Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
GLEANS IN THE
2. Ruth . . . said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and
glean--The right of gleaning was conferred by a positive law on the
widow, the poor, and the stranger
But liberty to glean behind the reapers
was not a right that could be claimed; it was a privilege granted or
refused according to the good will or favor of the owner.
3. her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto
Boaz--Fields in Palestine being unenclosed, the phrase signifies
that portion of the open ground which lay within the landmarks of Boaz.
4. Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be
with you--This pious salutation between the master and his laborers
strongly indicates the state of religious feeling among the rural
population of Israel at that time, as well as the artless, happy, and
unsuspecting simplicity which characterized the manners of the people.
The same patriarchal style of speaking is still preserved in the East.
5. his servant that was set over the reapers--an overseer whose
special duty was to superintend the operations in the field, to supply
provision to the reapers, and pay them for their labor in the evening.
7. she said . . . Let me glean and gather after the reapers among the
sheaves--Various modes of reaping are practised in the East. Where
the crop is thin and short, it is plucked up by the roots. Sometimes it
is cut with the sickle. Whether reaped in the one way or the other, the
grain is cast into sheaves loosely thrown together, to be subjected to
the process of threshing, which takes place, for the most part,
immediately after the reaping. Field labors were begun early in the
morning--before the day became oppressively hot.
she tarried a little in the house--that is, the field tent, erected for
the occasional rest and refreshment of the laborers.
8, 9. said Boaz unto Ruth, . . . bide here fast by my maidens--The
reaping was performed by women while the assortment of sheaves was the
duty of men-servants. The same division of harvest labor obtains in
Syria still. Boaz not only granted to Ruth the full privilege of
gleaning after his reapers, but provided for her personal comfort.
9. go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have
drawn--Gleaners were sometimes allowed, by kind and charitable masters,
to partake of the refreshments provided for the reapers. The vessels
alluded to were skin bottles, filled with water--and the bread was
soaked in vinegar
a kind of poor, weak wine, sometimes mingled with a little olive
oil--very cooling, as would be required in harvest-time. This grateful
refection is still used in the harvest-field.
14. he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed,
and left--some of the new grain, roasted on the spot, and fit for
use after being rubbed in the hands--a favorite viand in the East. He
gave her so much, that after satisfying her own wants, she had some
in reserve for her mother-in-law.
16. let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her--The gleaners
in the East glean with much success; for a great quantity of corn is
scattered in the reaping, as well as in their manner of carrying it. One
may judge, then, of the large quantity which Ruth would gather in
consequence of the liberal orders given to the servants. These
extraordinary marks of favor were not only given from a kindly
disposition, but from regard to her good character and devoted
attachment to her venerable relative.
17. and beat out that she had gleaned--When the quantity of grain was
small, it was beat out by means of a stick.
an ephah--supposed to contain about a bushel.
20. the man is . . . one of our next kinsmen--Hebrew, "one of our
redeemers," on whom it devolves to protect us, to purchase our lands,
and marry you, the widow of his next kinsman. She said, "one of them,"
not that there were many in the same close relationship, but that he
was a very near kinsman, one other individual only having the
21. all my harvest--both barley and wheat harvests. The latter was at
the end of May or the beginning of June.
22. Naomi said unto Ruth . . . It is good . . . that thou go out with
his maidens--a prudent recommendation to Ruth to accept the generous
invitation of Boaz, lest, if she were seen straying into other fields,
she might not only run the risk of rude treatment, but displease him by
seeming indifferent to his kind liberality. Moreover, the observant
mind of the old matron had already discerned, in all Boaz' attentions to
Ruth, the germs of a stronger affection, which she wished to increase.