Ruth 3:8: Encounter on the Threshingfloor

Verse 8:[1] And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned (or, took hold on[2]) himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.


At midnight; he did not discover her sooner, though she did not uncover his feet, being it seems in a deep sleep, as is usual after feasts, and she doing no more that her mother commanded her, and using no words or gestures which might provoke his lust; wherein she showed her temperance and modesty, and that what she did was only by her mother’s instigation and advice, which plainly appeared from her desire expressed, verse 9, which he knew, she being a stranger, was unacquainted with. And this was the reason why Boaz was not in the least offended with her, but only commends her virtue, without any reflection upon her for this fact.



[And he was disturbed, וַיִּלָּפֵת] This word is found only here, and in Judges 16:29,[3] and in Job 6:18[4] (Piscator). [They render it variously.] And he turned himself (Montanus, Pagnine, Kimchi in Dieu, English, Dutch). To see what that was that was lying at his feet (Malvenda). And he turned, or turned over himself, that is, from side to side (Vatablus, Ibn Ezra in Munster). He turned himself this way and that (Junius and Tremellius); and he was disturbed (Septuagint, Osiander); and he was contracted because of fear (Munster). And because of fear his flesh was softened after the likeness of a turnip (Jonathan). לֶפֶת to the Rabbis, לִפְתָא to the Chaldeans, לפתה to the Arabs, is a turnip. But this signification does not agree with Judges 16 and Job 6 (Dieu). And when he had touched (Tigurinus), that is, that which was lying at his feet (Malvenda). They expounded it actively, although it is passive in the Niphal (Dieu). He was astonished (Syriac); he was surprised (Arabic); he caught hold of himself (the Genevan translators in Dieu). That is, gathering his members to himself, after the manner of those afraid (Dieu). He took hold on himself (Dutch, English). I translate it, and he was restrained. He was afraid, says he: why? because he was restrained, namely, by a woman, who by her weight was restraining and holding down his covering, or perhaps lying upon the very feet of him (Dieu). He twisted and turned himself this way and that, as gathering some of his members to others, after the manner of those fearful (Mercerus in Piscator).


Turned himself; from the place where he lay, he raised and turned himself towards the feet, to learn who or what was there. Or, he was troubled, or afraid, or wondered; for the Hebrew word being but once used, is diversely rendered.


[And he saw a woman] For he was able on a clear night under the open heavens to see somewhat, especially since some light was shed by the Moon and stars, so that it was not difficult from her festive robe, etc., to recognize a woman: otherwise there would have been no occasion of consternation, if on this more spacious threshingfloor, on which likely many of the threshers of the day before had fallen asleep, some one should be found to have fallen asleep at his feet. In Hebrew it is only, behold, a woman[5] (Bonfrerius).


[Lying] Some translate it, behold, a woman was sleeping:[6] but it is likely that she, intent upon every opportunity, took no sleep (Bonfrerius).


A woman lay at his feet; which he might understand, either by some glimmerings of light which were after midnight, which discovered her; or rather, by her voice, or out of her own mouth, who being asked, told him so much in general, before he made particular inquiry.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִי֙ בַּחֲצִ֣י הַלַּ֔יְלָה וַיֶּחֱרַ֥ד הָאִ֖ישׁ וַיִּלָּפֵ֑ת וְהִנֵּ֣ה אִשָּׁ֔ה שֹׁכֶ֖בֶת מַרְגְּלֹתָֽיו׃


[2] Hebrew: וַיִּלָּפֵת.


[3] Judges 16:29: “And Samson took hold (וַיִּלְפֹּ֙ת שִׁמְשׁ֜וֹן) of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.”


[4] Job 6:18: “The paths of their way are turned aside (יִלָּפְתוּ); they go to nothing, and perish.”


[5] Hebrew: וְהִנֵּ֣ה אִשָּׁ֔ה.


[6] Hebrew: וְהִנֵּ֣ה אִשָּׁ֔ה שֹׁכֶ֖בֶת מַרְגְּלֹתָֽיו׃.

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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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