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RUTH 2

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

 NASB  NKJV  NRSV  TEV   NJB
(MT versing)
Ruth Gleans Boaz' Field Ruth Meets Boaz Ruth and Boaz Ruth Works in the Field of Boaz Ruth in the Fields of Boaz
2:1-7 2:1-7 2:1-7 2:1-2a 2:1
2:2-7
2:2b
2:3
2:4
2:5
2:6-7
2:8-13 2:8-13 2:8-13 2:8-9 2:8-13
2:10
2:11-12
2:13
2:14-16 2:14-16 2:14-16 2:14-16 2:14-17
2:17-23 2:17-23 2:17-23 2:17-19a
2:18-23
2:19b
2:20
2:21
2:22-23

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:1-7
1Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor." And she said to her, "Go, my daughter." 3So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. 4Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, "May the Lord be with you." And they said to him, "May the Lord bless you." 5Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, "Whose young woman is this?" 6The servant in charge of the reapers replied, "She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. 7And she said, 'Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.' Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while."

2:1 "Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech" The exact relationship between Naomi and Boaz is not specified (i.e., Kethiv, מידע, "friend," while Qere has "relative," מודע ). The Hebrew kinship terms are rather loose in their specificity. It seems that Boaz was somehow related to Elimelech. The fact that Boaz was a man of great wealth probably meant that Elimelech was a man of considerable wealth also.

The phrase, "a man of great wealth" is literally "a mighty man of valor." This phrase can be used of

  1. military valor
  2. social position (i.e., respected elder or tribal leader)
  3. wealth (i.e., land)

▣ "Boaz" Although the etymology of the word "Boaz" (BDB 126) is somewhat uncertain, many believe that it can be derived from the name of one of the bronze pillars in the temple (BDB 126, cf. 1 Kgs. 7:21; 2 Chr. 3:17). If this is true, it could mean "in whom is strength" (LXX). He is included in Jesus' genealogy (cf. Matt. 1:5; Luke 3:32).

Modern scholarship has supposed a homonym for the name "Boaz" from an Arabic root (bagz) which means "quickness" (see UBS Handbook for Translators, p. 83, #4).

2:2 Ruth asks permission from Naomi.

  1. please let me go to the field ‒ BDB 229, KB 246, Qal COHORTATIVE
  2. please let me glean ‒ BDB 544, KB 535, Piel COHORTATIVE

Naomi responds with a Qal IMPERATIVE of #1. These women had no means of support. They had to act (cf. Ruth 2:7).

▣ "glean" This refers to an OT law where the poor, the widowed, and the alien could go into a grain field and reap the corners to sustain themselves. The practice is described in Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22 and Deut. 24:19. It was one of many ways that the Mosaic Law took notice of and provided care for the socially ostracized or impoverished.

▣ "after one in whose sight I may find favor" This is a rather ambiguous phrase which may imply that

  1. Ruth was just going to the field where she had the least resistance from the locals
  2. possibly, as other parts of the book of Ruth, Divine planning and foreknowledge would help her to know where she should go (i.e., "she happened to come. . .")
  3. Naomi and she had plans to lure Boaz (Ruth 2:7)

▣ "Go, my daughter" This was a common idiom (Ruth 2:8).

2:3 "she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz" In the ancient world every village had a large, common grain field. Within that large field, each individual field was marked off by stones. The whole field would have been ready to be harvested about the same time. The Hebrew text implies that it was by chance that she came upon the field of Boaz, but the theology of the book of Ruth shows the sovereignty of God in this entire matter.

2:4 "Boaz came from Bethlehem" It was not uncommon for the owner of the field to come and supervise the reaping and threshing of his crop. It was very significant that he gave the YHWHistic greeting to his workers and they did the same in return. This could refer to

  1. a normal greeting of the day
  2. a theological implication of the faith of all who were involved

2:5 "Boaz said. . . 'Whose young woman is this?'" This is not to be a disparaging comment about women in the ancient world. All women were the property of some male. It may have been a father, brother, or husband. Boaz was simply asking a question about Ruth's relatives. Apparently, even at this point, he was somewhat physically attracted to her.

