Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Booz. The Scripture does not specify how nearly they were related. Rabbi Josue says Elimelech, Salmon, and Tob (chap. iii. 13,) were brothers, and Booz was the son of Salmon, which cannot be refuted, (Serar. q. 1.; Menochius) though the authority and proofs be very weak. It is not, however, more probable that Booz was the brother of Elimelech. Some think that he was not the immediate son of Salmon, as four persons seem too few to fill up the space of 366 years, from the marriage of Rahab till the birth of David. But this is not impossible. (Calmet) See chap. iv. 20.
Ver. 2. To me. It was the privilege of the poor and of strangers to glean, Deuteronomy xxiv. 19., and Leviticus xix. 9. Yet Ruth asks leave, through civility. (Calmet) — This law is no longer in force, but it would be inhuman for the rich to deny this liberty to those who are in distress, and willing rather to work than to beg. (Tirinus)
Ver. 4. With you. This blessing the Church still adopts in her service. (Worthington) — It was customary to bless one another during harvest, Psalm cxxviii. 5, 8. (Calmet) — Booz did, as Cato advises, Ne opera parcas visere; “See what is going forward.” The master’s eye makes the servants diligent. (Haydock).
Ver. 5. Man. Hebrew náhar, a man in the prime of life. He had the care of all in the field, during the absence of his master; whence Josephus styles him agrocomos, or agronomos. (Menochius) — Homer mentions an officer or king, standing with his sceptre in the midst of the reapers, and silently rejoicing at the rich profusion of the field. (Iliad) — Thus we see the taste of the ancients, while agriculture was honourable.
Ver. 7. Moment. Hebrew, “her tarrying in the house is but small, or till now, that she remains a little in the house.” She entered the house with the reapers, during the excessive heat of the day, and to avoid the suspicion of taking more than was allowed, during their absence. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “she hath not discontinued to work in the field even a little.” Her diligence and modesty attracted the notice of Booz. (Haydock).
Ver. 9. Thee. The men tied the corn after the female reapers, (Calmet) and Ruth was authorized to follow, close at their heels, without fear. (Haydock) — The waters. This is not expressed in Hebrew but it is in the Septuagint and the Chaldean. (Calmet) — The privilege of having water in those countries was very considerable. (Menochius)
Ver. 10. Country. St. Elizabeth was impressed with similar sentiments, when she was visited by the blessed Virgin; (Haydock) and so was David, when he considered the wonderful condescension of God, Psalm viii. 5., cxliii. 3., and Job vii. 17. (Calmet) — Frequent instances occur in Scripture of people worshipping, or shewing their gratitude to their fellow creatures, by this posture of the body. (Menochius) — Yet no suspicion of idolatry attaches to them, Genesis xxiii. 7., &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Heretofore, to embrace the same religion. (Menochius)
Ver. 12. Work. Booz doubted not but a full and eternal reward was due to good works. (Worthington) — Fled. This similitude frequently occurs, (Psalm xxxv. 8., and Matthew xxiii. 37,) to denote protection. (Calmet). — Chaldean, “Thou art come to be a proselyte, and to hide thyself under the shade of the majesty of his glory.” (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Heart. This has the same meaning as the former part of the sentence. (Calmet) See Osee ii. 14. (Haydock) — Maids, but more lowly and mean. (Menochius)
Ver. 14. Vinegar, or small wine, made on purpose for working people. Some think that such was presented to our Saviour. Yet vinegar was very frequently mixed with other things, and was esteemed particularly refreshing. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxiii. 1.) (Calmet) — Side. Not in front, that they might not stare at her. (Menochius) — And she, &c. Hebrew, “and he gave her frumenty, or parched corn.” A little oil might be poured upon it. See Leviticus ii. 14., and 2 Kings xxvi. 28. (Haydock) — Travellers in Ethiopia only take parched barley with them. (Calmet) — The leavings, to Noemi. “Learn, says Seneca, (ep. 110,) to be content with a little.” Septuagint, “and Booz heaped up food before her, and she ate and was filled, and left a part.” (Haydock) — But it appears that she afterwards took it home, ver. 18. (Menochius) — The vinegar and corn which were given to Ruth were very refreshing. The Spaniards still drink posca, or water and vinegar. (Tirinus)
Ver. 15. Reap. Hebrew, “if she will glean, even among the sheaves, do not cover her with confusion,” (Haydock) or hinder her, Psalm xliii. 10. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Rod, as Gedeon had done, Judges vi. 11. — That is, &c., an explanation of the Vulgate. (Calmet)-The ephi contained three pecks and three pints. (Arbuthnot) — Alcazar and Cornelius a Lapide say 960 ounces. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. Dead. He hath not forgotten Elimelech, his friend, for whose sake he treats his daughter-in-law with kindness. (Haydock) — Kinsman. Hebrew adds, “one of our redeemers, (Calmet) or next kinsmen.” (Haydock) — To such the right of avenging the slain, of marrying the widow of the deceased, and entering upon his property, belonged. The best interpreters suppose that Booz was the nephew of Elimelech. (Calmet) (Leviticus xxv. 25., and Deuteronomy xxv. 5.) (Menochius)
Ver. 23. And the wheat. Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic, “It is good that thou keep close to the maidens of Booz, and continue to glean with them till,” &c. This was the advice of Noemi: but Providence ordered that Ruth should be married to Booz before the commencement of the wheat harvest. (Calmet) — The Protestants agree with the Vulgate and Septuagint. “So she kept fast by, &c., unto the end of the barley harvest, and of the wheat harvest, and dwelt with her mother-in-law.” These last words are expressed by the Vulgate in the following chapter. (Haydock).
