Then she rose to glean. And Boaz instructed his men, saying, “Let her glean
even among the sheaves; and do not embarrass (alt: prevent) her.”
Boaz had spoken kindly to her and served her from his table, she did not rely
on his support. Having finished eating, she immediately “rose to glean,”
without stopping to rest after the meal and without waiting for the reapers to
return to work.
doing so, she also avoided attracting attention to herself from any of the
gladdening words she had heard from Boaz raised her spirits. She rose just as
Jacob had “picked up his legs” (Genesis 29:1) after having heard good news.
she was out of earshot, Boaz instructed his men to be kind and let her glean
among the sheaves. By not doing so in her presence, he impressed upon them the
sincerity of his words.
were generally not permitted to pick among the sheaves, lest they take stalks
out of the sheaves themselves. When therefore the overseer had implied that
Ruth was picking from among the sheaves (v. 7), Boaz instructed his workers
that if she picked from among the heaps, and even took from the bound sheaves,
to which she was not entitled, they should not stop her.
ensured that plenty of grain would be available for her to pick, but emphasized
“let her glean.” He would not give it to her, lest it be misconstrued as the
gift that effects a marriage bond.
interpretation is that Boaz instructed his workers ~ that is, to say to her
that she should pick among the sheaves. She would then not be embarrassed to do
Abraham Ibn Ezra
15-16. Questions: Why does the verse repeat
itself, saying, Do not shame her...and do not criticize her? And also, gather...and
you shall leave [them So that] she may gather?
then rose to gather. Ruth did not wait for them to say the zimun, invitation
to the Grace after Meals, because women are not included in this, so she
immediately arose from the table.
Boaz ordered his lads, saying: "Let her also gather between the sheaves
and do not shame her." He meant to say that if she should go to glean
among the sheaves, do not investigate whether she took something from there
lest she be embarrassed for being suspected of stealing.
she arose to glean. Boaz commanded his laborers, saying, “Let her
glean even among the sheaves; do not embarrass her.”
make sure to pull out some for her from the heaps, to leave them for her to
glean; don’t rebuke her.”
(i)Why does the prophet stress that she arose
to glean? Obviously she could not have remained in her place!
did Boaz wait so long to instruct the laborers? Why didn’t he instruct them
earlier, while she was gleaning, before the meal?
The word rntk, saying,
In verse 15 it is made clear that Ruth was allowed to take from the sheaves.
Yet in verse 16, we read that Boaz instructed his laborers to pull out from the
heaps, which are smaller than sheaves. If she was allowed to take from
the sheaves, all the more so would she have been allowed to take from the
why the need to change from ohrng
(verse 15) to oh,cm (verse
Once it has been established that she may take from the hape, does it not
follow that they need not rebuke her?
Why Did Ruth Hurry?
is indeed more to these verses than meets the eye. Earlier we read that Boaz
gave her two fingersful of parched grain. It could not have taken her very long
to eat this. While Boaz and the rest of the men were still eating she had
finished, been satisfied, and she even left over some grain. She reckoned that
if she remained in her place and waited until the rest had finished eating she
may have been faced with an unpleasant situation on two counts: (1) It would
appear as if she were waiting for them to give her more. (2) They would suspect
her of deliberately remaining at the table so that she could have the chance to
stare at one of the men. Or else, she wanted them to notice her. To
avoid all this she arose from her place immediately to go and glean.
truth, even this action can be viewed in a bad light, for it appeared as if she
hurried to eat so that she could begin gleaning before Boaz’s workers finished
eating. This would have given her time to loosen the bundles and take from them
while no one was looking. It would seem as if the overseer’s suspicions were
justified! Later, she could claim that she had only taken one stalk at a time,
but no one would believe her.
told his workers to allow her to take from the sheaves and not embarrass her.
He meant to say as follows: “The only reason you have to suspect her is that
she got up from her place in a hurry. Even if you find that she left all the
single stalks lying on the ground and collected only from the sheaves, you must
not question her or intimidate her by accusing her of taking unlawfully while
no one was around.” Boaz himself did not suspect her of cheating, but he did
not want them to harbor any such idea either. We learn this from the way he
spoke to his workers.
Gleaning between the Sheaves:
Was It Legal?
she arose to glean. She immediately got up to take the leavings which were
permitted by law. She did not intend to take unlawfully from the sheaves. Boaz
knew that, but he was afraid that the others would slander her by claiming that
she had gathered from the sheaves. He wanted to dismiss the possibility
that such allegations be raised, even if they would be reinforced by the fact
that the workers noticed her taking from between the sheaves. Moreover, even if
there would have been no pretext for embarrassing her by claiming that she was
cheating, they could have claimed that she was plotting to do so at some later
could have publicly announced that she was allowed to collect between the
sheaves. But then he would have been accused of having his eyes on her and of
putting aside ethical considerations out of his affection for her. So he spoke
only to the young men who were part of his household and familiar with his righteousness.
They would not have suspected Boaz of such things, and later they would
have told the laborers that she was allowed to glean between the sheaves
without being bothered. The laborers in turn did not think that Boaz issued an
order to treat Ruth any differently from the other women because of her beauty.
They assumed that the order applied to all the women.
we can understand the addition of the word rntk
saying. He told the servants of his household to say to the laborers. He
did not tell them directly.
Why Did Boaz Favor Ruth?
sure to pull out some from the heaps. Again, this was
addressed to his own private servants. The meaning is as follows: “You may
wonder what is happening and may have voiced your surprise at my strange
actions by saying: ‘We know how righteous our master is. Why is he favoring
this girl and granting her the privilege of collecting from among the sheaves?’
Thus I told you that this girl is not like any other woman. She will not dare
to take voluntarily from the sheaves. Furthermore, even if you make sure to
pull out from the smaller bundles and leave the stalks on the ground to test
her, I know that she will not touch them, but she will take only from the
stalks that have fallen as prescribed by law.
will not take from the heaps, even if they have obviously been forgotten
and left behind. It goes without saying that she will not take from the larger
sheaves. She will, however, be willing to pick the stalks that have fallen (yek). Do not rebuke her for not taking from
the piles that have been forgotten (vjfa),
for you will surely embarrass her.”
is another way to explain the addition of the word rntk saying, in verse 15. Boaz was really intending to
tell them now that they should also pull out from the heaps and allow her to
pick from them. However, he was afraid that they would suspect him of favoring
her because he found her attractive. Thus, he allowed her only a small
concession; namely, to collect stalks from between the sheaves. He warned the
laborers not to embarrass her by alleging that she was waiting for an
opportunity to grab one of the bundles themselves. Once he saw that no one
suspected him of attempting to court her, he added, Make sure to pull
out... (verse 16), so that she could take from the heaps unhindered. The
word saying is inserted in verse 15, for it hints that at a later stage his
instructions to the laborers were to include those given in verse 16, i.e.,
that they should allow her to glean from the heaps.
both occasions Boaz tactfully addressed his laborers by giving the impression
that he was concerned only for their welfare. He said: Do not embarrass her..
.do not rebuke her, which implied that he did not want them to sin by
embarrassing her, for if her face would have grown red from shame, their deed
would have been considered to be nothing less than bloodshed. Our Sages say
(Talmud Bava Metzia 58b) that one who embarrasses his fellow in public does not
merit a portion in the World to Come, and Boaz wished to save them from such a
dishonor. Thus, he warned them “Do not rebuke or embarrass her, for your
punishment for such a course will be very severe.”