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Ruth 2:1-13

Context
Ruth Works in the Field of Boaz

2:1 Now Naomi 1  had a relative 2  on her husband’s side of the family named Boaz. He was a wealthy, prominent man from the clan of Elimelech. 3  2:2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go 4  to the fields so I can gather 5  grain behind whoever permits me to do so.” 6  Naomi 7  replied, “You may go, my daughter.” 2:3 So Ruth 8  went and gathered grain in the fields 9  behind the harvesters. Now she just happened to end up 10  in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.

Boaz and Ruth Meet

2:4 Now at that very moment, 11  Boaz arrived from Bethlehem 12  and greeted 13  the harvesters, “May the Lord be with you!” They replied, 14  “May the Lord bless you!” 2:5 Boaz asked 15  his servant 16  in charge of the harvesters, “To whom does this young woman belong?” 17  2:6 The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab. 2:7 She asked, 18  ‘May I follow the harvesters and gather 19  grain among the bundles?’ 20  Since she arrived she has been working hard 21  from this morning until now 22  – except for 23  sitting 24  in the resting hut 25  a short time.” 26 

2:8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, 27  my dear! 28  Do not leave to gather grain in another field. You need not 29  go beyond the limits of this field. You may go along beside 30  my female workers. 31  2:9 Take note of 32  the field where the men 33  are harvesting and follow behind with the female workers. 34  I will tell the men 35  to leave you alone. 36  When you are thirsty, you may go to 37  the water jars 38  and drink some of the water 39  the servants draw.” 40 

2:10 Ruth 41  knelt before him with her forehead to the ground 42  and said to him, “Why are you so kind 43  and so attentive to me, 44  even though 45  I am a foreigner?” 46  2:11 Boaz replied to her, 47  “I have been given a full report of 48  all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband – how you left 49  your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously. 50  2:12 May the Lord reward your efforts! 51  May your acts of kindness be repaid fully 52  by the Lord God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!” 53  2:13 She said, “You really are being kind to me, 54  sir, 55  for you have reassured 56  and encouraged 57  me, your servant, 58  even though I am 59  not one of your servants!” 60 

1 tn The disjunctive clause (note the vav [ו] + prepositional phrase structure) provides background information essential to the following narrative.

2 tc The marginal reading (Qere) is מוֹדַע (moda’, “relative”), while the consonantal text (Kethib) has מְיֻדָּע (miyudda’, “friend”). The textual variant was probably caused by orthographic confusion between consonantal מְיֻדָּע and מוֹדַע. Virtually all English versions follow the marginal reading (Qere), e.g., KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV “kinsman”; NIV, NCV, NLT “relative.”

3 tn Heb “and [there was] to Naomi a relative, to her husband, a man mighty in substance, from the clan of Elimelech, and his name [was] Boaz.”

4 tn The cohortative here (“Let me go”) expresses Ruth’s request. Note Naomi’s response, in which she gives Ruth permission to go to the field.

5 tn Following the preceding cohortative, the cohortative with vav conjunctive indicates purpose/result.

6 tn Heb “anyone in whose eyes I may find favor” (ASV, NIV similar). The expression אֶמְצָא־חֵן בְּעֵינָיו (’emtsa-khen bÿenayv, “to find favor in the eyes of [someone]”) appears in Ruth 2:2, 10, 13. It is most often used when a subordinate or servant requests permission for something from a superior (BDB 336 s.v. חֵן). Ruth will play the role of the subordinate servant, seeking permission from a landowner, who then could show benevolence by granting her request to glean in his field behind the harvest workers.

7 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Naomi) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Ruth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “and she went and entered [a field] and gleaned in the field behind the harvesters.” Cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV “the reapers”; TEV “the workers.”

10 sn The text is written from Ruth’s limited perspective. As far as she was concerned, she randomly picked a spot in the field. But God was providentially at work and led her to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who, as a near relative of Elimelech, was a potential benefactor.

11 tn Heb “and look”; NIV, NRSV “Just then.” The narrator invites the audience into the story, describing Boaz’s arrival as if it were witnessed by the audience.

12 map For location see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.

13 tn Heb “said to.” Context indicates that the following expression is a greeting, the first thing Boaz says to his workers.

