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Rth 3:1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?
Ver. 1. Shall I not seek rest for thee? ] There is in most a propension to the nuptial conjunction. Requirit vir costam suam, requirit faemina sedem suam, say the Rabbis. The man misseth his rib; the woman would be in her old place again, under the man’s arm or wing. Non est requies mulieri donec nupserit, saith Aben Ezra. The unmarried life is trouble and disquietment. Hence marriage is called Portus iuventutis, the haven of young folk, who are usually tossed by lustful lingerings, as a ship is with waves; hence the Greeks call young men ηιθεοι of αιθω to burn, and αιζηοι of ζεω to boil. Hence they are called upon to put away evil from their flesh, Ecc 11:10 that is, to mortify fleshly lusts: and admonished by the apostle, that "it is better for them to marry than to burn." 1Co 7:9 Marriage being God’s medicine, which, if rightly applied, will cool and heal unruly lusts that war against the soul.
That it may be well with thee. ] That thou mayest arrive at those fair havens of a happy match: that marriage may be to thee a merry age. At Athens the bridegroom was wont to sing,
“ εφυγον κακον, ευρον αμεινον .”
I have changed a worse estate for a better. It was as it proved; for of some it may be said as it was of Sulla, that they had been happy, if they had never married: but this is from man’s corrupt heart, that like a toad, turneth all it taketh into rank poison. "It is not good for man to be alone." Indeed, those that will marry shall be sure of "trouble," and that "in the flesh" too: 1Co 7:28 but as it is said of Egypt, that as no country hath more venemous creatures, none more antidotes; so marriage hath many troubles, but with it many helps against trouble.
“Coniugium humanae divina Academia vitae.”
Rth 3:2 And now [is] not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.
Ver. 2. Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight. ] By night they winnowed, ad auram nocturnam, as the Chaldee here hath it: (1.) Because more cool, as Genesis 3:8 ; (2.) Because then they had a better wind. Naomi remindeth Ruth of this opportunity, and willeth her to improve it. A well chosen season is one of the best advantages of any action. It may seem that Boaz himself had a hand in the work, howsoever an oversight. See Ruth 2:4 . He might be of the mind of that Emperor a who said, Quo maior fuero, tanto plus laborabo: the greater I am, the more pains I will take.
Rth 3:3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: [but] make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.
Ver. 3. Wash thyself therefore. ] A sudore et sordibus, ne male oleres, from wet and filth, that thou smell not amiss, as slothful sluts use to do.
And anoint thee. ] That thou mayest smell well albeit, Optime olet faemina, quae nihil olet, said one; she smelleth best, who smelleth of nothing.
And put thy raiment upon thee. ] Thy very best, that may render thee most amiable. Use all lawful means to ingratiate. Hanc homines decorant quam vestimenta decorant.
And get thee down to the floor. ] Serve God’s providence by demanding marriage of him; which in those days, and in Ruth’s case, was neither unlawful nor immodest. Deu 25:5 Consilium hoc est re legitimum, specie inhonestum, saith Junius here: Naomi’s counsel to Ruth was indeed honest, but seemingly not so. Diodat saith, that albeit the end she aimed at was good; yet it seemeth to be a womanish provision, somewhat less than honest, to bring it to pass: which was notwithstanding tolerated, directed, and blessed by God; as was also that in Genesis 27:9 . Some ancients censure it for scandalous and dangerous. One saith a that he doubteth not but all this was done by instinct from God; or else such holy women would never have done and spoken so. Let none be encouraged hereby to enter into God’s ordinance through the devil’s portal, lest they smart and smoke for it.
Until he shall have done eating and drinking. ] This they did more liberally at such times, and thereby were more merrily disposed, and apt to speak more freely.
a Auth, Imperf. Oper.
Rth 3:4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
Ver. 4. And it shall be, when he lieth down. ] He lay on the floor, as best liked himself, without bed or pallet. Hollinshead saith, that some old men he knew who told of times in England, that if the good man of the house had a mattress, or flock-bed, and a sack of chaff to rest his head on, he thought himself as well lodged as the lord of the town: for ordinarily they lay upon straw pallets covered with canvas, and a round log under their heads instead of a bolster. Pillows, they said, were only for women in child birth.
And uncover his feet. ] Naomi well knew the piety and chastity of both Boaz and Ruth, and confidently trusted that he would give the young widow good counsel. Otherwise this was a bold adventure: since people are so prone to fleshliness, and unbridled lust, like the wild fig, will soon mount over the wall: it is a "law of the members" in a double sense, as one saith.
Rth 3:5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.
Ver. 5. All that thou sayest unto me I will do. ] The respect Ruth bare to her mother-in-law, and the hope of a good husband, made her thus submissive. Lyra and Carthusian seem to blame the counsel of Naomi, though they excuse the fact of Ruth, because a stranger, and a new convert.
Rth 3:6 And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.
