The Story – Chapter 2



Ruth 2:1




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Ruth 2:1

kai; th'/ Nwemin ajnh;r gnwvrimo" tw'/ ajndri; aujth'" oJ de; ajnh;r dunato;" ijscuvi ejk th'" suggeneiva"

Abimelec kai; o[noma aujtw'/ Boo"


Ruth 2:1 And Noemin knew a man who was well known to her husband; that man was mighty in strength, of the family of Elimelech, and his name was Boöz. 










and to Naomi












of her husband








great of








from clan of








and his name










2:1 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a well-known man of wealth, of the family of Elimeleck, whose name was Boaz.


Stone’s Translation


2:1 ‘Naomi had a relative through her husband, a man of substance, from the family of Elimelech; his name was Boaz.




Ruth 2:1 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name [was] Boaz.         



Peshat Level:




2:1 Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a strong man, mighty in the Law, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.




2:1 A kinsman A relative.   He (Boaz) was the son of Elimelech’s brother. Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, said (Baba Bathra 91a), “Elimelech and Salmon, the father of Boaz (cf. Ruth 4:20-21), and the anonymous kinsman (cf. Ruth 4:1) and the father of Naomi were all the sons of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab. And (yet) it was of no avail to them the merit of their forefathers when they went from the land (of Israel) abroad.”



Gemarah Level:


Talmud Babli


Baba Bathra 91a Rabbah, son of R. Huna, said in the name of Rab: Ibzan is Boaz. What does he come to teach us [by this statement]? — The same that Rabbah son of R. Huna [taught elsewhere]. For Rabbah, son of R. Huna, said in the name of Rab: Boaz made for his sons a hundred and twenty wedding feasts, for it is said, And he [Ibzan] had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he sent abroad, and thirty daughters he brought in from abroad for his sons; and he judged Israel seven years; and in the case of everyone [of these] he made two wedding feasts, one in the house of the father and one in the house of the father in-law. To none of them did he invite Manoah, [for] he said, ‘Whereby will the barren mule repay me?’ All these died in his lifetime. It is [in relation to such a case as] this that people say: ‘Of what use to you are sixty; the sixty that you beget for your lifetime? [Marry] again and beget [one] brighter than sixty.’



Midrash Level:


Midrash Rabbah


Ruth IV:3 AND NAOMI HAD A MODA OF HER HUSBAND'S, A MIGHTY MAN OF VALOUR (II, 1). The word ’moda’ means kinsman. R. Abbahu said: If a giant marries a giantess, what do they produce? Mighty men. Boaz married Ruth. Whom did they produce? David, of whom it is said, Skilful in playing, and a mighty man of valor, and a man of war, and prudent in affairs, and a comely person and the Lord is with him (I Sam. XVI, 18). ’Skilful in playing’ refers to his knowledge of Scripture. ’A mighty man of valor,’ in the Mishnah;  And a man of war,’ who knows how to give and take in the contests of the Torah; ’And prudent in affairs,’ in good deeds; ’And a comely person’ in Talmud. Another interpretation of ‘Prudent in affairs’ is that he could deduce one matter from another. ' And a comely (to'ar) person’ in that he was well enlightened (me'ir) in halachah. ‘And the Lord is with him.’ The law followed his decisions. OF THE FAMILY OF ELIMELECH, AND HIS NAME WAS BOAZ (II, I). In the case of wicked men, the name precedes the word ’his name’, e.g. Goliath was his name  (I Sam. XVII, 4), Nabal was his name (ib. XXV, 3), Sheba, the son of Bichri, was his name (II Sam. XX, 1). But in the case of the righteous, the word ’his name’ precedes the name, e.g. And his name was Kish  (I Sam. IX, 1). And his name was Saul (ib. 2). And his name was Jesse (ib. XVII, 12). And his name was Mordecai  (Est. II, 5). And his name was Elkanah (Sam. I, 1). AND HIS NAME WAS BOAZ. [Why is this?] Because they are like their Creator, as it is said: But by My name ' The Lord’ I made Me not known to them  (Exodus VI, 3). They objected: But it is written, And his name was Laban  (Genesis XXIV, 29)? R. Isaac answered: This is an exception. R. Berekiah said: It means refined in wickedness. But it is also written, The name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abijah  (I Sam. VIII, 2)? The Rabbis say: The meaning is, just as one was wicked, so was the other. R. Judah b. R. Simon says: They changed their evil ways and were vouchsafed the Holy Spirit [of Prophecy], as it is said, The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel  (Joel I,1),



