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A Family Tragedy: Famine and Death

During the time of the judges,[a] there was a famine in the land of Judah.[b] So a man from Bethlehem[c] in Judah went to live as a resident foreigner[d] in the region of Moab, along with his wife and two sons.[e] (Now the man’s name was Elimelech,[f] his wife was Naomi,[g] and his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion.[h] They were of the clan of Ephrath[i] from Bethlehem in Judah.) They entered the region of Moab and settled there.[j] Sometime later[k] Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, so she and her two sons were left alone. Both her sons[l] married[m] Moabite women. (One was named Orpah and the other Ruth.)[n] And they continued to live there about ten years. Then Naomi’s two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, also died.[o] So the woman was left all alone—bereaved of her two children[p] as well as her husband! So she decided to return home from the region of Moab, accompanied by her daughters-in-law,[q] because while she was living in Moab[r] she had heard that the Lord had shown concern for[s] his people, reversing the famine by providing abundant crops.[t]

Ruth Returns with Naomi

Now as she and her two daughters-in-law began to leave the place where she had been living to return to the land of Judah,[u] Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Listen to me! Each of you should return to your mother’s home.[v] May the Lord show[w] you[x] the same kind of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands[y] and to me.[z] May the Lord enable each of you to find[aa] security[ab] in the home of a new husband.”[ac] Then she kissed them goodbye, and they wept loudly.[ad] 10 But they said to her, “No![ae] We will[af] return with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi replied, “Go back home, my daughters! There is no reason for you to return to Judah with me.[ag] I am no longer capable of giving birth to sons who might become your husbands![ah] 12 Go back home, my daughters! For I am too old to get married again.[ai] Even if I thought that there was hope that I could get married tonight and conceive sons,[aj] 13 surely you would not want to wait until they were old enough to marry.[ak] Surely you would not remain unmarried all that time![al] No,[am] my daughters, you must not return with me.[an] For my intense suffering[ao] is too much for you to bear.[ap] For the Lord is afflicting me!”[aq]

14 Again they wept loudly.[ar] Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye,[as] but Ruth[at] clung tightly to her.[au] 15 So Naomi[av] said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her god.[aw] Follow your sister-in-law back home!” 16 But Ruth replied,

“Stop urging me to abandon you![ax]
For wherever you go, I will go.
Wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will become my people,
and your God will become my God.
17 Wherever you die, I will die—and there I will be buried.
May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise![ay]
Only death will be able to separate me from you!”[az]

18 When Naomi[ba] realized that Ruth[bb] was determined to go with her, she stopped trying to dissuade her.[bc] 19 So the two of them[bd] journeyed together until they arrived in Bethlehem.

Naomi and Ruth Arrive in Bethlehem

When they entered[be] Bethlehem, the whole village was excited about their arrival.[bf] The women of the village said,[bg] “Can this be Naomi?”[bh] 20 But she replied[bi] to them,[bj] “Don’t call me ‘Naomi’![bk] Call me ‘Mara’[bl] because the Sovereign One[bm] has treated me very harshly.[bn] 21 I left here full,[bo] but the Lord has caused me to return empty-handed.[bp] Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that[bq] the Lord has opposed me,[br] and the Sovereign One[bs] has caused me to suffer?”[bt] 22 So Naomi returned, accompanied by her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth, who came back with her from the region of Moab.[bu] (Now they[bv] arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.)[bw]

Ruth Works in the Field of Boaz

Now Naomi[bx] had a relative[by] on her husband’s side of the family named Boaz. He was a wealthy, prominent man from the clan of Elimelech.[bz] One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go[ca] to the fields so I can gather[cb] grain behind whoever permits me to do so.”[cc] Naomi[cd] replied, “You may go, my daughter.” So Ruth[ce] went and gathered grain in the fields[cf] behind the harvesters. Now she just happened to end up[cg] in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.

Boaz and Ruth Meet

Now at that very moment,[ch] Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted[ci] the harvesters, “May the Lord be with you!” They replied,[cj] “May the Lord bless you!” Boaz asked[ck] his servant[cl] in charge of the harvesters, “To whom does this young woman belong?”[cm] The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab. She asked,[cn] ‘May I follow the harvesters and gather grain[co] among the bundles?’[cp] Since she arrived she has been working hard[cq] from this morning until now[cr]—except for[cs] sitting[ct] in the resting hut[cu] a short time.”[cv]

So Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully,[cw] my dear![cx] Do not leave to gather grain in another field. You need not[cy] go beyond the limits of this field. You may go along beside[cz] my female workers.[da] Take note of[db] the field where the men[dc] are harvesting and follow behind with the female workers.[dd] I will tell the men[de] to leave you alone.[df] When you are thirsty, you may go to[dg] the water jars[dh] and drink some of the water[di] the servants draw.”[dj]

10 Ruth[dk] knelt before him with her forehead to the ground[dl] and said to him, “Why are you so kind[dm] and so attentive to me,[dn] even though[do] I am a foreigner?”[dp] 11 Boaz replied to her,[dq] “I have been given a full report of[dr] all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband—how you left[ds] your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously.[dt] 12 May the Lord reward your efforts![du] May your acts of kindness be repaid fully[dv] by the Lord God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection.”[dw] 13 She said, “You really are being kind to me,[dx] sir,[dy] for you have reassured[dz] and encouraged[ea] me, your servant,[eb] even though I will[ec] never be like[ed] one of your servants.”[ee]

14 Later during the mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and have[ef] some food! Dip your bread[eg] in the vinegar.” So she sat down beside the harvesters. Then he handed[eh] her some roasted grain. She ate until she was full and saved the rest.[ei] 15 When she got up to gather grain, Boaz told[ej] his male servants, “Let her gather grain even among[ek] the bundles. Don’t chase her off![el] 16 Make sure you pull out[em] ears of grain for her and drop them so she can gather them up. Don’t tell her not to!”[en] 17 So she gathered grain in the field until evening. When she threshed[eo] what she had gathered, it came to about thirty pounds[ep] of barley.

Ruth Returns to Naomi

18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw[eq] how much grain[er] she had gathered. Then Ruth[es] gave her the roasted grain she had saved from mealtime.[et] 19 Her mother-in-law asked her,[eu] “Where did you gather grain today? Where did you work? May the one who took notice of you be rewarded!”[ev] So Ruth[ew] told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked. She said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be rewarded by the Lord because he[ex] has shown loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead!”[ey] Then Naomi said to her, “This man is a close relative of ours; he is our guardian.”[ez] 21 Ruth the Moabite replied, “He even[fa] told me, ‘You may go along beside my servants[fb] until they have finished gathering all my harvest!’”[fc] 22 Naomi then said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “It is good, my daughter, that you should go out to work with his female servants.[fd] That way you will not be harmed, which could happen in another field.”[fe] 23 So Ruth[ff] worked beside[fg] Boaz’s female servants, gathering grain until the end of the barley harvest as well as the wheat harvest.[fh] After that she stayed home with her mother-in-law.[fi]


  1. Ruth 1:1 tn Heb “in the days of the judging of the judges.” The LXX simply reads “when the judges judged,” and Syriac has “in the days of the judges.” Cf. NASB “in the days when the judges governed (ruled NRSV).”sn Many interpreters, reading this statement in the light of the Book of Judges which describes a morally corrupt period, assume that the narrator is painting a dark backdrop against which Ruth’s exemplary character and actions will shine even more brightly. However, others read this statement in the light of the book’s concluding epilogue which traces the full significance of the story to the time of David, the chosen king of Judah (4:18-22).
  2. Ruth 1:1 tn Heb “in the land.” The phrase “of Judah” is supplied in the translation to clarify the referent.
  3. Ruth 1:1 sn The name Bethlehem (בֵּית לֶחֶם, bet lekhem) is from “house, place” (בֵּית) and “bread, food” (לֶחֶם), so the name literally means “House of Bread” or “Place of Food.” Perhaps there is irony here: One would not expect a severe famine in such a location. This would not necessarily indicate that Bethlehem was under divine discipline, but merely that the famine was very severe, explaining the reason for the family’s departure.
  4. Ruth 1:1 tn Or “to live temporarily.” The verb גּוּר (gur, “sojourn”) may refer to (1) temporary dwelling in a location (Deut 18:6; Judg 17:7) or (2) permanent dwelling in a location (Judg 5:17; Ps 33:8). When used of a foreign land, it can refer to (1) temporary dwelling as a visiting foreigner (Gen 12:10; 20:1; 21:34; 2 Kgs 8:1-2; Jer 44:14) or (2) permanent dwelling as a resident foreigner (Gen 47:4; Exod 6:4; Num 15:14; Deut 26:5; 2 Sam 4:3; Jer 49:18, 33; 50:40; Ezek 47:22-23). Although Naomi eventually returned to Judah, there is some ambiguity whether or not Elimelech intended the move to make them permanent resident foreigners. Cf. NASB “to sojourn” and NIV “to live for a while,” both of which imply the move was temporary, while “to live” (NCV, NRSV, NLT) is more neutral about the permanence of the Some interpreters view Elimelech’s departure from Judah to sojourn in Moab as lack of faith in the covenant God of Israel to provide for his family’s needs in the land of promise; therefore his death is consequently viewed as divine judgment. Others note that God never prohibited his people from seeking food in a foreign land during times of famine but actually sent his people to a foreign land during a famine in Canaan on at least one occasion as an act of deliverance (Gen 37-50). In this case, Elimelech’s sojourn to Moab was an understandable act by a man concerned for the survival of his family, perhaps even under divine approval, so their death in Moab was simply a tragedy, a bad thing that happened to a godly person.
  5. Ruth 1:1 tn Heb “he and his wife and his two sons.” The LXX omits “two.”
  6. Ruth 1:2 sn The name “Elimelech” literally means “My God [is] king.” The narrator’s explicit identification of his name seems to cast him in a positive light.
  7. Ruth 1:2 tn Heb “and the name of his wife [was] Naomi.” This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic The name Naomi (נָעֳמִי, noʿomi) is from the adjective נֹעַם (noʿam, “pleasant, lovely”) and literally means “my pleasant one” or “my lovely one.” Her name will become the subject of a wordplay in 1:20-21 when she laments that she is no longer “pleasant” but “bitter” because of the loss of her husband and two sons.
  8. Ruth 1:2 tn Heb “and the name[s] of his two sons [were] Mahlon and Kilion.”sn The name Mahlon (מַחְלוֹן, makhlon) is from חָלָה (khalah, “to be weak, sick”) and Kilion (כִּלְיוֹן, kilyon) is from כָּלָה (kalah, “to be frail”). The rate of infant mortality was so high during the Iron Age that parents typically did not name children until they survived infancy and were weaned. Naomi and Elimelech might have named their two sons Mahlon and Kilion to reflect their weak condition in infancy due to famine—which eventually prompted the move to Moab where food was abundant.
  9. Ruth 1:2 tn Heb “[They were] Ephrathites.” Ephrathah is a small village (Ps 132:6) in the vicinity of Bethlehem (Gen 35:16), so close in proximity that it is often identified with the larger town of Bethlehem (Gen 35:19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11; Mic 5:2 [MT 5:1]; HALOT 81 s.v. אֶפְרָתָה); see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 64. The designation “Ephrathites” might indicate that they were residents of Ephrathah. However, the adjectival form אֶפְרָתִים (ephratim, “Ephrathites”) used here elsewhere refers to someone from the clan of Ephrath (cf. 1 Chr 4:4) which lived in the region of Bethlehem: “Now David was the son of an Ephrathite from Bethlehem in Judah whose name was Jesse” (1 Sam 17:12; cf. Mic 5:2 [MT 5:1]). So it is more likely that the virtually identical expression here—“Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah”—refers to the clan of Ephrath in Bethlehem (see R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth [NICOT], 91).
  10. Ruth 1:2 tn Heb “and were there”; KJV “continued there”; NRSV “remained there”; TEV “were living there.”
  11. Ruth 1:3 tn Heb “And Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died.” The vav (ו) functions in a consecutive sense (“then”), but the time-frame is not explicitly stated.
  12. Ruth 1:4 tn Heb “they.” The verb is third person masculine plural referring to Naomi’s sons, as the translation indicates.
  13. Ruth 1:4 tn Heb “and they lifted up for themselves Moabite wives.” When used with the noun “wife,” the verb נָשָׂא (nasaʾ, “to lift up, carry, take”) forms the idiom “to take a wife,” that is, to marry (BDB 673 s.v. Qal.3.d; 2 Chr 11:21; 13:21; 24:3; Ezra 9:2, 12; 10:44; Neh 13:25).
  14. Ruth 1:4 tn Heb “the name of the one [was] Orpah and the name of the second [was] Ruth.” sn The name Orpah (עָרְפָּה, ʿorpah) is from the noun עֹרֶף (ʿoref, “back of the neck”) and the related verb (“to turn one’s back”). The name Ruth (רוּת, rut) is from the noun רְעוּת (reʿut, “friendship”), derived from the root רֵעַ (reaʿ, “friend, companion”). Ironically, Orpah will eventually turn her back on Naomi, while Ruth will display extraordinary friendship as her life-long companion (see 1:14). Since they seem to mirror the most definitive action of these women, perhaps they designate character types (as is the case with the name Mara in 1:21 and Peloni Almoni in 4:1) rather than their original birth names.
  15. Ruth 1:5 tn Heb “and the two of them also died, Mahlon and Kilion.”
  16. Ruth 1:5 tn The term יֶלֶד (yeled, “offspring”), from the verb יָלַד (yalad, “to give birth to”), is used only here of a married man. By shifting to this word from the more common term בֵּן (ben, “son”; see vv. 1-5a) and then using it in an unusual manner, the author draws attention to Naomi’s loss and sets up a verbal link with the story’s conclusion (cf. 4:16). Although grown men, they were still her “babies” (see E. F. Campbell, Ruth [AB], 56; F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 66).
  17. Ruth 1:6 tn Heb “and she arose, along with her daughters-in-law, and she returned from the region of Moab.”
  18. Ruth 1:6 tn Heb “in the region of Moab”; KJV, NRSV “in the country of Moab.” Since this is a repetition of the phrase found earlier in the verse, it has been shortened to “in Moab” in the present translation for stylistic reasons.
