Ruth 2:7 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 2:7, NIV: She said, 'Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.' She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.'

Ruth 2:7, ESV: She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”

Ruth 2:7, KJV: And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.

Ruth 2:7, NASB: And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ So she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.'

Ruth 2:7, NLT: She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes' rest in the shelter.'

Ruth 2:7, CSB: She asked, 'Will you let me gather fallen grain among the bundles behind the harvesters? ' She came and has been on her feet since early morning, except that she rested a little in the shelter."

What does Ruth 2:7 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The poor and sojourners in Israel had the right to glean (Leviticus 23:22), but Ruth asked the supervisor, first. She was bold but also smart; if the supervisor knew her, he would be more likely to protect her. Harvesting involved two groups. Men would go through and grab stalks with their hands or their elbows, then use a sickle to cut off stalks with the other hand. They would place those stalks in piles as they worked. Women would come behind them and tie the stalks into bundles. Gleaners were allowed to come through after the women and pick the stray stalks left behind, but good reapers and bundlers were very efficient and didn't leave much behind. One Bible scholar, Hubbard, compares gleaning to "trying to eke out survival today by recycling aluminum cans."

"Please let me glean and gather…" in Hebrew means that Ruth asked to glean behind the harvesters, set her takings aside, and gather up the piles when she is finished. At the end of the day, she will take the stalks to the threshing floor and take the grain back into town. Thanks to Boaz's generosity and her own diligence, she takes home almost six gallons of barley that night (Ruth 2:17).

The meaning of the foreman's comment flummoxes biblical scholars. The ESV reads, "So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest." The Septuagint is more specific: "And so she arrived and remained from morning until evening and did not stop in the field even a little." The NASB more literally translates the Hebrew: "So she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while."

The NET Bible explains that the original Hebrew has two possible translations. The more traditional is "She came and has kept at [gleaning] from this morning until now, except for this: She has been sitting in the hut only a little while." The alternative translation considers that "continued" is more typically translated as "stand" or "remained": "She came and has stood here from this morning until now. She's been sitting in the house for a brief time."

In 318 other verses, the Hebrew word is translated "stand," and "continue" only six. The implication is that Ruth, indeed, sought "favor" (Ruth 2:2). In fact, she would not work without it. The foreman didn't give her permission, choosing to wait until Boaz arrived.

Dr. Brian Webster explains why. Ruth is a foreign widow who has been in Israel only a short while. Sojourners are authorized to glean from fields (Leviticus 23:22); we'd call them "naturalized citizens." But the manager isn't sure if Ruth qualifies. Sojourners are non-Israelites who live in Israel. They are fully responsible for obeying the rituals of the Mosaic law, like observing the Sabbath and feasts (Exodus 20:10; Numbers 9:14) and are protected by the Mosaic law. But there are standards for earning the title of sojourner. Edomites and Egyptians qualify if their family has lived in Israel for four generations (Deuteronomy 23:7–8). Because of the Moabites' deception of the Israelites (Numbers 25:1–9; 31:16), they must wait until the eleventh generation (Deuteronomy 23:3). Ruth has only been in Israel for a few days. Does the manager consider her a widow? A poor person? Or a Moabite? Better to let the owner decide.