Ruth 3:1-18

Ruth 3:1-18
Narrative Lectionary


NaomiI her mother-in-lawII said to her, “My daughter,III

Notes on verse 1a

I “Naomi” = Noomi. From no’am (pleasantness, favor, delight, suitableness, grace); from naem (to be pleasant, beautiful, sweet, or agreeable in a literal or figurative sense). This is Naomi or Noomi, whose name means “pleasant” or “my delight” or “sweet.” See
II “mother-in-law” = chamoth. 11x in OT. From cham (father-in-law); perhaps from the same as chomah (a wall – a wall as used for protection). This is mother-in-law – in particular, a woman’s mother-in-law.
III “daughter” = bat. From ben (son literal or figurative; also, grandson, subject, nation); from banah (to build or obtain children). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.

I need to seekIV some securityV for you, so that it may be wellVI with you. 

Notes on verse 1b

IV “seek” = baqash. This is to seek, ask, desire, or request. It can be any kind of searching. It can also mean to worship or pray – implies a striving for.
V “security” = manoach. 6x in OT. From nuach (to rest, calm, camp, free, place, remain, satisfy, settle, station, or wait; implies settling down in a literal or figurative sense). This is resting place, a restful state, quiet, a home.
VI “be well” = yatab. This is to be good or pleasing, joyful. It can also mean doing good in an ethical sense or be beautiful, happy, successful, or right.

Now here is our kinsmanVII Boaz,VIII with whose young womenIX you have beenX working.

Notes on verse 2a

VII “kinsman” = modaath. 1x in OT. From yada (to know, be aware, see and so understand – includes observation, care, recognition; can also be used as a euphemism). This is kindred or acquaintance.
VIII “Boaz” = Boaz. Perhaps from azaz (to be strong in a literal or figurative sense, overcome, be impudent). This is Boaz, a personal name as well as what one of the pillars at the Temple was called. It means “quickness” or “in strength” or “by strength” or “in him…is strength.”  See
IX “young women” = naarah. From naar (child or a servant; a child in their active years so they could be aged anywhere from infancy to adolescence); perhaps from naar (to shake, toss up and down, tumble around). This is a girl or young lady ranging anywhere in age from infancy to adolescence.
X “been” = hayah. This is to be, to exist.

See,XI he is winnowingXII barleyXIII tonightXIV at the threshing floor.XV 

Notes on verse 2b

XI “see” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
XII “winnowing” = zarah. This is to scatter or toss around. It can imply to disperse, cast away, or to scrutinize.
XIII “barley” = seorah. From the same as sear (hair, hairy, rough); perhaps from sa’ar (to storm, scattered by a storm, blow away, rage, storm tossed; this is to toss in a literal or figurative sense). This is barley, perhaps as hairy.
XIV “tonight” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.
XV “threshing floor” = goren. Root may mean to smooth. It is a threshing floor, barn, or open areas more generally.

Now washXVI and anointXVII yourself, and putXVIII on your best clothesXIX and go downXX to the threshing floor,

Notes on verse 3a

XVI “wash” = rachats. This is to wash, wash away – it can be complete or partial.
XVII “anoint” = suk. 9x in OT. This is to smear or pour oil. By implication, it is to anoint.
XVIII “put” = sim. This is to put or place in a literal or figurative sense. It can be appoint, care, change, make, and may other things.
XIX “clothes” = simlah. Perhaps from semel (image, figure, likeness). This is mantle, clothes, wrapper.
XX “go down” = yarad. This is to go down, descend; going down in a literal or figurative sense. It can be going to the shore or a boundary, bringing down an enemy.

but do not make yourself knownXXI to the manXXII until he has finishedXXIII eatingXXIV and drinking.XXV 

Notes on verse 3b

XXI “make…known” = yada. Related to “kinsman” in v2. See note VII above.
XXII “man” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
XXIII “finished” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
XXIV “eating” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
XXV “drinking” = shathah. This is to drink literally or figuratively. It could also be a drinker.

