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Wednesday, June 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Ruth 3

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-18

Ruth 3:3 . Anoint thee. Oil was used on many occasions because it gave a lustre to the countenance. Psalms 104:15. Matthew 6:10.

Ruth 3:4 . Mark the place. The Hebrews were what we now call gentlemen farmers; yet they would aid their servants in watching the corn. Boaz gave them rest at night, that they might work by day.

Ruth 3:9 . I am Ruth thine handmaid; spread thy skirt; take me for thy wife, because thou art the near kinsman of my late husband. Clandestine marriages were never sanctioned by any nation. They might surprise a man into a covenant which his more sober judgment would endeavour to revoke; and however solemn the oath might be in secret, if the man should prove unfaithful after the consummation of marriage, the ruined woman would want evidence to assert her right in her husband, and in his property. Every woman who surrenders her virtue to the promises of a pretended lover, whatever pity may plead in her behalf, must be regarded as the victim of her seducer. And sad experience has evinced how little regard a wicked man pays to an oath, though made in the name of the Lord. Now, on the singular case of Ruth, commentators are not agreed. But, first, Naomi’s motives were pure. She sought a family establishment for the best of daughters. Secondly, the law authorized her so to do; and the law which required the next of kin to raise up issue to a man who had died childless was an ancient law. Genesis 34:0. It had probably existed from the beginning of the world. It was founded on prudence and humanity: for the firstborn of every patriarchal branch was a prince, and a priest in his family; and consequently to be childless was considered as a great calamity, being attended with the loss of name and of inheritance. Hence the good and wise Naomi advised the fair stranger to ask her rights conformably to law, and she was emboldened to do it in the way she did from the particular notice which Boaz had shown towards her daughter. But Boaz being now between eighty and ninety years of age, and exceedingly rich; she did not think it prudent to apply to him in the regular way, lest his family, which would undoubtedly be opposed to the marriage, should frustrate all her hopes. Therefore she advised Ruth to make her just and legal claims in person, and in secret. Ruth acted solely by the advice of her mother, and was impelled by a sort of imperious necessity to approach by night: and as she obtained a blessing, not a rebuke from Boaz, followed by a secret promise and oath of marriage, her character is exempted from blame. She prostrated at the feet of her patron and near kinsman; and though he said, let no one know that a woman came into the floor, it might merely be a caution to avoid giving umbrage to the man who was nearer of kin than himself.

Ruth 3:13 . Tarry this night. She could not get into the city till the gates were opened. In warm countries they often lodge in sheltered places abroad. The manner of betrothing was by an oath of the Lord, and by the acceptance of presents. Ruth obtained this favour because of her virtues, in not following young men; her virtues make her more known than can be done by a bold exposure of her person in public places.

Ruth 3:18 . The man will not be at rest until he have finished the thing this day. So it is with the Lord Christ, our near kinsman; he will not be at rest till he has performed his faithful word, and saved the soul from sin and death.


From the private interview of Boaz and Ruth, we learn the great prudence and moral lustre of his character. He was cautious to avoid public scandal and reproach. Revering the law of the Lord, he conditionally gave Ruth an oath and promise of marriage. His love to this damsel of Moab was pure and disinterested; he loved her for her piety, and piety was the principal consideration in his affections. Towards the nearer kinsman, though he wished him not to marry, he behaved with legal fairness, firmly resolved to support the interests of the fair and virtuous stranger. Marriages thus preseded with virtue, distinguished by prudent counsel and disinterestedness, shall assuredly be blessed of the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ruth 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/ruth-3.html. 1835.
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