Matthew Poole's Commentary
And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.Ruth gleaning in the fields of Boaz, her deceased husband’s near kinsman, h taketh knowledge of her, Ruth 2:1-7. He showeth her great kindness, and blesseth her, Ruth 2:8-16. That which she got she brings to Naomi; and telleth her what had befallen her. She giveth God thanks, and exhorteth Ruth to continue in the field, Ruth 2:17-23.
No text from Poole on this verse.
And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.Gleaning was permitted to the poor and the stranger, Deu 24:19, both which she was; nor was she ashamed to confess her poverty, nor would she eat the bread of idleness; whereby she showeth herself to be a prudent, and diligent, and virtuous woman, as she is called, Ruth 3:11.
In whose sight I shall find grace; for though it was their duty to permit this, Leviticus 19:9 23:22, yet either she was ignorant thereof, or thought that, being a stranger, it might be grudged or denied to her; or, at least, that it became her modestly and humbly to acknowledge their kindness herein.
And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.Her hap was; for it was indeed a chance in reference to second causes, but ordered and designed by God’s providence.
And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.They expressed and professed their piety, even in their civil conversation and worldly transactions; which now so many are ashamed of, and call it hypocrisy or vain ostentation thus to do.
Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?No text from Poole on this verse.
And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:i.e. 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.
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.
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 Ruth 2:18,19, 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.
Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:Not by the young men, to avoid both occasion of sin and matter of scandal. Herein he shows his piety and prudence.
Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.That they shall not touch thee, so as to offer any incivility or injury to thee. Touching is oft taken for hurting, Genesis 26:11 Psalm 105:15.
Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?She fell on her face: this was the humblest posture of reverence; either civil, when performed to men, or religious, when to God. See Genesis 18:2 33:3 42:6 Matthew 2:11 8:2.
Take knowledge of me, i.e. show any respect and kindness to me; for words of knowledge in Scripture commonly include affection.
And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.Which thou knewest not; of whom thou hadst no experience; for otherwise in general she could not be ignorant of this people.
The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.Wings, i.e. protection and care, as Deu 32:11 Psalm 17:8 36:7 91:4. An allusion either to hens, which protect and cherish their young ones under their wings; or to the wings of the cherubims, between which God dwelt.
Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.Let me find favour in thy sight; I humbly implore the continuance of thy good opinion of me, though I do not deserve it.
Not like unto one of thy handmaidens; a person more mean, and necessitous, and obscure, being a stranger, and one born of heathenish parents, and not of the holy and honourable people of Israel, as they are.
And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.Bread in those simple and frugal times was the usual food of servants and the meaner sort, at least when they were engaged in such works as this, which required speed, and therefore must be quick in their eating, as well as in their work. Or bread may be here put for any food, as it oft is.
Vinegar; either simple vinegar, in which the poorer sort used to dip their bread, and so eat it in hot countries, as they did not only in Canaan, but afterwards in Italy; it being very proper, especially in those parts, for cooling them in those hot seasons, for strengthening their sinews, &c.; or vinegar mixed with other things to make some kind of sauce.
Beside the reapers; not with or among them, but at some little distance from them, and as one inferior to them, as she had acknowledged before in words, and now showeth it by her actions.
Parched corn; a food in frequent use and some esteem with them. See 2 Samuel 17:28.
And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:As if she were rude or impudent in so doing, as otherwise they should have thought.
Quest. Why did he not rather give her as much corn as she could carry, and send her away?
Answ. Because he would not have her to eat the bread of idleness, but honestly to get it with the sweat of her brow, according to her duty and present condition.
And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.No text from Poole on this verse.
So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.An ephah is thought to contain about a bushel. See Exodus 16:36 Leviticus 5:11.
And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed.Or, that which she had left of her fulness, or after she was satisfied. She did eat as much as she desired of what she had gleaned, and her mother, as I suppose, with her, and the residue she gave to her mother to lay up for future use.
And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.And to the dead, i.e. which he formerly showed to those who are now dead, to wit, my husband and his sons whilst they were living, and now continues to us, their wives, who are now alive.
One of our next kinsmen; Heb. one of our redeemers, or avengers, to whom it belongs to avenge our persons, and to redeem our lands, and to marry thee, the widow and relict of his next kinsman, as is expressed, Ruth 3:9. She saith one of them, not that there were many who were immediately such, but that he was a very near kinsman, and one to whom that office belonged, in case of the refusal of one person, of whom she rightly conjectured that he would refuse, as he did.
And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.Both barley and wheat harvest, as is said, Ruth 2:23.
And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.Whereby thou wilt both expose thyself to many inconveniences, which thou mayst expect from strangers; and incur his displeasure, as if thou didst either despise his proffered kindness, or doubt of the sincerity of his affections and offers.
So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.Heb. sat or continued at home, when she had despatched her occasions abroad, and did not wander or gad abroad, after the manner of idle persons and harlots, Proverbs 7:11,12.