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By Naomi's instruction, Ruth passes the night at Boaz's feet: Boaz acknowledges the right of a kinsman: Ruth relates to Naomi all that had happened.
Before Christ 1376.
Ruth 3:1. My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee— This, according to the eastern mode of expression, is a strong affirmative. As Ruth had shewn so much piety and affection to her mother, Naomi thought it her duty to do all in her power to provide for her; and, as Providence had in so remarkable a manner directed her to Boaz, she devised the following method of calling upon him to perform that duty which the law required from him. A circumstance which must be kept in mind, to preserve both Naomi and Ruth from any imputation of immodesty: nor, indeed, ought we to judge too hastily of a history like this, without a due attention, not only to the peculiar laws, but to the striking simplicity of the manners of those times, with a pleasing picture whereof every trait in this history presents us.
Ruth 3:2. Behold, he winnoweth barley— It is plain from the 7th verse, that this was a season of feasting, and that a kind of feast was given upon a completion of the harvest. The Chaldee paraphrase upon the 7th verse is, the heart of Boaz rejoiced, and he blessed God who had heard his prayer, and removed the famine from the land of Israel.
Ruth 3:3. Put thy raiment upon thee, &c.— Her best clothes or ornaments, as some of the versions express it. It is not easy to tell at this distance of time, and under this difference of manners, why Naomi advised Ruth to this secret method of proceeding. To some persons, it will seem that it would have been better for her to have claimed publicly the right of redemption from Boaz: but, unquestionably, Naomi, who was a pious woman, had sufficient reasons for her mode of proceeding; and, well satisfied of the honour of Boaz, as well as the modesty of Ruth, she had no apprehensions of any consequences which might impugn the reputation of either.
REFLECTIONS.—We have here Naomi's solicitude to get her daughter comfortably settled, and at rest in the house of her husband, that she might no longer be exposed to the difficulties under which they now struggled. She informed Ruth, that Boaz's kindred to her, as she apprehended, laid him under an obligation to take his brother's widow, and raise up seed unto his brother. Note; (1.) It seems safest and best, that the younger widows marry, 1 Timothy 5:14. (2.) Parents should seek the settlement of their children in marriage, as one great part of their duty respecting them. (3.) The rest of the marriage state consists in union and affection. To have a wandering heart there, is not only to be criminal, but to be wretched.
Ruth 3:7. He went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn— It seems as if this were a temporary kind of rest, and that Boaz reposed here only a short time upon the present occasion; lying down in his clothes, and not going, as usual, to his house, and bed: and, possibly, Naomi, knowing this to be the custom, might therefore make choice of the present opportunity. In this situation Ruth came to him, and, dressed as she was in her best raiment, Rth 3:3 laid herself down at his feet.
Ruth 3:9. Spread, therefore, thy skirt over thine handmaid— See chap. Ruth 2:12. In the Hebrew it is, spread thy wing. It is a proverbial manner of speaking, signifying in general, take me under thy protection; and in particular, take me under thy protection as a husband: the Chaldee, therefore, plainly renders it, let thy name be called upon thine handmaid, by taking me for thy wife. Even to this day, it is a ceremony among the Jews for the man to throw the skirt of his talith, or veil, over his spouse, and to cover her head with it. See Buxtorf. Synag. Jud. cap. 39: Ruth, subjoins the reason of her request; and, to judge properly concerning it, we must, in a great measure, divest ourselves of modern ideas, and consider not only the manners of those times, but the light in which a state of widowhood and celibacy was considered among the Jews. Ruth, a proselyte to the religion of that nation, was full of those expectations which animated the pious women among them; and the sequel of this history fully proves, that her expectations were not ill-grounded.
Ruth 3:10. He said, Blessed be thou of the Lord— Nothing can be more honourable than the testimony which Boaz gives in this and the next verse to the character of Ruth; which, while it removes all suspicions from her reputation, at the same time proves that Boaz acted upon principle, and was a man of true discernment and real piety.
Ruth 3:12. Howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I— He does not reject her petition; but, actuated by a strict regard to the law of Moses, informs her, that he could not properly take her to wife, as there was a person nearer to her than himself: till, therefore, that person could be consulted, it was their duty to wait. He assures her, that there shall be no longer delay than is absolutely requisite; that he will immediately take all necessary steps; and, in the mean time, advises her in quietness and security to remain there that night, under the protection of a man, whom inclination as well as religion led to preserve her virtue, reputation, and happiness. See Rth 3:14 and Pfeiffer's Dubia Vexata, p. 360.
Ruth 3:15. Bring the vail—and hold it— Respecting the vail, see Exodus 12:34. The Chaldee paraphrase adds these words to the present verse: "Strength was given her from the Lord to bear it; and immediately it was said in prophecy, that six righteous persons should proceed from her, each of whom should be blessed with six benedictions, David, and Daniel and his three companions, and the King Messiah." She went into the city, is rendered by the Chaldee, Boaz went into the city, and the Hebrew seems to favour this interpretation.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ruth 3". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany