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Scene Two: Naomi & Ruth (2:18-23)

2:18 "mother-in-law" Naomi is named by her relationship to Ruth, subtly reminding us that Ruth and Naomi are not blood relatives, and keeping all the characters unnamed in this scene until Boaz' name appears at the end of v.19.

"she... gave [Naomi] what was left over after she herself had been satisfied" even without using the newly gleaned provisions both women are "satisfied".

2:19 "Blessed be the man" Naomi blesses Boaz before she discovers the identity of Ruth's benefactor. 

The actual naming is drawn out:
"So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked, 
   and said
    'The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.' "
Reminding us that though we know of Boaz' possible status as go'el neither woman yet does - when characters are ignorant of important information the narrator has shared with us we speak of "dramatic irony".

2:20 The Hebrew is ambiguous. The phrase "whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead" could be a reference to God or to Boaz. That there should be uncertainty is typical of our author's thought, humans are or have become like their God.

Naomi's blessing precedes, and stands as a separate speech ("also said") from her finally revealing to Ruth Boaz potential as a go'el.

"nearest kin" rendering of the term go'el.

2:21 Ruth quotes Boaz. When one character quotes another small differences are often significant.

What do her words say that is more than Boaz has said in the chapter?

The words do not really sound like Boaz, there is no parallelism or repetition, though the sentiments expressed do, Ruth does sound like Boaz here in using the "paragogic nun" which is a linguistic feature otherwise used by Boaz and Naomi!

2:22 Naomi now approves, almost repeating part of what Ruth has said, but with a small change.

What change does she make?
Why might she have done this?

2:23 gives a summary of the chapter ("she stayed close... gleaning... she lived") and functions as a mini-coda which moves us forward to the "end of the harvest" season.


© Dr Tim Bulkeley, 2004.

You may quote and use these study notes, subject to the usual provsions of fair use - like giving proper credit e.g.
Tim Bulkeley, "Ruth: Genre" in Study Notes on Ruth http://www.hypertextbible.org/ruth/genre.htm [downloaded today's date].

If you want to reproduce large sections you should contact Tim. (tim at bible.gen.nz)

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)