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Introduction: Ruth & Naomi (2:1-2)

2:1 The word translated "kinsman" - myd (kethib) or mwd (qere) - poses some problems, which were recognised in antiquity, not only by the scribes but by the versions. However it need not delay us since its approximate sense is clear "a family member". A similar word (if one reads the kethib here) or the same one (if one accepts the qere) recurs at 3:2. These are both key texts in the transformation of Boaz, from distant relative, to husband of Ruth and parent of Obed. Here Boaz is introduced as candidate (though unknowing); at 3:2 Naomi recognises and proposes this candidature.

This verse is somewhat redundant on the subject of family: 
"Now Na'omi had a kinsman on her husband's side, a prominent rich man, of the family of Elim'elech, whose name was Bo'az."
Unnecessary use of words is not typical of this narrator, so we can assume that this signals the importance of the information we are being given.

The phrase "a prominent rich man" 'ish gibbor chayil is literally something like: a man, mighty and renowned. This phrase might well describe a warrior, in the context it is Boaz' reputation in Bethlehem that is being stressed. Later Boaz himself will apply the feminine version of the same description to Ruth in 3:11 'eshet chayil 'atte "a woman of renown are you". The word occurs again at 4:11 in the blessing by the elders on the future marriage.

2:2 "someone in whose sight I may find favour" - finding favour recurs in vv. 10 & 13, notice how in v. 10, through Ruth's question, the anonymous "someone" of verse 2 is identified as Boaz, and in v. 13 "may I continue to find favour in your sight" Ruth requests a continuation of Boaz favour (and its extension?) because he has comforted her and spoken kindly to her.

© Dr Tim Bulkeley, 2004.

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Tim teaches Hebrew Bible (First or Old Testament) at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and at Carey Baptist College his other sites include:
Amos - Postmodern Bible commentary
Study Notes on Jonah
Images of Archaeological Sites in Israel (Focusing on the Iron Age)