Ruth 3:9




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your servant


















3:9 And he said to her, Who are you? And she answered, I am Ruth, your handmaid; cover therefore your maid­servant with the end of your robe, for you are a near kinsman.


Stone’s Translation


3:9 He  said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am your handmaid, Ruth. Spread your robe over your handmaid, for you are a redeemer.




3:9 And he said, Who [art] thou? And she answered, I [am] Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou [art] a near kinsman.    



Ruth 3:9 ei\pen dev tiv" ei\ suv hJ de; ei\pen ejgwv eijmi Rouq hJ douvlh sou kai; peribalei'" to; pteruvgiovn sou ejpi; th;n douvlhn sou o{ti ajgcisteu;" ei\ suv


Ruth 3:9 Then he said, “Who are you?” So she said, “I am Ruth your maidservant, and you will spread your wing around your maidservant, for you are next of kin.” 



Peshat Level:




3:9 "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”.



Gemarah Level:



Midrash Level:


Midrash Rabbah


Ruth VI:1   She clung to him like ivy, and he began to finger her hair. ' Spirits have no hair,’ he thought, so he said, ‘WHO ART THOU? (ib. 9), a woman or a spirit? ' She answered, ' A woman.’ ' A maiden or a married woman? ' She answered, ' A maiden.’ ' Art thou clean or unclean?’ She answered, ‘Clean.’ AND BEHOLD A WOMAN, purest of women, LAY AT HIS FEET (ib. 8), as it is said, AND HE SAID: WHO ART THOU? AND SHE ANSWERED: I AM RUTH THY HANDMAID. R. Berekiah said: Cursed be the wicked! Elsewhere1 it is said, She caught him by his garment, saying: Lie with me (Genesis XXXIX, 12), but here, she said, SPREAD THEREFORE THY SKIRT OVER THY HANDMAID.



Zohar Level:



Other Commentaries:


Me’am Lo’ez


3:9  “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am Ruth, your handmaiden,” she said. “Spread your wing (the corner of your cloak) over your handmaiden, for you are a redeemer.”


After 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.


“God’s wings,” she now said to him, “are the righteous, whose merit protects the world. Grant me therefore refuge beneath your wing.”


At 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.”


Ruth 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.


This 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).


Another 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].”


According 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.


“My 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.”’


She 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.


Nonetheless, 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).


Our 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.”


It 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?”


Similarly, 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.


Boaz 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.[1] On the contrary, by virtue of "spreading his garment upon her" Boaz would perform a mitzvah, for you are a redeemer.






[1] When her suitor was about to perform the sin, his four tzitziyos blew into his face. Because of that, he refrained from having illicit relations with her. In the end she converted, and they wed.