Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
RUTH CHAPTER 3
By Naomi’s advice, Ruth lieth at Boaz’s feet, Ruth 3:1-7. He awaking commendeth what she had done, and acknowledgeth the right of a kinsman; tells her there was a nearer kinsman, to whom he would offer her, who refusing, he would redeem her, Ruth 3:8-13. Sends her away with six measures of barley, Ruth 3:14-18.
Rest, i.e. a life of rest, and comfort, and safety, under the care of a good husband. The question supposeth an affirmative answer: I will seek it, as my duty binds me.
Which was in a place covered at the top, but open elsewhere, whither Ruth might easily come. And this work of winnowing corn was usually begun or ended with a feast, as may be gathered both from Ruth 3:7, and from other instances, wherein they used to do so upon like occasions; and this work was to begin this evening, and, as some think, was done only in the evenings, when the heat grew less, and the wind began to blow. See Genesis 3:8.
Thy raiment, to wit, thy best raiment. All this was done to render herself more amiable in the eyes of Boaz. Object. But Boaz could not see her, the whole business being to be transacted by night.
Answ. First, It was begun in the beginning of the night, as soon as Boaz had supped and composed himself to rest, as appears from Ruth 3:4,7, 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.
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.
When he lieth down, to rest or sleep, as upon such occasions they used to do in those hot countries.
Thou shalt go in: though Naomi and Ruth seem to be virtuous and modest women, and their intent was lawful and honest; yet there seems to be a manifold irregularity in the manner of it. First, It seems to be against that modesty which should be eminent in that sex, and in unmarried persons. Secondly, Against honesty, both because it was an injury to another person, who was nearer akin, whose right this was; which Naomi could not be ignorant of; and because it was a preposterous and precipitant method, not agreeable either to the rules of Scripture, or the usage of well-mannered nations, or that decency which even nature requires. Thirdly, Against prudence; for it might have proved the occasion, as of many sins, so of great shame to all of them; and a means to alienate his affection from her, which she sought to engage. And though there be some circumstances which alleviate the fact, as the experience which Naomi had of the wisdom and sobriety both of Boaz and of Ruth, yet she knew not what the event would be; and that there was something of shamefulness in the thing, may be gathered both from Naomi’s choice of the night for it, as if it were a work of darkness, and from Boaz’s fear lest this should be known, Ruth 3:14. And it is an aggravation of it, that this course was unnecessary, and she had a plain and likely way, which was directly to address herself to Boaz, or the next kinsman, and to require the duty which by God’s law he was bound to perform, and this before witnesses, as Boaz did. And her clandestine proceeding seems to have arisen from a distrust of God’s providence to bring about what she desired in the ordinary way.
Uncover his feet; remove the clothes which were upon his feet; thereby to awaken him.
What thou shalt do; how thou shouldst carry thyself, or what course thou shalt take to obtain that marriage which belongs unto thee. Only there were some rites to be observed, and circumstances to be done, before they came to the conclusion of the marriage, about which Boaz would instruct her.
The confidence she had in Naomi’s wisdom and piety, and true love to her, made her ready to follow her advice, wherein she was the more excusable, because she did not understand the laws and customs of the country, as Naomi did.
Had eaten and drunk, to wit, liberally, as the manner was upon those occasions. See Jude 9:27 Psalms 4:7 Isaiah 9:3.
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, Ruth 3:9, 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.
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.
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.
Spread thy skirt over thine hand-maid, i.e. take me to be thy wife, and perform the duty of an husband to me. This phrase is used in this sense Deuteronomy 22:30 27:20 Ezekiel 16:8. Either, first, Because the wife is admitted into the same bed with her husband, and both are covered with one and the same covering. Or, secondly, From an ancient ceremony of the husband’s throwing the skirt of his garment over her head, in token both of her subjection, 1 Corinthians 11:5,6,10, and appropriation to him, being hereby as it were hid from the eyes of others; see Genesis 20:16; and also of that protection which he oweth to her: see Ruth 2:12.
Thou hast showed more kindness; both to thy deceased husband, the continuance of whose name and memory thou preferrest before the satisfaction of thy own lust; and to thy mother-in-law, whose commands thou hast punctually obeyed, even with thy own hazard in so doubtful an enterprise.
Thou followedst not young men, to seek thy marriage either here, or in thy own country, as thou wouldst have done if thou hadst not preferred obedience to God’s command, before the pleasing of thyself.
Fear not; think not that I despise and reject thee, because I do not immediately comply with thy desire.
I will do to thee all that thou requirest, i.e. marry thee, upon the condition here following.
If he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, i.e. take thee to wife, to raise up seed to his brother, as he ought to do.
Before one could know another, i.e. while it was yet so dark that one person could not discern another. Or, before one did know the other, i.e. before they were carnally known to one another.
Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor; he takes care to preserve not only his conscience towards God, but his reputation, and hers also, among men.
The veil, or, the apron, such as women ordinarily wear.
Six measures; known and usual measure: it is not determined how large those measures were, but this the nature of the thing shows, that they were no larger than one woman could carry in her veil, or apron.
Who art thou, my daughter? either, first, She did not distinctly know who she was, because it was dark, and so calls her daughter only in general, as elder women call the younger. But she could as easily have discerned who she was, as what her age was. Or, secondly, This is not a question of doubting, but of wonder, as if she had said, Art thou in very deed my daughter? I can hardly believe it. How comest thou hither in this manner, and thus early?
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ruth 3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24