2:7 "And she said, 'Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves'" The law demanded that she be allowed along the edges and corners of the field, but to glean among the sheaves was something that the foreman could not permit. This was not a part of the Deuteronomic law. Later in the chapter, Boaz will specifically allow her to do this.

The MT is ambiguous. It is possible that it refers to her making her own "sheaves," which she will have to beat the heads of the grain out later (cf. Ruth 2:17).

NASB  "she has been sitting in the house for a little while"
NKJV  "though she rested a little in the house"
NRSV  "without resting even for a moment"
TEV  "and has just now stopped to rest a while under the shelter"
NJB  "with hardly a rest from morning until now"
JPSOA  "she has rested but little in the hut"
REB  "she has hardly had a moment's rest in the shelter"
LXX  "she did not rest a bit in the field"
Vulgate  "not even for a moment has she returned to the house"

As is obvious, there are two ways to interpret this phrase.

  1. NASB ‒ she has been resting for a long time (i.e., she is exhausted)
  2. NRSV ‒ she has worked all day without rest (i.e., a very strong woman)

This is a very unusual Hebrew phrase and scholars are not exactly sure of its meaning.

The word "house" (BDB 108) has several possible meanings. The theories are

  1. it was a field house basically for the workers to go and sit in the shade to recuperate
  2. it was a field toilet
  3. Ruth returned to Naomi's house periodically for rest

The context implies that #1 is the best possibility.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:8-13
8Then Boaz said to Ruth, "Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. 9Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw." 10Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, "Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?" 11Boaz replied to her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. 12May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge." 13Then she said, "I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants."

2:8 The VERBS in this verse are all IMPERFECTS, but several could be used in a JUSSIVE sense.

  1. do not go
  2. do not leave
  3. stay here

It was dangerous during the harvest time for unaccompanied women (cf. Ruth 2:22).

2:9 "I have commanded my servants not to touch you" A single woman out in the field during harvest was possibly in physical danger. This danger may have been from sexual abuse or from the harassment of those who were working for the owner. This same concern for her safety can be seen also in Ruth 2:15-16, 22.

▣ "When you are thirsty" Boaz even provided her physical needs (i.e., water/shade here and food in Ruth 2:14).

2:10 "Why have I found favor in your sight" We can see something of the boldness in Ruth here, by her asking this very specific question of Boaz. We also see from his response in Ruth 2:11, that he knew all about her and her return with Naomi. The implication of 2:11 is that she had become a full proselyte of Judaism (cf. Ruth 2:12) and was held in high regard of the citizens of Bethlehem.

2:11 The phrase, "has been fully reported to me," is in an emphatic form (i.e., a Hophal INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and a Hophal PERFECT VERB of the same root, BDB 616, KB 665).

2:12 "May the Lord reward your work. . .under whose wings you have come to seek refuge" The fact of YHWH's name and the mention of the idiom, "under His wing", seems to reflect Exod. 19:4, God bearing Israel on eagle's wings. It is also the metaphor of a mother bird under whose wings the little ones find care (cf. Matt. 23:37). This speaks of the fact that Ruth had become a full proselyte. Boaz praises her for that by invoking a blessing (i.e., Piel IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense and a Qal JUSSIVE).

SPECIAL TOPIC: SHADOW AS A METAPHOR FOR PROTECTION AND CARE

▣ "the Lord, the God of Israel" These are two of the special names for Deity.

  1. YHWH
  2. Eloah (SINGULAR form of Elohim)

SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY, C and D.

2:13 The term adon appears in Ruth 2:13a.

Notice the compliments Ruth gives to Boaz.

  1. she found favor in his sight
  2. he comforted her
  3. he spoke kindly to her

All of this, even though she was a foreigner.

SPECIAL TOPIC: LORD (kurios)

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:14-16
14At mealtime Boaz said to her, "Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar." So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left. 15When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, "Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. 16Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her."

2:14
NASB, NKJV, NJB, JPSOA  "vinegar"
NRSV  "sour wine"
TEV  "sauce"
LXX  "wine vinegar"
Peshitta  "milk"

The MT has "in the wine" (BDB 330). BDB calls it "a common condiment." KB 329 I takes it from the root for "sour" or Arabic "acid" and sees it as "wine vinegar."

The Jewish Study Bible, p. 1582, calls it "a refreshing drink of sour wine and oil."

The UBS Handbook for Translators, p. 86, #44, explains the Peshitta's "milk" as a scribal error.

  1. milk in Syriac was chalba
  2. vinegar in Syriac was challa

▣ "he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left" The Septuagint's translation implies that he gave her far more than she could eat. Eating roasted grain in the field was a delicacy for the reapers. Boaz is showing something either of

  1. his growing love for Ruth or
  2. his sense of care for Naomi in the fact that he provided extra grain which he knew Ruth would take to Naomi (Ruth 2:18).

It is interesting to note that the Septuagint adds to Ruth 2:1 that Boaz gave Naomi a widow's house in which to live. Because of the content of this verse, this seems to be a real possibility.

2:15-16 These verses show Boaz's extra care for Ruth and Naomi.

  1. she was allowed to glean behind the reapers, not only in the corners of the field
  2. Boaz's servants were not to rebuke her (twice, Ruth 2:15, 16)
  3. Boaz's servants were to "purposely pull out" some grain for her (this is an intensified form, a Qal INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and Qal IMPERFECT VERB of the same root, BDB 1021, KB 1531)

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:17-23
17So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. 18She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she ha gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied. 19Her mother-in-law then said to her, "Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed." So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, "The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz." 20Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead." Again Naomi said to her, "The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives." 21Then Ruth the Moabitess said, "Furthermore, he said to me, 'You should stay close to my servants until they have finished all my harvest.'" 22Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, "It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his maids, so that others do not fall upon you in another field." 23So she stayed close by the maids of Boaz in order to glean until the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

2:17 "ephah of barley" There were different "ephahs" in the ancient world, and we are uncertain as to this exact measurement. It is about five to eight gallons, which would be quite heavy, but a young woman like Ruth could carry it home.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN WEIGHTS AND VOLUMES

2:19 "The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz" This implies that Naomi did not know where Ruth was going to reap and that she did not plan to go to Boaz's field, but this was the hand of God, unseen behind this entire account.

2:20 "Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, "May he be blessed of the Lord who has not withdrawn his kindness to the living and to the dead'" In context this may refer to

  1. Boaz (i.e., YHWH's agent), who showed kindness to Ruth and, therefore, to Naomi
  2. the theological implication that Naomi is seeing the hand of YHWH (LORD) in her life again

The fact that the word "kindness" is the special covenant word, hesed, shows that YHWH is the focus of the statement. However, the immediate context seems to be Boaz. The ambiguity may be reflected as God's care through Boaz!

SPECIAL TOPIC: LOVINGKINDNESS (hesed)

▣ "The man is our relative, he is one of our closest relatives" The New American Standard translation conceals the fact that we have the term go'el here. It is often translated "the kinsman redeemer" or "the kinsman avenger." It is the closest relative who bore responsibility for the extended family. It is one of those family activities that God chooses to describe Himself to mankind.

It is possible (LXX of Ruth 2:1) that Boaz had already provided a house for Naomi and Ruth to use.

SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM

2:23 "the end of the barley harvest and the wheat harvest" This shows an extended time of care during both the harvests. Ruth gleaned daily in the field and the implication is that Boaz saw her there from time to time.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. What does the phrase "a man of great wealth" in Ruth 2:1 mean?
  2. Explain the theological implication to the phrase "she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz."
  3. What is Ruth 2:7 trying to say about Ruth?
  4. How does Ruth 2:12 confirm Ruth's conversion to faith in YHWH?
  5. List the ways the text shows Boaz's special care for Ruth.
  6. Explain the theological implication of Ruth 2:20.

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