Zohar Level:






Other Commentaries:


Me’am Lo’ez


2:1  Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a mighty man of valor of the family of Elimelech. His,name was Boaz.


The scripture now begins to reveal how, through Naomi's efforts, Ruth married Boaz. Thus came true Ruth's words, "With [i.e., through] you we shall return to your people" (v. 1:10).


His name describes his character. Boaz (zguc)-in him there is strength. He was "a mighty man of valor (khj)" who vanquished and abandoned his evil inclination, zgc being an anagram of czg, abandoned; and he was mighty in Torah wisdom, which is acquired through the forty-eight (numerical value of khj) virtues. To him thus applies, " A wise man is strong (baoz, uzgc); a man of knowledge increases strength" (Proverbs 24:5).


Furthermore, he is identified as Ibetzan, one of the chieftain-judges who protected Israel from her enemies (Judges 12:8). And his prayer saved Israel from the famine.


He was a descendant of Judah and bore within him the seeds of the royal dynasty.


The term gsun evidently means “kinsman,” for as Boaz was later to say to Ruth: "There is also a redeemer closer than I" (v. 3:12). Thus, although Naomi had this wealthy kinsman of noble lineage who would have readily helped her, she preferred to receive her sustenance through leket, the gleaning in the field which the Torah awards the poor. By refusing to accept gifts from a relative, she was true to the teaching that "one who hates gifts shall live" (Proverbs 15:27).


She did, however, rely on her well-known kinship to the eminent Boaz to protect her daughter-in-law from being molested while picking in the fields.


Naomi "had a kinsman of her husband"; they were, however, also related from her side of the family. For as she was to say later: "The man is related to us" (v. 20)-both she and Elimelech were related to Boaz.


Thus the Talmud records the tradition that the father of Boaz, Salmon (Ruth 4:21); Elimelech. Plony Almony (4:1), and Naomi’s father were all sons of Nachshon son of Aminadav, prince of the tribe of Judah. (An amended text there reads: Elimelech, Salmon, Boaz, and Naomi’s father were all the sons of Nachshon son of Aminadav.)


This dual kinship is here alluded to in the word gsun (“kinsman”) appearing between hngbku (“Naomi”) and vatk (“of her husband”). So the verse can be read “Naomi had a kinsman,” or else “a kinsman of her husband.”


The scripture nonetheless calls Boaz “a kinsman of her husband” because once a woman leaves her father’s house for that of her husband, she is closer to her husband than to her father. However, Naomi’s name appears first to reflect her personal stature.


Since Boaz has been identified as a kinsman of her husband, the phrase “of the family of Elimelech” would seem to be superfluous. But this accents that even among the distinguished family of Elimelech, Boaz stood out as “a mighty man of valor.”


Elimelech is mentioned also for another reason—to contrast him with Boaz. Both were righteous men and both were descendants of Nachshon son of Aminadav, of Peretz and Judah, but neither personal worth nor ancestral merit were of any help to him when he abandoned the land of Israel.


Elirnelech - lkn-hkt, “let kingship come to me”—foresaw that the monarchy would come through Moab, and went there to seek it. But his ambition was not fulfilled. Boaz on the other hand made no effort in this direction, indeed, was even willing to give away the kingship by offering another the opportunity of wedding Ruth. So God awarded him the privilege of being the forefather of David.


