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Ruth 2:5-7: Ruth's Good Reputation

Verse 5:[1] Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?

[That was over the reapers, הַנִּצָּ֖ב עַל־הַקּֽוֹצְרִ֑ים[2]] That had been appointed (verbatim: standing [Montanus]) over the reapers (Pagnine, Piscator). Josephus calls him the overseer of the field[3] (Drusius).

Verse 6:[4] And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel (Ruth 1:22) that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab…

That came back, etc.: that is, That came with Naomi when she came back; for otherwise, as Ruth did not go from thence, so she could not properly be said to come back.

Verse 7:[5] And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.

She said, I pray you, let me glean; she did not boldly intrude herself, but modestly ask leave of us.

[That she might gather ears, וְאָסַפְתִּ֣י בָֽעֳמָרִ֔ים] And I will gather ears (Munster); I will gather ears among the bundles (Pagnine, similarly Tigurinus); I will gather among the bundles (Junius and Tremellius), or, in the bundles (Drusius, Piscator, Septuagint), that is, near, or around, the bundles; for there is more among the bundles, verse 15 (Piscator). [See more things on verse 2.]

[And from morning until now she stands in the field, and has not returned to the house even for a moment, וַֽתַּעֲמ֗וֹד מֵאָ֤ז הַבֹּ֙קֶר֙ וְעַד־עַ֔תָּה זֶ֛ה שִׁבְתָּ֥הּ הַבַּ֖יִת מְעָֽט׃] Verbatim: and she stood from then in the morning until now; this session of her in the house is but a short time (Montanus). She persists now from the morning to the present (Tigurinus, similarly Munster, Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius, Jonathan, English, Castalio); that she tarried a little in the house (English); this only a little, that she is sitting in the house a bit (Jonathan); that she sits in the cottage just a bit (Tigurinus); now the sitting (or, and the sitting [Osiander]) of her in the house is little. The זֶה signifies now, Numbers 14:22.[6] Now, it appears that in that expression there is an ellipsis of the noun עֵת/time, so that the whole thought might be, זֶה עֵת, that is, at this time. Moreover, in the Hebrew it is to sit of the house,[7] that is, to sit which is done in a house, or at home: A Genitive of subject. Or, there is an ellipsis of the preposition ב/in (Piscator). The sitting, or staying, of her now in the house is small (Pagnine, Vatablus), that is, for a small time: that is, hence it appears that she does not sit long in the house (Vatablus out of the Hebrews). She is not wont to recline idly in the house, but is very laborious (Osiander). With this short sitting of her in the cottage excepted (Munster). She sat only briefly in her house (Junius and Tremellius) (but that her is not in the text [Piscator]). These words are an exception to what precedes; that is to say, Ruth stood, that is, persisted, or persevered, in gleaning, except that just a little previously she returned to the house, and there sat briefly. But to this opinion the following narration appears to be repugnant, especially verse 19, in which her mother-in-law asks of Ruth where she had been that day; which certainly would have been known to her, if Rth had returned home before evening. Or, it is to be said that Ruth returned home, while she was yet ignorant of whose field it was, and that then she returned to the field (Piscator). I see a great many interpreters to understand by הַבַּיִת, the house, the house of Ruth, or of Naomi, in which she was living. But I think that it is rather to be understood of a house pertaining to the estate of Boaz, into which Ruth retired for a brief time, either because she was exhausted, or because the reapers were also resting from their labors; and in which Boaz, when he arrived, found her sitting. Ibn Ezra doubtlessly thought that, who says that בַּיִת/house in this place was put in the place of סוּכָּה, that is, in the place of a cottage and tent that was wont to be fixed in the fields. [Both Munster and Tirinus translate it cottage, as was previously noted.] And so I translate it thus: And she came and remained from the morning until now, now to sit herself (that is, inasmuch as she now sits) in the house a little. Boaz was amazed that he sees a foreign woman sittin in the cottage or house of his estate; he asked who she was: it is answered that she is Ruth…who from the morning to this time had gathered ears, until she retired now into the tent for a little (Dieu). From this morning when she first came: verbatim, from then in the morning: or the language of then παρέλκει, is redundant. This sitting of her. This passage tormented me for a long time and keenly. Does it signify, she sits in the house only for a little? or, therefore she sits in the house for a little? for this reason she abides in the house so little. Or the sense is, her remaining here; at home very little, understanding, she is, or she sits. In the house, or at home (Drusius).

Hath continued even from the morning until now; she is not retired though idleness, for she hath been diligent and constant in her labours. In the house; not in Naomi’s house, as many understand it, as may be gathered from verses 18, 19, but in the little house or tent, which was set up in the fields at these times, and was necessary in those hot countries, where the labourers or others might retire for a little repose or repast at fit times. Being weary with her continued labours she comes hither to take a little rest.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר בֹּ֙עַז֙ לְנַעֲר֔וֹ הַנִּצָּ֖ב עַל־הַקּֽוֹצְרִ֑ים לְמִ֖י הַנַּעֲרָ֥ה הַזֹּֽאת׃

[2] נָצַב in the Niphal conjugation signifies to take one’s stand, or to be appointed.

[3] Antiquities 5:9.

[4] Hebrew: וַיַּ֗עַן הַנַּ֛עַר הַנִּצָּ֥ב עַל־הַקּוֹצְרִ֖ים וַיֹּאמַ֑ר נַעֲרָ֤ה מֽוֹאֲבִיָּה֙ הִ֔יא הַשָּׁ֥בָה עִֽם־נָעֳמִ֖י מִשְּׂדֵ֥ה מוֹאָֽב׃

[5] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֗אמֶר אֲלַקֳטָה־נָּא֙ וְאָסַפְתִּ֣י בָֽעֳמָרִ֔ים אַחֲרֵ֖י הַקּוֹצְרִ֑ים וַתָּב֣וֹא וַֽתַּעֲמ֗וֹד מֵאָ֤ז הַבֹּ֙קֶר֙ וְעַד־עַ֔תָּה זֶ֛ה שִׁבְתָּ֥הּ הַבַּ֖יִת מְעָֽט׃

[6] Numbers 14:22: “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times (וַיְנַסּ֣וּ אֹתִ֗י זֶ֚ה עֶ֣שֶׂר פְּעָמִ֔ים), and have not hearkened to my voice…”

[7] A woodenly literalistic rendering.

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