XXVIWhen he lies down,XXVII observeXXVIII the placeXXIX where he lies;

Notes on verse 4a

XXVI {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “been” in v2. See note X above.
XXVII “lies down” = shakab. This is to lie down, lodge. It is lying for sleep, sex, or other reasons.
XXVIII “observe” = yada. Same as “make…known” in v3. See note XXI above.
XXIX “place” = maqom. From qum(to arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide; rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action; standing in a figurative sense). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.

then goXXX and uncoverXXXI his feetXXXII and lie down, and he will tellXXXIII you what to do.”XXXIV 

She said to her, “AllXXXV that you say I will do.”

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just asXXXVI her mother-in-law had instructedXXXVII her. 

Notes on verses 4b-6

XXX “go” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
XXXI “uncover” = galah. This is to remove, bring, carry, lead, appear, advertise. It can mean to strip someone or something bare in a negative sense. Captives were typically stripped before they were sent into exile. Used figuratively, in a positive sense, this word means reveal, disclose, discover.
XXXII “feet” = margeloth. 5x in OT – 4x in Ruth & 1x in Daniel 10:6. From the same as regel (foot, endurance, or journey; a foot as the means of walking and so it implies a step or a greater journey; can euphemistically mean private parts). This is feet or near where the feet are.
XXXIII “tell” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
XXXIV “do” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
XXXV “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
XXXVI “just as” = kol. Literally, “according to all.” Same as “all” in v5. See note XXXV above.
XXXVII “instructed” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).

When Boaz had eaten and drunk and was in a contented mood,XXXVIII he went to lie down at the endXXXIX of the heap of grain.XL Then she cameXLI stealthilyXLII and uncovered his feet and lay down. 

Notes on verse 7

XXXVIII “was in a contented mood” = yatab + leb. Literally, “was cheerful of heart.” Yatab is same as “be well” in v1. See note VI above. Leb may be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
XXXIX “end” = qatseh. From qatsah (to cut off, cut short; figuratively, to destroy). This is end, brink, border, edge, frontier. It can refer to that which is within set boundaries.
XL “heap of grain” = aremah. 11x in OT. From aram (to pile, gather). This is a heap or sheaf.
XLI “came” = bo. Same as “go” in v4. See note XXX above.
XLII “stealthily” = lat. 7x in OT.  From lut (to wrap, envelop) OR from lat (softly, muffled); {from l (to, for, of) + at (gentleness, charmer) or from la’at (to cover)}. This is mystery, covered, secret arts, incantation.

XLIIIAt midnightXLIV the man was startledXLV and turned over,XLVI and there,XLVII lying at his feet, was a woman!XLVIII 

Notes on verse 8

XLIII {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “been” in v2. See note X above.
XLIV “midnight” = chatsi + layil. Chatsi is from chatsah (to halve, divide, reach, participate). This is half, middle, midnight, midst. Layil is the same as “tonight” in v2. See note XIV above.
XLV “was startled” = charad. This is trembling, being afraid, or being terrified. It can also refer to moving quickly due to anxiety.
XLVI “turned over” = laphath. 3x in OT. This is to grasp, turn over, twist, bend, clasp.
XLVII “there” = hinneh. Same as “see” in v2. See note XI above.
XLVIII “woman” = ishshah. Related to “man” in v3. From ish (see note XXII above). This is woman, wife, or female.

He said, “Who are you?”

