Ruth 3:3
Wash yourself therefore, and anoint you, and put your raiment on you, and get you down to the floor: but make not yourself known to the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.
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(3-5) The plan suggested by Naomi seems peculiar, yet some thoughts may give a certain colouring to it. (1) Naomi seems to have believed that Boaz was the nearest kinsman, being ignorant of the yet nearer one (Ruth 3:12). Consequently, according to Israelite law (Deuteronomy 25:5 sqq.), it would be the duty of Boaz to marry Ruth to raise up seed to the dead. (2) The general tone of Naomi’s character is clearly shown in this book to be that of a God-fearing woman, so that it is certain that, however curious in its external form, there can be nothing counselled here which really is repugnant to God’s law, or shocking to a virtuous man such as Boaz, otherwise Naomi would simply have been most completely frustrating her own purpose. (3) Her knowledge by long intimacy of Ruth’s character, and doubtless also of that of Boaz by report, would enable her to feel sure that no ill effects could accrue.

Ruth 3:3. Put on thy raiment — Thy best raiment. Make not thyself known — In so familiar a way as thou mayest do hereafter. “It is not easy to tell,” says Dr. Dodd, “at this distance of time, and amid this difference of manners, why Naomi advised Ruth to this secret method of proceeding. One would have thought it better for her to have claimed publicly the right of redemption from Boaz; but, no doubt, Naomi, who was a pious woman, had sufficient reasons for her mode of proceeding; and being well satisfied of the honour of Boaz, as well as the modesty of Ruth, she had no apprehensions of any consequences which might impugn the reputation of either.” Two circumstances must be kept in mind in judging of this conduct of Naomi; the one is, that in taking this method, she intended to induce Boaz to perform that duty which the law required from him, namely, to marry his kinswoman. For the precept enjoining a man, whose brother died childless, to take his widow to wife, that he might raise up seed to his deceased brother, had been extended by custom to other near relations when there were no brethren. The other circumstance to be observed is, “the striking simplicity of the manners of those times, with a pleasing picture whereof every trait in this story presents us.”3:1-5 The married state should be a rest, as much as any thing upon earth can be so, as it ought to fix the affections and form a connexion for life. Therefore it should be engaged in with great seriousness, with earnest prayers for direction, for the blessing of God, and with regard to his precepts. Parents should carefully advise their children in this important concern, that it may be well with them as to their souls. Be it always remembered, That is best for us which is best for our souls. The course Naomi advised appears strange to us; but it was according to the laws and usages of Israel. If the proposed measure had borne the appearance of evil, Naomi would not have advised it. Law and custom gave Ruth, who was now proselyted to the true religion, a legal claim upon Boaz. It was customary for widows to assert this claim, De 25:5-10. But this is not recorded for imitation in other times, and is not to be judged by modern rules. And if there had been any evil in it, Ruth was a woman of too much virtue and too much sense to have listened to it.Behold, he winnoweth barley ... - The simple manners of Boaz and his times are here before us. This "mighty man of wealth" assists personally in the winnowing of his barley, which lies in a great heap on the floor Ruth 3:15, and sleeps in the open threshing-floor to protect his grain from depredation.

Tonight - For the sake of the breeze which springs up at sunset, and greatly facilitates the "cleansing" (separation) of the grain tossed up across the wind.

2. he winnoweth barley to-night in the threshing-floor—The winnowing process is performed by throwing up the grain, after being trodden down, against the wind with a shovel. The threshing-floor, which was commonly on the harvest-field, was carefully leveled with a large cylindric roller and consolidated with chalk, that weeds might not spring up, and that it might not chop with drought. The farmer usually remained all night in harvest-time on the threshing-floor, not only for the protection of his valuable grain, but for the winnowing. That operation was performed in the evening to catch the breezes which blow after the close of a hot day, and which continue for the most part of the night. This duty at so important a season the master undertakes himself; and, accordingly, in the simplicity of ancient manners, Boaz, a person of considerable wealth and high rank, laid himself down to sleep on the barn floor, at the end of the heap of barley he had been winnowing. Thy raiment, to wit, thy best raiment. All this was done to render herself more amiable in the eyes of Boaz. Object. But Boaz could not see her, the whole business being to be transacted by night.

Answ. First, It was begun in the beginning of the night, as soon as Boaz had supped and composed himself to rest, as appears from Ruth 3:4,7, when there was so much light left as might discover her to him. Secondly, There being a solemn feast this evening, as is very probably thought, and the master of the feast having invited his labouring people to it, and Ruth among the rest, it is likely that both she and the rest did put themselves into their best dress upon that occasion, as the manner is even at this day; and so he had opportunity enough to see her.

