tamar. The significance of this usage is clear. It is also found among other nations, although distorted and rendered impure. It rests on the historical feeling of the nations, which leads them to attach importance to the preservation not only of the national spirit, but also of the national body, by propagation. In the first Psalm, the pious man is compared with a tree whose leaf never withers. And the tree Isaiah, in fact, the image best adapted to explain the reason of the usage in question. It is not without reason that the founder of a people is called its stammvater [stem-father, trunk-father, cf. the Heb. terms מַטֶה and שֵׁבֶת shoot, sprout, branch, used for “tribe.”—Tr.]. United about this common trunk, the ancient peoples distinguished themselves nationally (from nasci) very sharply from those who were not his offshoots.[FN3] The different families are the branches of this tree. But the head of a family is in his turn a stem, putting forth boughs, as a tree puts forth branches.

The withering of the tree is the image of death. As no branch in the tree, so no member in the family, should perish. Now, the nation lives in its families. Hence, if a man dies without children, it is as if a branch withered in the tree. To remedy this, a new branch Isaiah, as it were, engrafted on the tree. This is done when the brother marries the widow, and regards the son she bears as heir to the name and possessions of the deceased husband. But what if there be no brother? Is the name then to be after all extinguished and the branch to be forever wanting? The law, as given in Deuteronomy 25:5 ff, does not indeed declare it, but it is an inference in accordance with its spirit, that in that case the obligation passes over to the nearest relatives of the deceased. Every family—such is manifestly the idea of the usage—must take care that no member in it dies out. What the brother is to the brother, that, when he has no brother, his more distant blood-relatives must be. The letter of the law, it is true, did not command this; but, as the narrative of our Book shows, the spirit of that usage which the law sanctioned, required it. Naomi, by way of explaining to her daughter-in-law her joy over the way in which God had ordered her steps, says, Boaz is related (קָרוֹב, like propinquus) to us, he belongs to our goelim (גֹּאֵל). The word gaal (גָּאַל), to which goel belongs, is philologically and in its original signification one and the same with the Greek λύω, “to loose.”[FN4] It is not to be ascribed to the same root with the similarly sounding גָּעַל, although it is true that, owing to the well-known interchange of א and ע, it sometimes occurs instead of it.[FN5] The latter word means, “to pollute;” and is related to the former as the Latin luo, pollute (cf. lutum, pol-luo), to the Greek λύω, “to loose.” The correspondence of the ideas “to redeem” and “to loose,” in their external relationship, testifies, both in Hebrew and in Indo-germanic, to their internal mutual connection. The idea currently attached in Israel to the term gaal, “to loose,” is everywhere definitely determined by the conception of the people as an historical organism. By this it was defined mainly as a “redeeming” [einlösen, “inloosing,” from ein, “in,” and lösen, “to loose;” i.e. a loosing of that which has been bound, by means of which it is brought back into its original position (e.g. a captive into his home, a slave into his freedom) or ownership (e.g. a piece of land, a promissory note, etc.).—Tr.].[FN6] According to the social philosophy of the Mosaic law, no member of the national organism was to perish, no branch of the tree was to wither. Whatever had been dislocated by natural events was to be Revelation -set; whatever had been alienated must be redeemed. This applied, as an example in our Book itself teaches, to lands as well as to persons; and the duty of redemption rested, as within the nation, so within the families into which the nation branched out. No one could redeem anything for a family, who did not belong to it by blood-relationship. Hence also the transition of the idea of goel into that of blood-relative was perfectly natural. Properly speaking, there could be no redeemer who was not a blood-relative. The meaning of the word is profoundly set forth in the various grand historical unfoldings of its idea. For every redemption [einlösung, “inloosing,”] has always been a setting free [lösung, “loosing”], albeit not always without security. The Greek λύω also passes over into the idea of “setting free,” “releasing.” Dionysos, in his character as god of the spring-season, is called Lysios, the Liberator. The Liberator of Israel is God. He frees out of and from servitude. For that reason, the Messiah who delivers Israel is especially called Goel. When he appears, he will come as Israel’s blood-relation and brother, as Christ was. The dismal counterpart of the goel as redeemer and deliverer, is the goel as blood-avenger. He owes his origin to the opinion, which slowly and painfully disappeared in Israel,[FN7] but which is still partially prevalent in the East, and inspires many current superstitions, that the blood of the slain cannot be put to rest and liberated, until his murderer has been killed. The duty of this blood-revenge rests upon the blood-relatives, not only on the brother, strictly so called, but on the nearest relative, whoever he may be. So far this terrible usage becomes instructive with reference to the beneficent national custom which made it the duty of the blood-relative not to let the house of his kinsman die out; for this also was a blood-redemption, not unto death, however, but unto happiness and peace. The goel was no judge—as also the greatest Goel came not to judge the world—but a comforter, a dispenser of life and love.

Ruth 3:2. Is not Boaz of our kindred? By these words Naomi explains to Ruth the right she has to engage in the undertaking she is about to recommend. His relationship gives her a right to apply to him for a performance of its duties. It is not to be thought singular that, if Ruth had this right of marriage, the first motion toward its fulfillment did not come from Boaz. In the first place, it was in accordance with ancient usage to leave the assertion of a right with its possesson. It was not the duty of a landowner, for example, to go after the poor, and make them glean; but it was his duty not to forbid them, when they came. In the next place, however, we learn farther on that Boaz was not the nearest relative. The objection which Ruth in her humility might find in her Moabitish nationality, or which she might entertain even without reference to that fact, is met by Naomi in the words: “with whose maidens thou wast.” She thus reminds Ruth that Boaz, so far from slighting her on account of her nationality, has distinguished her, and put her on perfect equality with his Israelitish work-people.

