|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:4-16 The pious and kind language between Boaz and his reapers shows that there were godly persons in Israel. Such language as this is seldom heard in our field; too often, on the contrary, what is immoral and corrupt. A stranger would form a very different opinion of our land, from that which Ruth would form of Israel from the converse and conduct of Boaz and his reapers. But true religion will teach a man to behave aright in all states and conditions; it will form kind masters and faithful servants, and cause harmony in families. True religion will cause mutual love and kindness among persons of different ranks. It had these effects on Boaz and his men. When he came to them he prayed for them. They did not, as soon as he was out of hearing curse him, as some ill-natured servants that hate their master's eye, but they returned his courtesy. Things are likely to go on well where there is such good-will as this between masters and servants. They expressed their kindness to each other by praying one for another. Boaz inquired concerning the stranger he saw, and ordered her to be well treated. Masters must take care, not only that they do no hurt themselves, but that they suffer not their servants and those under them to do wrong. Ruth humbly owned herself unworthy of favours, seeing she was born and brought up a heathen. It well becomes us all to think humbly of ourselves, esteeming others better than ourselves. And let us, in the kindness of Boaz to Ruth, note the kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ to poor sinners.
Verse 9. - Boaz continues his talk, led on by an interest that was, probably, surprising to himself. Let thine eyes be on the field which they are reaping. He feels increasingly anxious concerning the fascinating stranger, and gives her excellent counsel. "Let not thine eyes be wiled away, wanderingly, from the work on which thou art so praiseworthily engaged." And go thou behind 'them.' The reference is not to the same parties, who are indeterminately spoken of in the preceding clause - "which 'they' are reaping." A determinate feminine pronoun makes it evident that the reference is to the maidens, who were working in the rear of the reapers (אַחֲרֵיהֶן post eas). Have not I charged the young men not to touch thee? A fine euphemistic injunction; that was best obeyed, however, when most literally construed. And when thou thirstest, go to the jars, and drink of whatever the young men may draw. Most likely it would be from the well that was "by the gate of the city that the young men would draw - that very well of which her illustrious descendant, King David, spake, when he "longed, and said, O that one would give me drink of the water of the well in Bethlehem, which is by the gate" (see 2 Samuel 23:4, 15; 1 Chronicles 11:17, 18). When the water was drawn by the young men, then the maidens would carry the filled jars upon their heads to the resting-place. Gleaners could not be expected to get the freedom of the water which was thus so laboriously drawn, and then fatiguingly carried from a distance. But Boaz made Ruth free, and thus conferred on her a distinguishing privilege, that must have been at once most acceptable and most valuable. The Vulgate renders the last clause too freely - "of which the young men 'drink.'" The familiar well referred-to "appears," says Dean Stanley, "close by the gate" of the town ('Sinai and Palestine,' p. 163). Yet not very close. "It is," says Dr. John Wilson, "less than half a mile distant from the present village, and is in a rude enclosure, and consists of a large cistern with several small apertures" ('Lands of the Bible,' vol. 1. p. 399). Dr. Wilson has no doubt of its identity, though Dr. Robinson hesitated to come to the same conclusion ('Researches, ' vol. 2. p. 158).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Let thine eyes be upon the field that they do reap, and go thou after them,.... And gather up the loose ears of corn dropped and left by them:
have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? do her no hurt, or offer any incivility or rudeness to her, or even play any wanton tricks with her, as is too common with young persons in the fields at harvest time. This charge he now gave in her hearing, or however suggests that he would, and therefore she might depend upon it she should have no molestation nor any affront given her:
and when thou art athirst: as at such a season of the year, and in the field at such work, and in those hot countries, was frequently the case:
go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn; which they had fetched from wells and fountains in or near the city, and had put into bottles, pitchers, &c. for the use of the reapers and gatherers; we read of the well of Bethlehem, 2 Samuel 23:15 now she is ordered to go to these vessels, and drink when she pleased, without asking leave of any; and Boaz no doubt gave it in charge to his young men not to hinder her.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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 (Ru 2:14); 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.
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