Ruth 3


Naomi's advice to Ruth, how to procure herself a marriage with

Boaz, 1-5.

She acts according to her mother-in-law's direction, and is

kindly received by Boaz, who promises to marry her, should

her nearer kinsman refuse, 6-13.

He gives her six measures of barley, and sends her away

privately to her mother-in-law, who augurs favourably of

the issue of the plan she had laid, 14-18.


Verse 1. Shall I not seek rest for thee] That is, Shall I not

endeavour to procure thee a proper husband? See Ru 1:9, and the

observations at the end of that chapter.

Verse 2. He winnoweth barley tonight] It is very likely that the

winnowing of grain was effected by taking up, in a broad thin

vessel or sieve, a portion of the corn, and letting it down slowly

in the wind; thus the grain would, by its own weight, fall in one

place, while the chaff, &c., would be carried to a distance by the

wind. It is said here that this was done at night; probably what

was threshed out in the day was winnowed in the evening, when the

sea breeze set in, which was common in Palestine; and as this

took place in the evening only, that was the time in which they

would naturally winnow their corn.

Verse 3. Wash thyself, therefore] She made Ruth put on her best

dress, that Boaz might, in the course of the day, be the more

attracted by her person, and be the better disposed to receive her

as Naomi wished.

Verse 4. Uncover his feet, and lay thee down] It is said that

women in the East, when going to the bed of their lawful husbands,

through modesty, and in token of subjection, go to the bed's foot,

and gently raising the clothes, creep under them up to their

place. See Calmet.

On the whole, we must say, had not Boaz been a person of

extraordinary piety, prudence, and continence, this experiment

might have been fatal to Ruth. We cannot easily account for this

transaction, probably Naomi knew more than she revealed to her

daughter-in-law. The experiment however was dangerous, and should

in no sense be imitated.

He will tell thee what thou shalt do] The Targum reads the

clause thus: Thou shalt ask counsel from him, "and he shall tell

thee what thou shouldest do."

Verse 7. When Boaz had eaten and drunk] The Targum adds, "He

blessed the name of the Lord, who had heard his prayer, and

removed famine from the land of Israel."

Went to lie down] As the threshing-floors of the Eastern nations

are in general in the open air, it is very likely that the owner

or some confidential person continued in the fields till the grain

was secured, having a tent in the place where the corn was

threshed and winnowed. Boaz seems to have acted thus.

Verse 8. The man was afraid, and turned himself] The verb

yillapheth, which we render he turned himself, has puzzled even

the Targumist, who translates the clause thus: "The man trembled,

and his flesh became like a (boiled) turnip through fear." It is

fully evident Boaz had no intimation of the present proceedings.

To this verse the Targumist adds much; he says, "Boaz subdued his

concupiscence, and acted towards her as Joseph did to the Egyptian

wife of his master, and as Pelatiel, the son of Laish the pious,

did to Michal, the daughter of Saul, the wife of David, who put a

sword between Michal and himself, because he would not approach to


Verse 9. Spread therefore thy skirt over thine hand maid]

Hebrew, Spread thy wing. The wing is the emblem of protection, and

is a metaphor taken from the young of fowls, which run under the

wings of their mothers, that they may be saved from birds of prey.

The meaning here is, Take me to thee for wife; and so the Targum

has translated it, Let thy name be called on thy handmaid to take

me for wife, because thou art the redeemer; i.e., thou art the

goel, the kinsman, to whom the right of redemption belongs. See

on Ru 2:20. Even to the present day, when a Jew marries a woman,

he throws the skirt or end of his talith over her, to signify

that he has taken her under his protection.

Verse 10. In the latter end than at the beginning] It is not

easy to find out what Boaz means. Perhaps chesed, which we

translate kindness, means piety; as if he had said: Thou hast

given great proof of thy piety in this latter instance, when thou

hast avoided the young, and those of thy own age, to associate

thyself with an elderly man, merely for the purpose of having the

Divine injunction fulfilled, viz., that the brother, or next akin,

might take the wife of the deceased, and raise a family to him who

had died childless, that his name might not become extinct in

Israel: this latter act is a greater proof of thy piety and

sincerity than any thing that could be inferred from thy becoming

a proselyte.

Whether poor or rich.] So it appears from this that it was not

to mend her condition in life that Ruth endeavoured to get Boaz

for her husband, for she might have had a rich young man, but she

preferred the building up the house of her deceased husband. See


Verse 12. There is a kinsman nearer than I.] It is very likely

that Naomi was not acquainted with this circumstance. Some have

supposed that there was a brother of Elimelech remaining, who was

nearer than Boaz, who is supposed to have been only a nephew; the

former, therefore, must have a prior right.

Verse 13. As the Lord liveth] Thus he bound himself by an oath

to take her to wife if the other should refuse.

Verse 15. Bring the veil] hammit pachath; this seems to

have been a cloak, plaid, or what the Arabs call hayk, which has

been largely explained elsewhere. See Jud 14:12.

Six measures of barley] We supply the word measures, for the

Hebrew mentions no quantity. The Targum renders six seahs,

shith sein, which, as a seah was about two gallons and a

half, must have been a very heavy load for a woman; and so the

Targumist thought, for he adds, And she received strength from the

Lord to carry it. If the omer be meant, which is about six pints,

the load would not be so great, as this would amount to but about

four gallons and a half; a very goodly present. The Targum says,

that on receiving these six measures "it was said in the spirit of

prophecy, that from her should proceed the six righteous persons

of the world, viz., David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego,

and the King Messiah; each of whom should be blessed with six

benedictions." It is, however, remarkable, that the Targum makes

the Messiah to spring from her through the line of David, and goes

down to Daniel and his companions; which Daniel prophesied so

clearly, not only of the advent of Messiah the prince, but also of

the very time in which he was to come, and the sacrificial death

he was to die.

Verse 18. Until thou know how the matter will fall] That is,

whether he who is nearer of kin than Boaz will take thee to wife;

do not return again till this thing is determined. Boaz lost no

time to bring this to an issue, as we shall see in the following


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