|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:17-23 It encourages industry, that in all labour, even that of gleaning, there is profit. Ruth was pleased with what she gained by her own industry, and was careful to secure it. Let us thus take care that we lose not those things which we have wrought, which we have gained for our souls' good, 2Jo 1:8. Parents should examine their children, as Naomi did, not to frighten or discourage them, so as to make them hate home, or tempt them to tell a lie; but to commend them if they have done well, and with mildness to reprove and caution them if they have done otherwise. It is a good question for us to ask ourselves every night, Where have I gleaned to-day? What improvement have I made in knowledge and grace? What have I done that will turn to a good account? When the Lord deals bountifully with us, let us not be found in any other field, nor seeking for happiness and satisfaction in the creature. We lose Divine favours, if we slight them. Ruth dutifully observed her mother's directions. And when the harvest was ended, she kept her aged mother company at home. Dinah went out to see the daughters of the land; her vanity ended in disgrace, Ge 34. Ruth kept at home, and helped to maintain her mother, and went out on no other errand than to get provision for her; her humility and industry ended in preferment.
Verse 23. - And she kept close by Boaz's young women to glean. Wright translates thus: "And she kept gleaning along with the maidens of Boaz." But the maidens of Boaz are not represented as gleaning. The historical statement of the verse is to be explained from the hortatory statement of ver. 8: "Keep close to my young women." Till the end of the barley-harvest and the wheat-harvest. Ruth's gleaning labors extended to the close of the wheat-harvest, during which time, no doubt, there would be frequent opportunities for a growing intimacy between the beautiful gleaner and the worthy proprietor. Often too, we may rest assured, would Boaz be a visitor in the humble home of Naomi. "The harvest upon the mountains," says Dr. Robinson, "ripens of course later than in the plains of the Jordan and the sea-coast. The barley-harvest precedes the wheat-harvest by a week or fortnight. On the 4th and 5th of June the people of Hebron were just beginning to gather their wheat; on the 11th and 12th the threshing-floors on the Mount of Olives were in full operation. We had already seen the harvest in the same stage of progress on the plains of Gaza on the 19th of May; while at Jericho, on the 12th of May, the threshing-floors had nearly completed their work" ('Biblical Researches,' vol. 2. p. 99). "The Syrian harvest," says Dr. W. M. Thomson, "extends through several months. On the plain of Philistia it commences in April and ends in June; and this not only gives ample time, but it has this great advantage, that the villagers from the mountains can assist the farmers on the plain, since their own crops are not yet ripe. I was struck with this fact while at Mesmia. Several Christians from Bethlehem, who had thus come to reap, spent the evening at my tent, and one of them explained to me the advantages from thus laboring on the plain. He not only, received wages for his own and his wife s labor, but his children were permitted to follow after them and glean on their own account, as Boaz allowed Ruth to do in their native village" ('The Land and the Book, ' p. 544). When it is said, in the last clause of the verse, and she dwelt with her mother-in-law, the reference is not to be restricted to the time that succeeded the period of harvesting. The Vulgate indeed connects the clause with the following verse, and renders it, "After she returned to her mother-in-law," pointing the verb thus וַתָּשָׁב instead of וַתֵּשֶׁב. The same translation is given to the verb by Luther and Coverdale. But there is no evidence whatever that Ruth slept anywhere else than under her mother-in-law's roof. The clause was written, apparently, for the very purpose of bringing out clearly before the mind of the reader her stainless innocence, and sweet simplicity, and never-tiring devotion to her noble mother-in-law.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean,.... Accepting the kindness of Boaz, and attending to the advice of her mother-in-law, as well as using all diligence to get a livelihood for her mother and herself; in which she was a wonderful instance of dutiful affection, humility, and industry: and so she continued
unto the end of barley harvest, and of wheat harvest; which latter began at Pentecost, as the former did at the passover; and, according to the Midrash (l), from the beginning of the one, to the end of the other, were three months; though it may be, they were gathered in sooner: indeed from the passover to Pentecost were seven weeks, which was the difference between the beginning of one harvest, and the beginning of the other:
and dwelt with her mother in law; which is to be understood either of her coming home at night, after she had been gleaning all day, and lodging with her mother-in-law, which was her constant custom during both harvests; or that after the harvests were ended, she continued to dwell with her mother-in-law; which seems to be added for the sake of carrying on the history in the following chapter.
(l) Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. so Alshech in loc.
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