14 tn Heb “said to him.” For stylistic reasons “replied” is used in the present translation.

15 tn Heb “said to.” Since what follows is a question, “asked” is appropriate in this context.

16 tn Heb “young man.” Cf. NAB “overseer”; NIV, NLT “foreman.”

17 sn In this patriarchal culture Ruth would “belong” to either her father (if unmarried) or her husband (if married).

18 tn Heb “said.” What follows is a question, so “asked” is used in the translation.

19 tn On the use of the perfect with vav consecutive after the cohortative, see IBHS 530 §32.2.2b.

20 tn Heb “May I glean and gather among the bundles behind the harvesters?” Others translate, “May I glean and gather [grain] in bundles behind the harvesters?” (cf. NAB; see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 117). For discussion of the terminology and process of harvesting, see O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 59-61.

21 tn Heb “and she came and she has persisted.” The construction וַתָּבוֹא וַתַעֲמוֹד (vattavovataamod) forms a dependent temporal sequence: “since she came, she has persisted.” Because עָמַד (’amad, “to stand, remain, persist”; BDB 764 s.v. עָמַד; HALOT 840-42 s.v. עמד) has a broad range of meanings, וַתַעֲמוֹד has been understood in various ways: (1) Ruth had stood all morning waiting to receive permission from Boaz to glean in his field: “she has stood (here waiting)”; (2) Ruth had remained in the field all morning: “she has remained here” (NAB, NASB, NCV); and (3) Ruth had worked hard all morning: “she has worked steadily” (REB), “she has been working” (TEV, CEV), “she has been on her feet (all morning)” (JPS, NJPS, NRSV). For discussion, see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 118-19.

22 tn Heb “and she came and she stood, from then, the morning, and until now, this, her sitting [in] the house a little.” The syntax of the Hebrew text is awkward and the meaning uncertain. For discussion see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 118-19.

23 tn Heb “except this.” The function and meaning of the demonstrative adjective זֶה (zeh, “this”) is difficult: (1) MT accentuation joins זֶה withשִׁבְתָּהּ (shivtah, “this her sitting”), suggesting that זֶה שִׁבְתָּהּ functions as subject complement (see BDB 261 s.v. זֶה 2.a and Josh 9:12). (2) Others suggest that זֶה functions as an emphasizing adverb of time (“just now”; BDB 261 s.v. 4.h) and connect it with עַתָּה (’attah, “now”) to form the idiom עַתָּה זֶה (zehattah, “now, just now”; BDB 261 s.v. 4.h; GKC 442-43 §136.d; see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 118-19). The entire line is translated variously: KJV “until now, (+ save ASV) that she tarried a little in the house”; NASB “she has been sitting in the house for a little while”; NIV “except for a short rest in the shelter”; NJPS “she has rested but little in the hut”; “her sitting (= resting) in the house (has only been) for a moment.” A paraphrase would be: “She came and has kept at it (= gleaning) from this morning until now, except for this: She has been sitting in the hut only a little while.” The clause as a whole is an exceptive clause: “except for this….”

24 tc The MT vocalizes consonantal שבתה as שִׁבְתָּהּ (shivtah, “her sitting”; Qal infinitive construct from יָשַׁב (yashav), “to sit” + 3rd person feminine singular suffix), apparently taking the 3rd person feminine singular suffix as a subjective genitive: “she sat [in the hut only a little while]” (so KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV, REB, TEV, NCV, NJPS). On the other hand, LXX κατέπαυσεν (“she rested”) reflects the vocalization שָׁבְתָה (shavtah, “she rested”; Qal perfect 3rd person feminine singular from שָׁבַת (shavat), “to rest”): “she rested [in the hut only a little while]” (so RSV, NRSV, NAB, CEV, NJB, JPS). The MT reading is more difficult and is therefore probably original.

tn Heb “and she came and she stood, from then, the morning, and until now, this, her sitting [in] the house a little.” The syntax of the Hebrew text is awkward here and the meaning uncertain. F. W. Bush (Ruth, Esther [WBC], 118-19) takes עָמַד (’amad, “to stand”) in the sense “to stay, remain,” connects זֶה (zeh, “this”) with the preceding עַתָּה (’attah, “now”) as an emphasizing adverb of time (“just now”), and emends שִׁבְתָּהּ הַבַּיִת (shivtah habbayit, “her sitting [in] the house”) to שָׁבְתָה (shavtah, “she rested”), omitting הַבַּיִת (habbayit) as dittographic. Another option is to translate, “She came and has stood here from this morning until now. She’s been sitting in the house for a short time.” According to this view the servant has made Ruth wait to get permission from Boaz. It is difficult, however, to envision a “house” being in the barley field.

