Ruth 4:1, 2: Meeting at the City Gates

Verse 1:[1] Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, (Ruth 3:12) the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.



[Boaz went up to the gate, עָלָ֣ה הַשַּׁעַר֮] He went up to the gate (Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). In the Hebrew, there is an ellipsis of the preposition. Thus in Varro, cum portam sessum venissemus,[2] when we had come the gate to sit, in the place of, unto the gate (Drusius). To the gate, that is, to the place of judgment (Piscator). In the more frequented gates of Jewish cities were wont to be carried into effect judgments, and great and public contracts; Deuteronomy 21:18-21; 25:5-10; Joshua 20:4; 2 Samuel 15:2-6; Psalm 127:5 (Serarius). There he waited until the near relative return from abroad (Junius). The Chaldean has, to the gate of the house, or place, of judgment; that is, of the judicial form of the very Senate (Vatablus).


The gate; the place where controversies were decided, and the people assembled, and where they used to go out and come in to the town; where he was most likely to find his kinsman.


[And he sat there] Not as a Judge (Lyra); for in his own cause he was not able to sit as a Judge (Drusius, Bonfrerius): but awaiting the near relative, who had not yet come, although, as it appears, he had been summoned; or, he knew him to go out to his reapers, or works, by the gate (Bonfrerius).


[And when he saw, etc., הַגֹּאֵ֤ל עֹבֵר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבֶּר־בֹּ֔עַז] That kinsman was passing by, whom Boaz addressed (Montanus), of whom he had said, or had spoken (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Syriac, Arabic), namely, with Ruth, Ruth 3:13 (Junius).


[Turn aside, סוּרָה] Approach (Vatablus, Tigurinus, Drusius, Munster), as in Proverbs 9:4.[3] At the same time it signifies to depart, as in Lamentations 4:15[4] (Piscator).


[Calling him by his name, פְּלֹנִ֣י אַלְמֹנִ֑י] O certain individual (Montanus), thou such (Pagnine, Vatablus, English, Dutch), thus such and such (Munster), whoever thou ultimately be (Tigurinus); ho, thou, name (Junius and Tremellius). You may rightly translate it, ὦ δεῖνα, O such an one (Junius, Piscator, Drusius). Hidden one (Septuagint). Thus the Hebrews speak when they wish to signify a certain man, but not name him (Junius, Piscator). This is used, not only of men, but also of places, 1 Samuel 21:2;[5] 2 Kings 6:8[6] (Serarius, Bonfrerius). Daniel contracts both words into one, Daniel 8:13, פַּלְמוֹנִי/palmoni, a certain one.[7] Moreover, whether these words are significative is disputed (Bonfrerius). Some deny. These words are wont to be placed only in the place of a proper name, which is passed over in silence as well-known, or which we do not want to be named (Vatablus). Others affirm. פְּלוֹנִי/peloni appears to have arisen from פָּלָא, to hide, but אַלְמוֹנִי/almoni from אַלֵּם/silent, as if it should say that we are mute in the naming of him whose name is hidden by us (Piscator); or, as if it be signified that that name is hidden and passed over in silence (Bonfrerius, similarly Serarius): or, אַלְמוֹנִי/almoni is from עָלַם, to hide, with the ע and א interchanged (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Phaleg” 4:1:231). Now, the name of this man is here omitted by the holy writer, either, 1. out ignorance of the name; for there is no disadvantage in asserting that (Bonfrerius): or, 2. because it is of no interest to know (Bonfrerius, similarly Serarius): or, 3. because he wished thus to censure the man as ungrateful and proud; who was so zealous for his own name that he put forth no effort for the name of his deceased relative, and treated with contempt his widow, Ruth, and judged himself unworthy to have his own name known to posterity (Tirinus out of Serarius, similarly Tostatus, Lapide).


Ho, such a one! doubtless Boaz both knew his name, and called him by it; but it is omitted by the holy writer, partly because it was unnecessary to know it; and principally in way of contempt, as is usual, and as a just punishment upon him, that he who would not preserve his brother’s name might lose his own, and be buried in the grave of perpetual oblivion. Sit down here, I have some business of importance with you.


Verse 2:[8] And he took ten men of (1 Kings 21:8; Prov. 31:23) the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.



[Taking ten men] For the sake of testimony, and at the same time because the Law was appointing it (Drusius). Ten, etc., which is עֵדָה, a congregation, wont to be summoned for legal acts, such as Marriage, Divorce, Transfers, Translations in law (Grotius). Ten, who might be witnesses of the matters to be conducted, or judges, as it is gathered out of verses 9 and 11 (Menochius).


He took ten men, to be umpires or witnesses between them; for though two or three witnesses were sufficient, yet in weightier matters they used more. And ten was the usual number among the Jews, in causes of matrimony and divorce, and translation of inheritances; who were both judges of the causes, and witnesses of the fact. See 1 Kings 21:8.


[Of the elders of the city] For cities were having their own elders, diverse from those that were of the whole people (Drusius).


[Sit ye here] He indicates the place in the court that was proper to the Elders (Drusius).

[1] Hebrew: וּבֹ֙עַז עָלָ֣ה הַשַּׁעַר֮ וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב שָׁם֒ וְהִנֵּ֙ה הַגֹּאֵ֤ל עֹבֵר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבֶּר־בֹּ֔עַז וַיֹּ֛אמֶר ס֥וּרָה שְׁבָה־פֹּ֖ה פְּלֹנִ֣י אַלְמֹנִ֑י וַיָּ֖סַר וַיֵּשֵֽׁב׃


[2] De Re Rustica 2.


[3] Proverbs 9:4: “Whoso is simple, let him turn in (יָסֻר) hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him…”


[4] Lamentations 4:15: “They cried unto them, Depart ye (סוּרוּ); it is unclean; depart, depart (ס֤וּרוּ ס֙וּרוּ֙), touch not: when they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there.”


[5] 1 Samuel 21:2: “And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place (אֶל־מְק֥וֹם פְּלֹנִ֖י אַלְמוֹנִֽי׃).”


[6] 2 Kings 6:8: “Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my campאֶל־מְק֛וֹם פְּלֹנִ֥י אַלְמֹנִ֖י) תַּחֲנֹתִֽי׃).”


[7] Daniel 8:13a: “Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain one (לַפַּלְמוֹנִי) which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice…”


[8] Hebrew: וַיִּקַּ֞ח עֲשָׂרָ֧ה אֲנָשִׁ֛ים מִזִּקְנֵ֥י הָעִ֖יר וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שְׁבוּ־פֹ֑ה וַיֵּשֵֽׁבוּ׃

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ABOUT US

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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