Ruth 3:3: Naomi's Plan, Part 2

Verse 3:[1] Wash thyself therefore, (2 Sam. 14:2) and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.



[And be anointed] Thou shalt anoint thyself (Junius and Tremellius, Montanus, Pagnine), that is, as the custom was in eastern parts; Psalm 104:15; Matthew 6:17 (Piscator out of Junius). This ancient custom was for both men and women, when they were making themselves attractive (Drusius). There is no doubt that oil adds brightness to the skin, 2 Samuel 12:20; Esther 2:12. But do not understand, with Fevardent,[2] that a fragrant ointment was here employed; for the fragrance of this would have thwarted her desire to go unnoticed; but a simple oil, for that was better agreeing both with her poverty and with her endeavor (Bonfrerius).


[Dress in more ornate garments] Hebrew: put thy raiment upon thee[3] (Vatablus, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Drusius, Piscator), understanding, more elegant (Vatablus, Drusius, Piscator); adorn thyself in thy raiment (Syriac, Arabic); put ornaments, etc. (Jonathan). Question: But to what end is this grooming of the body, since all things appear to have been transacted at night? Response 1: After supper Ruth was able to be seen (Tostatus). But, on the other hand, 1. Naomi took precautions against this, that she be not seen by him: 2. and there is complete silence in the text concerning her appearance (Serarius). Response 2: Naomi persuaded herself that it was able to happen with perfect east that she would be seen by Boaz, either with a lamp fetched, or with the light of day more obscurely twinkling, or with the coming of the light of the morning anticipated (Bonfrerius). Naomi was thinking that she was at least going to be seen the following day; and she desired, in whatever manner was lawful, to honor the honesty and dignity of marriage (Serarius).


Thy raiment, to wit, thy best raiment. All this was done to render herself more amiable in the eyes of Boaz. Objection: But Boaz could not see her, the whole business being to be transacted by night. Answer: First, It was begun in the beginning of the night, as soon as Boaz had supped and composed himself to rest, as appears from verses 4, 7, when there was so much light left as might discover her to him. Secondly, There being a solemn feast this evening, as is very probably thought, and the master of the feast having invited his labouring people to it, and Ruth among the rest, it is likely that both she and the rest did put themselves into their best dress upon that occasion, as the manner is even at this day; and so he had opportunity enough to see her.


[Let not the man see thee, אַל־תִּוָּדְעִ֣י לָאִ֔ישׁ] Do not present thyself to a man to be recognized (Vatablus), that is, to anyone (Drusius), or, to that man, that is, to Boaz (Drusius, Piscator), τῷ ἀνδρὶ.[4] It is honorifically put in the place of his name (Drusius).


Make not thyself known unto the man, to wit, not in so familiar a way, as she was appointed to do, so as he might know her, in the sense in which that word is sometimes used.


[Until he shall have done eating and drinking] Certain dishes are wont, with the harvest almost brought into the barn, to be set before the workers, to motivate and to revive them: concerning which Cato says, On the day in which was the daps, sacrificial feast (thus a feast of this sort was called) of the holiday for the oxen, the plowmen, and those that will perform the sacrifice.[5] Whence also by Ovid they were called Vacuna,[6] because after the fruits were brought in the farmers vacarent, were free, from labors.[7] But this occasion of festivals and feasts Naomi was supposing to be more opportune for Ruth to capture the heart of Boaz, now gladdened (Tirinus out of Serarius).

[1] Hebrew: וְרָחַ֣צְתְּ׀ וָסַ֗כְתְּ וְשַׂ֧מְתְּ שִׂמְלֹתֵ֛ךְ עָלַ֖יִךְ וְיָרַ֣דְתִּי הַגֹּ֑רֶן אַל־תִּוָּדְעִ֣י לָאִ֔ישׁ עַ֥ד כַּלֹּת֖וֹ לֶאֱכֹ֥ל וְלִשְׁתּֽוֹת׃


[2] Francis Fevardentius (1541-1610) was a French Franciscan. He was a fierce controversialist, and furious persecutor of Protestants. Among his writings, Fevardentius produced commentaries on various books of Scripture.


[3] Hebrew: וְשַׂ֧מְתְּ שִׂמְלֹתֵ֛ךְ עָלַ֖יִךְ.


[4] Thus the Septuagint.


[5] De Re Rustica 132.


[6] That is, days of leisure.


[7] Fasti 6.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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