Ver. 6. And she went down unto the floor. ] Though a woman, and a stranger, yet she ventureth hard: where desire is, there nothing can hinder or abate the spirit, or daunt the heart. a
Rth 3:7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.
Ver. 7. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk. ] More freely than ordinary; as at such a feast he might. God alloweth his people an honest affluence, and "there is a time to be merry."
And his heart was merry. ] Heb., Good; that is, frolic and free from cares.
At the end of the heap of corn. ] See Trapp on " Rth 3:4 "
And she came softly, and uncovered his feet. ] Or, Lifted up the clothes that were at his feet.
“ O prisca simplicitas! …
Integritas ubi prisca! profana o tempora! ”
Rth 3:8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
Ver. 8. That the man was afraid. ] Timor est constrictio cordis ex sensu mali instantis. Fear is a passion of the soul, shrinking in itself from some imminent evil. The Greeks call it δειμα , quasi ligamentum, a bond: quasi gelu astringit, saith Nazianzen, it binds up the heart as a frost doth the earth. Boaz might possibly fear that it was some evil spirit that had assumed a body, and got to bed to him. Alexander from Alexandria a telleth of such things that have happened. And another writeth of a gallant, who meeting with a beautiful dame, and having enjoyed his fleshly desires of her, found her in the morning to be the dead body of one that he had formerly sinned with, which had been acted by the devil all night, and left dead again in the morning.
And turned himself. ] Or, Took hold on: sc., her clothes, or her headgear; whereby he perceived that it was a woman. But he was a mortified man, and an elder, πρεσβυτης , that is, one in whom the fire of lust was put out.
a Lib. ii. cap. 9; lib. iv. cap. 19.
Rth 3:9 And he said, Who [art] thou? And she answered, I [am] Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou [art] a near kinsman.
Ver. 9. Spread therefore thy skirt. ] Tostatus thinketh that by this speech she desired him to lie with her; which is gross. Rather, hereby she desired him to marry her - see Ezekiel 16:8 , - and as a husband to nourish and cherish her; Eph 5:29 and he understandeth her no otherwise, as appeareth by his answer.
For thou art a near kinsman. ] And so hast the right of redemption, and reason to raise up seed to my deceased husband. Let us go boldly to Jesus Christ our elder Brother, and say to him in like sort, Thou, Lord, art my near and dear kinsman, Oh spread thy skirt over me, &c.
Rth 3:10 And he said, Blessed [be] thou of the LORD, my daughter: [for] thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
Ver. 10. And he said, Blessed be thou, &c. ] He did not reproach her, for coming in that manner, and at that time of night, as a light housewife; nor harbour any evil suspicion of her, as unfit to make an honest man’s wife; but considering her former behavior, which was commendable, Rth 3:11 and her present kindness to the living and to the dead, he candidly interpreteth what she had done, and calling her "daughter," comforteth and commendeth her, as here.
Blessed be thou. ] Or, "Blessed art thou of the Lord." as Luk 1:28
My daughter. ] She calleth herself his "handmaid," he calleth her his "daughter." There is nothing lost by humility. The humble shall have "riches, and honour, and life." Pro 22:4
For thou hast showed more kindness in the latter end. ] True goodness is of a growing nature. Thyatira’s works were better at last than at first. The righteous are "as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day"; Pro 4:18 when blazing stars go out in a snuff and infect the air; so apostates.
Inasmuch as thou followedst not young men. ] More suitable to thy age, as being more vigorous and personable. Ruth followed not the law of lust, but the rules of reason and religion: this she is praised for.
Rth 3:11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou [art] a virtuous woman.
Ver. 11. And now, my daughter, fear not. ] That I will either reproach thee, or reject thee; mine affection is no whit alienated from thee by thy present practice; which though it hath a show of evil, yet I know that it proceedeth not from lightness or lust.
I will do to thee all that thou requirest. ] The desires of the righteous shall be satisfied. Pro 10:24 Let men bring but lawful requests and honest hearts, and they may have anything. Here Boaz betrotheth Ruth conditionally.
For all the city of my people know. ] Heb., All the gate. Her works had praised her in the gates: Pro 31:31 she was eminently and eximiously virtuous.
That thou art a virtuous woman. ] Praised by all, and therefore prized by me "above rubies." But now-a-days, Virtus post nummos. In suits both of law and love: money carrieth it.
“ Haud facile invenias multis e millibus unum,
Virtutem precium qui putat esse sui. ”
Rth 3:12 And now it is true that I [am thy] near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
Ver. 12. And now it is true. ] He easily yieldeth to the truth of her allegation, as being φιλαληθης , a lover of truth - a title given to Arrian the historian - and a promoter of it, as it is said of Vespasian.
Howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. ] Whose first right unto thee I freely acknowledge, and to whom thou shouldst first have addressed thyself. This was justice, - to give to every one his own.
Rth 3:13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, [that] if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, [as] the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning.
