Ruth 2

CHAPTER II

Ruth goes to glean in the field of Boaz, 1-3.

Boaz finds her, and inquires who she is, 4-7.

He speaks kindly to her, gives her permission to follow his

reapers, and orders them to use her well, 8-16.

She returns in the evening to Naomi, and tells her of her fare;

from whom she receives encouragement and advice, 17-23.

NOTES ON CHAP. II

Verse 1. A mighty man of wealth] We have already seen that some

suppose Boaz to have been one of the judges of Israel; he was no

doubt a man of considerable property.

Verse 2. Glean ears of corn] The word glean comes from the

French glaner, to gather ears or grains of corn. This was formerly

a general custom in England and Ireland; the poor went into the

fields and collected the straggling ears of corn after the

reapers; and it was long supposed that this was their right, and

that the law recognized it. But although it has been an old

custom, I find that it is now settled, by a solemn judgment in

the court of common pleas, that a right to glean in the harvest

field cannot be claimed by any person at common law; see Law

Dictionary, article gleaning. Any person may permit or prevent

it in his own grounds. By the Irish acts, 25 Hen. VIII., c. 1, and

28 Hen. VIII., c. 24, gleaning and leasing are so restricted as to

be in fact prohibited in that part of the United Kingdom. See the

note on Le 19:9.

After him in whose sight I shall find grace.] She did not mean

Boaz; but she purposed to go out where they were now reaping, and

glean after any person who might permit her, or use her in a

friendly manner. The words seem to intimate that, notwithstanding

the law of Moses, the gleaners might be prevented by the owner of

the field.

Verse 3. And her hap was] So she was accidentally or

providentially led to that part of the cultivated country which

belonged to Boaz.

Verse 4. Boaz came from Beth-lehem] This salutation between Boaz

and his reapers is worthy of particular regard; he said,

Yehovah immachem, "Jehovah be with you!" They said,

yebarechecha Yehovah, "May Jehovah bless thee!" Can a pious mind

read these godly salutations without wishing for a return of those

simple primitive times? The words may be thus paraphrased: "May

God be with you, to preserve you from accidents, and strengthen

you to accomplish your work!" "May God bless THEE with the

increase of the field, and grace to use his bounty to the glory of

the Giver!"

Verse 5. His servant that was set over the reapers] This was a

kind of steward or hind who had the under management of the

estate. Some think that an officer of this kind is intended in the

description given by Homer of the labours of a harvest field, as

represented by Vulcan on one compartment of the shield which he

made for Achilles:-

ενδετιθειτεμενοςβαθυληιονενθαδεριθοι

ημωνοξειαςδρεπαναςενχερσινεχοντες

δραγματαδαλλαμετογμονεπμονεπητριμαπιπτονεραζε

αλλαδαμαλλοδετηρεςενελλεδανοισιδεοντο

τρειςδαραμαλλοδετηρεςεφεστασαναυταροπισθε

παιδεςδραγμευοντεςεναγκαλιδεσσιφεροντες

ασπερχεςπαρεχονβασιλευςδεντοισισιωπη

σκηπτρονεχωνεστηκειεπογμουγηθοσυνοςκηρ

κηρυκεςδαπανευθενυποδρυιδαιταπενοντο

βουνδιερευσαντεςμεγαναμφεποναιδεγυναικες

δειπνονεριθοισινλευκαλφιταπολλαπαλυνον

Iliad xviii., v. 550.

There too he form'd the likeness of a field

Crowded with corn, in which the reapers toil'd,

Each with a sharp-tooth'd sickle in his hand.

Along the furrow here, the harvest fell

In frequent handfuls; there, they bound the sheaves.

Three binders of the sheaves their sultry task

All plied industrious, and behind them boys

Attended, filling with the corn their arms,

And offering still their bundles to be bound.

Amid them, staff in hand, the master stood,

Enjoying, mute the order of the field:

While, shaded by an oak, apart his train

Prepared the banquet-a well thriven ox

New slain, and the attendant maidens mix'd

Large supper for the hinds, of whitest flour.

COWPER.

This scene is well described; and the person who acts as overseer

is here called βασιλευς, king, and his staff is called

σκηπτρον, a sceptre; and he stands in mute dignity, merely

to see that the work is well done, and that each person performs

his task; and there appear to me to be gleaners in the description,

viz., the boys who gather the handfuls after the three binders.

See the Greek.

Verse 7. That she tarried a little in the house.] It seems as if

the reapers were now resting in their tent, and that Ruth had just

gone in with them to take her rest also.

Verse 8. Abide here fast by my maidens] These were probably

employed in making bands, and laying on them enough to form a

sheaf, which the binders would tie and form into shocks or

thraves. When the maidens had gathered up the scattered handfuls

thrown down by the reapers, Ruth picked up any straggling heads or

ears which they had left.

Verse 9. The young men that they shall not touch thee] This was

peculiarly necessary, as she was a stranger and unprotected.