  19. Ruth 1:6 tn Heb “had visited” or “taken note of.” The basic meaning of פָּקַד (paqad) is “observe, examine, take note of” (T. F. Williams, NIDOTTE 3:658), so it sometimes appears with זָכַר (zakhar, “to remember”; Pss 8:4 [MT 5]; 106:4; Jer 14:10; 15:15; Hos 8:13; 9:9) and רָאָה (raʾah, “to see”; Exod 4:31; Ps 80:14 [MT 15]; NIDOTTE 3:659). It often emphasizes the cause/effect response to what is seen (NIDOTTE 3:659). When God observes people in need, it is glossed “be concerned about, care for, attend to, help” (Gen 21:1; 50:24, 25; Exod 4:31; Ruth 1:6; 1 Sam 2:21; Jer 15:15; Zeph 2:7; Zech 10:3b; NIDOTTE 3:661). When humans are the subject, it sometimes means “to visit” needy people to bestow a gift (Judg 15:1; 1 Sam 17:18). Because it has such a broad range of meanings, its use here has been translated variously: (1) “had visited” (KJV, ASV, NASB, RSV; so BDB 823-24 s.v. פָּקַד); (2) “had considered” (NRSV) and “had taken note of” (TNK; so HALOT 955-57 s.v. פקד); and (3) “had come to the aid of” (NIV), “had blessed” (TEV), and “had given” (CEV; so NIDOTTE 3:657). When God observed the plight of his people, he demonstrated his concern by benevolently giving them food.
  20. Ruth 1:6 tn Heb “by giving to them food.” The translation “reversing the famine and providing abundant crops” attempts to clarify the referent of לֶחֶם (lekhem, “food”) as “crops” and highlights the reversal of the famine that began in v. 1. The infinitive construct לָתֵת לָהֶם לָחֶם (latet lahem lakhem) may denote (1) purpose: “[he visited his people] to give them food” or (2) complementary sense explaining the action of the main verb: “[he visited his people] by giving them food.” The term לֶחֶם (lakhem) here refers to agricultural fertility, the reversal of the famine in v. 1.
  21. Ruth 1:7 tn Heb “and she went out from the place she had been, and her two daughters-in-law with her, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.”
  22. Ruth 1:8 tn Heb “each to the house of her mother.” Naomi’s words imply that it is more appropriate for the two widows to go home to their mothers, rather than stay with their mother-in-law (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 75).
  23. Ruth 1:8 tc The MT (Kethib) has the imperfect יַעֲשֶׂה (yaʿaseh, “[the Lord] will do”), but the marginal reading (Qere) has the shortened jussive form יַעַשׂ (yaʿas, “may [the Lord] do”), which is more probable in this prayer of blessing. Most English versions adopt the jussive form (KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, JPS, TEV, CEV, NLT).
  24. Ruth 1:8 tn Heb “do with you”; NRSV “deal kindly with you”; NLT “reward you for your kindness.” The pronominal suffix “you” appears to be a masculine form, but this is likely a preservation of an archaic dual form (see E. F. Campbell, Ruth [AB], 65; F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 75-76).
  25. Ruth 1:8 tn Heb “the dead” (so KJV, NRSV); NLT “your husbands.” This refers to their deceased husbands.
  26. Ruth 1:8 tn Heb “devotion as you have done with the dead and with me.” The noun חֶסֶד (khesed, “devotion”) is a key thematic term in the book of Ruth (see 2:20; 3:10). G. R. Clark suggests that חֶסֶד “is not merely an attitude or an emotion; it is an emotion that leads to an activity beneficial to the recipient”; an act of חֶסֶד is “a beneficent action performed, in the context of a deep and enduring commitment between two persons or parties, by one who is able to render assistance to the needy party who in the circumstances is unable to help him—or herself” (The Word Hesed in the Hebrew Bible [JSOTSup], 267). HALOT 336-37 s.v. II חֶסֶד defines the word as “loyalty” or “faithfulness.” Other appropriate glosses might be “commitment” and “devotion.”
  27. Ruth 1:9 tn Heb “may the Lord give to you, and find rest, each [in] the house of her husband.” The syntax is unusual, but following the jussive (“may he give”), the imperative with vav (ו) conjunctive (“and find”) probably indicates the purpose or consequence of the preceding action: “May he enable you to find rest.”
  28. Ruth 1:9 tn Heb “rest.” While the basic meaning of מְנוּחָה (menukhah) is “rest,” it often refers to “security,” such as provided in marriage (BDB 629-30 s.v.; HALOT 600 s.v.). Thus English versions render it in three different but related ways: (1) the basic sense: “rest” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV); (2) the metonymical cause/effect sense: “security” (NRSV, NJPS, REB, NLT, GW); and (3) the referential sense: “home” (RSV, TEV, CEV, NCV).
  29. Ruth 1:9 tn Heb “in the house of her husband” (so KJV, NASB); NRSV “your husband.”
  30. Ruth 1:9 tn Heb “they lifted their voice[s] and wept” (KJV, ASV, NASB all similar). This refers to loud weeping characteristic of those mourning a tragedy (Judg 21:2; 2 Sam 13:36; Job 2:12).
  31. Ruth 1:10 tn The particle כִּי (ki) here has the force of “no, on the contrary” (see Gen 31:26; Ps 44:22; HALOT 470 s.v. II כִּי 3).
  32. Ruth 1:10 tn Or perhaps “we want to” (so NCV, CEV, NLT), if the imperfect is understood in a modal sense indicating desire.
  33. Ruth 1:11 tn Heb “Why would you want to come with me?” Naomi’s rhetorical question expects a negative answer. The phrase “to Judah” is added in the translation for clarification.
  34. Ruth 1:11 tn Heb “Do I still have sons in my inner parts that they might become your husbands?” Again Naomi’s rhetorical question expects a negative answer.
  35. Ruth 1:12 sn Too old to get married again. Naomi may be exaggerating for the sake of emphasis. Her point is clear, though: It is too late to roll back the clock.
  36. Ruth 1:12 tn Verse 12b contains the protasis (“if” clause) of a conditional sentence, which is completed by the rhetorical questions in v. 13. For a detailed syntactical analysis, see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 78-79.
  37. Ruth 1:13 tn Heb “For them would you wait until they were grown?” Some understand הֲלָהֵן (halahen) as an interrogative he (ה) with an Aramaic particle meaning “therefore” (see GKC 301 §103.b.2 [n. 4]; cf. ASV, NASB), while others understand the form to consist of an interrogative he, the preposition ל (lamed, “for”), and an apparent third person feminine plural pronominal suffix (CEV, NLT “for them”). The feminine suffix is problematic, for its antecedent is the hypothetical “sons” mentioned at the end of v. 12. For this reason some emend the form to הלתם (“for them,” a third person masculine plural suffix). R. L. Hubbard raises the possibility that the nunated suffix is an archaic Moabite masculine dual form (Ruth [NICOT], 111, n. 31). In any case, Naomi’s rhetorical question expects a negative answer.
  38. Ruth 1:13 tn Heb “For them would you hold yourselves back so as not to be for a man?” Again Naomi’s rhetorical question expects a negative answer. The verb עָגַן (ʿagan, “hold back”; cf. KJV, ASV “stay”; NRSV “refrain”) occurs only here in the OT. For discussion of its etymology and meaning, see HALOT 785-86 s.v. עגן, and F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 79-80.
  39. Ruth 1:13 tn The negative is used here in an elliptical manner for emphasis (see HALOT 48 s.v. I אַל; GKC 479-80 §152.g).
  40. Ruth 1:13 tn Heb “No, my daughters.” Naomi is not answering the rhetorical questions she has just asked. In light of the explanatory clause that follows, it seems more likely that she is urging them to give up the idea of returning with her. In other words, the words “no, my daughters” complement the earlier exhortation to “go back.” To clarify this, the words “you must not return with me” are added in the translation.
  41. Ruth 1:13 tn Heb “bitterness to me.” The term מָרַר (marar) can refer to emotional bitterness: “to feel bitter” (1 Sam 30:6; 2 Kgs 4:27; Lam 1:4) or a grievous situation: “to be in bitter circumstances” (Jer 4:18) (BDB 600 s.v.; HALOT 638 s.v. I מרר). So the expression מַר־לִי (mar li) can refer to emotional bitterness (KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NJPS, CEV, NLT) or a grievous situation (cf. NRSV, NAB, NCV, CEV margin). Although Naomi and her daughters-in-law had reason for emotional grief, the issue at hand was Naomi’s lamentable situation, which she did not want them to experience: being a poor widow in a foreign land.
  42. Ruth 1:13 tn Heb “for there is bitterness to me exceedingly from you.” The clause כִּי־מַר־לִי מְאֹד מִכֶּם (ki mar li meʾod mikkem) is notoriously difficult to interpret. It has been taken in three different ways: (1) “For I am very bitter for me because of you,” that is, because of your widowed condition (cf. KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV, NJB, REB, JB, TEV). This does not fit well, however, with the following statement (“for the LORD has attacked me”) nor with the preceding statement (“You must not return with me”). (2) “For I am far more bitter than for you” (cf. NASB, NIV, NJPS, NEB, CEV, NLT). This does not provide an adequate basis, however, for the preceding statement (“You must not return with me”). (3) “For my bitterness is too much for you [to bear]” (cf. NAB, NRSV, NCV, CEV margin). This is preferable because it fits well with both the preceding and following statements. These three options reflect the three ways the preposition מן may be taken here: (1) causal: “because of, on account of” (BDB 580 s.v. מִן 2.f; HALOT 598 s.v. מִן 6), not that Orpah and Ruth were the cause of her calamity, but that Naomi was grieved because they had become widows; (2) comparative: “more [bitter] than you” (BDB 581 s.v. 6.a; HALOT 598 s.v. 5b), meaning that Naomi’s situation was more grievous than theirs—while they could remarry, her prospects were much more bleak; and (3) elative, describing a situation that is too much for a person to bear: “too [bitter] for you” (BDB 581 s.v. 6.d; HALOT 598 s.v. 5a; IBHS 267 §14.4f; e.g., Gen 4:13; Exod 18:18; Deut 17:8; 1 Kgs 19:17), meaning that Naomi’s plight was too bitter for her daughters-in-law to share. While all three options are viable, the meaning adopted must fit two criteria: (1) The meaning of this clause (1:13b) must provide the grounds for Naomi’s emphatic rejection of the young women’s refusal to separate themselves from her (1:13a); and (2) it must fit the following clause: “for the hand of the LORD has gone out against me” (1:13c). The first and second options do not provide adequate reasons for sending her daughters-in-law back home, nor do they fit her lament that the LORD had attacked her (not them); however, the third option (elative sense) fits both criteria. Naomi did not want her daughters-in-law to share her sad situation, that is, to be poor, childless widows in a foreign land with no prospect for marriage. If they accompanied her back to Judah, they would be in the same kind of situation in which she found herself in Moab. If they were to find the “rest” (security of home and husband) she wished for them, it would be in Moab, not in Judah. The Lord had already deprived her of husband and sons. She could do nothing for them in this regard because she had no more sons to give them as husbands, and she was past the age of child-bearing to raise up new husbands for them in the future—as if they could wait that long anyway (1:13a). For a discussion of these three options and defense of the approach adopted here, see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 80-81.
  43. Ruth 1:13 tn Heb “for the hand of the Lord has gone out against me” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV all similar). The expression suggests opposition and hostility, perhaps picturing the Lord as the Divine Warrior who is bringing calamity upon Naomi. See R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth (NICOT), 113.
  44. Ruth 1:14 tn Heb “they lifted their voice[s] and wept” (so NASB; see v. 9). The expression refers to loud weeping employed in mourning tragedy (Judg 21:2; 2 Sam 13:36; Job 2:12).
  45. Ruth 1:14 tc The LXX adds, “and she returned to her people” (cf. TEV “and went back home”). Most dismiss this as a clarifying addition added under the influence of v. 15, but it should not be rejected too quickly. When translated back to Hebrew, the consonantal text would be ותשׁב אל־עמה. Note the beginning ו (vav) and ending ה (he). The phrase would fit between the MT’s לַחֲמוֹתָהּ וְרוּת (lakhamotah verut, “to her mother-in-law. And Ruth”), so that ו (vav) follows ה (he) both beginning and ending the clause. The scribe’s eye could have jumped from one to the other, inadvertently leaving out the intervening words.
  46. Ruth 1:14 tn The clause is disjunctive. The word order is conjunction + subject + verb, highlighting the contrast between the actions of Orpah and Ruth. sn Orpah is a literary foil for Ruth. Orpah is a commendable and devoted person (see v. 8); after all she is willing to follow Naomi back to Judah. However, when Naomi bombards her with good reasons why she should return, she relents. But Ruth is special. Despite Naomi’s bitter tirade, she insists on staying. Orpah is a good person, but Ruth is beyond good—she possesses an extra measure of devotion and sacrificial love that is uncommon.
  47. Ruth 1:14 sn Clung tightly. The expression suggests strong commitment (see R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth [NICOT], 115).
  48. Ruth 1:15 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Naomi) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  49. Ruth 1:15 tn Or “gods” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, CEV, NLT), if the plural form is taken as a numerical plural. However, it is likely that Naomi, speaking from Orpah’s Moabite perspective, uses the plural of majesty of the Moabite god Chemosh. For examples of the plural of majesty being used of a pagan god, see BDB 43 s.v. אֱלֹהִים 1.d. Note especially 1 Kgs 11:33, where the plural form is used of Chemosh.
  50. Ruth 1:16 tn Heb “do not urge me to abandon you to turn back from after you.” Most English versions, following the lead of the KJV, use “leave” here. The use of עזב (ʿazav, “abandon”) reflects Ruth’s perspective. To return to Moab would be to abandon Naomi and to leave her even more vulnerable than she already is.
  51. Ruth 1:17 tn Heb “Thus may the Lord do to me and thus may he add…” The construction וְכֹה יֹסִיףכֹּה יַעֲשֶׂה (koh yaʿaseh…vekhoh yosif, “May he do thus…and may he do even more so…!”) is an oath formula of self-imprecation (e.g., 1 Sam 3:17; 14:44; 20:13; 25:22; 2 Sam 3:9, 35; 19:14; 1 Kgs 2:23; 2 Kgs 6:31). In this formula the exact curse is understood but not expressed (GKC 472 §149.d; BDB 462 s.v. כֹּה 1.b). In ancient Near Eastern imprecations, when the curse was so extreme, it was not uttered because it was unspeakably awful: “In the twelve uses of this formula, the calamity which the speaker invokes is never named, since OT culture (in keeping with the rest of the ancient Near East) accorded such power to the spoken word” (F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 82). Ruth here pronounces a curse upon herself, elevating the preceding promise to a formal, unconditional level. If she is not faithful to her promise, she agrees to become an object of divine judgment. As in other occurrences of this oath/curse formula, the specific punishment is not mentioned. As Bush explains, the particle כִּי (ki) here is probably asseverative (“indeed, certainly”) and the statement that follows expresses what underscores the seriousness of her promise by invoking divine judgment, as it were, if she does otherwise. Of course, the Lord would not have been obligated to judge her if she had abandoned Naomi—this is simply an ancient idiomatic way of expressing her commitment to her promise.