Ver. 13. Tarry this night. ] He saith not, Come up hither, for I mind to marry thee: but tarry till morning, lest thou suffer as a night walker, &c. Let none presume to leap into the married estate, or to abuse themselves unchastely before marriage; but deliberate, and be sure to come clear to it, if thou expect comfort.
If he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman. ] Let "no man go beyond, or defraud his brother in any matter, because that the Lord is the avenger of all such," 1Th 4:6 and no man would himself be deceived or wronged.
As the Lord liveth. ] This was an oath. Jer 4:2 A private oath may be taken, but sparingly and warily, not but upon a necessity, for the satisfaction of the other party, Mat 5:37 and in matters of great importance. Thus Jacob sware to Laban, the spies to Rahab, Jonathan to David, &c. But let such oaths be rare, reverent, well advised, &c.
Lie down until the morning. ] She was risen up, it seemeth, to be gone; but he thought it not fit: and found in himself strength, by God’s grace, to resist a temptation; though it be true that
“ Nox et amor vinumque nihil moderabile suadent:
Illa pudore vacat, liber amorque metu. ” - Ovid.
Rth 3:14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.
Ver. 14. And she lay at his feet until the morning. ] A rare example of chaste and continent behaviour! O quam hoc non est omnium! Joseph denied his wanton mistress, but Judah solicited Tamar on the first sight of her: and Lot, alone with his daughters, committed incest. Uncleanness is, as Reuben, the eldest child of old Adam’s strength, bearing name of the mother, which is called in general lust or concupiscence. The devil also findeth men weakest in resisting temptations to these sensual sins. Shun therefore the occasions, as much as may be. It is not safe being at Satan’s mess, though our spoon be never so long. They that venture upon the occasion, do as it were tempt the devil to tempt them, which needs not.
And she rose up before one could know another. ] Either out of joy of heart, or to prevent obloquy: which also was Boaz’s care. For,
He said, Let it not be known, &c. ] Et caste et caute. Men must look to their credit as well as to their conscience, and "abstain from all appearances of evil," all shows and shadows of sin, quicquid fuerit male coloratum, whatsoever looketh but ill-favouredly: because men are generally suspicious, and apt to speak the worst. a
“ Tu id quod boniest excerpis: dicis quod mali est. ” - Terent.
Some make this to be Boaz’s saying within himself; and that therefore he made Ruth rise before it was day.
Rth 3:15 Also he said, Bring the vail that [thou hast] upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six [measures] of barley, and laid [it] on her: and she went into the city.
Ver. 15. Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast. ] Pallium, peplum: some render it the mantle, others the apron, others the sheet. Our west country women wear mantles when they go abroad: the women of the Isle of Man sheets, as was before observed out of Speed.
He measured six measures of barley. ] Six ephahs, saith Bibliander: six gallons, saith Bunting. The Hebrew is, Six barleys; as much as she could well carry. God also sendeth not away his suitors without their bosoms full of blessings, even as many as they can bring faith to bear away. And in that Boaz gave not Ruth this at random, but measured it out, one well observeth, that liberality is not lavish of God’s blessings, but giveth in judgment, and not without consideration: for every virtue either is or should be guided with prudence.
Rth 3:16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who [art] thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her.
Ver. 16. And when she came to her mother-in-law. ] To whom she now made haste for three reasons, as is well observed: a (1.) For the danger of the way, being so early before day; (2.) The burden she bare, to be eased thereof; (3.) Her joy, to impart to her mother her happy success. The same reasons should prevail with us, to flee home to heaven: (1.) The danger we are in while in this dark world; (2.) The burden of sin; (3.) The joy we conceive of our future happiness.
Who art thou, my daughter? ] Poor folk fear no robbing. It is bootless, we say, to rob a spittle.
All that the man had done unto her. ] That is, Said unto her. Dei (sic et bonorum) dicere est facere. A good man’s promise is a done thing, as we call it.
Rth 3:17 And she said, These six [measures] of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.
Ver. 17. These six measures. ] Love is liberal, it will not be hid: … quis enim celaverit ignem?
For he said to me. ]
“ Dat bene, dat multum, qui dat cure munere vulture. ”
Go not empty. ] This was to lay up treasure in heaven, to lend to the Lord, to lay hold upon eternal life. "A liberal man deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things he shall stand."
Rth 3:18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.
Ver. 18. Sit still, my daughter. ] Stir not abroad, divulge not the business, - some women cannot but be tattling, - but wait upon God, and be ready whensoever thou art called to the accomplishment of this marriage.
How the matter will fall. ] How God’s providence will work. Commit thyself to God in well doing. Psa 37:5 "Cast thy care upon him." 1Pe 5:7 It is thy work to cast care: God’s work to take care: let him alone with his work, which is then only well done, when done by himself.
For the man will not be in rest, &c. ] Naomi knew him to be homo quadratus, a right honest man, such a one as accounted promise to be due debt, and would not rest till he had paid it.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ruth 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany