Ruth 2:14

Ruth 2:14

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 F1 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 F2 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 F3; and who from a learned physician F4 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 F6 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 F7 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" ( 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 F8, 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 F9 takes this "Kali", rendered parched corn, not to be anyone certain species, but something made of corn and pulse, as lentiles, beans 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 ) .


FOOTNOTES:

F1 Iliad. 18. ver. 559, 560.
F2 Nat. Hist. l. 23. c. 1.
F3 In loc.
F4 Christophor. "a Vega de arte Medendi", l. 2. apud ib.
F5 Salmuth in Pancirol, par. 2. tit. 2. p. 83.
F6 Idyll, 10. ver. 13.
F7 Melrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2.
F8 De Aliment. Facult. l. 1. apud Lavater. in loc.
F9 Neumann. apud Rambachium in loc.
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