  52. Ruth 1:17 tn Heb “certainly death will separate me and you.” Ruth’s vow has been interpreted two ways: (1) Not even death will separate her from Naomi—because they will be buried next to one another (e.g., NRSV, NCV; see E. F. Campbell, Ruth [AB], 74-75). However, for the statement to mean, “Not even death will separate me and you,” it would probably need to be introduced by אִם (ʾim, “if”) or negated by לֹא (loʾ, “not”; see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 83). (2) Nothing except death will separate her from Naomi (e.g., KJV, ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, TEV, NJPS, REB, NLT, GW; see Bush, 83). The particle כִּי introduces the content of the vow, which—if violated—would bring about the curse uttered in the preceding oath (BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.c; e.g., Gen 42:16; Num 14:22; 1 Sam 20:3; 26:16; 29:6; 2 Sam 3:35; 1 Kgs 2:23; Isa 49:18). Some suggest that כּי is functioning as an asseverative (“indeed, certainly”) to express what the speaker is determined will happen (Bush, 83; see 1 Sam 14:44; 2 Sam 3:9; 1 Kgs 2:23; 19:2). Here כִּי probably functions in a conditional sense: “if” or “if…except, unless” (BDB 473 s.v. כִּי 2.b). So her vow may essentially mean “if anything except death should separate me from you!” The most likely view is (2): Ruth is swearing that death alone will separate her from Ruth’s devotion to Naomi is especially apparent here. Instead of receiving a sure blessing and going home (see v. 8), Ruth instead takes on a serious responsibility and subjects herself to potential divine punishment. Death, a power beyond Ruth’s control, will separate the two women, but until that time Ruth will stay by Naomi’s side and she will even be buried in the same place as Naomi.
  53. Ruth 1:18 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Naomi) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  54. Ruth 1:18 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Ruth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  55. Ruth 1:18 tn Heb “she ceased speaking to her.” This does not imply that Naomi was completely silent toward Ruth. It simply means that Naomi stopped trying to convince her to go back to Moab (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 84-85).
  56. Ruth 1:19 tn The suffix “them” appears to be masculine, but it is probably an archaic dual form (E. F. Campbell, Ruth [AB], 65; F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 75-76).
  57. Ruth 1:19 tn The temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayehi, “and it was”) here introduces a new scene.
  58. Ruth 1:19 tn Heb “because of them” (so NASB, NIV, NRSV); CEV “excited to see them.”
  59. Ruth 1:19 tn Heb “they said,” but the verb form is third person feminine plural, indicating that the women of the village are the subject.
  60. Ruth 1:19 tn Heb “Is this Naomi?” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV). The question here expresses surprise and delight because of the way Naomi reacts to it (F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 92).
  61. Ruth 1:20 tn Heb “said.” For stylistic reasons the present translation employs “replied” here.
  62. Ruth 1:20 tn The third person feminine plural form of the pronominal suffix indicates the women of the village (see v. 19) are the addressees.
  63. Ruth 1:20 sn The name Naomi means “pleasant.”
  64. Ruth 1:20 sn The name Mara means “bitter.”
  65. Ruth 1:20 tn Heb “Shaddai”; traditionally “the Almighty.” The etymology and meaning of this divine name is uncertain. It may be derived from: (1) שָׁדַד (shadad, “to be strong”), cognate to Arabic sdd, meaning “The Strong One” or “Almighty”; (2) שָׁדָה (shadah, “mountain”), cognate to Akkadian shadu, meaning “The Mountain Dweller” or “God of the Mountains”; (3) שָׁדַד (shadad, “to devastate”) and שַׁד (shad, “destroyer”), Akkadian Shedum, meaning “The Destroyer” or “The Malevolent One”; or (4) שֶׁ (she, “who”) plus דִּי (diy, “sufficient”), meaning “The One Who is Sufficient” or “All-Sufficient One” (HALOT 1420-22 s.v. שַׁדַּי, שַׁדָּי). In terms of use, Shaddai (or El Shaddai) is presented as the sovereign king/judge of the world who grants life/blesses and kills/judges. In Genesis he blesses the patriarchs with fertility and promises numerous descendants. Outside Genesis he blesses/protects and also takes away life/happiness. In light of Naomi’s emphasis on God’s sovereign, malevolent deprivation of her family, one can understand her use of this name for God. For discussion of this divine name, see T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 69-72.
  66. Ruth 1:20 tn Or “caused me to be very bitter”; NAB “has made it very bitter for me.”
  67. Ruth 1:21 sn I left here full. That is, with a husband and two sons.
  68. Ruth 1:21 tn Heb “but empty the Lord has brought me back.” The disjunctive clause structure (vav + adverb + verb + subject) highlights the contrast between her former condition and present situation. Cf. TEV “has brought me back without a thing.”sn Empty-handed. This statement is highly ironic, for ever-loyal Ruth stands by her side even as she speaks these words. These words reflect Naomi’s perspective, not the narrator’s, for Ruth will eventually prove to be the one who reverses Naomi’s plight and “fills” her “emptiness.” Naomi’s perspective will prove to be inaccurate and the women will later correct Naomi’s faulty view of Ruth’s value (see 4:15).
  69. Ruth 1:21 tn The disjunctive clause structure (vav [ו] + subject + verb) here introduces either an attendant circumstance (“when the Lord has opposed me”) or an explanation (“seeing that the Lord has opposed me”).
  70. Ruth 1:21 tc The LXX reads “humbled me” here, apparently understanding the verb as a Piel (עָנָה, ʿanah) from a homonymic root meaning “afflict.” However, עָנָה (“afflict”) never introduces its object with בְּ (bet); when the preposition בְּ is used with this verb, it is always adverbial (“in, with, through”). To defend the LXX reading one would have to eliminate the Heb “has testified against me” (KJV, ASV both similar); NAB “has pronounced against me.” The idiom עָנַה בִי (ʿanah vi, “testify against”) is well attested elsewhere in legal settings (see BDB 773 s.v. עָנָה Qal.3.a; HALOT 852 s.v. I ענה qal.2). Naomi uses a legal metaphor and depicts the Lord as testifying against her in court.
  71. Ruth 1:21 sn The divine name translated Sovereign One is שַׁדַּי (shadday, “Shaddai”). See further the note on this term in Ruth 1:20.
  72. Ruth 1:21 tn Or “brought disaster upon me”; NIV “brought misfortune (calamity NRSV) upon me”; NLT “has sent such tragedy.”
  73. Ruth 1:22 tn Heb “and Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, the one who returned from the region of Moab.”sn This summarizing statement provides closure to the first part of the story. By highlighting Ruth’s willingness to return with Naomi, it also contrasts sharply with Naomi’s remark about being empty-handed.
  74. Ruth 1:22 tn The pronoun appears to be third person masculine plural in form, but it is probably an archaic third person dual form (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 94).
  75. Ruth 1:22 tn This statement, introduced with a disjunctive structure (vav [ו] + subject + verb) provides closure for the previous scene, while at the same time making a transition to the next scene, which takes place in the barley field. The reference to the harvest also reminds the reader that God has been merciful to his people by replacing the famine with fertility. In the flow of the narrative the question is now, “Will he do the same for Naomi and Ruth?”sn The barley harvest began in late March. See O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 91.
  76. Ruth 2:1 tn The disjunctive clause (note the vav [ו] + prepositional phrase structure) provides background information essential to the following narrative.
  77. Ruth 2:1 tc The marginal reading (Qere) is מוֹדַע (modaʿ, “relative”), while the consonantal text (Kethib) has מְיֻדָּע (mᵉyuddaʿ, “friend”). The textual variant was probably caused by orthographic confusion between consonantal מְיֻדָּע and מוֹדַע. Virtually all English versions follow the marginal reading (Qere), e.g., KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV “kinsman”; NIV, NCV, NLT “relative.”
  78. Ruth 2:1 tn Heb “and [there was] to Naomi a relative, to her husband, a man mighty in substance, from the clan of Elimelech, and his name [was] Boaz.”
  79. Ruth 2:2 tn The cohortative here (“Let me go”) expresses Ruth’s request. Note Naomi’s response, in which she gives Ruth permission to go to the field.
  80. Ruth 2:2 tn Following the preceding cohortative, the cohortative with vav conjunctive indicates purpose/result.
  81. Ruth 2:2 tn Heb “anyone in whose eyes I may find favor” (ASV, NIV similar). The expression אֶמְצָא־חֵן בְּעֵינָיו (ʾemtsaʾ khen beʿenayv, “to find favor in the eyes of [someone]”) appears in Ruth 2:2, 10, 13. It is most often used when a subordinate or servant requests permission for something from a superior (BDB 336 s.v. חֵן). Ruth will play the role of the subordinate servant, seeking permission from a landowner, who then could show benevolence by granting her request to glean in his field behind the harvest workers.
  82. Ruth 2:2 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Naomi) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  83. Ruth 2:3 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Ruth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  84. Ruth 2:3 tn Heb “and she went and entered [a field] and gleaned in the field behind the harvesters.” Cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV “the reapers”; TEV “the workers.”
  85. Ruth 2:3 sn The text is written from Ruth’s limited perspective. As far as she was concerned, she randomly picked a spot in the field. But God was providentially at work and led her to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who, as a near relative of Elimelech, was a potential benefactor.
  86. Ruth 2:4 tn Heb “and look”; NIV, NRSV “Just then.” The narrator invites the audience into the story, describing Boaz’s arrival as if it were witnessed by the audience.
  87. Ruth 2:4 tn Heb “said to.” Context indicates that the following expression is a greeting, the first thing Boaz says to his workers.
  88. Ruth 2:4 tn Heb “said to him.” For stylistic reasons “replied” is used in the present translation.
  89. Ruth 2:5 tn Heb “said to.” Since what follows is a question, “asked” is appropriate in this context.
  90. Ruth 2:5 tn Heb “young man.” Cf. NAB “overseer”; NIV, NLT “foreman.”
  91. Ruth 2:5 sn In this patriarchal culture Ruth would “belong” to either her father (if unmarried) or her husband (if married).
  92. Ruth 2:7 tn Heb “said.” What follows is a question, so “asked” is used in the translation.
  93. Ruth 2:7 tn On the use of the perfect with vav consecutive after the cohortative, see IBHS 530 §32.2.2b.
  94. Ruth 2:7 tn Heb “May I glean and gather among the bundles behind the harvesters?” Others translate, “May I glean and gather [grain] in bundles behind the harvesters?” (cf. NAB; see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 117). For discussion of the terminology and process of harvesting, see O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 59-61.
  95. Ruth 2:7 tn Heb “and she came and she has persisted.” The construction וַתָּבוֹא וַתַּעֲמוֹד (vattavoʾ vataʿamod) forms a dependent temporal sequence: “since she came, she has persisted.” Because עָמַד (ʿamad, “to stand, remain, persist”; BDB 764 s.v. עָמַד; HALOT 840-42 s.v. עמד) has a broad range of meanings, וַתַּעֲמוֹד has been understood in various ways: (1) Ruth had stood all morning waiting to receive permission from Boaz to glean in his field: “she has stood (here waiting)”; (2) Ruth had remained in the field all morning: “she has remained here” (NAB, NASB, NCV); and (3) Ruth had worked hard all morning: “she has worked steadily” (REB), “she has been working” (TEV, CEV), “she has been on her feet (all morning)” (JPS, NJPS, NRSV). For discussion, see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 118-19.
  96. Ruth 2:7 tn Heb “and she came and she stood, from then, the morning, and until now, this, her sitting [in] the house a little.” The syntax of the Hebrew text is awkward and the meaning uncertain. For discussion see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 118-19.
  97. Ruth 2:7 tn Heb “except this.” The function and meaning of the demonstrative adjective זֶה (zeh, “this”) is difficult: (1) MT accentuation joins זֶה with שִׁבְתָּהּ (shivtah, “this her sitting”), suggesting that זֶה שִׁבְתָּהּ functions as subject complement (see BDB 261 s.v. זֶה 2.a and Josh 9:12). (2) Others suggest that זֶה functions as an emphasizing adverb of time (“just now”; BDB 261 s.v. 4.h) and connect it with עַתָּה (ʿattah, “now”) to form the idiom עַתָּה זֶה (ʿattah zeh, “now, just now”; BDB 261 s.v. 4.h; GKC 442-43 §136.d; see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 118-19). The entire line is translated variously: KJV “until now, (+ save ASV) that she tarried a little in the house”; NASB “she has been sitting in the house for a little while”; NIV “except for a short rest in the shelter”; NJPS “she has rested but little in the hut”; “her sitting (= resting) in the house (has only been) for a moment.” A paraphrase would be: “She came and has kept at it (= gleaning) from this morning until now, except for this: She has been sitting in the hut only a little while.” The clause as a whole is an exceptive clause: “except for this….”
  98. Ruth 2:7 tc The MT vocalizes consonantal שבתה as שִׁבְתָּהּ (shivtah, “her sitting”; Qal infinitive construct from יָשַׁב (yashav), “to sit” + third person feminine singular suffix), apparently taking the third person feminine singular suffix as a subjective genitive: “she sat [in the hut only a little while]” (so KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV, REB, TEV, NCV, NJPS). On the other hand, LXX κατέπαυσεν (katepausen “she rested”) reflects the vocalization שָׁבְתָה (shavetah, “she rested”; Qal perfect third person feminine singular from שָׁבַת (shavat), “to rest”): “she rested [in the hut only a little while]” (so RSV, NRSV, NAB, CEV, NJB, JPS). The MT reading is more difficult and is therefore probably Heb “and she came and she stood, from then, the morning, and until now, this, her sitting [in] the house a little.” The syntax of the Hebrew text is awkward here and the meaning uncertain. F. W. Bush (Ruth, Esther [WBC], 118-19) takes עָמַד (ʿamad, “to stand”) in the sense “to stay, remain,” connects זֶה (zeh, “this”) with the preceding עַתָּה (ʿattah, “now”) as an emphasizing adverb of time (“just now”), and emends שִׁבְתָּהּ הַבַּיִת (shivtah habbayit, “her sitting [in] the house”) to שָׁבְתָה (shavetah, “she rested”), omitting הַבַּיִת (habbayit) as dittographic. Another option is to translate, “She came and has stood here from this morning until now. She’s been sitting in the house for a short time.” According to this view the servant has made Ruth wait to get permission from Boaz.
  99. Ruth 2:7 tc Several English versions (NAB, NEB, RSV, NRSV, JB, CEV) suggest deleting MT הַבַּיִת (habbayit, lit. “the house”) due to dittography with בתה in שִׁבְתָּהּ (shivtah) which precedes; however, several ancient textual witnesses support the MT (medieval Hebrew manuscripts, Syriac, Targum). The LXX reading ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ (en tō agrō, “in the field”) probably does not represent an alternate Hebrew textual tradition, but merely the translator’s attempt to smooth out a difficult Hebrew “[in] the house.” The noun הַבַּיִת (lit. “the house”) functions as an adverbial accusative of location, and probably refers to a “hut, shelter,” providing shade for workers in the field, such as those still used by harvesters in modern Israel (H. A. Hoffner, TDOT 2:111-15). This kind of structure is probably referred to using different terms in Isaiah 1:8, “like a shelter (כְּסֻכָּה, kesukkah) in a vineyard, like a hut (כִּמְלוּנָה, kimlunah) in a field of melons.” Some translations render הַבַּיִת (habbayit) literally as “the house” (KJV, NKJV, NASB), while others nuance it as “the shelter” (NIV, NCV, TEV, NLT).
  100. Ruth 2:7 tn Heb “a little while.” The adjective מְעָט (meʿat) functions in a temporal sense (“a little while”; e.g., Job 24:24) or a comparative sense (“a little bit”); see BDB 589-90 s.v. The foreman’s point is that Ruth was a hard worker who only rested a short time, or that she had only been waiting for permission for a short time (depending on how other issues in the verse are resolved).
  101. Ruth 2:8 tn Heb “Have you not heard?” The idiomatic, negated rhetorical question is equivalent to an affirmation (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 119, and GKC 474 §150.e).
  102. Ruth 2:8 tn Heb “my daughter.” This form of address is a mild form of endearment, perhaps merely rhetorical. It might suggest that Boaz is older than Ruth, but not necessarily significantly so. A few English versions omit it entirely (e.g., TEV, CEV).
  103. Ruth 2:8 tn The switch from the negative particle אַל (ʾal, see the preceding statement, “do not leave”) to לֹא (loʾ) may make this statement more emphatic. It may indicate that the statement is a policy applicable for the rest of the harvest (see v. 21).
  104. Ruth 2:8 tn Heb “and thus you may stay close with.” The imperfect has a permissive nuance here.
  105. Ruth 2:8 sn The female workers would come along behind those who cut the grain and bundle it up. Staying close to the female workers allowed Ruth to collect more grain than would normally be the case (see O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 61, and F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 121).
  106. Ruth 2:9 tn Heb “let your eyes be upon” (KJV, NASB similar).
  107. Ruth 2:9 tn Heb “they.” The verb is masculine plural, indicating that the male workers are the subject here.
  108. Ruth 2:9 tn Heb “and go after them.” The pronominal suffix (“them”) is feminine plural, indicating that the female workers are referred to here.
  109. Ruth 2:9 tn Male servants are in view here, as the masculine plural form of the noun indicates (cf. KJV, NAB, NRSV “the young men”).
  110. Ruth 2:9 tn Heb “Have I not commanded the servants not to touch [i.e., “harm”] you?” The idiomatic, negated rhetorical question is equivalent to an affirmation (see v. 8). The perfect is either instantaneous, indicating completion of the action concurrent with the statement (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 107, 121-22, who translates, “I am herewith ordering”) or emphatic/rhetorical, indicating the action is as good as done.
  111. Ruth 2:9 tn The juxtaposition of two perfects, each with vav consecutive, here indicates a conditional sentence (see GKC 337 §112.kk).
  112. Ruth 2:9 tn Heb “vessels (so KJV, NAB, NRSV), receptacles”; NCV “water jugs.”
  113. Ruth 2:9 tn Heb “drink [some] of that which” (KJV similar); in the context “water” is implied.
  114. Ruth 2:9 tn The imperfect here either indicates characteristic or typical activity, or anterior future, referring to a future action (drawing water) which logically precedes another future action (drinking).
  115. Ruth 2:10 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Ruth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  116. Ruth 2:10 tn Heb “she fell upon her face and bowed to the ground” (KJV, NASB similar).
  117. Ruth 2:10 tn Heb “Why do I find favor in your eyes…?” The expression מָצַא חֵן בְּעֵינֶי (matsaʾ khen beʿeney, “to find favor in the eyes of [someone]”) is often characterized by the following features: (1) A subordinate or servant is requesting permission for something from a superior (master, owner, king). (2) The granting of the request is not a certainty but dependent on whether or not the superior is pleased with the subordinate to do so. (3) The granting of the request by the superior is an act of kindness or benevolence; however, it sometimes reciprocates loyalty previously shown by the subordinate to the superior (e.g., Gen 30:27; 32:6; 33:8, 10, 15; 34:11; 39:4; 47:25, 29; 50:4; Num 32:5; Deut 24:1; 1 Sam 1:18; 16:22; 20:3, 29; 27:3; 2 Sam 14:22; 16:4; 1 Kgs 11:19; Esth 5:8; 7:3; BDB 336 s.v. חֵן). While Boaz had granted her request for permission to glean in his field, she is amazed at the degree of kindness he had shown—especially since she had done nothing, in her own mind, to merit such a display. However, Boaz explains that she had indeed shown kindness to him indirectly through her devotion to Naomi (v. 11).
  118. Ruth 2:10 tn Heb “Why do I find favor in your eyes by [you] recognizing me.” The infinitive construct with prefixed ל (lamed) here indicates manner (“by”).
  119. Ruth 2:10 tn Heb “and I am a foreigner.” The disjunctive clause (note the pattern vav + subject + predicate nominative) here has a circumstantial (i.e., concessive) function (“even though”).
  120. Ruth 2:10 sn The similarly spelled Hebrew terms נָכַר (nakhar, “to notice”) and נָכְרִי (nokhri, “foreigner”) in this verse form a homonymic wordplay. This highlights the unexpected nature of the attentiveness and concern Boaz displayed to Ruth.
  121. Ruth 2:11 tn Heb “answered and said to her” (so NASB). For stylistic reasons this has been translated as “replied to her.”
  122. Ruth 2:11 tn Heb “it has been fully reported to me.” The infinitive absolute here emphasizes the following finite verb from the same root. Here it emphasizes either the clarity of the report or its completeness. See R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth (NICOT), 153, n. 6. Most English versions tend toward the nuance of completeness (e.g., KJV “fully been shewed”; NAB “a complete account”; NASB, NRSV “All that you have done”).
  123. Ruth 2:11 tn The vav (ו) consecutive construction here has a specifying function. This and the following clause elaborate on the preceding general statement and explain more specifically what she did for her mother-in-law.
  124. Ruth 2:11 tn Heb “yesterday and the third day.” This Hebrew idiom means “previously, in the past” (Exod 5:7, 8, 14; Exod 21:29, 36; Deut 4:42; 19:4, 6; Josh 3:4; 1 Sam 21:5; 2 Sam 3:17; 1 Chr 11:2).
  125. Ruth 2:12 tn Heb “repay your work”; KJV, ASV “recompense thy work.” The prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive of prayer (note the jussive form in the next clause).
  126. Ruth 2:12 tn Heb “may your wages be complete”; NCV “May your wages be paid in full.” The prefixed verbal form is a distinct jussive form, indicating that this is a prayer for blessing.
  127. Ruth 2:12 tn Heb “under whose wings you have sought shelter”; NIV, NLT “have come to take refuge.”
  128. Ruth 2:13 tn Heb “I am finding favor in your eyes.” In v. 10, where Ruth uses the perfect, she simply states the fact that Boaz is kind. Here the Hebrew text switches to the imperfect, thus emphasizing the ongoing attitude of kindness displayed by Boaz. Many English versions treat this as a request: KJV “Let me find favour in thy sight”; NAB “May I prove worthy of your kindness”; NIV “May I continue to find favor in your eyes.”
  129. Ruth 2:13 tn Heb “my master”; KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV “my lord.”
  130. Ruth 2:13 tn Or “comforted” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT).
  131. Ruth 2:13 tn Heb “spoken to the heart of.” As F. W. Bush points out, the idiom here means “to reassure, encourage” (Ruth, Esther [WBC], 124).
  132. Ruth 2:13 tn Ruth here uses a word (שִׁפְחָה, shifkhah) that describes the lowest level of female servant (see 1 Sam 25:41). Note Ruth 3:9 where she uses the word אָמָה (ʾamah), which refers to a higher class of servant.
  133. Ruth 2:13 tn The imperfect verbal form of הָיָה (hayah) is used here. F. W. Bush shows from usage elsewhere that the form should be taken as future (Ruth, Esther [WBC], 124-25).
  134. Ruth 2:13 tn Or “will never be the equivalent of one of your maidservants” (see F. Bush, Ruth [WBC], 107).
  135. Ruth 2:13 tn The disjunctive clause (note the pattern vav [ו] + subject + verb) is circumstantial (or concessive) here (“even though”).
  136. Ruth 2:14 tn Heb “eat” (so KJV, NRSV).
  137. Ruth 2:14 tn Heb “your portion”; NRSV “your morsel.”
  138. Ruth 2:14 tn The Hebrew verb צָבַט (tsavat) occurs only here in the OT. Cf. KJV, ASV “he reached her”; NASB “he served her”; NIV “he offered her”; NRSV “he heaped up for her.” For discussion of its meaning, including the etymological evidence, see BDB 840 s.v.; R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth (NICOT), 174; and F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 125-26.
