Ruth 1: 22




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Ruth 1:22 kai; ejpevstreyen Nwemin kai; Rouq hJ Mwabi'ti" hJ nuvmfh aujth'" ejpistrevfousa ejx ajgrou' Mwab aujtai;

de; paregenhvqhsan eij" Baiqleem ejn ajrch'/ qerismou' kriqw'n


Ruth 1:22 And Noemin returned along with Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab; so they arrived in Bethleëm at the beginning of barley harvest. 









and she returned








and Ruth




the Moabitess




her daughter-in-law




with her




who she returned




from the fields of








and they
















in the beginning of




harvest of










1:22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, for she was wholeheartedly willing to return with her, and they came from the land of Moab at the beginning of the barley harvest.


Stone’s Translation


1:22 And so Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, with her who returned from the fields of Moab. They came to Beth-lehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.




1:22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest.       



Peshat Level:




1:22 So Naomi returned, and with her was Ruth, the Moavitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the field of Moav. And they came to Beth Lehem on the eve of the Passover, and on that very day the Israelites began to harvest the Omer of the heave-offering which was of barley.



Gemarah Level:


Talmud Babli


Pesachim 42b R. Nahman [b. Isaac] said: In former times, when they used to bring [wine] libations from Judah, the wine of Judah did not turn vinegar unless barley was put into it, and they used to call it simply vinegar. But now the wine of the Idumeans does not turn vinegar until barley is put into it, and it is called ‘Idumean vinegar’, in fulfillment of what is said, [Tyre hath said against Jerusalem...] I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste: if one is full [flourishing] the other is desolate, and if the other is full the first is desolate. R. Nahman b. Isaac quoted this: and the one people shall be stronger than the other people.


Sotah 14a, Mishna 11 All other meal-offerings consist of wheat, but this consists of barley. The meal-offering of the Omer, although consisting of barley, was in the form of groats; but this was in the form of coarse flour. Rabban Gamaliel says: as her actions were the actions of an animal, so her offering [consisted of] animal’s fodder.


Yerushalami Yevamoth 8:3 [What is the intent of: “Who returned”?] This was the first who returned [as a proselyte] from the fields of Moav.


Yevamoth 63a  R. Eleazar further stated: What is meant by the text, And in thee shall the families of the earth be blessed? The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Abraham, ‘I have two goodly shoots to engraft on you: Ruth the Moabitess and Naamah the Ammonitess’. All the families of the earth, even the other families who live on the earth are blessed only for Israel's sake. All the nations of the earth, even the ships that go from Gaul to Spain are blessed only for Israel's sake.


Yevamoth 77a Raba made the following exposition: What was meant by, Thou hast loosed my bonds! David said to the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘O Master of the world! Two bonds were fastened on me, and you loosed them: Ruth the Moabitess and Naamah the Ammonitess.


Baba Kama 38b When R. Samuel b. Judah lost a daughter the Rabbis said to ‘Ulla: ‘Let us go in and console him.’ But he answered them: ‘What have I to do with the consolation of the Babylonians, which is [almost tantamount to] blasphemy? For they say "What could have been done," which implies that were it possible to do anything they would have done it.’ He therefore went alone to the mourner and said to him: [Scripture says,] And the Lord spake unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle. Now [we may well ask], could it have entered the mind of Moses to wage war without [divine] sanction? [We must suppose] therefore that Moses of himself reasoned a fortiori as follows: If in the case of the Midianites who came only to assist the Moabites the Torah commanded ‘Vex the Midianites and smite them,’ in the case of the Moabites [themselves] should not the same injunction apply even more strongly? But the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: The idea you have in your mind is not the idea I have in My mind. Two doves have I to bring forth from them;1 Ruth the Moabitess and Naamah the Ammonitess. Now cannot we base on this an a fortiori argument as follows: If for the sake of two virtuous descendants the Holy One, blessed be He, showed pity to two great nations so that they were not destroyed, may we not be assured that if your honour's daughter had indeed been righteous and worthy to have goodly issue, she would have continued to live?



