Ruth 2:4
And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) The Lord be with you.—There is a trace here of the good feeling prevailing between Boaz and his servants. Though he has come to his field to supervise the work, it is not in a fault-finding spirit, but with true courtesy and friendliness; nor is it a frivolous jesting manner that he displays, but with gravity and soberness he presents a true gentleman in his intercourse with his inferiors.

Ruth 2:4. And said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you, &c. — Such was the piety of ancient times, that it manifested itself even in men’s civil conversation and worldly transactions, and induced them to pray to God for a blessing on the labours of those whom they saw to be honestly and usefully employed, who were wont in return to pray in a similar manner for them. The Lord be with you; and the Lord bless you — This was the beautiful language of religion in those days; too little known, alas! in ours.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.A kinsman - More literally "an acquaintance"; here (and in the feminine, Ruth 3:2) denoting the person with whom one is intimately acquainted, one's near relation. The next kinsman of Ruth 2:20, etc. גאל gā'al, is a wholly different word.

Boaz - Commonly taken to mean, "strength is in him" (compare 1 Kings 7:21).

Ru 2:4-23. He Takes Knowledge of Her, and Shows Her Favor.

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.

They expressed and professed their piety, even in their civil conversation and worldly transactions; which now so many are ashamed of, and call it hypocrisy or vain ostentation thus to do. And, behold, Boaz came to Bethlehem,.... Into the field, to see how his workmen went on, and performed their service, and to encourage them in it by his presence, and by his courteous language and behaviour, and to see what provisions were wanting, that he might take care and give orders for the sending of them, it being now near noon, as it may be supposed; and though he was a man of great wealth, he did not think it below him to go into his field, and look after his servants, which was highly commendable in him, and which showed his diligence and industry, as well as his humility. So a king in Homer (q) is represented as among his reapers, with his sceptre in his hand, and cheerful. Pliny (r) relates it, as a saying of the ancients, that the eye of the master is the most fruitful thing in the field; and Aristotle (s) reports, that a Persian being asked what fattened a horse most, replied, the eye of the master; and an African being asked what was the best dung for land, answered, the steps of his master:

and said unto the reapers, the Lord be with you; to give them health, and strength, and industry in their work; the Targum is,"may the Word of the Lord be your help:"

and they answered him, the Lord bless you; with a good harvest, and good weather to gather it in; and though these salutations were of a civil kind, yet they breathe the true spirit of sincere and undissembled piety, and show the sense that both master and servants had of the providence of God attending the civil affairs of life, without whose help, assistance, and blessing, nothing succeeds well.

(q) Iliad. 18. ver. 556, 557. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 6. (s) De Administrat. Domestic. l. 1. c. 6.

And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. The Lord be with you] Cf. Jdg 6:12, Psalm 129:8. A religious spirit governs the relations between employer and employed on this estate.Verse 4. - On the very day that the Moabitess entered on her gleaning, Boaz, in accordance with his wont, as a good and wise master, visited his harvest-field. And, behold, Boas came from Bethlehem. The law of kindness was on his lips; and while benevolence was beaming from his countenance, piety was ruling within his heart. He said to the reapers, Yahveh be with you! And they said to him, Yahveh bless thee! Courtesy met courtesy. It is a charming scene, and we may reasonably assume that there was reality in the salutations. Such civilities of intercourse between proprietors and their laborers are still, says Dr. W. M. Thomson, common in the East. "The Lord be with you is merely the Allah makum! of ordinary parlance; and so too the response, The Lord bless thee" ('The Land and the Book,' p. 648). Modern Moslems are particular in the matter of salutations. "Abuhurairah reports that he heard Mohammed say, You will not enter into paradise until you have faith, and you will not complete your faith until you love one another, and that is shown by. making salaam to friends and strangers" (Kitto's 'Bible Illustrations,' in loc.). So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived, the whole town was in commotion on their account (תּהם, imperf. Niph. of הוּם, as in 1 Samuel 4:5; 1 Kings 1:45). They said, "Is this Naomi?" The subject to תּאמרנה is the inhabitants of the town, but chiefly the female portion of the inhabitants, who were the most excited at Naomi's return. This is the simplest way of explaining the use of the feminine in the verbs תּאמרנה and תּקראנה. In these words there was an expression of amazement, not so much at the fact that Naomi was still alive, and had come back again, as at her returning in so mournful a condition, as a solitary widow, without either husband or sons; for she replied (Ruth 1:20), "Call me not Naomi (i.e., gracious), but Marah" (the bitter one), i.e., one who has experienced bitterness, "for the Almighty has made it very bitter to me. I, I went away full, and Jehovah has made me come back again empty. Why do ye call me Naomi, since Jehovah testifies against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me? "Full," i.e., rich, not in money and property, but in the possession of a husband and two sons; a rich mother, but now deprived of all that makes a mother's heart rich, bereft of both husband and sons. "Testified against me," by word and deed (as in Exodus 20:16; 2 Samuel 1:16). The rendering "He hath humbled me" (lxx, Vulg., Bertheau, etc.) is incorrect, as ענה with בּ and the construct state simply means to trouble one's self with anything (Ecclesiastes 1:13), which is altogether unsuitable here. - With Ruth 1:22 the account of the return of Naomi and her daughter-in-law is brought to a close, and the statement that "they came to Bethlehem in the time of the barley harvest" opens at the same time the way for the further course of the history. השּׁבה is pointed as a third pers. perf. with the article in a relative sense, as in Ruth 2:6 and Ruth 4:3. Here and at Ruth 2:6 it applies to Ruth; but in Ruth 4:3 to Naomi. המּה, the masculine, is used here, as it frequently is, for the feminine הנּה, as being the more common gender. The harvest, as a whole, commenced with the barley harvest (see at Leviticus 23:10-11).
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