25 tc Several English versions (NAB, NEB, RSV, NRSV, JB, CEV) suggest deleting MT הַבַּיִת (habbayit, lit. “the house”) due to dittography with בתה in שִׁבְתָּהּ (shivtah) which precedes; however, several ancient textual witnesses support the MT (medieval Hebrew manuscripts, Syriac, Targum). The LXX reading ἐν τῷ ἀργῷ (en tw argw, “in the field”) probably does not represent an alternate Hebrew textual tradition, but merely the translator’s attempt to smooth out a difficult Hebrew text.

tn “[in] the house.” The noun הַבַּיִת (lit. “the house”) functions as an adverbial accusative of location, and probably refers to a “hut, shelter,” providing shade for workers in the field, such as those still used by harvesters in modern Israel (H. A. Hoffner, TDOT 2:111-15). This kind of structure is probably referred to using different terms in Isaiah 1:8, “like a shelter (כְּסֻכָּה, kÿsukkah) in a vineyard, like a hut (כִּמְלוּנָה, kimlunah) in a field of melons.” Some translations render הַבַּיִת (habbayit) literally as “the house” (KJV, NKJV, NASB), while others nuance it as “the shelter” (NIV, NCV, TEV, NLT).

26 tn Heb “a little while.” The adjective מְעָט (meat) functions in a temporal sense (“a little while”; e.g., Job 24:24) or a comparative sense (“a little bit”); see BDB 589-90 s.v. The foreman’s point is that Ruth was a hard worker who only rested a short time.

27 tn Heb “Have you not heard?” The idiomatic, negated rhetorical question is equivalent to an affirmation (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 119, and GKC 474 §150.e).

28 tn Heb “my daughter.” This form of address is a mild form of endearment, perhaps merely rhetorical. It might suggest that Boaz is older than Ruth, but not necessarily significantly so. A few English versions omit it entirely (e.g., TEV, CEV).

29 tn The switch from the negative particle אַל (’al, see the preceding statement, “do not leave”) to לֹא (lo’) may make this statement more emphatic. It may indicate that the statement is a policy applicable for the rest of the harvest (see v. 21).

30 tn Heb “and thus you may stay close with.” The imperfect has a permissive nuance here.

31 sn The female workers would come along behind those who cut the grain and bundle it up. Staying close to the female workers allowed Ruth to collect more grain than would normally be the case (see O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 61, and F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 121).

32 tn Heb “let your eyes be upon” (KJV, NASB similar).

33 tn Heb “they.” The verb is masculine plural, indicating that the male workers are the subject here.

34 tn Heb “and go after them.” The pronominal suffix (“them”) is feminine plural, indicating that the female workers are referred to here.

35 tn Male servants are in view here, as the masculine plural form of the noun indicates (cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV “the young men”).

36 tn Heb “Have I not commanded the servants not to touch [i.e., “harm”] you?” The idiomatic, negated rhetorical question is equivalent to an affirmation (see v. 8). The perfect is either instantaneous, indicating completion of the action concurrent with the statement (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 107, 121-22, who translates, “I am herewith ordering”) or emphatic/rhetorical, indicating the action is as good as done.

37 tn The juxtaposition of two perfects, each with vav consecutive, here indicates a conditional sentence (see GKC 337 §112.kk).

38 tn Heb “vessels (so KJV, NAB, NRSV), receptacles”; NCV “water jugs.”

39 tn Heb “drink [some] of that which” (KJV similar); in the context “water” is implied.

40 tn The imperfect here either indicates characteristic or typical activity, or anterior future, referring to a future action (drawing water) which logically precedes another future action (drinking).

41 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Ruth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 tn Heb “she fell upon her face and bowed to the ground” (KJV, NASB similar).

