So she cleaved to Boaz’s young women to glean until the end of the barley
harvest and the wheat harvest. Then she dwelt with her mother-in-law.
the three-month harvest season, Ruth picked all day and slept by night in the
field with Boaz’s young women. She probably acquired many new young friends,
but her thoughts cleaved to her mother-in-law as if she dwelt together with
to a different interpretation, Ruth “cleaved to Boaz’s young women” only “to
glean.” Every evening she trudged back to the city so that Naomi would not be
alone, and she did not abandon her bitter old mother-in-law for the company of
happy young friends.
seeing Ruth’s steadfast devotion, decided to arrange a match for her with Boaz.
But first the mandatory three-month waiting period before a convert may marry
would have to elapse.
harvest season drew to a close, and with it the convert’s waiting period, but
Ruth “dwelt with her mother-in-law,” and made no effort to seek a husband.
Abraham Ibn Ezra
And so she did: She joined Boaz's girls to gather until the end of the
barley harvest and wheat harvest. The Midrash relates that this lasted for
three months, which is the amount of time necessary for a female convert to
wait in order to marry. Therefore, at the conclusion of this time,
Naomi began her efforts for Ruth to be redeemed by levirate marriage.
[Then she] stayed [at home] with her
mother-in-law. In spite of
the inordinate amount of time which Ruth required to glean and to be with the
young female harvesters, this was only for the purpose of gleaning. This is
borne out by, She joined Boaz's girls to gather. However, once the work
was done, she returned to Naomi and did not visit her contemporaries, for the
love of her mother-in-law was dearer to her than anything else.
she stayed close to Boaz’s maidseruants to glean until the end of the barley
and wheat harvest. She dwelt with her mother-in-law.
this verse we learn of Boaz’s aspirations and his desire to take Ruth for a
wife. At first she was advised to remain with his maidservants only while the
first field was being harvested. These young women were the personal attendants
of Boaz’s first wife, and they were eager that someone fill the vacancy, so
that they would again have the privilege of waiting on Boaz’s wife.
was not their intention to remain in the fields for the whole harvest season. But,
when Boaz saw how adamant Na’omi was that Ruth stay close to his maidservants
for the full three months of the season, he went beyond his duty and begged
them to stay with Ruth until the end of the wheat harvest.
see how sincere Boaz was about marrying Ruth, for he was preparing her to be
waited upon by these same maidservants after marriage.
are several more difficult points in this verse that require clarification.
is it stressed that she remained gleaning until the end of the season? What
is so relevant about the fact that she dwelt with her mother-in-law? Where else
could she have lodged?
Midrash (Ruth Rabbah 5:11) says concerning this verse: “R. Shmuel bar Nachman
says: From the beginning of the barley harvest to the end of the wheat harvest
is a period of three months. She dwelt with her mother-in-law. Then
Na’omi her mother-in-law said to her... (3:1).”
Midrash continues by quoting the next two verses in chapter three but does not
explain them at all!
seems that the Sages of the Midrash were bothered by the following
difficulties: (1) In our verse we read that she gleaned until the end of the
barley and wheat harvest. But isn’t it obvious? She could not continue to glean
after that time, since the harvest season was over! (2) As we said,
there was no one else she could have lodged with, so why is it necessary to
tell us that she stayed with Na’omi? (3) The first clause in 3:2 seems
redundant: Now Boaz our relative, with whose maidservants you have
been.... The word v,gu, now, implies
that we are being told something new, when in actual fact we know it already!
Ruth Had to Bide Her Time
we explained at the end of chapter one, Na’omi did not seek to find Ruth a
partner in life until the required three months of waiting after her conversion
had passed. In this way we can be sure that she had not become pregnant from
unholy gentile seed. Hence, v,unj ,t ca,u,
she dwelt with her mother-in-law. She did not merely dwell with her.
The word ca,u has the meaning of “she
waited” as in asec ucahu They
waited in Kadesh (Deuteronomy 1:46).
this, chapter three begins by relating Na’omi’s concern over Ruth’s future: My
daughter, should I not seek security for you... Since the three
months of waiting were over, she began to look for a suitable mate for Ruth.
Now we can understand the Midrash. First, R. Shmuel quotes the last verses in
chapter two as if introducing to us the principle of waiting three months
before a convert can marry. These months coincided with the harvest season. ‘During
this time she lodged with her mother-in-law. Chapter three begins by relating
that with the passing of the harvest season, Ruth was eligible for marriage to
a Jew, and it is then that Na’omi began to seek security for her in the form of
a suitable mate: “Only now that the three months are over can Boaz our
relative be considered as a husband for you.”