3:2 Now Boaz, with whose female servants you worked, is our close relative. 1 Look, tonight he is winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 2
3:9 He said, “Who are you?” 3 She replied, “I am Ruth, your servant. 4 Marry your servant, 5 for you are a guardian of the family interests.” 6
3:12 Now yes, it is true that 7 I am a guardian, 8 but there is another guardian who is a closer relative than I am.
1 tn Heb “Is not Boaz our close relative, with whose female servants you were?” The idiomatic, negated rhetorical question is equivalent to an affirmation (see Ruth 2:8-9; 3:1) and has thus been translated in the affirmative (so also NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT).
2 tn Heb “look, he is winnowing the barley threshing floor tonight.”
sn Winnowing the threshed grain involved separating the kernels of grain from the straw and chaff. The grain would be thrown into the air, allowing the wind to separate the kernels (see O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 65-66). The threshing floor itself was usually located outside town in a place where the prevailing west wind could be used to advantage (Borowski, 62-63).
3 tn When Boaz speaks, he uses the feminine form of the pronoun, indicating that he knows she is a woman.
4 tn Here Ruth uses אָמָה (’amah), a more elevated term for a female servant than שִׁפְחָה (shifkhah), the word used in 2:13. In Ruth 2, where Ruth has just arrived from Moab and is very much aware of her position as a foreigner (v. 10), she acknowledges Boaz’s kindness and emphasizes her own humility by using the term שִׁפְחָה, though she admits that she does not even occupy that lowly position on the social scale. However, here in chap. 3, where Naomi sends her to Boaz to seek marriage, she uses the more elevated term אָמָה to describe herself because she is now aware of Boaz’s responsibility as a close relative of her deceased husband and she wants to challenge him to fulfill his obligation. In her new social context she is dependent on Boaz (hence the use of אָמָה), but she is no mere שִׁפְחָה.
5 tn Heb “and spread your wing [or skirt] over your servant.” Many medieval Hebrew
6 tn Heb “for you are a גֹאֵל [go’el],” sometimes translated “redeemer” (cf. NIV “a kinsman-redeemer”; NLT “my family redeemer”). In this context Boaz, as a “redeemer,” functions as a guardian of the family interests who has responsibility for caring for the widows of his deceased kinsmen. For a discussion of the legal background, see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 166-69.
sn By proposing marriage, Ruth goes beyond the letter of Naomi’s instructions (see v. 4, where Naomi told Ruth that Boaz would tell her what to do). Though she is more aggressive than Naomi told her to be, she is still carrying out the intent of Naomi’s instructions, which were designed to lead to marriage.
7 tc The sequence כִּי אָמְנָם כִּי אִם (ki ’omnam ki ’im; Kethib) occurs only here in the OT, as does the sequence כִּי אָמְנָם כִּי (Qere). It is likely that כִּי אִם is dittographic (note the preceding sequence כִּי אָמְנָם). The translation assumes that the original text was simply the otherwise unattested וְעַתָּה כִּי אָמְנָם, with אָמְנָם and כִּי both having an asseverative (or emphatic) function.