Behold, he winnoweth barley to-night in the threshing-floor.[FN8] This remark shows that since Ruth’s participation in the harvest of Boaz, Naomi must have come into closer connection with her relative. She is minutely informed of what he does and where he is. We must also suppose that it had not escaped her how much kindness Boaz had shown to Ruth. She could not but feel sure that the claim which Ruth was to prefer, would not be addressed to a hard and unsympathetic heart. On the other hand, it was natural to think that although Boaz was an elderly Prayer of Manasseh, Ruth must be heartily attached to him. It was Hebrews, whose kindliness fell like a first beam of light on her sadness. Such an impression, after scenes and moods like those through which Ruth had passed, is never lost. She went forth on her first undertaking at the beginning of barley-harvest; she enters on the second, when the barley is winnowed on the threshing-floor. Between the two there lies an interval of time sufficient to explain how Naomi could have the courage and the information necessary to send her daughter on such an errand.

Ruth 3:3 ff. But let not thyself be perceived by the man. Ruth was directed to pay special attention to the adornment of her person, to which, to this extent at least, she had since the death of her husband been a stranger. She is to lay aside the weeds of mourning and the garments of toil, and after bathing and anointing, don the festive garb; for the expedition on which she goes is of a joyous, bridal nature. All this, however, is not done in order to win Boaz by external beauty; for she is specially cautioned against allowing him to see her by day. But why this caution? Boaz was a believing Israelite, and therefore also a man of strict morals. It would have perplexed and displeased him to think that anybody else had seen Ruth, and might suspect both her and himself of an illicit meeting on the solitary threshing-floor. He would have scarcely listened to her, but removed her at once. The purpose for which she came had also an appropriate symbolism, which any previous meeting would have disturbed. By whatever means, Naomi knew that this night—for it was in the night that Ruth was to present her petition—Boaz was to be alone on the threshing-floor. The floor, albeit not entirely closed in, may have been partially surrounded by some sort of fencing, by means of which Ruth could conceal herself until the proper time, and within which Boaz ate and drank. Most probably the grain-heaps themselves formed the natural boundaries, between which, accordingly, Boaz also betook himself to repose.

Ruth 3:6. And did according to all that her mother-in-law bade her. Ruth was to do something a little beyond what the prudence and delicacy of a woman ordinarily permitted. For that reason, it is expressly repeated that she did as her mother-in-law directed her. She was justly confident that the latter would order nothing that could injure her. True love, such as Ruth cherished for Naomi, always includes perfect obedience. It was not in Ruth that the thought of a new marriage had originated. Her heart had no other thought than to serve Naomi like a dutiful child. But Naomi, equally self-forgetful, busied herself with plans for a “resting-place for her child.” She, too, thought not of herself only, but of Ruth. She had undoubtedly done all that was in her power by way of preparation, before she directed Ruth to take the decisive step. From that step she could not save her, for custom devolved it on her. It is the beauty of the present instance, that this custom compelled Ruth to nothing that was against her will. For although she acted in a matter regulated by law, it was not settled in this case that Boaz was the right man. So much the more essential was it that, by Ruth’s personal action, the perfect freedom and inclination of the woman should be manifested. The greater the stress that was laid on this by the whole symbolical proceeding, the more significant is the remark that Ruth “did everything, as her mother-in-law commanded her.”

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Go down to the threshing-floor.” Love speaks only of duties, not of rights. Ruth offered to go to the field and glean; but of the right of redemption which she had, she said nothing. She thought of the duties that devolve on the poor, but not of her right to marriage. In going to Boaz, she manifested the obedience of love, the most difficult of all love’s performances. It is much to toil for a loved one, to humble one’s self, to give up everything, and to forget the past; but the hardest thing for a woman is to conquer the fears of feminine delicacy, to quiet the apprehensions of the heart, and that not by boldly transgressing moral law, but by virtue. Ruth’s visit to Boaz in the night was harder for her, than it is for a young girl to leave home and enter service. Her obedience in this matter was the utmost sacrifice she could make. She risked her womanly feelings; and that to a virtuous woman is more than to risk life. She claimed a right, to claim which was more painful than the heaviest duties. But her self-forgetful love pours an auroral glow of divine purity over everything. Her love was not the sensual love of romances. She loved Naomi, her mother; and in order to procure honor and love in Israel for this mother, and to save the name of her deceased husband from extinction, she does what only a chaste woman, inspired by the obedience of love dare do, and what the polluted eyes of impure souls never understand. Vanity and self-interest had found but a slight trial in her undertaking. To virtue and ancient patriarchal manners, the visit of Ruth to Boaz was the utmost of womanly endurance. It was harder for Ruth to don her best attire for this purpose, than to go about in her working clothes. For virtue would rather put on sackcloth and ashes, than the garments of a joy which may easily be misconceived. It is more of a martyrdom to face the possibility of appearing as a sinner, than to suffer punishment for the sake of virtue. But the chaste love of obedience succeeds in everything. Ruth conquers, and is neither seen nor misapprehended. She receives the crown of love and faith.

Sailer: Galleries of beautiful pictures are precious; but virtuous young men and maidens are more precious than all the picture-galleries of the world.

Starke: The bride of Christ is pleasing to her Bridegroom only when anointed with the Spirit and clothed in the garments of salvation.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Ruth 3:3.—On וְשַׂמְתִּי and וְיָרַדְתִּי, cf. Ges59, 1, c. They are older forms of the second per. fem, and there is no occasion to substitute the keri for them. Another instance occurs in Ruth 3:4.—Tr.]

FN#2 - Ruth 3:5.—אֵלַי, supplied by the Masorites, is unnecessary, cf. Ruth 3:11 (where, however, Wright also inserts it on the authority of versions and some MSS.). The same remark is applicable to the case in Ruth 3:17. So Bertheau and Keil. Dr. Cassel omits it here, but retains it in Ruth 3:17.—Tr.]

FN#3 - The sensual abuse into which the practice of levirate marriage is said to have fallen among the Nairs of Malabar, has extinguished the family proper among them. All are blood-relatives. They are a tree without branches. The correction of many of the views of Bohlen, altes Indien, ii142, however much they need it, cannot here be undertaken.

FN#4 - Fürst (Concordantiœ, s. v. גאל) has truly remarked that גָּאַל was lengthened from גָּל, as לָאַט from לָט. This גָּל, originally related to both λύω and luo, has retained its g, which in the ancient languages has been frequently thrown off. The copious discussion of Benfey, Gr. Gram. ii119–124, should be compared.

FN#5 - The few instances, Isaiah 59:3; Isaiah 63:3, Zephaniah 3:1, Malachi 1:7; Malachi 1:12, Lamentations 4:14, in which גַּאַל—i. q. גָּעַל written with an א—occurs in the sense “to pollute,” should not have been placed under גָּאַל, “to loose,” in the concordance [cf. Fürst]. No one would identify luo (polluo) with λύω in that way.

FN#6 - Our lösen, “to loose,” also, has in M. H. Germ. the sense of einlösen, “to redeem,” “to ransom,” sc. a pledge, land, etc. It occurs in this sense in poets and documents, especially Low German, cf. Riedel, Cod. Brand, i2, Ruth 207: “van den droszten dat land losete.” In another document Herr Heinrich von Mecklenburg is to “ledegen und losen (einlösen) alle hus und stede und de land;” cf. Kröcher, Urkundenbuch zur Gesch. des Geschlechts, i172; also, i.

FN#7 - My observations in my treatise on “den armen Heinrich,” will hereafter, D. V, be further elaborated. Cf. the article of J. G. Hoffmann on Blutrache, in the Hallischen Encykl.

FN#8 - Winnowing is done by tossing the mingled grain and chaff up into the air, when the chaff is blown away to a distance, while the heavier grain falls straight down. Hence, the evening and early night when a cool wind frequently arises after hot, sultry days (cf. Genesis 3:8), was taken advantage of by Boaz for this work. For “to-night,” the Targum has, “in the night wind.” On threshing and threshing-floors, cf. Reb. i550; Thomson, ii314—Tr.]


Verses 7-18

Ruth 3:7-18

Innocence and Piety

7And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry [cheerful], he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn [-sheaves]: and she came softly,[FN9] and uncovered [the place at] his feet, and laid her down 8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid [startled], and turned himself [bent himself over]: and behold, a woman lay at his feet 9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt [wings][FN10] over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman [a redeemer]. 10And he said, Blessed be thou of the Lord [Jehovah], my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning,[FN11] inasmuch as thou followedest not [didst not go after] young men, whether poor or rich 11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest [sayest]: for all the city [gate] of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous [brave][FN12] woman 12 And now it is true[FN13] that I am thy near kinsman [a redeemer]: howbeit there is a kinsman [redeemer] nearer than I:13 Tarry[FN14] this [to] night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman [redeemer; lit. if he will redeem thee], well; let him do the kinsman’s part [let him redeem]: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee [shall not be inclined to redeem thee], then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee [then will I redeem thee], as the Lord [Jehovah] liveth: lie down until the morning 14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before[FN15] one [a man] could know another [recognize his friend]. And15[For] he said, Let it not be known that a [the] woman came into the floor. Also he said, Bring the vail [mantle][FN16] that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she [he][FN17] 16went into the city. And when [omit: when] she came to her mother-in-law, [and] she [i.e. the mother-in-law] said, Who art thou, my daughter? and she told her all that the man had done to her 17 And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother-in law 18 Then said she, Sit still [Remain quiet], my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in [omit: be in] rest until he have finished the thing this day.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

1 Ruth 3:7.—בַּלָּט: not “secretly” (Keil), which would be superfluous here; but as in Judges 4:21, “quietly,” “softly,” so as not to wake the sleeper—in a muffled manner, cf. Lex. s. v. לוּט.—Tr.]

2 Ruth 3:9.—כְּכָפֶךָ must be regarded as dual, with the suffix defect, written (Ges91, 2, Rem1); for as the word does not stand in pause, the seghol cannot be a mere lengthened sheva (Ges29, 4, b). The Masoretic tradition, therefore, understands “wings” here, and not “skirt,” or “coverlet,” in which sense the word is always used in the singular. The covering wing is a favorite emblem of protection in the psalms and elsewhere, and is here far more beautiful and suggestive than “skirt” or “coverlet,” even though the translation of the metaphor into the language of action did carry with it an actual spreading of the skirt over one, cf. the commentary. The rendering “wings” is also adopted by Bertheau, Keil, Wright, etc.—Tr.]

3 Ruth 3:10.—Dr. Cassel: du hast deine Liebe, die spätere, noch schöner gemacht, als die erste; or, as Dr. Wordsworth very happily, as well as literally renders: “thou hast bettered (הֵיטַבְתְּ) thy latter loving kindness above the former.” The comparison is not as to quantity, but as to quality.—Tr.]

4 Ruth 3:11.—אֵשֶּׁת חַיִל: lit. “a woman of strength.” Dr. Cassel here renders it (with DeWette) by wackres Weib, brave, valiant woman, while he afterwards (see foot-note on p43) substitutes braves Weib, i.e. good, excellent woman (so also Keil). Others: “capable woman.” All these renderings, including that of the E. V. (which is not to be taken in the restricted sense of “chaste,” but in that of its Latin original), agree much better than they seem to do. They are all embraced in חַיִל, which is here manifestly used of moral strength, cf. Proverbs 12:4; Proverbs 31:10. A morally strong person is brave and good, capable in the noblest sense; in a word virtuous, possessed both of virtue and of virtues.—Tr.]