And she answered, “I am Ruth,XLIX your servant;L spreadLI your cloakLII over your servant, for you are next-of-kin.”LIII 

Notes on verse 9

XLIX “Ruth” = Ruth. 12x in OT. From raah (to associate with someone, cultivate) OR from reuth (a female neighbor, a mate, friend, another); {from ra’ah (to tend a flock, pasture, or graze; to rule or to associate with someone; figuratively, ruler or teacher)} OR from raah (to see, show, stare, think, view; to see in a literal or figurative sense). This is Ruth, a name meaning “friendship” or “friend” or “associate” or “vision” or “view” or “beauty.” See
L “servant” = amah. This is female servant or slave, handmaid.
LI “spread” = paras. This is to spread or stretch out, extend, break up, chop to pieces, disperse, display.
LII “cloak” = kanaph. This is wing, edge, corner, extremity. It can also be a flap or fold of a garment or the pinnacle of a building.
LIII “next-of-kin” = gaal. This is to redeem someone or something according to kinship laws. So, it could be acting on a relative’s behalf to buy back their property, to marry one’s brother’s widow, etc. This could be more briefly translated as to redeem, acts as kinsman, or purchase. As a noun, it could be deliverer or avenger.

10 He said, “May you be blessedLIV by the Lord,LV my daughter; this lastLVI instance

Notes on verse 10a

LIV “be blessed” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
LV “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “been” in v2. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note X above). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
LVI “last” = acharon. From achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue). This is end, last, coming behind, to loiter, later. It can also refer to the west.

of your loyaltyLVII is betterLVIII than the first;LIX

Notes on verse 10b

LVII “loyalty” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
LVIII “is better” = yatab. Same as “be well” in v1. See note VI above.
LIX “first” = rishon. From rishah (beginning or early time); from rosh (head, captain, or chief; excellent or the forefront; first in position or in statue or in time). This is first, former, ancestor, beginning, ranked first.

you have notLX goneLXI afterLXII young men,LXIII whether poorLXIV or rich.LXV 

Notes on verse 10c

LX “not” = bilti. From balah (to grow old, wear out, consume, waste, enjoy, fail, decay). This is nothing, not, lest, or except. From its root, it means “a failure of” – used for negative particles.
LXI “gone” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
LXII “after” = achar. Related to “last” in v10. From achar (see note LVI above). This is after or the last part, following.
LXIII “young men” = bachur. From bachar (to choose, appoint, try, excellent). This is choice, chosen, selected. It is a youth or young man.
LXIV “poor” = dal. From dalal (to be low, hang, fade, be emptied, become poor, be oppressed). This is lean, weak, needy, poor. Properly, it is one who is dangling.
LXV “rich” = ashir. From ashar (to be rich, gain, accumulate). This is rich in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be noble or a rich person.

11 And now, my daughter, do not be afraid,LXVI I will do for you all that you ask, for all the assemblyLXVII of my peopleLXVIII know that you are a worthyLXIX woman. 

Notes on verse 11

LXVI “be afraid” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
LXVII “assembly” = shaar. May be related to sha’ar (to calculate or reckon; may come from a root that means to open up or split). This is a gate, door, or other opening like a port.
LXVIII “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
LXIX “worthy” = chayil. From chul (to be firm, strong, prosperous; to endure). This is strength, wealth, ability, activity. It can refer to soldier or a company of soldiers as well as goods. It is a force of people, means, or goods. It can speak of valor, virtue, or strength.

12 But now, though it is trueLXX that I am a near kinsman,LXXI there is another kinsmanLXXII more closely relatedLXXIII than I. 

Notes on verse 12

LXX “true” = omnam. 9x in OT. From omen (faithfulness, truth); from aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast; figuratively, to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This is truly, indeed, no doubt.
LXXI “am a near kinsman” = gaal. Same as “next-of-kin” in v9. See note LIII above.
LXXII “kinsman” = gaal. Same as “next-of-kin” in v9. See note LIII above.
LXXIII “more closely related” = qarob. From qarab (to come near, offer, make ready). This is near whether nearby, related, near in time, or allied.

