Lectionary Calendar
Monday, May 27th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Ruth 3

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-18

The Appeal to Boaz

1. Marriages are always arranged by the parents in Eastern lands; here, of course, the mother-in-law must intervene.

2-7. Grain is winnowed in the evening, to avoid the heat of the day and take advantage of the cool sea-wind, which blows in Palestine from 4 p.m. to half-an-hour before sunset. As a rule the threshing floor, which is an open space of clean, hard, dry ground, is on an elevated spot. But at Beth-lehem it was necessary to go ’down’ to it, because the town is on the summit of the ridge and higher than any of the surrounding eminences. Ruth is to wash and anoint herself and put on the simlah, the long outer robe of ceremony, for this was to be a formal and important visit. Every precaution, too, was to be taken to ensure Boaz being in a genial frame of mind; the day’s work was to be at an end, and he was to have eaten and drunk: cp. Genesis 27:4, Genesis 27:25, and David’s assumption that even Nabal would be generous during the feast of sheepshearing (1 Samuel 25:5-8). Naomi had entire confidence in the honour of her kinsman, and although the procedure which she devised is alien to all our thoughts and customs, it is conceived and carried out without a spot of impure intention. To this day the Syrian farmer lies down under the shelter of a heap of threshed corn to protect it from thieves, or sleeps close by with his family in a little hut erected for the purpose.

8-18. At midnight the sleeper was startled. He bent forward to ascertain what was there, and the swift, curt question, Who art thou? reveals his alarm. Her request is: Spread thy skirt (or, thy wing) over thine handmaid, i.e. Become my guardian and protector by marrying me (Ezekiel 16:8), according to the duty of a near kinsman. The law in Deuteronomy 25 required that a brother should do this, if he and the deceased had dwelt together on the land belonging to the family. The right or duty was subsequently extended to more distant relatives. Boaz looked on this appeal as an even greater loving-kindness than Ruth had shown to Naomi, seeing that he was no longer young, and younger men would willingly have married her. The Rabbinical commentary on this book goes curiously astray in fixing his age as 80 and hers as 40. All the ’gate’ of his people knew that she was an ’excellent’ woman. They had discussed her in the gate of the city, which was the place of concourse, consultation and gossip, like the Gk. agora (Acts 17:17-18), and the forum of the Romans. But ready as he was to take up the position of Goel (see on Job 19:25), he would not encroach on the stronger claim which another man had. For this night she must remain where she was, lest mischief should befall her at the hands of some of the roisterers who were especially likely to be abroad at that season of the year (Song of Solomon 5:7). Yet she must leave whilst it was still too dark for a man to discern his friend if he met him; no breath of scandal must touch their good name. Let it not be known, said Boaz, that the woman came to the threshing floor. The ’mantle’ (RV) here mentioned is not the same as the simlah of Ruth 3:3 most likely it was the veil of cotton cloth or coarse muslin which rests on the head and falls down the back of Bedouin and peasant women, and is often used by them for carrying such things as vegetables. The present of three-fifths of a bushel of barley is at one and the same time an outpouring of his liberality and a precaution against the suspicion which might have been roused if any one had met her; they were to be led to think that she had been to fetch grain. The AV is correct in stating that she now went into the city; he came later (Ruth 4:1). It would almost seem as though her mother-in-law could not at the first moment see who she was: Who art thou, my daughter? But perhaps the question really meant, ’How, hast thou fared?’

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ruth 3". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/ruth-3.html. 1909.
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