"Who are you?" said he. She responded, "I am Ruth, your
maidservant. Let your name be called over your maidservant, by taking me to
wife, inasmuch as you are a redeemer."
3:9 Spread therefore your corner (I.e.,) the corner of your garment, to
cover me with your cloak. And this is an expression of marriage.
For you are a redeemer To redeem the inheritance of my husband,
as it is stated (in Leviticus 25:25), “Then shall come his redeemer who is
closest to him, and he shall redeem, etc.” And my mother-in-law and I have to
sell our inheritance, and now it is (incumbent) upon you to purchase (it).
Acquire me, too, (i.e., marry me) with it, so that the name of the deceased be
remembered upon his estate, (for) when I come to the field, they will say,
“This is the wife of Machlon”.
3:9 “Who are you?” he asked.
am Ruth, your handmaiden,” she said. “Spread your wing (the corner of your
cloak) over your handmaiden, for you are a redeemer.”
identifying herself as Ruth, she reminded Boaz of their conversation in the
field. “I am not even like one of your maidservants” (v. 2:13) she had said,
and he had corrected her: “You are not of the maid-servants, but of the matriarchs.”
Then he had informed her that she was permitted to marry a Jew, and praised her
for seeking refuge beneath God’s wings.
wings,” she now said to him, “are the righteous, whose merit protects the
world. Grant me therefore refuge beneath your wing.”
the time he had also said that her reward would be complete (vnka)’
implying that from her would come Solomon (vnka). “Let your words
now be fulfilled,” she urged. “Your lineage, deeds, and renowned wisdom mark
you as the father of Israel’s
redeemers. Delay not our marriage and the advent of Solomon.”
had lain at his feet that night like a baby bird without a nest or a mother’s
wing to shelter it. As Naomi had hoped, this would arouse Boaz’s compassion,
providing an opportune moment to speak of her destiny. And now she asked him to
“spread your wing” and shelter her in marriage.
sheltering aspect of marriage is reflected in the custom of covering the bride
(and in some places also the groom) with a prayer shawl (talith, ,hky)
as if by a nuptial canopy (chupah, vpuj).
interpretation is that she asked him to wed her in the manner of the Israelite
handmaiden—hence “over your handmaiden”; that is, with the spreading of a
cloak. Thus the scripture says, “If she please not her master who had espoused
her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed; to sell her to a foreign
people he shall have no power, seeing he had dealt deceitfully with her
(be-vigdo-va, usdcc)” (Exodus 21:8). Upon this the Talmud
elaborates: “Render it (usdcc) “with his garment,” since he had spread his
talith over her [in wedding her].”
to our sages, he asked her, “What is your status? Are you single or married,
permitted or forbidden?” Whereupon Ruth, fearing from his words that he could
not master his inclination, said, “Let it be through chupah and kiddushin
(proper marriage) and the seven blessings pronounced over the bride and groom,
for my purpose is to restore the soul of Machlon to the world.
mother-in-law and I,” she continued, “are forced to sell our inheritance, the
field of my (late) husband Machlon, and it is incumbent upon you to buy it, as
it is written: ‘The redeemer who is related (next) to him shall come and redeem
that which his brother had sold’ (Leviticus 25:25). Acquire me. then, along
with the field, so that the name Machlon will be remembered when I go to the
field and people say, ‘That is Machlon’s wife.”’
mentioned her mother-in-law because the law of redemption did not actually
apply to Ruth herself, since she was a convert. Moreover, Torah law required
him only to redeem the field (ibid.), not to marry the widow; hence the plea to
acquire her along with the field.
it was customary that if a man died without children, one of his relatives
married the widow to produce offspring for the deceased. Thus the scripture
says below: “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, and from Ruth
the Moabite, the wife of the deceased you have also bought” (v. 4:5).
sages remark upon the difference between the speech of the righteous and that
of the wicked. In contrast to Potiphar’s wife who brazenly demanded of Joseph
to “lie with me” (Genesis 39:7), Ruth obliquely and modestly said, “Spread your
wing over your handmaiden.”
may be surprising that Naomi advised her to say even this much, but she had
good precedents. The matriarch Leah had gone out to greet her husband Jacob
saying, “To me shall you come” (Genesis 30:16), and the scripture then records
that “God harkened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son”
(Genesis 30:17), thereby testifying to the purity of her intention to bear more
tribes. Then again, Jacob had earlier said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I
may come to her” (Genesis 29:21); and he said, our sages add, “When will I beget
the twelve tribes?”
Ruth asked Boaz to “Spread your wing over your handmaiden.” a plea for the sake
of heaven, to produce the kingdom of the house of David.
responded favorably, which raises the question why he, the leading sage of his generation,
acted differently than would Plony Almony, who refused on the grounds that Ruth
was a Moabite and hence forbidden. One answer given is that Boaz thought that
[even if the halachic distinction of “a Moabite, not a Moabitess” is not
invoked,] the positive precept of perpetuating a kinsman’s name, by begetting
progeny through his widow, i.e., yibum, displaced the negative precept
forbidding marriage to a Moabite. Yet he feared that the seed from such a union
would nonetheless be flawed. Therefore she said, “Spread your wing (cloak) over
your handmaiden, for you are a redeemer.” She urged him not to be concerned
about her being a Moabite.
Abraham Ibn Ezra
9. He asked [her], "Who are you ?"
She answered, "I am Ruth, your maidservant. " Do not consider
my actions wanton or licentious, for A female shall surround a male
(Yirmeyahu 31:21) since I am...your maidservant! Ruth intimated that
just as there is a connection between a Jewish handmaiden (ama havriah) and
her master in that he has the obligation of yiud -designated marriage
-so, too, is there a connection between you and me by virtue of levirate
marriage. Therefore Spread your cloak (lit., your wing) over your
maidservant. This is a metaphor taken from the practice of birds spreading
their wings over their partner at the time of mating. She also intimated that
their relations were not prohibited by the Torah. The lpbf (corners) that is, the tzitziyos, are
a protection from prohibited relations as evidenced in the story (quoted in the
Sifri at the end of Parashas Sh'lach) of the prostitute who
resided in the sea islands and would take 400 zuz for her payment. On the contrary, by virtue of "spreading
his garment upon her" Boaz would perform a mitzvah, for you are a