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Ruth 3:1-5

Context
Naomi Instructs Ruth

3:1 At that time, 1  Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you so you will be secure. 2  3:2 Now Boaz, with whose female servants you worked, is our close relative. 3  Look, tonight he is winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 4  3:3 So bathe yourself, 5  rub on some perfumed oil, 6  and get dressed up. 7  Then go down 8  to the threshing floor. But don’t let the man know you’re there until he finishes his meal. 9  3:4 When he gets ready to go to sleep, 10  take careful notice of the place where he lies down. Then go, uncover his legs, 11  and lie down 12  beside him. 13  He will tell 14  you what you should do.” 3:5 Ruth replied to Naomi, 15  “I will do everything you have told 16  me 17  to do.” 18 

1 tn The phrase “sometime later” does not appear in Hebrew but is supplied to mark the implicit shift in time from the events in chapter 2.

2 tn Heb “My daughter, should I not seek for you a resting place so that it may go well for you [or which will be good for you]?” The idiomatic, negated rhetorical question is equivalent to an affirmation (see 2:8-9) and has thus been translated in the affirmative (so also NAB, NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

3 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).

4 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).

5 tn The perfect with prefixed vav (ו) consecutive here introduces a series of instructions. See GKC 335 §112.aa for other examples of this construction.

6 tn For the meaning of the verb סוּךְ (sukh), see HALOT 745-46 s.v. II סוך, and F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 150. Cf. NAB, NRSV “anoint yourself”; NIV “perfume yourself”; NLT “put on perfume.”

7 tc The consonantal text (Kethib) has the singular שִׂמְלֹתֵךְ (simlotekh, “your outer garment”), while the marginal reading (Qere) has the plural שִׂמְלֹתַיִךְ (simlotayikh) which might function as a plural of number (“your outer garments”) or a plural of composition (“your outer garment [composed of several parts]).”

tn Heb “and put your outer garment on yourself”; NAB “put on your best attire.” The noun שִׂמְלָה (simlah) may refer to clothes in general (see R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth [NICOT], 197, n. 7) or a long outer garment (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 150-51). Mourners often wore mourning clothes and refrained from washing or using cosmetics (Gen 38:14, 19; 2 Sam 12:20; 14:2), so Ruth’s attire and appearance would signal that her period of mourning was over and she was now available for remarriage (see Bush, 152).

8 tc The consonantal text (Kethib) has וְיָרַדְתִּי (vÿyaradtiy, “then I will go down”; Qal perfect 1st person common singular), while the marginal reading (Qere) is וְיָרַדְתְּ (vÿyaradt, “then you go down”; Qal perfect 2nd person feminine singular) which makes more much sense in context. It is possible that the Kethib preserves an archaic spelling of the 2nd person feminine singular form (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 144-45).

9 tn Heb “until he finishes eating and drinking”; NASB, NIV, NRSV, TEV, CEV “until he has finished.”

10 tn Heb “and let it be when he lies down”; NAB “But when he lies down.”

11 tn Some define the noun מַרְגְּלוֹת (margÿlot) as “the place for the feet” (see HALOT 631 s.v.; cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT), but in Dan 10:6 the word refers to the legs, or “region of the legs.” For this reason “legs” or “lower body” is the preferred translation (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 152). Because “foot” is sometimes used euphemistically for the genitals, some feel that Ruth uncovered Boaz’s genitals. For a critique of this view see Bush, 153. While Ruth and Boaz did not actually have a sexual encounter at the threshing floor, there is no doubt that Ruth’s actions are symbolic and constitute a marriage proposal.

12 tc The consonantal text (Kethib) has וְשָׁכָבְתִּי (vÿshakhavtiy, “then I will lie down”; Qal perfect 1st person common singular), while the marginal reading (Qere) is וְשָׁכָבְתְּ (vÿshakhavt, “then you lie down”; Qal perfect 2nd person feminine singular) which makes more sense. It is possible that the Kethib preserves an archaic spelling of the 2nd person feminine singular form (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 144-45).

13 tn The words “beside him” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons; cf. NLT “lie down there.”

14 tn The disjunctive clause structure (vav [ו] + subject + verb) highlights this final word of instruction or signals the conclusion of the instructions.

15 tn Heb “she said to her.” The referents (Ruth and Naomi) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

16 tn The Hebrew imperfect is used, even though Naomi’s instructions appear to be concluded. The imperfect can sometimes express actions which although (strictly speaking) are already finished, yet are regarded as still lasting into the present, or continuing to operate in it (GKC 316 §107.h).

17 tc The MT (Kethib) lacks the preposition אֵלַי (’elay, “to me”) which is attested in the marginal reading (Qere). Many medieval Hebrew mss agree with the marginal reading (Qere) by including the phrase.

18 tn Heb “everything which you are saying I will do.” The Hebrew word order emphasizes Ruth’s intention to follow Naomi’s instructions to the letter.



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