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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Ruth 2

 

 

Verses 1-23

Ruth 2:1-23. The Meeting of Boaz and Ruth.—Naomi's "kinsman"—quite a different word from the "near kinsman" (goël) of Ruth 2:20—is introduced in Heb. words which sometimes denoted "a wealthy man," and sometimes "a valiant man," so that a peaceful farmer like Boaz is characterised in the same terms as warriors like Gideon and Jephthah (Judges 6:12; Judges 11:1). The name Boaz may mean "in Him is strength."

Ruth 2:2. It was a custom, and it became a law, in Israel that the poor, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow should be permitted to glean in the harvest fields (Deuteronomy 24:19 f., Leviticus 23:22).

Ruth 2:3. It was Ruth's "hap" to glean in Boaz's field. Even a writer who sees the hand of God in everything (Ruth 1:13) may speak of some things as "happening": cf. our Lord's words, "By chance a certain priest came down that way" (Luke 10:31).

Ruth 2:7. Text uncertain, and "in the house" cannot be right. Probably the clause means simply "without resting a moment."

Ruth 2:8 f. It was the task of the "young men" to reap and of the "maidens" to gather the sheaves, as in western lands before the days of machinery.

Ruth 2:12. Boaz offers a devout prayer for Ruth, a prayer which he is to be instrumental in fulfilling, though as yet this has not occurred to him.

Ruth 2:13. Ruth gratefully acknowledges that he has comforted her by speaking kindly to her, lit. speaking to her heart (cf. Hosea 2:14, Isaiah 40:2). She was a stranger in a strange land, not without memories of home, and she needed to be comforted, though Keats goes somewhat too far in his sympathy for "the sad heart of Ruth, when sick for home she stood in tears amid the alien corn." Her home was now, in truth, where Naomi was, and her refuge under the wings of Yahweh, the God of Israel (Ruth 2:12).

Ruth 2:14. Ruth, in the eyes of the law a mere heathen, is invited to dip her morsel in the vinegar along with the reapers of Bethlehem, though the orthodox Jew has always avowed to the Gentile, "I will not eat with thee, drink with thee, nor pray with thee."

Ruth 2:16. The "bundles" were the armfuls that were being gathered into sheaves.

Ruth 2:17. At the end of the day Ruth had an ephah—almost a bushel—of barley to take home.

Ruth 2:18. A more graphic reading is found in the ancient VSS, "and she showed her mother-in-law what she had gleaned."

Ruth 2:20. This sounds like a recantation; after all Yahweh has not left off His kindness (contrast Ruth 1:20 f.). "One of our near kinsmen" means "one of those who have the right to redeem for us." Naomi and Ruth need a "redeemer" (gol), else Elimelech's property would go to strangers. The function of the "near kinsman" was of great importance in Heb. family life. If a man was so unfortunate as to have sold himself or his property, the gol's part was to redeem him or it; if he was killed, the gol was the avenger of blood; and if he died without personal issue, the gol endeavoured to prevent his estate from passing to strangers (Leviticus 25:47-49).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ruth 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/ruth-2.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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