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Ruth 3:6-11

Ruth Visits Boaz

3:6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law had instructed her to do. 1  3:7 When Boaz had finished his meal and was feeling satisfied, he lay down to sleep at the far end of the grain heap. 2  Then Ruth 3  crept up quietly, 4  uncovered his legs, 5  and lay down beside him. 6  3:8 In the middle of the night he was startled 7  and turned over. 8  Now 9  he saw a woman 10  lying beside him! 11  3:9 He said, “Who are you?” 12  She replied, “I am Ruth, your servant. 13  Marry your servant, 14  for you are a guardian of the family interests.” 15  3:10 He said, “May you be rewarded 16  by the Lord, my dear! 17  This act of devotion 18  is greater than what you did before. 19  For you have not sought to marry 20  one of the young men, whether rich or poor. 21  3:11 Now, my dear, don’t worry! 22  I intend to do for you everything you propose, 23  for everyone in the village 24  knows that you are a worthy woman. 25 

1 tn Heb “and she did according to all which her mother-in-law commanded her” (NASB similar). Verse 6 is a summary statement, while the following verses (vv. 7-15) give the particulars.

2 tn Heb “and Boaz ate and drank and his heart was well and he went to lie down at the end of the heap”; NAB “at the edge of the sheaves.”

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

4 sn Ruth must have waited until Boaz fell asleep, for he does not notice when she uncovers his legs and lies down beside him.

5 tn See the note on the word “legs” in v. 4.

6 tn The words “beside him” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. Cf. TEV “at his feet”; CEV “near his feet.”

7 tn Heb “trembled, shuddered”; CEV, NLT “suddenly woke up.” Perhaps he shivered because he was chilled.

8 tn The verb לָפַת (lafat) occurs only here, Job 6:18, and Judg 16:29 (where it seems to mean “grab hold of”). Here the verb seems to carry the meaning “bend, twist, turn,” like its Arabic cognate (see HALOT 533 s.v. לפת, and F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 163).

9 tn Heb “and behold” (so KJV, NASB). The narrator invites the reader to view the situation through Boaz’s eyes.

10 sn Now he saw a woman. The narrator writes from Boaz’s perspective. Both the narrator and the reader know the night visitor is Ruth, but from Boaz’s perspective she is simply “a woman.”

11 tn Heb “[at] his legs.” See the note on the word “legs” in v. 4.

12 tn When Boaz speaks, he uses the feminine form of the pronoun, indicating that he knows she is a woman.

13 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.

14 tn Heb “and spread your wing [or skirt] over your servant.” Many medieval Hebrew mss have the plural/dual “your wings” rather than the singular “your wing, skirt.” The latter is more likely here in the context of Ruth’s marriage proposal. In the metaphorical account in Ezek 16:8, God spreads his skirt over naked Jerusalem as an act of protection and as a precursor to marriage. Thus Ruth’s words can be taken, in effect, as a marriage proposal (and are so translated here; cf. TEV “So please marry me”). See F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 164-65.

15 tn Heb “for you are a גֹאֵל [goel],” 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.

16 tn Or “blessed” (so NASB, NRSV).

17 tn Heb “my daughter.” This form of address is a mild form of endearment, perhaps merely rhetorical. A few English versions omit it entirely (e.g., TEV, CEV). The same expression occurs in v. 11.

18 tn Heb “latter [act of] devotion”; NRSV “this last instance of your loyalty.”

19 tn Heb “you have made the latter act of devotion better than the former”; NIV “than that which you showed earlier.”

sn Greater than what you did before. Ruth’s former act of devotion was her decision to remain and help Naomi. The latter act of devotion is her decision to marry Boaz to provide a child to carry on her deceased husband’s (and Elimelech’s) line and to provide for Naomi in her old age (see Ruth 4:5, 10, 15).

20 tn Heb “by not going after the young men” (NASB similar); TEV “You might have gone looking for a young man.”

21 tn Heb “whether poor or rich” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); the more common English idiom reverses the order (“rich or poor”; cf. NIV, NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

sn Whether rich or poor. This statement seems to indicate that Ruth could have married anyone. However, only by marrying a גֹּאֵל (goel, “family guardian”; traditionally “redeemer”) could she carry on her dead husband’s line and make provision for Naomi.

22 tn Heb “do not fear” (so NASB); NRSV “do not be afraid.”

23 tn Heb “everything which you are saying I will do for you.” The Hebrew word order emphasizes Boaz’s intention to fulfill Ruth’s request. As in v. 5, the Hebrew imperfect is used (note “you are saying”), even though Ruth’s request appears to be concluded. According to GKC 316 §107.h, the imperfect can sometimes “express actions, etc., which although, strictly speaking, they are already finished, are regarded as still lasting on into the present time, or continuing to operate in it.” The imperfect אֶעֱשֶׂה (’eeseh) could be translated “I will do” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT), but since there are legal complications which must first be resolved, it is better to take the form as indicating Boaz’s desire or intention, if the legal matters can be worked out.

24 tn Heb “all the gate of the town,” which by metonymy could refer to everyone in town (NIV “All my fellow townsmen”; NLT “everyone in town”), or only to the leaders and prominent citizens of the community (Boaz’s peers) who transacted business and made legal decisions at the town gate (NRSV “all the assembly of my people”).

25 tn Or “woman of strong character” (cf. NIV “woman of noble character”). The same phrase is used in Prov 31:10 to describe the ideal wife. Prov 31 emphasizes the ideal wife’s industry, her devotion to her family, and her concern for others, characteristics which Ruth had demonstrated.

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