  139. Ruth 2:14 tn Heb “and she ate and she was satisfied and she had some left over” (NASB similar).
  140. Ruth 2:15 tn Or “commanded” (so KJV, NASB, NCV).
  141. Ruth 2:15 tn Heb “even between”; NCV “even around.”
  142. Ruth 2:15 tn Heb “do not humiliate her”; cf. KJV “reproach her not”; NASB “do not insult her”; NIV “don’t embarrass her.” This probably refers to a verbal rebuke which would single her out and embarrass her (see v. 16). See R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth (NICOT), 176-77, and F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 126.
  143. Ruth 2:16 tn The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb for emphasis. Here שָׁלַל (shalal, “pull out”) is a homonym of the more common Hebrew verb meaning “to plunder.” An Arabic cognate is used of drawing a sword out of a scabbard (see BDB 1021 s.v.).
  144. Ruth 2:16 tn Heb “do not rebuke her” (so NASB, NRSV); CEV “don’t speak harshly to her”; NLT “don’t give her a hard time.”
  145. Ruth 2:17 tn Heb “she beat out” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT). Ruth probably used a stick to separate the kernels of grain from the husks. See O. Borowski, Agriculture in Iron Age Israel, 63.
  146. Ruth 2:17 tn Heb “there was an ephah.” An ephah was a dry measure, equivalent to one-tenth of a homer (see HALOT 43 s.v. אֵיפָה). An ephah was equivalent to a “bath,” a liquid measure. Jars labeled “bath” found at archaeological sites in Israel could contain approximately 5.8 gallons, or one-half to two-thirds of a bushel. Thus an ephah of barley would have weighed about 29 to 30 pounds (just over 13 kg). See R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth (NICOT), This was a huge amount of barley for one woman to gather in a single day. It testifies both to Ruth’s industry and to Boaz’s generosity.
  147. Ruth 2:18 tc MT vocalizes ותרא as the Qal verb וַתֵּרֶא (vattereʾ, “and she saw”), consequently of “her mother-in-law” as subject and “what she gathered” as the direct object: “her mother-in-law saw what she gathered.” A few medieval Hebrew mss (also reflected in Syriac and Vulgate) have the Hiphil וַתַּרְא (vattarʾ, “and she showed”), consequently taking “her mother-in-law” as the direct object and “what she gathered” as the double direct-object: “she showed her mother-in-law what she had gathered” (cf. NAB, TEV, CEV, NLT). Although the latter has the advantage of making Ruth the subject of all the verbs in this verse, it would be syntactically difficult. For one would expect the accusative sign אֶת (ʾet) before “her mother-in-law” if it were the direct object of a Hiphil verb in a sentence with a double direct object introduced by the accusative sign אֶת, e.g., “to show (Hiphil of רָאָה, raʾah) your servant (direct object marked by accusative sign אֶת) your greatness (double direct object marked by accusative sign אֶת) (Deut 3:24). Therefore the MT reading is preferred.
  148. Ruth 2:18 tn Heb “that which”; the referent (how much grain) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  149. Ruth 2:18 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Ruth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  150. Ruth 2:18 tn Heb “and she brought out and gave to her that which she had left over from her being satisfied.”
  151. Ruth 2:19 tn Heb “said to her.” Since what follows is a question, the translation uses “asked her” here.
  152. Ruth 2:19 tn Or “blessed” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV). The same expression occurs in the following verse.
  153. Ruth 2:19 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Ruth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  154. Ruth 2:20 tn Heb “Blessed be he to the Lord, who has not abandoned his loyalty.” The formula has (1) the passive participle “blessed,” followed by (2) a person (in this case “he”), followed by (3) the preposition and noun “to the Lord,” followed by (4) the relative pronoun אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher, “who”). The issue is whether the relative pronoun refers back to the Lord or to Boaz (“he”). Many English versions translate: “May he [Boaz] be blessed by the Lord, who has not abandoned his loyalty to the living and dead.” In this rendering the pronoun אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher) appears to refer to “the Lord” not abandoning his loyalty. But it actually refers to Boaz as is clarified by the similar construction in 2 Sam 2:5. The formula there says, “May you [plural] be blessed to the Lord, who you [plural] have extended such kindness to your master Saul.” The plural verb after “who” clarifies that the clause does not refer to the Lord. As a formula, the אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher) clause, “who…,” modifies the person(s) to be blessed by the Lord, noting something the person(s) did to warrant the blessing. (Since the content of the clause provides a reason, it is fair to translate אֲשֶׁר [ʾasher, “who”] as “because.”) Some translations make the subordinate clause into a separate sentence, but this does not fully clarify the issue, e.g. “The Lord bless him…He has not stopped showing his kindness” (NIV). See B. A. Rebera, “Yahweh or Boaz? Ruth 2.20 Reconsidered,” BT 36 (1985): 317-27, and F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 134-36. By caring for the impoverished widows’ physical needs, Boaz had demonstrated loyalty to both the living (the impoverished widows) and the dead (their late husbands). See R. B. Chisholm, From Exegesis to Exposition, 72.
  155. Ruth 2:20 tn Heb “to the living and the dead” (so KJV, NASB).
  156. Ruth 2:20 tn The Hebrew term גָּאַל (gaʾal) is sometimes translated “redeemer” here (NIV “one of our kinsman-redeemers”; NLT “one of our family redeemers”). In this context Boaz, as a “redeemer,” functions as a guardian of the family interests who has responsibility for caring for the widows of his deceased kinsmen.
  157. Ruth 2:21 tn On the force of the phrase גָּם כִּי (gam ki) here, see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 138-39.
  158. Ruth 2:21 tn Heb “with the servants who are mine you may stay close.” The imperfect has a permissive nuance here. The word “servants” is masculine plural.
  159. Ruth 2:21 tn Heb “until they have finished all the harvest which is mine”; NIV “until they finish harvesting all my grain.”
  160. Ruth 2:22 tn Naomi uses the feminine form of the word “servant” (as Boaz did earlier, see v. 8), in contrast to Ruth’s use of the masculine form in the preceding verse. Since she is concerned for Ruth’s safety, she may be subtly reminding Ruth to stay with the female workers and not get too close to the men.
  161. Ruth 2:22 tn Heb “and they will not harm you in another field”; NRSV “otherwise you might be bothered in another field.”
  162. Ruth 2:23 tn Heb “she”; the referent (Ruth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  163. Ruth 2:23 tn Heb “and she stayed close with”; NIV, NRSV, CEV “stayed close to”; NCV “continued working closely with.”
  164. Ruth 2:23 sn Barley was harvested from late March through late April, wheat from late April to late May (O. Borowski, Agriculture in Ancient Israel, 88, 91).
  165. Ruth 2:23 tn Heb “and she lived with her mother-in-law” (so NASB). Some interpret this to mean that she lived with her mother-in-law while working in the harvest. In other words, she worked by day and then came home to Naomi each evening. Others understand this to mean that following the harvest she stayed at home each day with Naomi and no longer went out looking for work (see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther [WBC], 140). Others even propose that she lived away from home during this period, but this seems unlikely. A few Hebrew mss (so also Latin Vulgate) support this view by reading, “and she returned to her mother-in-law.”