The word gshn “kinsman,” is spelled with the letter yud (h, numeri­cally equivalent to 10), rather than with the expected vav (u ,gsun) to hint to the ten years that Naomi lived in Moab (v. 1:4). For during this time Boaz had repeatedly sent her messages urging her to return to the land of Israel and fulfill the commandment of aiding the poor, which is men­tioned ten times in the Torah.


The letter yud also alludes to the ten generations from Abraham to Boaz. David had to be the fourteenth generation, so that Solomon [whose reign climaxed Israel’s splendor as the bearer of God’s glory on earth] would be the fifteenth generation, corresponding to the full moon on the fifteenth day of the lunar month. Had Salmon’s brother Tov agreed to wed Ruth, the kingship of David would have had to wait an additional generation.


The unusual spelling of gshn also conveys that Boaz did not behave like a true kinsman. He knew that Naomi and Ruth had returned to Bethlehem in pitiful condition; for as he later said to Ruth, “It has been fully related to me all that you have done for your mother-in-law” (v. 11). Yet he offered them no immediate help, although they were so poor that Ruth was forced to go pick in the fields and, when that was not enough to sustain them, Naomi was forced to sell her field, as it is writ­ten: “The portion of field that was our brother Elimelech’s has Naomi sold” (v. 4:3).


Or else, Boaz apparently estranged himself in order to test Ruth. How she reacted to her difficult circumstances would disclose whether she was worthy of entering his house.


Another interpretation is that Boaz did not come out to greet Naomi and Ruth upon their arrival in Bethlehem because he was in mourning for his wife, who had died that very day. It is revealing in this regard that when, after the week of mourning, he went out to his fields, the field-hands did not greet him until he greeted them. This accords with the halacha that one who is in mourning greets others; others do not greet him first.


When he then saw Ruth gleaning there, he understood that Naomi did not want to accept help from her relatives. Out of respect for her wishes, he refrained from offering her gifts [and helped instead through his benevolent treatment of Ruth while she gleaned in his field.]


Moreover, he knew that they owned fields and other possessions. For as he was to say later (v. 4:9). “1 have purchased all that is Elime­lech’s and all that is Kilyon’s and Machlon’s from the hand of Naomi.” It also stands to reason that [when they left Bethlehem for Moab] Elime­lech and Naomi had not sold any part of their fields, since Torah law forbids selling a field and hoarding the purchase money.


Abraham Ibn Ezra


2:1   sun’: A relative who is known, as in and call wisdom


TO HER HUSBAND: That is, ‘through her husband’. The lamedh is the same as in the verse say with regard to me (hk), “He is my brother”’


BOAZ: Our teachers, of blessed memory, said that he was Ibzan who once judged Israel.




1. Now, Naomi had a relative through her husband. In light of Naomi's present indigence, she could have turned to Boaz, her rich relative, for material assistance. However, she preferred to send Ruth to gather from the agricultural gifts of the poor (by doing so she felt as if her sustenance was from God in their time of need), rather than to turn to her relative who had known her when she was well off. She was embarrassed to disclose to him her present dire poverty; moreover, Naomi had already envisioned Boaz redeeming the field and her beloved Ruth and to engage him prematurely might jeopardize her plan. In order that we should not think that the reason she did not turn to Boaz was the fear that he would refuse her, the Prophet notes several reasons why Boaz would have provided for them: Naomi had a relative through her husband Boaz knew and cherished Naomi and her husband (which is connoted by the word gsunu which implies that he knew and cherished her, unlike a distant relative); he was from the family of Elimelech, as well as a man of substance (rucd khj): (it has been explained [in the Malbim's commentary to Shemos 18:25] that the description khj rucd, man of substance, includes all good characteristics -among them generosity and the hatred of greed), and he was a man of renown, his name was Boaz, and he surely would not neglect his own flesh and blood.




(1)  Na’omi had a relative from her husband, who was a mighty and influentkzl man from the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz.


(i)   This verse seems out of context. The next verse seems to follow on from the final verse in chapter one. This verse would be better understood if it followed verse 2.

(ii)  The opening clause, vatk gshn hngbku, is only correct if Boaz’s relationship to Na’omi is being emphasized. However, here, Scripture wishes to point out Boaz’s relationship to her husband, and thus the correct form should be gsun hngb ahtku The husband of Na’omi had a relative.

(iii)Why is there an extra yud after the menu in the word gshn? There should be either a vav (as in the ken) or nothing at all, as we see later in the word ub,gsn (3:2).

(iv) What is so important about the fact that Boaz was a man of influence? Besides, it is obvious that he is a man. Why do we need the word aht at all?

(v)      Lastly, once we know that Boaz is a relative of Na’omi’s husband, who is Elimelech, why does the prophet repeat the obvious fact that he was from the family of Elamelech?


Before Scripture goes on to discuss Ruth’s plan to go to the fields and Na’omi’s response (verse 2), Samuel, with his Divine inspiration, introduced this verse to ensure that no one would dare to slander the great and holy personalities featured in this megillah.


The Field Not an Ideal Place for Ruth


First of all there is Ruth. She declared that she would like to go picking in the fields. Now as we know, a modest girl’s place is in the home (Psalms 45:14). The first thing she should have asked Na’omi was, not for permission to gather gleanings, but where her kinsmen, the leaders of the country, resided so that they could dwell together with them. Furthermore, the inhabitants of the town would surely have been shocked to hear Na’omi’s reply to Ruth. They would have most likely exclaimed: “What is she doing? How could she have allowed that girl to go into the fields? It shows no less than a lack of judgment and morals for a woman such as she to send an attractive girl, who causes all those who stare at her to be aroused (cf. Ruth Rabbah 4:4), into the fields searching for gleanings! Imagine how many rogues and scoundrels she will have to mingle with day and night in the fields just so that she can provide Na’omi with food, while that old woman stays home doing nothing? Wouldn’t it have been better the other way around? The young girl should remain in the confines of her home so that she shouldn’t come to any harm in the fields, while the older woman should go out looking for food to sustain herself.”


Boaz would have similarly been castigated: “What does a rich man like him mean by hiding his face? He should take both the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law under his wing. They are, after all, widows and need someone to care for them. In his house, they would be able to eat their fill and dress in stately clothing” (cf. Isaiah 23:18).


To prevent the ignorant from voicing such complaints, the chapter begins with the statement, Na’omi had a relative... before it continues relating the sequence of events in Judah.


The Three Alternatives


The two women had three options open to them. The first was that they go separate ways. Na’omi would stay with relatives while Ruth would gather food in the fields. Alternatively, both women could have gone to the fields together. The third option was that they remain in Boaz’s house, where they would be taken care of as their honor demanded.


Neither of them can be faulted for what transpired. The first option was out of the question, since they had come to Bethlehem together with the intention of staying together. Besides, Ruth had promised that only death would separate them.


The second option was likewise not feasible, for it is ludicrous to suggest that both Na’omi and Ruth go collecting in the fields.


Scripture relates: Na’omi had a kinsman. There was no need for her to go out collecting food, for she would be cared for as befits a woman of her standing. Now we can understand the extra yud in the word gshn. It signifies that Na’omi found refuge in the house of a relative where she could live honorably, just as a little yud nestles comfortably between the two larger letters mem and daled.


Another reason why the second option was not feasible was because even if Na’omi had wanted to go with Ruth to the fields, she wouldn’t have been permitted to do so. Boaz was an important and influential person and would not allow a relative of his to do such a thing that would undoubtedly bring disgrace to his name.


Ruth in a Quandary


The third option was likewise unlikely, for he was from the family of Elimelech, who had the rights to redeem his field and subsequently to marry Ruth, as it says, On the day when you acquire... (4:5). Thus, it would not have been possible for Ruth to have stayed with Boaz at that time lest people gossip and say that he had taken a liking to her and subsequently married her.