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Ruth gleaneth in the field of Booz: who sheweth her favour.
1 Now her husband Elimelech had a kinsman, a powerful man, and very rich, whose name was Booz.
2 And Ruth, the Moabitess, said to her mother-in-law: If thou wilt, I will go into the field, and glean the ears of corn that escape the hands of the reapers, wheresoever I shall find grace with a householder, that will be favourable to me. And she answered her: Go, my daughter.
3 She went, therefore, and gleaned the ears of corn after the reapers. And it happened that the owner of that field was Booz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.
4 And behold, he came out of Bethlehem, and said to the reapers: The Lord be with you. And they answered him: The Lord bless thee.
5 And Booz said to the young man that was set over the reapers: Whose maid is this?
6 And he answered him: This is the Moabitess, who came with Noemi, from the land of Moab,
7 And she desired leave to glean the ears of corn that remain, following the steps of the reapers: and she hath been in the field from morning till now, and hath not gone home for one moment.
8 And Booz said to Ruth: Hear me, daughter, do not go to glean in any other field, and do not depart from this place: but keep with my maids,
9 And follow where they reap. For I have charged my young men, not to molest thee: and if thou art thirsty, go to the vessels, and drink of the waters whereof the servants drink.
10 She fell on her face, and worshipping upon the ground, said to him: Whence cometh this to me, that I should find grace before thy eyes, and that thou shouldst vouchsafe to take notice of me, a woman of another country?
11 And he answered her: All hath been told me, that thou hast done to thy mother-in-law after the death of thy husband: and how thou hast left thy parents, and the land wherein thou wast born, and art come to a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
12 The Lord render unto thee for thy work, and mayst thou receive a full reward of the Lord the God of Israel, to whom thou art come, and under whose wings thou art fled.
13 And she said: I have found grace in thy eyes, my lord, who hast comforted me, and hast spoken to the heart of thy handmaid, who am not like to one of thy maids.
14 And Booz said to her: At meal-time come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. So she sat at the side of the reapers, and she heaped to herself frumenty, and ate and was filled, and took the leavings.
15 And she arose from thence, to glean the ears of corn as before. And Booz commanded his servants, saying: If she would even reap with you, hinder her not:
16 And let fall some of your handfuls of purpose, and leave them, that she may gather them without shame, and let no man rebuke her when she gathereth them.
17 She gleaned therefore in the field till evening: and beating out with a rod, and threshing what she had gleaned, she found about the measure of an ephi of barley, that is, three bushels:
18 Which she took up, and returned into the city, and shewed it to her mother-in-law: moreover, she brought out, and gave her of the remains of her meat, wherewith she had been filled.
19 And her mother-in-law said to her: Where hast thou gleaned to-day, and where hast thou wrought? blessed be he that hath had pity on thee. And she told her with whom she had wrought: and she told the man’s name, that he was called Booz.
20 And Noemi answered her: Blessed be he of the Lord: because the same kindness which he shewed to the living, he hath kept also to the dead. And again she said: The man is our kinsman.
21 And Ruth said: He also charged me, that I should keep close to his reapers, till all the corn should be reaped.
22 And her mother-in-law said to her: It is better for thee, my daughter, to go out to reap with his maids, lest in another man’s field some one may resist thee.
23 So she kept close to the maids of Booz: and continued to glean with them, till all the barley and the wheat were laid up in the barns.