Midrash Level:


Midrash Rabbah


Ruth IV:2 SO NAOMI RETURNED, AND RUTH THE MOAVITESS HER DAUGHTER-IN- LAW WITH HER, WHO RETURNED OUT OF THE FIELD OF MOAV (I, 22). [People pointed to her saying] ‘This is the one who returned from the field of Moav!’ AND THEY CAME TO BETHLEHEM IN THE BEGINNING OF THE BARLEY- HARVEST (ib.). R. Samuel b. Nahman said: Wherever the words barley-harvest occur in Scripture, they refer to the harvest of the Omer. Wherever the words wheat- harvest occur, it refers to the Two Loaves. If it states simply harvest it may be applied to both.


Ruth V:1 Lentils are human food and barley fodder for animals. On the other hand, lentils are not used for bringing the ’Omer, whereas barley is. challah is not separated from lentils, but it is from barley.



Zohar Level:






Other Commentaries:


Me’am Lo’ez


VERSE 1:22


1:22 Thus Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the Fields of Moab. They came [to] Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.


The narrative of Naomi’s return, interrupted to record her accep­tance of God’s judgment, is now resumed. Scripture repeats that “Naomi returned.” For as we find in Genesis, when the narrative about Joseph is resumed, the scripture repeats that “Joseph was taken down to Egypt” (Genesis 39:1), making explicit the link between the earlier events affecting him and those that were to follow.


Our sages teach that she “returned” in more ways than one. She “returned” to God; she repented. It is stressed once more that she came “to Bethlehem,” the very place she had left to escape the poor and hungry. She willingly accepted the pain of facing her old acquaintances for the sake of living in the Holy Land, thus atoning for having left the land.


She also returned to her good deeds. The poor had called her Naomi (the pleasant) because she collected money for them and dispensed comfort with a pleasant word. No one had taken her place while she was gone, and now she resumed her work of charity assisted by Ruth, who cleaved to her in order to learn the ways of righteousness.


On account of Ruth, who stayed “with her” and brought her hap­piness, Naomi began to rise out of the depths of misery she had reached in Moab, and to return to her former self. Therefore she continues to be called Naomi, even though she had asked to be called Mara (the bitter).


Evidently Naomi also returned to her original level of righteousness, since she merited to bring back from Moab the mother of royalty.


Although Ruth was now fully a Jewess, she is still called “the Moabite,” reflecting the fact that her Moabite origin enabled her to guide Naomi safely out of Moab.


The scripture provides the extra emphasis that “Ruth . . . returned from the Fields of Moab,” calling attention to Ruth’s greatness. She had separated herself from the stinginess and depravity of Moab to cleave to the Jewish people, even though it meant leaving the life of a royal prin­cess to glean in the fields. Hence the import of “they came . . . at the beg inning of the barley harvest.”


When God directed Abraham to the land of Israel, He said lk lk literally, “Go to yourself,” for Abraham’s soul was rooted in the holiness of that land. Ruth’s soul likewise stemmed from the holiness of the land of Israel, but had been diverted into the impurity of Moab. Now it returned to its source.


So strong was the pull to return to her source, that Ruth came to the Holy Land even though her Moabite origin virtually precluded the possibility of marrying there.


Our sages comment: “It was she who returned from the Fields of Moab.” God was waiting for two “pearls” to come from Moab and Ammon, and for their sake He forbade Israel to war with those nations. It now became apparent that Ruth was the long-awaited pearl from Moab.


She was also the first to “return from the Fields of Moab,” in that she was the first Moabite to convert. And through her the forgotten law of “a Moabite, not a Moabitess” was clarified.


Previously it says (v. 19), “until they came [to] Bethlehem”; that is, Naomi and Ruth had then arrived at the outskirts of the city. Now they  “came to Bethlehem.” They entered the city proper.


They arrived “at the beginning of the barley harvest,” that is, when the first-yield measure (omer, rng) of barley is brought to the cohen-priest, in fulfillment of “You shall bring an omer of the first of your harvest to the priest. . . . And bread of parched corn and green ears you shall not eat until this self-same day, until you have brought the offer­ing (Leviticus 23:10-14). Thus the omer offering is called “the beginning of the barley harvest.” Thereafter the new grain may be harvested and eaten.


In their eagerness to come to the land of Israel, Naomi and Ruth did not wait until the wheat season, but came at the harvest of barley, the first grain to ripen. And they arrived in time to participate in the omer offering—a demonstration of the principle that “one mitzvah brings in its wake another mitzvah.”


