Ruth 2:2




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Ruth 2:2 So Ruth the Moabite said to Noemin, “Let me go now to the field and I shall glean among the ears of grain after him in whose eyes I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, daughter.” 










and she said








the Moabitess












let me go








the field




and let me pick up




among the grains












I find








in his eyes




and she said




to her








my daughter






2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to her mother-in-law Naomi, Let me now go to the field and glean ears of wheat after the reapers in whose sight I may find favor. And her mother-in-law said to her, Go, my daughter.


Stone’s Translation


2:2 Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out to the field and glean among the ears of grain behind someone in whose eyes I shall find favor.” She said to her, ‘Go, my daughter. “




2:2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after [him] in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. 



Peshat Level:




2:2 And Ruth, the Moavitess, said to Naomi: "Let me go now into the field and gather among the ears of grain after him in whose eyes I may find favor." She said to her, "Go, my daughter."




2:2 Let me now go to the field   To one of the fields of the people of the city, after one of them “in whose eyes I shall find favor”, so that he will not scold me.


That I may glean among the ears of grain after (someone) in whose eyes I shall find favor  (I.e.,) after someone in whose eyes I shall find favor.



Gemarah Level:






Midrash Level:


Midrash Rabbah


Ruth IV:4 AND RUTH THE MOAVITESS SAID UNTO NAOMI: LET ME NOW GO TO THE FIELD, AND GLEAN AMONG THE EARS OF CORN AFTER HIM IN WHOSE SIGHT I SHALL FIND FAVOUR. AND SHE SAID UNTO HER: GO. MY DAUGHTER (II, 2). R. Jannai said: She was forty years of age and yet you call her daughter? The answer is that she looked like a girl of fourteen.



Zohar Level:





Other Commentaries:


Me’am Lo’ez


2:2  Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi: “I will go now to the field and glean among the ears of grain, behind one in whose eyes I shall find favor.”


She said to her, “Go, my daughter.”


The scripture now narrates how it came to pass that Boaz encoun­tered Ruth.


As soon as they arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth set out to provide for herself in order not to burden Naomi. Moreover, she undertook to support her mother-in-law as well—a great kindness which set her apart from the Moabite people, who had not greeted Israel with bread and water.


The daughter of the king of Moab proposed to pick in the fields with the paupers. “I will go” —gladly— ”for the ears of grain I will pick in the fields of Israel are more precious to me than the diamonds in my father’s palace.”


Ruth tactfully spared Naomi’s feelings. Claiming that she, a stranger from Moab, could glean without embarrassment, she insisted that Naomi stay home while she went to the fields alone. “I will go”—I and not you.


Lest, however, visitors arrive in the meantime to see Naomi’s daughter-in-law leave for the fields, Ruth left “now”—early in the morning, tired though she was from the long journey.


Although their destitution made picking in the fields necessary for survival, Ruth honored her mother-in-law by asking permission before she went.


Her plan was to inspect “the field,” that is, the field of Elimelech. On the way back, she would pick with the poor.

Or else, “the field” refers to the fields of Boaz, which would mean that he had welcomed them as soon as they had arrived.


Another interpretation is that since Ruth had no friend or relative in whose field she could pick, she would simply try whatever field she chanced upon. If the owner treated her kindly and generously, she would pick there; if not, she would go elsewhere, until she found a field whose owner looked upon her favorably.


(Evidently an ungenerous landowner could prevent the poor from taking what was rightfully theirs, or else the custom was not to let women pick without permission.)


She would select a field whose owner’s eyes had “favor,” that is, looked into the Torah rather than at women, and looked kindly upon the pickings of the poor. She would pick only behind a reaper who was righteous.


Some say that Ruth was ashamed to glean among the poor and pre­ferred to earn her livelihood by working. She would look for a land­owner interested in hiring her to work in his field. This is indicated by “in whose eyes I shall find favor.” Merely to partake of what by Torah law she could pick freely, she had no need to find favor. When therefore Boaz’s manservant later said (v. 7), “She came and has been on her feet ever since the morning,” he was referring to her work as a hired field-hand.


She hinted that she would not be pursuing young men who might appeal to her, but would wait to find favor in the eyes of a righteous man.


Knowledgeable in the laws that Naomi had taught her regarding giving to the poor, she now assured Naomi that she would not avail herself of peah—picking in the corner of the field set aside for the poor (Leviticus 19:9)—because there she would be competing with other paupers. Nor would she take shikechah—ears that the reapers forgot to cut (Leviticus 23:22)—because it is difficult to ascertain which ears are truly forgotten. She would only gather the leket (yek hence vyektu)—ears that fell from the reaper’s hands as he cut (ibid.). And, in observance of the halacha that more than two ears that fell together at a time are not leket, she would gather only ohkcac, lit, two ears.


Convinced that Ruth’s behavior in the field would be in keeping with modesty, good manners, and the halacha, Naomi consented. And because Ruth felt lonely and strange, she added a word of encourage­ment: “Do not think of yourself as the Moabite, but as my daughter. I allow you to go only because necessity forces me to; for I cherish and esteem you like a daughter.”