Make not thyself known unto the man, to wit, not in so familiar a way, as she was appointed to do, so as he might know her, in the sense in which that word is sometimes used. Wash thyself, therefore,.... Thy flesh, as Ben Melech, that she might appear clean and neat, and free from all spots, and every thing that might occasion a disagreeable aspect, or an ill scent, and so be acceptable to the man proposed:

and anoint thee; not with aromatic ointments, as great personages, both men and women, used as Aben Ezra notes, but with common oil, Ruth being a poor widow that she might look sleek and smooth:

and put thy raiment upon thee; that is, her best raiment; for it cannot be supposed that she was now without clothes; or else her ornaments as the Targum; her mother-in-law advises her to put off her widow's weed, the time of mourning for her husband being perhaps at an end, and put on her ornamental dress she used to wear in her own country, and in her husband's lifetime. Jarchi interprets it of her sabbath day clothes:

and get thee down to the floor; to the threshingfloor where Boaz was winnowing, and which it seems lay lower than the city of Bethlehem:

but make not thyself known unto the man; some understand it, that she should not make herself known to any man, not to any of the servants of Boaz; who, though they knew her before, when in the habit of a gleaner, would not know her now in her best and finest clothes, unless she made herself known to them; but rather Boaz is meant, to whom it was not advisable to make herself known; and who also, for the same reason, though he might see her at supper time, might not know her because of her different dress: and the rather he is particularly intended, since it follows:

until he shall have done eating and drinking; when Naomi thought it would be the fittest time to make herself known unto him in order to gain the point in view, marriage with him.

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 {b} man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.

(b) Boaz, nor yet any other.

3. Wash thyself … and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee] as a bride prepares herself for marriage; see Ezekiel 16:9 ff.Verse 3. - So then wash thyself, and anoint thyself, and dress thyself? This latter phrase is in the original, "and put thy garments on thee." The verb וְשַׂמְתְּי with its final yod, was the archaic form of the second person feminine, though still much cut down and contracted from its oldest form. See Raabe's 'Zuruckfuhring,' and note the conduct of the verb, in its relation to the pronominal suffixes, when these are affixed. And go down to the threshing-floor. The town of Bethlehem lay on the summit of "the narrow ridge of a long gray hill" (Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 163), while the corn-fields, that gave the fortified place its name of Bread-town, stretched out expandingly in the valleys below. Dr. Robinson says, "We ascended gradually toward Bethlehem around the broad head of a valley running N.E. to join that under Mar Elyas The town lies on the E. and N.E. slope of a long ridge; another deep valley, Wady Ta'amirah, being on the south side, which passes down north of the Frank Mountain toward the Dead Sea, receiving the valley under Mar Elyas not far below. Toward the west the hill is higher than the village, and then sinks down very gradually toward Wady Ahmed ('Biblical Researches,' vol. 2. p. 158). Let not your presence be known to the man before he has finished eating and drinking. It would have been imprudent and impolite to have discovered her presence while his servants and himself were busied in operations which required to be actively prosecuted while the breeze was favorable, and the light of the moon serviceable. Ruth was to wait till the servants, having finished their work and their repast, had retired to their respective homes. The master, as Naomi knew, would remain gratefully and joyfully on the spot, to keep watch in the midst of his cereal treasures, and under the still magnificence of the broad canopy of heaven. Speaking of Hebron, Dr. Robinson says, "Here we needed no guard around our tent. The owners of the crops came every night and slept upon their threshing-floors to guard them, and this we had found to be universal in all the region of Gaza. We were in the midst of scenes precisely like those of the Book of Ruth, when Boaz winnowed barley in his threshing-floor, and laid himself down at night to guard the heap of corn" ('Biblical Researches, ' vol. 2. p. 446). Boaz's heart, when all was quiet around him, would be full of calm and comfort. He would pace about his well-heaped threshing-floor contentedly, contemplatively; and, as he paced, and thought, and adored, the figure of the beautiful and industrious gleaner might persist in coming in within the field of meditation. It might linger there, and be gladly allowed to linger. The mother inquired, "where hast thou gleaned to-day, and where wroughtest thou?" and praised the benefactor, who, as she conjecture from the quantity of barley collected and the food brought home, had taken notice of Ruth: "blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee!" When she heard the name of the man, Boaz, she saw that this relative of her husband had been chosen by God to be a benefactor of herself and Ruth, and exclaimed, "Blessed be he of the Lord, that he has not left off (withdrawn) his favour towards the living and the dead!" On חסדּו עזב see Genesis 24:27. This verb is construed with a double accusative here; for את cannot be a preposition, as in that case מאת would be used like מעם in Gen. l.c. "The living," etc., forms a second object: as regards (with regard to) the living and the dead, in which Naomi thought of herself and Ruth, and of her husband and sons, to whom God still showed himself gracious, even after their death, through His care for their widows. In order to enlighten Ruth still further upon the matter, she added, "The man (Boaz) is our relative, and one of our redeemers." He "stands near to us," sc., by relationship. גּאלנוּ, a defective form for גּאלינוּ, which is found in several MSS and editions. On the significance of the gol, or redeemer, see at Leviticus 25:26, Leviticus 25:48-49, and the introduction to Ruth 3.
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