13 RemainLXXIV this night,LXXV andLXXVI in the morning,LXXVII

Notes on verse 13a

LXXIV “remain” = lun. This is to stop – usually to lodge for the night. It can imply dwelling, enduring, or staying permanently. Figuratively, it can mean being obstinate, particularly with one’s words – to complain.
LXXV “night” = layil. Same as “tonight” in v2. See note XIV above.
LXXVI {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “been” in v2. See note X above.
LXXVII “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.

if he will act as next-of-kinLXXVIII for you, good;LXXIX let him doLXXX it. But if he is not willingLXXXI to act as next-of-kin for you, then, as the LordLXXXII lives,LXXXIII I will act as next-of-kin for you. Lie down until the morning.”

Notes on verse 13b

LXXVIII “act as next-of-kin” = gaal. Same as “next-of-kin” in v9. See note LIII above.
LXXIX “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
LXXX “do” = gaal. Same as “next-of-kin” in v9. See note LIII above.
LXXXI “is…willing” = chaphets. Properly, this means inclined towards or bending to. Figuratively, it means to desire, delight in, or be pleased with.
LXXXII “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “been” in v2 & “Lord” in v10. It has the same meaning as “Lord” in v10 with a different vowel pointing. See note LV above.
LXXXIII “lives” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.

14 So she lay at his feet until morning but got upLXXXIV before one personLXXXV could recognizeLXXXVI another,LXXXVII for he said, “It must not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” 

Notes on verse 14

LXXXIV “got up” = qum. Related to “place” in v4. See note XXIX above.
LXXXV “one person” = ish. Same as “man” in v3. See note XXII above.
LXXXVI “recognize” = nakar. This is to recognize, examine, take notice, show, scrutinize. It is looking at something in a fixed way, showing perhaps respect or reverence. Alternately, it can show gazing with suspicion. Also, it can mean being strange towards someone or something and rejecting or ignoring it.
LXXXVII “another” = rea. Related to “Ruth” in v9. From raah (see note XLIX above).

15 Then he said, “BringLXXXVIII the cloakLXXXIX you are wearingXC and hold it out.”XCI

Notes on verse 15a

LXXXVIII “bring” = yahab. This is give, put, bring, take. It is to give in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXXIX “cloak” = mitpachath. 2x in OT. From taphach (to flatten, spread, span, swaddle, nurse a baby). This is a cloak for a woman.
XC “wearing” = asher + al. Literally, “that [is] on you.”
XCI “hold…out” = achaz. This is to grasp, catch, seize, take and hold in possession. It can also be to be afraid or hold back.

So she held it, and he measured outXCII sixXCIII measures of barley and putXCIV it on her back; then he went into the town.XCV 

16 She came to her mother-in-law, who said, “How did things go with you, my daughter?”

Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “He gaveXCVI me these six measures of barley, for he said, ‘Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”XCVII 

Notes on verses 15b-17

XCII “measured out” = madad. This is to measure, stretch, be extended, continue.
XCIII “six” = shesh. This is six. Figuratively, it can be a surplus since it is one more than the number of fingers on the hand.
XCIV “put” = shith. This is to place, set, bring, appoint, consider, bring, array or look.
XCV “town” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.
XCVI “gave” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
XCVII “empty-handed” = reqam. 16x in OT. From riq (this is to be empty or to make empty; also vanity, emptiness, something worthily, in vain); from ruq (to pour out in a literal or figurative sense, hence, to be or make empty). This is emptily, empty-handed, without cause, in vain, ineffectually, or undeservedly.

18 She replied, “Wait,XCVIII my daughter, until you learnXCIX how the matterC

Notes on verse 18a

XCVIII “wait” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
XCIX “learn” = yada. Same as “make…known” in v3. See note XXI above.
C “matter” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.

turns out,CI for the man will not restCII but will settleCIII the matter today.”CIV

Notes on verse 18b

CI “turns out” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.
CII “rest” = shaqat. This is to be quiet, rest, calm, settle, be still, peace.
CIII “settle” = kalah. Same as “finished” in v3. See note XXIII above.
CIV “today” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.

Image credit: “Ruth & Boaz” by Rachel Levi. Photo by zeevveez, 2011.

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