The expression “my daughter” does not necessarily indicate that Ruth was a young girl. In fact, our sages say she was forty years of age at the time.


The extreme poverty that forced Ruth to pick in the fields like any pauper was no coincidence, but was a foreshadowing of that “poor man, riding on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9) who would descend from her—the Messiah.

Abraham Ibn Ezra


2:2  AFTER HIM IN WHOSE EYES I FIND FAVOUR: Some say that the suffix refers to Boaz who has been mentioned, and the meaning is ‘Perhaps this will be’. But it is my opinion that the suffix refers to the owner of the field, although he is not mentioned, because it says AND HER GRANGE HAPPENED, which means ‘this is the way it happened’.




2. Ruth...said to Naomi. The Prophet relates to us the virtue and caliber of Ruth's character in that in spite of her being accustomed to fine clothes and luxury and, according to the Midrash, her being the daughter of a king, she agreed to glean in the fields like a pauper. She did not want her mother-in-law to accompany her because Naomi's shame and disgrace would be overwhelming, since she was formerly known in the city as a wealthy and prominent resident. She therefore agreed to go by herself, seeing that she was unknown in Bethlehem.


Ruth the Moabitess. That is, from a foreign country -and she would not be humiliated collecting stalks of grain to support herself and her mother-in-law.


Let me go now to the field. And not to an orchard where it might be dangerous to climb the trees.


And gather [glean] among the stalks. Ruth intended to gather only leket[1], which was not in great demand by the poor since there were ample fields to accommodate all of them, but not pe'ah[2], which was "up for grabs" (the Mishnah in Pe'ah 4:1 states that even if 99 poor people say to divide the pe'ah evenly among them and one person says, "Each one for himself," we listen to the one). If so, Ruth feared that stronger individuals would forcibly glean, and if she attempted to glean too, she might be harmed by them. Therefore, she chose to gather only leket and, even so, only behind one who will regard me favorably. Ruth meant that if she sensed that the owner of the field looked upon her disparagingly, she would refrain from gathering there. She would go only to the field of someone who looked upon her favorably and where she would avoid harassment from the harvesters and other poor gleaners.




(2) Ruth the Moabitess said to Na’omi: “Let me now go into the field so that I can glean from the ears of corn after the one in whom I will find favor in his eyes.” She replied to her: “Go, my daughter.”


Firstly, the word tb seems redundant. What is its significance? Secondly, why is she still labelled with the derogatory title of ‘Moabitess’ after having converted with good intentions?


Besides answering these questions shortly, all the difficulties in this passage will be explained to our satisfaction.


The Significance of ‘The Field’


When Na’omi blessed her, Ruth realized that her mother-in-law believed her to be the one chosen by God from the descendants of Lot to be the forebear of the stock of Judah. Now that Orpah was gone, she asked: Let me go to the field.


This simple request has more to it than meets the eye. As we know, the story of Lot and his two daughters took place in rural and not in urban surroundings, as it is written, And Lot went up from Tzoar and settled in the mountains (Genesis 19:30). It was there that Lot’s daughter cohabited with her father. Similarly, Judah’s union with Tamar took place in the fields (see Genesis, chapter 38).


Ruth’s question to Na’omi was: “I am destined to continue this family trait of both Moab and Judah by going to the fields. While there, I will gather food to sustain us in poverty.” She also uses the word tb, which is reminiscent of the tb Judah said to Tamar when he asked her to lie with him (see Genesis 38:16 lhkt tuct tb vcv).


Na’omi replied: “Go, my daughter. You are indeed qualified for this task. I consider you to be my daughter since the spirit of my son Machlon resides within you.”


It can be said that she was actually speaking to the spirit of her son, and the feminine gender is used, h,c hfk, because the Hebrew for spirit, jur, is feminine.


As we said above, there are two obvious difficulties in this verse: the word tb and the word vhcutnv. Besides these, there are other interesting points to be aware of.


Why Only yek?


Firstly, as we know, there are three categories of produce which must be left for the poor while one is reaping in the fields. These are yvtpu vjfa, yek. The first, yek, is alluded to by Ruth in the verse. The law demands that any stalks that fall down during the reaping process be left for the poor (see Leviticus 19:9).


The second is vjfa. The law stipulates that if a sheaf is forgotten in the field during a harvest, it is forbidden to return and take it; it must likewise be left for the poor (cf. Deuteronomy 24:19).


The third is known as vtp. During the harvesting of a field, a corner must be deliberately left so that the poor can take from it (see Leviticus 19:9).


As we said, Ruth asked permission to take only gleanings left behind. She did not seem interested in collecting leftover ‘sheaves’ or ‘corners.’


She also made it known that she would follow after the one in whose eyes she finds favor. This is hardly the talk of a modest girl, for the implication is that she would be attracted to any man, whomever it may be. Instead of rebuking her, Na’omi, encouraged her by consenting to her request!


Let us turn our attention for a moment to the next verse:

[1] See Vayikra 19:9-10, "...and the gleanings of your harvest you shall not take. ...For the poor and the proselyte shall you leave them..."

[2] See Vayikra 19:9-10, "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not complete your reaping to the comer of your field, ...for the poor and the proselyte shall you leave them..."