To them, therefore, applies: “You mighty of strength, who fulfill His word, to harken to His word” (Psalms 103:20). Because they exerted themselves to fulfill one mitzvah (“His word”), they also merited to fulfill a second one.


The pause mark (tjp,) over the word ,kj,c (" at the beginning") is significant, indicating that it was a special beginning, namely, the first harvest after many years of famine.


According to Targum Yonathan, they came on the day before Passover, the beginning of the barley season, when the omer is harvested. This explains why Boaz did not come out to greet them. As the head of the clan, he was occupied with the Passover lamb offering and the baking of matzoth.


Thus begins the account of how it came to pass that Ruth married Boaz. Since "they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest," Ruth went to pick in the fields. ...


Abraham Ibn Ezra


1:22  The v in vcwv, as it is found here, is the definite article. The reason why it says AND NAOMI RETURNED a second time is to connect the time of their return with the beginning of the barley harvest, on account of Ruth’s gleaning.




22. Naomi returned. This is repeated here in order to point out that when she departed from Bethlehem, she left her properties -it is possible that others seized possession of the fields when she left [as happened to the Shunamite woman (Melachim II, 8:1-6) when she departed for the land of the Philistines so that it was necessary for her to request royal intervention to obtain the restitution of her house and field] so she contested these until her inheritance was restored.


With Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law. She, too, had an inheritance through her deceased husband (from his father), which is qualified by who had returned...from the fields of Moab, implying that if she had remained in the fields of Moab, she would have forfeited the inheritance (especially, according to the Midrash Ruth Rabbah 2:14 that she had already relinquished the marital contract's monetary obligation owed her by Machlon). However, now, in contrast, returning from the fields of Moab, she had claim to an allotment of the family estate [see chapter 4].


The Midrash Ruth Rabbah (4:1,2) interprets the words who had returned...from the fields of Moab as referring to Ruth as the first woman ever to approach for conversion from Moab. Until that time, it had not yet been clarified that the prohibition of a Moabite marrying into the Jewish people applied only to" a Moabite" and not "a Moabitess".[1]


They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. This is a prologue to the telling of Ruth's going to gather agricultural gifts for the poor.[2] Even though, as has here been explained, she had land in Israel, they had come at the time of the harvest season and it was impossible to plow and plant. They were, therefore, destitute for the immediate present.




(22)   Na’omi returned with Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who had returned from the fields of Moab. They came to Bethlehem at the onset of the barley ha west.


Ruth as Great as Na’omi?


The majority of this verse contains information which is not new to us at all. We know that both Na’omi and Ruth had returned from Moab. We certainly know that Ruth was a Moabitess and it was in fact a degrading title, for who wishes to be associated with Moab? We know, too, that Ruth was Na’omi’s daughter-in-law. We know that they had arrived in Bethlehem. Besides this, there is another problem. At first, Na’omi is mentioned before Ruth, denoting the fact that she is the more prominent of the two. Yet later in the verse they are mentioned together: They came to Bethlehem.


The text is indeed very revealing. It teaches us how much Ruth had gained in spiritual stature by leaving Moab and coming to Judah. Hence, when they left Moab, Na’omi was the more prominent figure, and she is mentioned first for that reason. Ruth was still a Moabitess, and her only relationship to Na‘omi was that she was her daughter-in-law. Once she had converted, she acquired a new status, and by the time the women reached Bethlehem, she was considered Na’omi’s equal.


With this explanation we are better able to understand the verse: Na’omi returned... At first Na’omi was considered to be of greater stature. Ruth was known as a Moabitess and her daughter-in-law; not as a person of consequence. When they arrived in Bethlehem, however, Ruth had become a Jewess and thus, she was then considered equal to Na’omi. Hence, They came — together — to Bethlehem.[3]


There is a way to understand the verse as a continuation of the previous theme. The Divine Spirit testified that Na’omi had survived twice due to God’s kindness, for she too played a part, first in her husband’s sin and later in the sin of her children. She admitted her guilt by saying, And God has testified against me.