5 Ruth 3:12.—“כִּי before אָמְנָם, in order to strengthen the assurance: ‘and now, truly indeed,’ cf. Job 36:4. Beside the Kethibh כִּי אִם, we have here, as in 2 Samuel 13:33; 2 Samuel 15:21; Jeremiah 39:12, the Keri כִּי. After the asseverating כִּי,אָמְנָם occurs in Job 12:2, as elsewhere after an oath, Genesis 22:16 f.; 2 Kings 3:14 : but כִּי אִם occurs also in such a position, 2 Samuel 15:21 (Kethibh); 2 Kings 5:20; Jeremiah 51:14, cf. Ew356 b.; and there is therefore no ground for preferring the easier reading of the Keri, especially as כִּי אִם excludes from the assurance the opposite of what forms its object yet more decidedly than the simple כִּי, thus: truly, indeed, only a goel am I = truly, I am certainly a goel—I am that and nothing else.” (Bertheau.) Keil also thinks that the meaning of כִּי אִם is to be explained from its use in the sense of nisi, cf. Lex.—Tr.]

6 Ruth 3:13.—לִינִי. The MSS. have here either a large ל or a large כ. The Masora parva remarks that the Oriental (i.e. Babylonian) Jews, especially preserve the large ל. Many conjectures as to the meaning of the large letter are clearly wide of the mark. The ground of such majusculæ is undoubtedly to be sought in the purpose of ancient transcribers (as Le Clerc rightly intimates), to direct the attention of the reader to facts or thoughts which to them appeared especially noteworthy. Thus in Ecclesiastes 7:1, where the first letter of טוֹב is a majuscula. The value of a good name impressed itself here. So also in Ecclesiastes 12:13, where the ם in םוֹף is written large. The fidelity of later transcribers, unwilling to obliterate any, even subjective marks, has preserved such peculiarities. With doctrine or any special exegesis, these letters have nothing to do. Thus, in Esther 1:6, the transcriber, wishing to direct attention to the splendor of the royal banquet, the description of which beings with חוּר, wrote ח large. And so in our passage, it seemed important to the pious transcriber (as Buxtorf not without reason indicates), to call the reader’s attention to the language and moral conduct of Boaz.]

7 Ruth 3:14.—Instead of the usual טֶרֶם, we have here, and only here, טרום in Kethibh. The pointing טֶרֶם was occasioned by the endeavor to derive the word from a specifically Hebrew root. I hold the form טְרֻם,טְרוּם, to be itself original. Comparative philology satisfactorily explains the word. It belongs to πρίν, πρόμος, primus, parama, Goth. fruma (as טהור belongs to purus, טור to paries, etc.), and is not at all to be explained from the Hebrew. The Midrash (Ruth Rabba 34 d.) has also noted the reading טרום, and in its usual way explains the added ו of six hours, which Ruth spent in the threshing-floor. [According to Bertheau טְרוֹם is a later Aramaic form for the old, genuine Heb. טֶרֶם, and is by Aram, analogy to be pronounced טְרוּם. Not likely; as טְרוּם is not found in Aram. Fürst derives it from טָר (טוּר, an unused root, meaning “to wait”) with the termination ־וֹן=־וֹם. Ewald seems to regard טְרוֹם as a shortened (?) form of טֶרֶם, which he derives from טָרָה, an unused root, meaning “to be fresh,” cf. Lehrb. 337 c.—Tr.]

8 Ruth 3:15.—חָ֫בִי.הבִמִּטְפַּחַת(milel), as it is written in most MSS, is the second per. sg. fern, imperat. of יָהַב, to give, cf. Ges69, 3, Rem2. The reading הָבִ֫י, found in some MSS. is either for הָבִיא (i.e. the hiph. inf. const. of בּוֹא used imperatively, like an infin. absol.), or better for הָבִיאִי, second fem. imper, cf. Green, Gram. 164, 2.—On the מִטְפַּחַת, Wright quotes the following explanation from Schroeder, De Vest. Mul. Heb.: “Quia adeo ampla erant veterum pallia, ut pars in humerum rejiceretur, altera brachio subduceretur, Rutha, prehendens aliquam partem ejus sinu oblatas a Boaso fruges excepit. Imo aliam vestem quam pallium ne admittere quidem ipse textus videtur. Nam ex verbis אֲשֶׁר עָלַיִךְ, da vestem quæ est super te, haud obscure colligitur, vestem intelligendum esse totum corpus tegentem; quoniam alias pro genio linguae Hebraeae, specialius membrum corporis cui illa applicata fuisset, expressis potius verbis fuisset nominatum. Accedit quod aliud quodcunque tegumentum, nonnisi uni corporis parti, v. g. capiti, destinctum, ad usum, quem volebat Boasus, fuisset ineptum. Neque insolitum id veteribus fuit, ut in sinu vestimenti exterioris aliquid deportarent.”—Tr.]

9 Ruth 3:15.—וַיָּבֹא, “and he went.” Wright proposes to read וַתָּבֹא, “and she went,” on the ground that many MSS. have this reading, and that there seems to be no reason why Boaz should go to the city at so early an hour. The MS. authority, however, loses all its force when the strong probability is considered that the reading is only a conjectural emendation. Wright’s other ground is by no means decisive. The simple idea Isaiah, that Boaz, after he had dismissed Ruth, also went to the city, probably to his house, whence afterwards he “went up” (עָלָה, expressive of the reverence with which the mind regards the place of judgment, cf. Deuteronomy 17:8), to the gate, Ruth 4:1. So Keil; but cf. Dr. Cassel on Ruth 4:1.—Tr.]

EXEGETICAL AND DOCTRINAL

Ruth 3:7. And Boaz ate and drank, and was cheerful. It illustrates the simplicity of ancient patriarchal times and manners, that Boaz, the wealthy proprietor of a great estate, himself keeps watch on his threshing-floor, works till late, and then betakes himself to rest in the solitude of the open field.[FN18] It is clear that he did not do this every day; for the well-informed Naomi says, “to-night he winnows barley.” It is probable that this night he relieved his overseer. The remark, that “his heart was cheerful,” is not added without a reason. It is not, however, intended to indicate that this was why Ruth was directed to present her petition after he had eaten and drunk. It is true, indeed, that it was a current and probably well-founded maxim among the ancients that requests should not be made of great men before, but after eating (cf. Esther 7:3), they being then more kindly disposed. But Ruth made no use of this post-prandial benevolence, for she allowed Boaz to betake himself to rest before she approached him. These words are rather designed to point out the danger encountered by Ruth on the one hand, and the virtue of Boaz on the other.

Ruth 3:8. And it came to pass at midnight, etc. Boaz had laid himself down; it had become dark. Thereupon Ruth had come, and had laid herself softly down at his feet, drawing over herself a part of the cover under which he lay. The simple narrative paints most beautifully. It was midnight, when, perhaps, by a movement of his foot, bringing it in contact with the person of Ruth, he was startled out of his sleep. He bends himself forward[FN19] in order to see what it is he touches, and lo, a woman lies at his feet! He says, Who art thou? and she answers:

Ruth 3:9. I am Ruth thine handmaid; spread thy wings over thy handmaid, for thou art a redeemer. Ruth had been sent to demand the fulfillment of an ancient right. This right, peculiar as it was, had its symbol, under which it was claimed. We are made acquainted with it by the words addressed by Ruth to Boaz, and by her action in drawing an end of his coverlet over herself. The words are not contained in the instructions of Naomi to Ruth, as to what she is to do; but the action taught her, necessarily presupposes them. Marriage is a resting-place. The wife finds rest under the protection of her husband, as Israel finds it under the overshadowing wing of Jehovah. Even until the latest times, the figurative representation of God as the loving Bridegroom of his people, continues, instructively and sublimely, to run through Scripture and tradition. Christ says ( Matthew 23:37): “How often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings.” Israel has rest (menuchah) when God spreads out his wings over them. The psalmist prays to be covered by the shadow of Jehovah’s wings. Boaz says to Ruth ( Ruth 2:12): “May thy reward be complete, since thou hast come to take refuge under the wings of Jehovah, the God of Israel.” That which Ruth there did with respect to the God of Boaz, she now asks to be permitted to do with respect to Boaz himself. The husband gives “rest” to his wife by spreading out his wings over her. For this reason the covering of his bed, under which he took the wife, was designated by the beautiful term, “wing” (cf. Deuteronomy 23:1 [E. V. Deuteronomy 22:30], etc.). Very attractive is the use of this expression, with figurative application to God, in Ezekiel, when Jehovah, speaking through the prophet, says ( Ezekiel 16:8): “Behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread out my wing over thee, and covered thy nakedness,… and entered into a covenant with thee.” As the chicken takes refuge under the wings of the hen, so Ruth hid herself under a corner of the coverlet of Boaz. It was the symbol of the right which she had come to claim. “Spread out thy wings over thy handmaid; for thou art a redeemer (goel). It is because he is a blood-relative that she can make this demand. Hence, she does not say, I am Ruth, the Moabitess; but, I am Ruth, thy handmaid. Here, where she lays claim to an Israelitish right, she drops all remembrance of Moab. And has he not himself received and treated her as an Israelitish maiden?

Undoubtedly this symbolical method of claiming the most delicate of all rights, presupposes manners of patriarchal simplicity and virtue. The confidence of the woman reposes itself on the honor of the man. The method, however, was one which could not easily be brought into operation. For every foreknowledge or pre-intimation of it would have torn the veil of silence and secrecy from the modesty of the claimant. But when it was once put into operation, the petition preferred could not be denied without disgrace either to the woman or the man. Hence, we may be sure that Naomi did not send her daughter-in-law on this errand without the fullest confidence that it would prove successful. For it is certain that to all other difficulties, this peculiar one was added in the present case: namely, that Boaz, as Ruth herself says, was indeed a goel, but not the goel. The answer of Boaz, also, suggests the surmise that such a claim was not wholly unexpected by him. Not that he had an understanding with Naomi, in consequence of which he was alone on the threshing-floor; for the fact that he was startled out of his sleep, shows that the night visit was altogether unlooked for. But the thought that at some time the claim of Ruth to the rights of blood-relationship might be addressed to himself, may not have been strange to him. Even this conjecture, however, of what might possibly or probably take place, could not be used to relieve Ruth of the necessity of manifesting her own free will by means of the symbolical proceeding. The ancient usage spoke a discreet language, with which not even a certain mutual understanding would have dispensed. For the rest, how truly the action of Ruth, far from clouding her womanly delicacy, was a new evidence of the nobility, purity, and genuine love that ruled her, is unequivocally testified to by the answer of Boaz.

Ruth 3:10. Blessed be thou of Jehovah, my daughter! Thou hast made thy latter kindness even more beautiful than the former. This answer also opens to our view the simple, unassuming soul of Boaz, whose modesty and sincere heartiness are truly admirable. He makes no complaint of being disturbed in the night, nor of the too great importunateness, as another might have deemed it, with which the request is made. On the one hand, he entertains no thought of abusing the confidence of the woman, nor on the other does he play the modern conserver of virtue, who loudly blames another because he distrusts himself. He has only words of divine benediction for the blameless woman, so attractive in her naive humility. He knows how to value her act in its purely objective character, apart from every consideration of its relation to himself, as only a heart trained by the word of God could do. He blesses Ruth, whom like a father he addresses as “my daughter,” because he found her present kindness yet nobler and more beautiful than the former. But how is that to be understood? Ruth’s former kindness approved itself, when, after the death of her husband, she left parents and home in order to console and take care of her mother-in-law, unmoved by the certainty of misery and humiliation in a foreign land. What does she now? Young, comely, and favorably known, she might before this have looked out a husband according to her wish, rich or poor, from among the young men of Israel. Did she do it? By no means; she subordinates every such possibility to her mother-in-law and the usages of Israel. Instead of preferring the love of a young Prayer of Manasseh, as were natural,—says Boaz,—thou comest to assert thy right with one more advanced in life, solely because he is a goel. Thou askest him for the protection of his wings, in order that a blood-relative may again raise up a name for thy husband and mother-in-law in Israel. In this, also, thou offerest thine own heart and happiness as a sacrifice of love to thy family! It is indeed possible that as Boaz intimates, Ruth’s present act of kindness was even a severer test of her love than the earlier. For those, done in the time of sorrow and mourning, were for that very reason easier than this, rendered at a time when perhaps a new life and fresh joy had been offered her. But the modesty of Boaz was too great. It is doubtless correct to think of him as a contemporary of Elimelech, and consequently no longer young. But in ancient as in modern times, a woman like Ruth will find a more engaging “rest” with a man like Boaz than she would find among thousands of young men.