Thus, Ruth found herself in a predicament and wondered which course she should take. She told Na’omi that she would like to go to the fields, and her mother-in-law responded, “Go, my daughter. Don’t think I don’t care about you since you are not my daughter. On the contrary, even if you were my very own daughter, I would allow you to go to the fields, for it is not dishonorable to sustain yourself in this way. It is perfectly legitimate to accept gifts that are set aside for the poor and it is preferable to taking from people.” Now it is clear why no guilt can be attached to Boaz for not insisting that Ruth stay in his house. Not only would that give rise to gossip but even Na’omi found it permissible for Ruth to collect gleanings in the fields.


Na’omi’s Consent


It is also worth mentioning that Na’omi kept silent and did not send Ruth to the fields on her own initative. It was Ruth who first brought up the subject for discussion. Only then did Na’omi consent and allow her to go.


In our commentary to chapter one (verse 8), we explained that Ruth was the ‘good dove’ appointed by God to be the progenitress of the Davidic dynasty. This, says the Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 41:4), is derived from the verse, I have found my servant David (Psalms 89:21). Where is he to be found? In Sodom, for it is written, And your two daughters who are to be ‘found’ with you (Genesis 19:15. (See essay on this subject in the appendix.)


The Midrash (Ruth Rabbah 2:15) informs us that Na’omi knew of this, as she hinted in her blessing to Ruth, May God grant... (1:9). She meant to say that the gifts and blessings destined to be given to Solomon should come through you. Ruth understood the intention of this blessing but kept it a secret.


Because Na’omi knew that Ruth was destined for greatness, she did her best to play an important role in bringing the Divine plan to fruition. As we explained in the previous chapter, she survived her husband and children specifically for this purpose, and she had the merit of bringing Ruth to Bethlehem (see commentary on 1:2 1).


Now the Divine word goes on to explain why they were brought to Bethlehem. The story of Ruth begins to unfold.


Why Boaz?


Na’omi had a relative. ..who was a mighty and influential man. Through him the Kingdom of David would be realized. He was an aht, a man, a title awarded only to important people in the Scriptures.[1]


In addition, Boaz is described as an khj aht, a man of valor or influence, a title used in connection with monarchs (cf. II Samuel 17:10: And he (i.e., David) is even valiant (khj ic), indicating that he was from Judah and a suitable candidate to redeem both the field of Elimelech and Ruth through levirate marriage.


Why was Boaz chosen and not a closer relative such as Tov, the brother of Elimelech? There is an interesting answer to this.


David was destined to be the fourteenth generation from Abraham, and Solomon the fifteenth, which suggests a full moon (visible on the fifteenth day of each month).[2] Had Tov, who was a brother of Salmon and belonged only to the tenth generation, been the one to redeem Ruth, there would have to be four more generations until David’s era. Since Boaz was the son of Salmon and belonged to the eleventh generation, only three more generations were needed until David, for Obed was the father of Jesse. That is why God chose Boaz rather than Tov.


There may be an allusion to this in the first verse. We questioned the extra yud in the word gshn Later (3:2), we find a similar word ub,gsn, and this shows that a vav is not required after the mem. The extra yud may stand for God’s name, as if to allude to the fact that besides a relative, there was God too, for He had chosen Boaz over Tov for the reason specified. In addition, Boaz was a man of influence, the leader of his generation and a Torah sage, qualities that Tov lacked.






[1] See Leviticus Rabbah 16:4: Wherever the word ohabt is used it refers to righteous men, as it says, And Moses said to Joshua, choose for us ohabt, men. See also commentary on Ruth 1:1.

[2] See Exodus Rabbah 15:26: This month shall be to you the beginning of months (Exodus 12:2). “The month is thirty days long and the monarchy shall last for thirty generations. The moon begins to show its light on the first of Nissan and gets brighter as more of it becomes visible until the fifteenth day of the month. From the fifteenth until the thirtieth day its light diminishes as less of its face is visible. On the thirtieth day, it can no longer be seen. So, too, with Israel. There were fifteen generations from Abraham to Solomon. Abraham first generated light to the world, which grew brighter until the era of Solomon. when the moon was full, as it says, And Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord (I Chronicles 29:23). From that time, the greatness of the Kings oflsrael deteriorated...”