Now we are told the reason why she was not destined to die. Na’omi returned. She did not die like her husband and sons, even though she was guilty to some extent, as we explained in our commentary to the words, and the women remained ...and she remained (verses 3 and 8). She was allowed to survive so that Ruth the Moabitess, who was destined to join the ranks of Israel, could return with her. Na’omi returned with Ruth the Moabitess... with her, since the opportunity to perform a good deed is offered to a worthy person so that he should benefit from its merit. In this case Na’omi was deemed worthy and was awarded the opportunity to bring Ruth into the Jewish fold.


Three Came to Bethlehem


Through Ruth, they both arrived in Bethlehem. Not only did the two women come to Bethlehem, but there was a male with them, too, and that was Machlon, whose spirit rested inside Ruth. This explains why the word vnvu, they, is in the masculine. Even though there were two women, and thus a majority, since their sole purpose of coming to Bethlehem was in order to perpetuate the name of Machlon, their arrival in Judah is reckoned as secondary in importance to the arrival of Machlon’s spirit. Their arrival is thus classed as vnv in the masculine and not in the feminine, since in general, where there is a mixture of males and females, the masculine gender is used for the collective term.


The Passover Connection


This may help us to understand the Midrash (Ruth Rabbah 4:3) which explains the words, Who returned from the fields of Moab, as follows: “This refers to the one who returned from the fields of Moab.”


At first glance, the Midrash appears meaningless, for it does not seem to add anything to the verse itself. However, the Sages found two difficulties with the verse. Firstly, why is the word returned used in connection with Ruth, who had never been there in the first place? Secondly, why is there a definite article in the word vcav? It seems to imply that that Ruth was returning. Was there another ‘Ruth’ who did not return with Na’omi?


The point being made is that Ruth is the one who, even though she had never been to Judah, is reckoned as a returnee because of the spirit of Machlon that lay within her. He had been to Judah and was now returning there, albeit only in spirit.


The Midrash further teaches: “R. Shmuel bar Nachman said: Each time the term ‘barley harvest’ is mentioned it refers to the reaping of the omer”.[4]


Following this, the Targum renders the verse: “And they came to Bethlehem on the day preceding Passover; the day when the Israelites prepare to reap the omer and wave an offering which consisted of barley.”


The question here is, what difference does it make to us whether they arrived on the eve of Passover? Why is it relevant for us to know that on that day they prepared to reap the barley harvest?


Finally, why does the Targum take pains to tell us that on that day the Israelites ‘prepared’ to reap...? Wouldn’t it have been sufficient to render this: It was the time of the reaping of the omer?                  


The Midrash (Pesikta d’R. Cahana, Piska 12) remarks: Just as a girl who was in captivity and a newly converted female proselyte must wait three months before marrying in       order to distinguish between the unclean and the holy, so, too, Israel had to wait three months after leaving Egypt before they were able to receive the Torah.[5]


With this we can understand the statement of R. Shmuel bar Nachman (Ruth Rabbah 5:11) on the verse, She stayed close to Boaz’s girls, gleaning until the end of the wheat harvest (2:23):


From the beginning of the barley harvest until the end of the wheat harvest ux~s a period of three months. The uerse then continues, “And she dwelt with her mother-in-law.” Following that, chapter three begins: “Then Na’om:, her mother-in-law, said to her, ‘My daughter, shall I seek security for you...


The intention of this Midrash is obviously to inform us that the end of the wheat harvest marked a period of three months since Ruth had converted. Her mother-in-law told her as follows: “Now that the three months necessary to distinguish between seed conceived in uncleanliness and seed conceived in holiness has elapsed, I shall seek security (i.e., marriage) for you.”


R. Shmuel’s remark has a bearing on the verse under discussion, too. The ‘reaping of the barley harvest’ mentioned is an allusion to the omer. R. Shmuel was perplexed by the seemingly irrelevant piece of information concerning the onset of the barley harvest. Furthermore, when Scripture writes They came it does not have the simpler term utchu And they came, but utc vnvu which implies that there is a special emphasis on the fact that they arrived on that particular day.


The ‘Omer’ Period — Its Purpose and Significance


The prophet is conveying to us the idea of having to distinguish between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean.’ When the whole nation of Israel ‘converted,’ so to speak, a waiting period of three months was necessary until they were on a level to receive the Two Tablets. So too Ruth, who arrived at the onset of the barley harvest, which was the time when the omer was offered, would have to wait three months before she could marry. These three months elapsed with the end of the wheat harvest. It was then that R. Shmuel’s second remark is recorded in the Midrash, and the Targum here alludes to it.