43 tn Heb “Why do I find favor in your eyes…?” The expression מָצַא חֵן בְּעֵינֶי (matsakhen bÿeney, “to find favor in the eyes of [someone]”) is often characterized by the following features: (1) A subordinate or servant is requesting permission for something from a superior (master, owner, king). (2) The granting of the request is not a certainty but dependent on whether or not the superior is pleased with the subordinate to do so. (3) The granting of the request by the superior is an act of kindness or benevolence; however, it sometimes reciprocates loyalty previously shown by the subordinate to the superior (e.g., Gen 30:27; 32:6; 33:8, 10, 15; 34:11; 39:4; 47:25, 29; 50:4; Num 32:5; Deut 24:1; 1 Sam 1:18; 16:22; 20:3, 29; 27:3; 2 Sam 14:22; 16:4; 1 Kgs 11:19; Esth 5:8; 7:3; BDB 336 s.v. חֵן). While Boaz had granted her request for permission to glean in his field, she is amazed at the degree of kindness he had shown – especially since she had done nothing, in her own mind, to merit such a display. However, Boaz explains that she had indeed shown kindness to him indirectly through her devotion to Naomi (v. 11).

44 tn Heb “Why do I find favor in your eyes by [you] recognizing me.” The infinitive construct with prefixed לְ (lamed) here indicates manner (“by”).

45 tn Heb “and I am a foreigner.” The disjunctive clause (note the pattern vav + subject + predicate nominative) here has a circumstantial (i.e., concessive) function (“even though”).

46 sn The similarly spelled Hebrew terms נָכַר (nakhar, “to notice”) and נָכְרִי (nokhriy, “foreigner”) in this verse form a homonymic wordplay. This highlights the unexpected nature of the attentiveness and concern Boaz displayed to Ruth.

47 tn Heb “answered and said to her” (so NASB). For stylistic reasons this has been translated as “replied to her.”

48 tn Heb “it has been fully reported to me.” The infinitive absolute here emphasizes the following finite verb from the same root. Here it emphasizes either the clarity of the report or its completeness. See R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth (NICOT), 153, n. 6. Most English versions tend toward the nuance of completeness (e.g., KJV “fully been shewed”; NAB “a complete account”; NASB, NRSV “All that you have done”).

49 tn The vav (ו) consecutive construction here has a specifying function. This and the following clause elaborate on the preceding general statement and explain more specifically what she did for her mother-in-law.

50 tn Heb “yesterday and the third day.” This Hebrew idiom means “previously, in the past” (Exod 5:7,8,14; Exod 21:29,36; Deut 4:42; 19:4,6; Josh 3:4; 1 Sam 21:5; 2 Sam 3:17; 1 Chr 11:2).

51 tn Heb “repay your work”; KJV, ASV “recompense thy work.” The prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive of prayer (note the jussive form in the next clause).

52 tn Heb “may your wages be complete”; NCV “May your wages be paid in full.” The prefixed verbal form is a distinct jussive form, indicating that this is a prayer for blessing.

53 tn Heb “under whose wings you have sought shelter”; NIV, NLT “have come to take refuge.”

54 tn Heb “I am finding favor in your eyes.” In v. 10, where Ruth uses the perfect, she simply states the fact that Boaz is kind. Here the Hebrew text switches to the imperfect, thus emphasizing the ongoing attitude of kindness displayed by Boaz. Many English versions treat this as a request: KJV “Let me find favour in thy sight”; NAB “May I prove worthy of your kindness”; NIV “May I continue to find favor in your eyes.”

55 tn Heb “my master”; KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “my lord.”

56 tn Or “comforted” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT).

57 tn Heb “spoken to the heart of.” As F. W. Bush points out, the idiom here means “to reassure, encourage” (Ruth, Esther [WBC], 124).

58 tn Ruth here uses a word (שִׁפְחָה, shifkhah) that describes the lowest level of female servant (see 1 Sam 25:41). Note Ruth 3:9 where she uses the word אָמָה (’amah), which refers to a higher class of servant.

59 tn The imperfect verbal form of הָיָה (hayah) is used here. F. W. Bush shows from usage elsewhere that the form should be taken as future (Ruth, Esther [WBC], 124-25).

60 tn The disjunctive clause (note the pattern vav [ו] + subject + verb) is circumstantial (or concessive) here (“even though”).



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