Ruth 3:11. And now, my daughter, fear not. Trembling with excitement, Ruth had done as she had been directed; and in the darkness of the night, the tremulous tones of her voice had informed Boaz of her anxiety. What he had hitherto said, contained no decision, but only praise. She, however, trembles for the answer to her prayer, on which so much depended. Hence, he says, again addressing her by the kindly name of daughter, “fear not.” As above he invoked on her, in Jehovah’s name, a full reward, because, led by love to Israel, she had trustfully come to take refuge under the wings of Israel’s God, so he will not deny her who has come to himself to ask for the protection of his “resting-place.” Her Moabitish nationality can offer no obstacle, since he has already commended her to the blessing of Jehovah. She has shown no Moabitish morals. There exists no ground whatever for denying her the rights of Israel. For the whole gate of my people knows that thou art a brave woman. In the words “my people,” he hints at the sole reason on which a refusal could base itself. But there is no Israelite among us in Bethlehem, who does not know how good thou art.[FN20] Whatever thou hast a right to claim, can be unhesitatingly done for thee, for thou art loved by all.

Ruth 3:12. But yet there is a redeemer nearer than I.[FN21] These words teach us that what Ruth demanded was an actual objective right, which belonged to her. Although Boaz perhaps surmised that, apart from the consideration of her right, she applied with special confidence to himself for the boon desired, he modestly and considerately decides only on the question of her formal right. Her proceeding receives its unimpeachable justification only when putting aside every personal inclination, it simply regards the matter of right. Thy claim, he says, cannot be gainsaid; but I am not the one to whom it is to be directed in the first instance. There is another, who is more nearly related to Elimelech. But he does not leave her a moment in doubt, whether this be not an excuse for refusing her petition. If that other person prove not able to fulfill his duty, then he himself will do it. This he confirms with an oath by the living God. Nor will she be required to repeat the proceeding of this night. A noble, womanly heart—this is what his tenderness implies—does not dare to undertake such a mission more than once. He himself will prosecute the matter. The symbolic act with which she came to him, addressed itself not so much to him, individually, as through him to the whole family. Perhaps he knew very well that Naomi had for good reasons sent Ruth to his threshing-floor,—that the other relative would not be able to act as redeemer; but it is best for both Ruth and himself that due regard be had to formal right.

Ruth 3:13 ff. Abide here to-night; lie down until the morning. He repeats the same injunction twice. He cannot send her away in the darkness of night; nor is he afraid to let her remain. She, for her part, hears his words, and obeys, with equal confidence. But she is only to remain till earliest dawn. Before it was possible to recognize each other clearly,[FN22] both were up; that it might not be known that the woman came into the floor.[FN23] By an early departure, he hopes that Ruth may escape meeting with any one, who might put injurious suspicions into circulation. He undoubtedly speaks of “the woman,” with special emphasis. It would have been very unpleasant to Boaz to have people connect himself with any woman in a suspicious way; but scandalous rumors of this kind, with Ruth for their object, would have been exceedingly injurious. To say nothing of the fact that an undeserved stain would have been fixed on the good name of Ruth, it would have rendered it very difficult for him to prosecute her claims in Bethlehem.[FN24]

But as she is about to go, he bids her first spread out her cloak or shawl, into which he empties six measures of barley,[FN25] to be carried home to her mother-in-law. What is his intention in this act? That, as he says, she “come not empty to her mother-in-law.” A mere sign of his friendly disposition, it cannot have been; for Ruth will tell her all that he has said. He must have had other reasons for not wishing her to go away empty. If notwithstanding every precaution, Ruth was recognized when she returned from the threshing-floor, her appearance, laden with grain, would be less suspicious, than if she were met dressed up as a fine lady. Thus laden, it was usual to see her come from the fields of Boaz. Thus, the last occasion of possible suspicion was cut off. Still, the whole significance of the proceeding is not exhausted with this. Decided stress is laid on the fact that he gave her six measures of barley. When Ruth comes home, and Naomi asks, “Who art thou, my daughter,” i.e. “how comest thou? as one whose claim has been acknowledged, or otherwise?” she informs her mother-in-law of all that Boaz said, and expressly adds, what the reader has already been informed of, and what if only the liberality of the giver came into consideration, Naomi could see without being told: “these six measures of barley gave he me.” She evidently deems it important that Naomi should know, that he gave her just six measures of grain. The old Jewish expositors have made all sorts of allegorical attempts with this “six.” They are undoubtedly so far right, that apart from the friendly custom of sending visitors away enriched with gifts for their families, Boaz, on this occasion, meant to give a hint to Naomi of the result of Ruth’s application. This result was, that in any event Ruth would obtain a “resting-place.” The number six is the symbol of labor and service, which is followed by seven, the time of rest. Whoever has served six years, is released in the seventh. Naomi receives what she may take as an intimation that the time has come, when after long labor she must let Ruth go out free. The day of rest is at hand.

Ruth 3:18. And she said, Remain quiet [cf. Genesis 38:11], my daughter. Ruth is to remain at home, like an affianced bride. From both words and actions of Boaz, Naomi perceives that he will not rest, until he makes good his promise. This very day will decide the issue of the matter. And whatever that issue may be, it will not be without a blessing. “The man will not rest, until he have provided for thee a resting-place.”

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

“And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou sayest.” The faith of Boaz is such as leads to action. He not only instructs, by his prophetic words to Ruth ( Ruth 2:12), and by the pious spirit that breathes in his intercourse with his servants; he not only gives, moved by sympathy sprung from faith; he not only enters into the necessities and anxieties of Ruth; but he has also a clean heart, in which no impure thought arises, and stands as firm in the hour of temptation and secrecy as when the eyes of all Bethlehem are upon him. He is an Israelite not only before Prayer of Manasseh, but also before God alone. And it was because he did not forget, what man is naturally so prone to forget, that God sees him, that he is so mindful of his duty. Hypocrites, when alone, are different from what they appear in company; Israelites like Boaz feel and act in the presence of the all-knowing God alone, not otherwise than they would if all the stars of heaven and all the creatures of earth could testify against them. Boaz showed an active faith when he gave no place to temptation. Pious and offenseless as he was when Ruth came to claim the right of the poor, he is equally so now when she asks for her right of redemption. Then the question was only about a few ears of grain, now it involves his own person and estate. Then he was kind in the presence of Ruth’s humility, now he is humble in the presence of her claim to be righted. Then he forgot herself in the fact that she had left the land of Moab, now he forgets that she had ever owned another law than that of Israel. Then his tender delicacy made Ruth assured of her safety in his fields; now that same delicacy understands that since she has come to him, the right she claims must be fulfilled. He might have released himself by the letter of the law to which she appeals,—there was a nearer relative; but his faith is an active faith. The question was one of right, not of ingenious play with the letter. The claimant must be satisfied; and he does what he promised to do. Freely and purely, full of that love which is the characteristic of faith, he keeps himself and keeps his word. People speak of a man’s “word of honor;” it were more correct to speak of “the word of a Christian,” “the word of a confessor of God.” For only the Christian does not walk in the crooked ways of intrigue and false advocates.

Starke: “Christian, behold the kindness and gentleness of Boaz! Will it then be possible that God, when thou art in need, will send thee empty away? Never! his generous hand is never closed. Only open Him thy heart, and divine gifts flow in upon thee, without any action on thy part.”

The same: “A Christian must be upright in word and deed.”

Footnotes:

FN#9 - Ruth 3:7.—בַּלָּט: not “secretly” (Keil), which would be superfluous here; but as in Judges 4:21, “quietly,” “softly,” so as not to wake the sleeper—in a muffled manner, cf. Lex. s. v. לוּט.—Tr.]

FN#10 - Ruth 3:9.—כְּכָפֶךָ must be regarded as dual, with the suffix defect, written (Ges91, 2, Rem1); for as the word does not stand in pause, the seghol cannot be a mere lengthened sheva (Ges29, 4, b). The Masoretic tradition, therefore, understands “wings” here, and not “skirt,” or “coverlet,” in which sense the word is always used in the singular. The covering wing is a favorite emblem of protection in the psalms and elsewhere, and is here far more beautiful and suggestive than “skirt” or “coverlet,” even though the translation of the metaphor into the language of action did carry with it an actual spreading of the skirt over one, cf. the commentary. The rendering “wings” is also adopted by Bertheau, Keil, Wright, etc.—Tr.]

FN#11 - Ruth 3:10.—Dr. Cassel: du hast deine Liebe, die spätere, noch schöner gemacht, als die erste; or, as Dr. Wordsworth very happily, as well as literally renders: “thou hast bettered (הֵיטַבְתְּ) thy latter loving kindness above the former.” The comparison is not as to quantity, but as to quality.—Tr.]

FN#12 - Ruth 3:11.—אֵשֶּׁת חַיִל: lit. “a woman of strength.” Dr. Cassel here renders it (with DeWette) by wackres Weib, brave, valiant woman, while he afterwards (see foot-note on p43) substitutes braves Weib, i.e. good, excellent woman (so also Keil). Others: “capable woman.” All these renderings, including that of the E. V. (which is not to be taken in the restricted sense of “chaste,” but in that of its Latin original), agree much better than they seem to do. They are all embraced in חַיִל, which is here manifestly used of moral strength, cf. Proverbs 12:4; Proverbs 31:10. A morally strong person is brave and good, capable in the noblest sense; in a word virtuous, possessed both of virtue and of virtues.—Tr.]

FN#13 - Ruth 3:12.—“כִּי before אָמְנָם, in order to strengthen the assurance: ‘and now, truly indeed,’ cf. Job 36:4. Beside the Kethibh כִּי אִם, we have here, as in 2 Samuel 13:33; 2 Samuel 15:21; Jeremiah 39:12, the Keri כִּי. After the asseverating כִּי,אָמְנָם occurs in Job 12:2, as elsewhere after an oath, Genesis 22:16 f.; 2 Kings 3:14 : but כִּי אִם occurs also in such a position, 2 Samuel 15:21 (Kethibh); 2 Kings 5:20; Jeremiah 51:14, cf. Ew356 b.; and there is therefore no ground for preferring the easier reading of the Keri, especially as כִּי אִם excludes from the assurance the opposite of what forms its object yet more decidedly than the simple כִּי, thus: truly, indeed, only a goel am I = truly, I am certainly a goel—I am that and nothing else.” (Bertheau.) Keil also thinks that the meaning of כִּי אִם is to be explained from its use in the sense of nisi, cf. Lex.—Tr.]

FN#14 - Ruth 3:13.—לִינִי. The MSS. have here either a large ל or a large כ. The Masora parva remarks that the Oriental (i.e. Babylonian) Jews, especially preserve the large ל. Many conjectures as to the meaning of the large letter are clearly wide of the mark. The ground of such majusculæ is undoubtedly to be sought in the purpose of ancient transcribers (as Le Clerc rightly intimates), to direct the attention of the reader to facts or thoughts which to them appeared especially noteworthy. Thus in Ecclesiastes 7:1, where the first letter of טוֹב is a majuscula. The value of a good name impressed itself here. So also in Ecclesiastes 12:13, where the ם in םוֹף is written large. The fidelity of later transcribers, unwilling to obliterate any, even subjective marks, has preserved such peculiarities. With doctrine or any special exegesis, these letters have nothing to do. Thus, in Esther 1:6, the transcriber, wishing to direct attention to the splendor of the royal banquet, the description of which beings with חוּר, wrote ח large. And so in our passage, it seemed important to the pious transcriber (as Buxtorf not without reason indicates), to call the reader’s attention to the language and moral conduct of Boaz.]

FN#15 - Ruth 3:14.—Instead of the usual טֶרֶם, we have here, and only here, טרום in Kethibh. The pointing טֶרֶם was occasioned by the endeavor to derive the word from a specifically Hebrew root. I hold the form טְרֻם,טְרוּם, to be itself original. Comparative philology satisfactorily explains the word. It belongs to πρίν, πρόμος, primus, parama, Goth. fruma (as טהור belongs to purus, טור to paries, etc.), and is not at all to be explained from the Hebrew. The Midrash (Ruth Rabba 34 d.) has also noted the reading טרום, and in its usual way explains the added ו of six hours, which Ruth spent in the threshing-floor. [According to Bertheau טְרוֹם is a later Aramaic form for the old, genuine Heb. טֶרֶם, and is by Aram, analogy to be pronounced טְרוּם. Not likely; as טְרוּם is not found in Aram. Fürst derives it from טָר (טוּר, an unused root, meaning “to wait”) with the termination ־וֹן=־וֹם. Ewald seems to regard טְרוֹם as a shortened (?) form of טֶרֶם, which he derives from טָרָה, an unused root, meaning “to be fresh,” cf. Lehrb. 337 c.—Tr.]

FN#16 - Ruth 3:15.—חָ֫בִי.הבִמִּטְפַּחַת(milel), as it is written in most MSS, is the second per. sg. fern, imperat. of יָהַב, to give, cf. Ges69, 3, Rem2. The reading הָבִ֫י, found in some MSS. is either for הָבִיא (i.e. the hiph. inf. const. of בּוֹא used imperatively, like an infin. absol.), or better for הָבִיאִי, second fem. imper, cf. Green, Gram. 164, 2.—On the מִטְפַּחַת, Wright quotes the following explanation from Schroeder, De Vest. Mul. Heb.: “Quia adeo ampla erant veterum pallia, ut pars in humerum rejiceretur, altera brachio subduceretur, Rutha, prehendens aliquam partem ejus sinu oblatas a Boaso fruges excepit. Imo aliam vestem quam pallium ne admittere quidem ipse textus videtur. Nam ex verbis אֲשֶׁר עָלַיִךְ, da vestem quæ est super te, haud obscure colligitur, vestem intelligendum esse totum corpus tegentem; quoniam alias pro genio linguae Hebraeae, specialius membrum corporis cui illa applicata fuisset, expressis potius verbis fuisset nominatum. Accedit quod aliud quodcunque tegumentum, nonnisi uni corporis parti, v. g. capiti, destinctum, ad usum, quem volebat Boasus, fuisset ineptum. Neque insolitum id veteribus fuit, ut in sinu vestimenti exterioris aliquid deportarent.”—Tr.]

FN#17 - Ruth 3:15.—וַיָּבֹא, “and he went.” Wright proposes to read וַתָּבֹא, “and she went,” on the ground that many MSS. have this reading, and that there seems to be no reason why Boaz should go to the city at so early an hour. The MS. authority, however, loses all its force when the strong probability is considered that the reading is only a conjectural emendation. Wright’s other ground is by no means decisive. The simple idea Isaiah, that Boaz, after he had dismissed Ruth, also went to the city, probably to his house, whence afterwards he “went up” (עָלָה, expressive of the reverence with which the mind regards the place of judgment, cf. Deuteronomy 17:8), to the gate, Ruth 4:1. So Keil; but cf. Dr. Cassel on Ruth 4:1.—Tr.]

FN#18 - The same practice is still continued in Palestine, cf. Rob. ii83; Thomson, ii511. Its design Isaiah, of course, to keep the grain from being stolen. Thomson says, that “it s not unusual for husband, wife, and all the family to encamp at the threshing-floors, and remain until the harvest as over.”—Tr.]

FN#19 - וַיִּלָּפֵת, as it is said of Sampson, Judges 16:29, that he bent over the pillars, וַיִּלְפֹּח.

FN#20 - “All know that thou art a good woman.” The LXX, with singular literalness, render אֵשֶׁת חַיִל by γυνὴ δυνάμεως.

FN#21 - The Midrash (Ruth Rabba, p34 b), which would fain hold fast to the letter of the law, which speaks only of the brother as goel, thinks that the name of the nearer relative was Tob (cf. Ruth 3:13). As if Boaz had intended to say: “If Tob will redeem thee, let him redeem.” But Ibn Ezra already found this unsuitable, and Ruth 4makes it wholly impossible.

FN#22 - The Talmud (Berachoth, p9 a) teaches how to measure the break of day. The Mishna had decided day-break to begin when it becomes possible to distinguish between white and blue; R. Mair, when a wolf and a dog—R. akiba, when an ass and a wild ass—could be distinguished. “But others said, when one sees and recognizes another person at the distance of four ells.”

FN#23 - Wright. “These words express Boaz’s opinion, which he had previously intimated to Ruth; for the use of the article (the i.e. this woman) forbids us to suppose that they were actually addressed to Ruth. The Targumist, probably influenced by this reason, and considering it un likely that Boaz should have been alone in the threshing floor, renders: “and Boaz said to his young men,” etc.—Tr.]

FN#24 - The Mishna (Jebamoth, ii8) determined that one suspected of previous intercourse with a foreigner, even though she were a convert, was not allowed to perform the duty of levirate marriage.

FN#25 - The measure is not given; the expression is simply “six of barley.” It made a considerable load, for he had to put it on her. The allegorical interpretation of the Midrash (in the Targum) brings out six descendants of Ruth, namely, David, Daniel, “the companions” ( Daniel 1:6) and “the king, Messias.” Ruth Rabba, p34 a, counts eight descendants with six prominent characteristics. In this case, Hezekiah and Josiah are added to the others already named.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ruth 3:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/ruth-3.html. 1857-84.

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