Verse 10. Then she fell on her face] Prostrated herself, as was

the custom in the East when inferiors approached those of superior

rank. The Targum adds to the conversation between Ruth and Boaz:

"How, says she, have I obtained grace in thy sight, that thou

shouldest acknowledge me who am a stranger and one of the

daughters of Moab, of whom it is said, The unclean shall not enter

into the congregation of the Lord? And Boaz, answered, It has been

certainly told me by the word of the wise, that what the Lord hath

decreed, he hath not decreed concerning the women but the men. And

it hath been surely said to me by prophecy, that kings and

prophets shall proceed from thee because of the good which thou

hast done," &c.

Verse 12. The Lord recompense thy work] The dutiful respect

which thou hast paid to thy husband, and thy tender and

affectionate attachment to thy aged mother-in-law.

And a full reward be given thee] This is spoken with great

modesty and piety: The kindness I show thee is little in

comparison of thy desert; God alone can give thee a full reward

for thy kindness to thy husband and mother-in-law, and he will do

it, because thou art come to trust under his wings-to become a

proselyte to his religion. The metaphor is taken from the young

of fowls, who, seeing a bird of prey, run to their mother to be

covered by her wings from danger, and also to take shelter from

storms, tempests, cold, &c. It is evident from this that Ruth had

already attached herself to the Jewish religion.

Verse 13. Not like unto one of thine hand-maidens.] I am as

unworthy of thy regards as any of thine own maidservants, and yet

thou showest me distinguished kindness.

Verse 14. Dip thy morsel in the vinegar.] The chomets,

which we here translate vinegar, seems to have been some

refreshing kind of acid sauce used by the reapers to dip their

bread in, which both cooled and refreshed them. Vinegar, rob of

fruits, &c., are used for this purpose in the East to the present

day; and the custom of the Arabs, according to Dr. Shaw, is to dip

the bread and hand together into these cooling and refreshing

articles.

Parched corn] This was a frequent repast among the ancients in

almost all countries; see the notes on Le 2:1-14.

Verse 15. Let her glean even among the sheaves] This was a

privilege; for no person should glean till the sheaves were all

bound, and the shocks set up.

Verse 17. An ephah of barley.] Not less than seven gallons and a

half; a good day's work. On Hebrew measures of capacity,

See Clarke on Ex 16:16.

Verse 18. And gave to her that she had reserved] As Ruth had

received a distinct portion at dinner-time, of which she had more

than she could eat, Ru 2:14; it appears she brought the rest home

to her mother-in-law, as is here related.

Verse 20. To the living and to the dead.] Naomi and Ruth were

the living; and they were also the representatives of Elimelech

and Mahlon, who were dead. Naomi was of the family; and Ruth,

though not of the family, was a representative of one of its

deceased branches, being the widow of Mahlon.

One of our next kinsmen.] miggoaleynu, of our

redeemers, one who has the right to redeem the forfeited

inheritance of the family. The word goel signifies a near

kinsman-one who by the Mosaic law had a right to redeem an

inheritance, and also was permitted to vindicate or revenge the

death of his relation by killing the slayer, if he found him out

of the cities of refuge.

In order to prevent families from running to decay, if a brother

died childless, the next unmarried brother took his widow; and the

children from that marriage were reputed the children of the

deceased brother. The office of the next akin was threefold: 1. It

belonged to him to buy back the forfeited inheritance, or the

liberty of him who had been obliged to sell himself for a servant.

2. It was his right to avenge the blood of any of the family who

had been killed, by killing the murderer. 3. It belonged to him to

take the widow of a deceased brother or relative, if he died

childless. If the nearest akin in any case refused, he was treated

with indignity, lost his right to the inheritance, and the next

akin to him might come forward and take the widow, &c., as in the

case of Boaz. See Ru 4:4-10.

Verse 21. Keep fast by my young men] The word hannearim

should be translated servants, both the male and female being

included in it; the latter especially, as we see in Ru 2:22, 23.

Verse 23. And of wheat harvest] That is, she was to continue

gleaning in the farm of Boaz to the end of the barley harvest; and

then, when the wheat harvest began, to continue to its conclusion

in the same way. In the interim, as well as each night, she lodged

with her mother-in-law.

1. RUTH seems to have been a woman of a very amiable mind: she

was modest, and she was industrious, and most probably a comely

woman; and all these things served to attract the attention of

Boaz, and to engage his affection. Her attachment also to her

mother-in-law could not fail to secure his esteem. All these

things worked together in the course of Providence, to bring about

a matrimonial connection, which in its issue was intimately

connected with the salvation of a lost world; for, from this very

line, Jesus Christ, according to the flesh, sprang; and Ruth

showed herself as worthy to be one of His progenitors as the

Virgin Mary was to be His mother. See the notes on Mt 1:1-16

2. We should carefully attend to the leadings and to the

workings of God's providence; it is our duty and our interest to

do both, for the path of duty is ever the way of safety. Had not

Ruth acted thus, how dreary and uncomfortable must her life have

been! but she followed God fully, and in a path apparently

dangerous, and yet, not only sustained no injury, but succeeded

well in all things: from this, as well as from innumerable other

circumstances, we see the truth of that word, Acknowledge him in

all thy ways, and he will direct thy steps; and with this we may

ever connect, Trust in the Lord with thy whole heart, and lean not

to thy own understanding. Whosoever follows God in simplicity of

heart, will most assuredly be guided into all truth.

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