14 At meal time Boaz said to her, "Come here, and eat of the bread, and dip your morsel in the vinegar." She sat beside the reapers, and they reached her parched grain, and she ate, and was satisfied, and left some of it.
*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
To dip the morsel, or sop, whether it were bread or meat, in the dish containing the vinegar (compare Matthew 26:23; Mark 14:20 : Exodus 25:29; Numbers 7:13) was, and still is, the common custom in the East.
Parched or "roasted" corn - Grain was the common food of the country then (compare 1-Samuel 17:17; 1-Samuel 25:18; 2-Samuel 17:28) as it is now.
And left - Or "reserved" Ruth 2:18. Rather, "had some over" (compare Luke 15:17). Ruth 2:18 tells us that she took to her mother-in-law what she had left over.
Dip thy morsel in the vinegar - The חמץ chomets, which we here translate vinegar, seems to have been some refreshing kind of acid sauce used by the reapers to dip their bread in, which both cooled and refreshed them. Vinegar, rob of fruits, etc., are used for this purpose in the East to the present day; and the custom of the Arabs, according to Dr. Shaw, is to dip the bread and hand together into these cooling and refreshing articles.
Parched corn - This was a frequent repast among the ancients in almost all countries; see the notes on Leviticus 2:1-14 (note).
And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched [corn], and she did eat, and was sufficed, and (f) left.
(f) Which she brought home to her mother in law.
And Boaz said, at mealtime come thou hither,.... This looks as if she was now in the booth, or house in the field, where the reapers used to retire to eat their food, or rest themselves, or take shelter from the heat of the sun. This meal was very likely dinner, the time of which was not yet come, but would soon, and to which Boaz invited Ruth:
and eat of the bread; his servants did, that is, partake of the provisions they should have; bread being put for all. So Homer (a) speaks of a large ox slain for such a meal for the reapers, besides the "polenta" afterwards mentioned, which the women prepared, and who uses the same word for it the Septuagint does here: "to dip thy morsel in the vinegar"; which was used because of the heat of the season, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra remark, for cooling and refreshment; and such virtues Pliny (b) ascribes to vinegar, as being refreshing to the spirits, binding and bracing the nerves, and very corroborating and strengthening; and it is at this day used in Italy, it is said, in harvest time, when it is hot; where they also use wine mixed with vinegar and water, as Lavater says (c); and who from a learned physician (d) observes, that reapers, instead of wine, use vinegar mixed with a great deal of water, which they call household wine, allayed with water; to which if oil and bread be put, it makes a cooling meal, good for workmen and travellers in the heat of the sun; and the Targum calls it pottage boiled in vinegar. The Romans had an "embamma", or sauce, made of vinegar, in which they dipped their food (e); and Theocritus (f) makes mention of vinegar as used by reapers: in the Syriac version it is bread dipped in milk; and in the Arabic version milk poured upon it. The Midrash (g) gives an allegorical sense of these words, and applies them to the Messiah and his kingdom, and interprets the bread of the bread of the kingdom, and the vinegar of the chastisements and afflictions of the Messiah, as it is said, "he was wounded for our transgressions", &c. Isaiah 53:5 which, by the way, is a concession that the prophecy in that chapter relates to him:
and she sat beside the reapers; the women reapers; she did not sit along with them, or in thee midst of them, in the row with them, as ranking with them, but on one side of them, which was an instance of her great modesty:
and he reached her parched corn; either Boaz himself, or he that was set over the reapers. This parched corn seems to be the new barley they were reaping, which they fried in a pan and ate. Galen says (h), the parched corn which is best is made of new barley moderately dried and parched; and that it was the custom of some to drink the same with new sweet wine, or wine mixed with honey, in the summertime, before they went into the bath, who say they feel themselves by this drink freed from thirst. But this seems to be a kind of food, what is sometimes called "polenta", which is barley flour dried at the fire, and fried after it hath been soaking in water one night; so Lavater says, they dry the barley, having been soaked one night in water, the next day they dry it, and then grind it in mills; some dress new barley beaten out of green ears, and make it while moist into balls, and being cleansed, grind it; and thus dressed with twenty pound of barley, they put three pound of linseed, half a pound of coriander seed, and of salt, all being dried before, are mingled in a mill; and if to be kept, are put into new earthen vessels with the meal and bran: but a later writer (i) takes this "Kali", rendered parched corn, not to be anyone certain species, but something made of corn and pulse, as lentiles, beans, &c. and especially fried or parched vetches, of all which together was this kali or pulse; and he refutes the notion of some, who take it to be "coffee", since that has only been in use since the beginning of the sixteenth century, and at first in Arabia; and is not of the kind of pulse, but is the fruit of a certain tree, of which a liquor is made, something to drink; whereas this was food, and was ate, as follows, see 2-Samuel 17:28.
and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left; she had such a plentiful share given her, that she had more than she could eat, and was obliged to leave some, and which it seems she carried home to her mother-in-law, Ruth 2:18.
(a) Iliad. 18. ver. 559, 560. (b) Nat. Hist. l. 23. c. 1. (c) In loc. (d) Christophor. "a Vega de arte Medendi", l. 2. apud ib. (e) Salmuth in Pancirol, par. 2. tit. 2. p. 83. (f) Idyll, 10. ver. 13. (g) Melrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2. (h) De Aliment. Facult. l. 1. apud Lavater. in loc. (i) Neumann. apud Rambachium in loc.
he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left--some of the new grain, roasted on the spot, and fit for use after being rubbed in the hands--a favorite viand in the East. He gave her so much, that after satisfying her own wants, she had some (Ruth 2:18) in reserve for her mother-in-law.
This unassuming humility on the part of Ruth made Boaz all the more favourably disposed towards her, so that at meal-time he called her to eat along with his people (לה without Mappik, as in Numbers 32:42; Zac 5:11; cf. Ewald, 94, b. 3). "Dip thy morsel in the vinegar." Chomez, a sour beverage composed of vinegar (wine vinegar or sour wine) mixed with oil; a very refreshing drink, which is still a favourite beverage in the East (see Rosenmller, A. and N. Morgenland, iv. p. 68, and my Bibl. Archologie, ii. p. 16). "And he reached her parched corn." The subject is Boaz, who, judging from the expression "come hither," either joined in the meal, or at any rate was present at it. קלי are roasted grains of wheat (see at Leviticus 2:14, and my Bibl. Arch. ii. p. 14), which are still eaten by the reapers upon the harvest field, and also handed to strangers.
(Note: Thus Robinson (Pal. ii. p. 394) gives the following description of a harvest scene in the neighbourhood of Kubeibeh: "In one field nearly two hundred reapers and gleaners were at work, the latter being nearly as numerous as the former. A few were taking their refreshment, and offered us some of their 'parched corn.' In the season of harvest, the grains of wheat not yet fully dry and hard, are roasted in a pan or on an iron plate, and constitute a very palatable article of food; this is eaten along with bread, or instead of it.")
Boaz gave her an abundant supply of it, so that she was not only satisfied, but left some, and was able to take it home to her mother (Ruth 2:18.)
She sat - Not with or among them, but at some little distance from them, as one inferior to them. It is no disparagement to the finest hand, to be reached forth to the needy.
*More commentary available at chapter level.