Ruth 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.
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(8) Was afraid.—Was startled. See the use of the word in Genesis 27:33.

Turned.—Literally, bent himself. (Comp. Judges 16:29.) He wakes with a start, and in turning sees a woman at his feet.

Ruth 3:8-9. At midnight — He did not discover her sooner; the man was afraid — Feeling something unusual at his feet. Behold a woman lay at his feet — He perceived by her clothes, and, when she spake, by her voice, that it was a woman. Spread therefore thy skirt over thy handmaid — A kind of proverbial expression, signifying, Take me to be thy wife, and perform the duty of a husband to me. From this answer of Ruth, and from what Boaz says in the two following verses, it is plain that she had no design of any thing but what was honest and lawful.3:6-13 What in one age or nation would be improper, is not always so in another age or another nation. Being a judge of Israel, Boaz would tell Ruth what she should do; also whether he had the right of redemption, and what methods must be taken, and what rites used, in order to accomplishing her marriage with him or another person. The conduct of Boaz calls for the highest praise. He attempted not to take advantage of Ruth; he did not disdain her as a poor, destitute stranger, nor suspect her of any ill intentions. He spoke honourably of her as a virtuous woman, made her a promise, and as soon as the morning arrived, sent her away with a present to her mother-in-law. Boaz made his promise conditional, for there was a kinsman nearer than he, to whom the right of redemption belonged.Turned himself - Rather, "bent forward," so as to feel what it was which was at his feet. The same word is translated "took hold of," in Judges 16:29. 4. go in, and uncover his feet and lay thee down—Singular as these directions may appear to us, there was no impropriety in them, according to the simplicity of rural manners in Beth-lehem. In ordinary circumstances these would have seemed indecorous to the world; but in the case of Ruth, it was a method, doubtless conformable to prevailing usage, of reminding Boaz of the duty which devolved on him as the kinsman of her deceased husband. Boaz probably slept upon a mat or skin; Ruth lay crosswise at his feet—a position in which Eastern servants frequently sleep in the same chamber or tent with their master; and if they want a covering, custom allows them that benefit from part of the covering on their master's bed. Resting, as the Orientals do at night, in the same clothes they wear during the day, there was no indelicacy in a stranger, or even a woman, putting the extremity of this cover over her. At midnight; he did not discover her sooner, though she did not uncover his feet, being it seems in a deep sleep, as is usual after feasts, and she doing no more that her mother commanded her, and using no words or gestures which might provoke his lust; wherein she showed her temperance and modesty, and that what she did was only by her mother’s instigation and advice, which plainly appeared from her desire expressed, Ruth 3:9, which he knew, she being a stranger, was unacquainted with. And this was the reason why Boaz was not in the least offended with her, but only commends her virtue, without any reflection upon her for this fact.

Turned himself; from the place where he lay, he raised and turned himself towards the feet, to learn who or what was there. Or, he was troubled, or afraid, or wondered; for the Hebrew word being but once used, is diversely rendered.

A woman lay at his feet; which he might understand, either by some glimmerings of light which were after midnight, which discovered her; or rather, by her voice, or out of her own mouth, who being asked, told him so much in general, before he made particular inquiry. And it came to pass at midnight,.... So long Boaz slept without knowledge of any person being at his feet, and so long Ruth had lain there; but awaking, and perceiving something at his feet, which pressed them, it made him look about and feel, and so affected him:

that the man was afraid; though a man, and a man of spirit, he was afraid, a panic seized him, not knowing but it might be a spectre, a spirit, or a demon, as Jarchi; and such an instance we have in history (s) of an apparition, which seemed to put off clothes, and place itself in a bed where a man lay, &c.

and turned himself; to see who it was:

and, behold, a woman lay at his feet; which he knew by putting his hand upon her head, as Jarchi thinks, and so knew her by her headdress, or vail; or rather by her voice, as Aben Ezra, and who supposes the moon might shine, and he might be able to discern she had no beard, as well as also discover her by her clothes.

(s) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 2. c. 9.

And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
8. and turned himself] A reflexive from of the verb, which means ‘to grasp with a twisting motion’; the verb occurs again only in Jdg 16:29 (‘took hold of’), Job 6:18 (‘are turned aside’ mg.).Verse 8. - And it came to pass at midnight that the man started in a fright; and he bent himself over, and lo, a woman was lying at his feet. He had awaked, and, feeling something soft and warm at his feet, he was startled and affrighted. What could it be? In a moment or two he recovered his self-possession, and bending himself up and over, or "crooking himself, to see and to feel, lo, a woman was lying at his feet. The Chaldee Targumist tumbles into a ludicrous bathos of taste when endeavoring to emphasize the startle and shiver which Boas experienced. He says, "He trembled, and his flesh, became soft as a turnip from the agitation. How could the most peddling and paltering of Rabbis succeed in betraying himself into such a laughable puerility and absurdity? The explanation, though of course it is not the least atom of justification, lies in the fact that the Chaldee word for "turnip" is לֶפֶת while the verb that de notes "he bent himself" is the niphal of לָפַת. The use of the expression "the man," in this and several of the adjoining verses, is apt to grate a little upon English ears. Let us explain and vindicate the term as we may, the grating is still felt. No matter though we know that "the rank is but the guinea stamp," the grating is felt inevitably. It is a result of that peculiar growth in living language that splits generic terms into such as are specific or semi-specific. We have gentleman as well as man, and embarrassment is not infrequently the result of our linguistic wealth. In the verse before us, and in some of those that go before, we should be disposed, in our English idiom, to employ the proper name: "And it came to pass at midnight that ' Boaz' started in a fright." As Naomi conjectured, from the favour which Boaz had shown to Ruth, that he might not be disinclined to marry her as gol, she said to her daughter-in-law, "My daughter, I must seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee." In the question אבקּשׁ הלא, the word הלא is here, as usual, an expression of general admission or of undoubted certainty, in the sense of "Is it not true, I seek for thee? it is my duty to seek for thee." מנוח equals מנוּחה (Ruth 1:9) signifies the condition of a peaceful life, a peaceful and well-secured condition, "a secure life under the guardian care of a husband" (Rosenmller). "And now is not Boaz our relation, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he is winnowing the barley floor (barley on the threshing-floor) to-night," i.e., till late in the night, to avail himself of the cool wind, which rises towards evening (Genesis 3:8), for the purpose of cleansing the corn. The threshing-floors of the Israelites were, and are still in Palestine, made under the open heaven, and were nothing more than level places in the field stamped quite hard.

(Note: "A level spot is selected for the threshing-floors, which are then constructed near each other, of a circular form, perhaps fifty feet in diameter, merely by beating down the earth hard." - Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 277.)

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