We see how God wished to purify the faithful of Israel from the ‘filth’ that had clung to them, first as a result of Adam’s sin of heeding the serpent’s advice, and later, on account of the idol worship in Egypt. We were compared to a woman who has had an ‘unclean’ discharge and who must wait seven days after her blood has stopped flowing before she can purify herself in a ritual bath and resume relations with her husband. Thus, we were commanded by God to count a full seven weeks after ‘the uncleanliness’ of Egypt before we could be reckoned as ‘pure’ (Zohar, Volume 3, 97a and previous footnote).


The seven weeks began with the omer to remind us that before we became purified, we were unclean, as an animal that feeds on barley. Once Israel was pure of this ‘dirt’ they were told to bring two loaves of wheat bread (Leviticus 23: 17ff.) to signify that they had attained the level of ‘man’ whose food is generally from wheat, a higher grade of grain.


As we know, Ruth was a Moabitess, but God had ordained that the glory of the Crown of Israel would emanate from her. Lest anyone challenge the Divine decision by wondering how sweet can come forth from the strong (Judges 14:14) and claiming that it would be far more suitable for a pure daughter of Israel to be the mother of Israel’s royalty, the Scripture reminds us that the entire nation of Israel was immersed in the uncleanliness of Egypt’s heathen way of life. God purified them and converted them into a holy nation just as a woman with a menstrual flow is purified from her uncleanliness.


It should not surprise us if Ruth was deemed suitable to be progenitress of the stock of Jesse. She was brought to our people at the time of the reaping of the omer, so that she could begin her process of purification with Na’omi’s help. Her arrival at this particular time of year will help us remember that just as barley was reaped before Israel underwent the process of purification, so too did Ruth undergo a similar iirocess before she was ready to play her part in the destiny of Israel.


This is what R. Shmuel intended to convey in his statement: “This was the time of the reaping of the omer.” Now we can fully appreciate the Targum’s rendering of the verse. The addition of the clause: “And on that day Israel was permitted,” is certainly relevant to us. It reminds us of the fact that Israel had once converted and, Ruth, after undergoing a process of purification, went through a similar procedure. So it was that God ordained that she arrive in Judah at that particular time.




[1] See Yevamos 76b-77a that according to the opinion of R. Shimon (the final ruling is in accordance with his opinion), only the Moabite men were prohibited to marry into the Jewish people since the Torah explicitly states (Devarim 23:5): Hbecause of the fact that they did not greet you with bread and water on the road when you were leaving Egypt.H Itwas not expected of the Moabite women to Hgreet" the Jewish nation.

[2] See Vayikra 19:9-10 regarding pe'ah and leket, Devarim 24:19 regarding shich'cha.

[3] See Yalkut Shimoni, 601, on verse 19: R. Abohu said: See how the proselytes are dear to God. Once Ruth had made up her mind to convert, Scripture ranked her as Na’omi’s equal, for it is written, They both went...


[4] On the second day of Passover a sheaf of barley is waved on the altar and a burnt offering is sacrificed before the new season’s grain can be eaten. See Leviticus 23:9ff.

[5] Since it cannot be ascertained whether a girl had sexual relations with a non-Jewish man during her days of captivity or before she converted to Judaism, the law stipulates that a period of three months must elapse before she is allowed to marry a Jew, so that we can be sure that the resultant offspring was conceived from holy rather than unclean seed(cf. Talmud Yebamoth 42a).

In his commentary to Exodus (19:1), the Alshich points out that the opinion of the Midrash — that Israel waited three months so as to be free of the uncleanliness of Egypt — conflicts with that of the Zohar, (Volume 3, 97a), which maintains that a period of seven weeks was sufficient. The Alshich answers that the Zohar refers to the time Israel stood at Mount Sinai, when they became betrothed to God as a means of purifying their souls. Seven weeks was enough to attain this spiritual level. The Midrash, on the other hand, alludes to the date when Israel received the Two Tablets of stone, a time when they became bound to God in matrimony. Then there was a need to purify their bodies from the impurities of Egypt, and that was only possible after a waiting period of three months.