Lesson 8, Ruth 2:14-17

In the new method I am using (see two posts below, “A Change in Methodology”) I post the notes a week before we discuss the passage in class. Students prepare in advance and class time is used to discuss our translation and interpretation.

Also, note that in this lesson, we get to experience “hollow” and “geminate” verbs (two kinds of verb roots with weak letters). Understanding which kinds of letters tend to disappear from verbs is very helpful as you grow in translation skill.

וַיֹּאמֶר לָה בֹעַז לְעֵת הָאֹכֶל גֹּשִׁי הֲלֹם וְאָכַלְתְּ מִן־הַלֶּחֶם וְטָבַלְתְּ פִּתֵּךְ בַּחֹמֶץ וַתֵּשֶׁב מִצַּד הַקּוֹצְרִים וַיִּצְבָּט־לָהּ קָלִי וַתֹּאכַל וַתִּשְׂבַּע וַתֹּתַר
(Ruth 2:14)

Note that the “a” sound in general is “ah” — when “e” ends a syllable it is “uh” as in “maroon” (MUH-roon) — “e” with a consonant after it rhymes with “bed” — “ie” here should rhyme with “pie”:

va-yoe-mer lah bo-az le-ayt ha-oe-khel goe-shee ha-loam ve-akhalt-te meen-ha-lekhem ve-tavalt-te peet-taykh ba-khoe-maytz va-tay-shev meetzav ha-koatz-reem va-yeetz-bat lah kal-lee va-toe-khal vateesh-ba va-toe-tar:

In this explanation of the words and grammatical forms of Ruth 2:14, I will proceed somewhat differently than in previous lessons. I will list first the dictionary forms of the less common words in the verse and then explain some features of the grammar and syntax.

  • The following are dictionary forms of words used in vs. 14 which the novice student (and in some cases even more advanced readers) may need to look up. עֵת (time, season), אכל (eat), נגשׁ (step up, come near, approach), הֲלֹם (adverb of place, here), טבל (dip, immerse, note in modern usage this is the verb for baptizing/immersing in Jewish and Christian rites), פַּת (piece, bit, morsel esp. of bread), חֹמֶץ (vinegar, note that חָמֶץ is leaven in general), ישׁב (sit), צַד (side, and Holladay lists מִצַּד as “at the side of”), צבט (pass something to someone, note that Holladay shows this verb as used only in Ruth 2:14 and nowhere else in the Bible), קָלִי (parched grain), שׂבּע (be satiated, have had enough, not to be confused with שׁבע, swear), יתר (in the Hiphil it means “to have left over”).
  • וַיֹּאמֶר לָה בֹעַז לְעֵת This vav-conversive verb clause has two complements. The subject is Boaz. The first complement לָה indicates to whom he is speaking and the second, לְעֵת, indicates when he did so (with the next word, a participle indicating which עֵת is meant).
  • הָאֹכֶל is a participle being used as a noun and it modifies/explains the previous word.
  • גֹּשִׁי is an imperative fs (command verb) of נגשׁ. When a word has nun in the first letter of the root, it disappears in many of its forms. Even so גֹּשִׁי is unusual in having the kholem (o-vowel) in the first position and is hard to recognize. The student can determine the conjugation of a verb by looking through the listed forms in Holladay in the definition of the root (and this form is listed in Holladay under the imperatives).
  • וְאָכַלְתְּ While the conjugation of the verb is Perfect 2fs, the vav is conversive. The common pattern for vav-conversive is vav+Imperfect=past. Yet vav+Perfect=future (or in this case imperative) is also a vav-conversive. The simplest rule in dealing with the confusing decision of tense (which tense to translate the verb into) is to use the context to judge. In this case, because of the imperative verb used just prior to וְאָכַלְתְּ, the meaning is imperative and not future.
  • וַתֵּשֶׁב מִצַּד הַקּוֹצְרִים The speech of Boaz has ended. The scribes who copied the text place accent marks above and below the words. For those who wish to learn these accents, they can help the student determine where sentences should be divided. The mark under בַּחֹמֶץ in the printed text is an atnach and it signifies a strong break in the sentence, usually dividing it in half. Besides the accent marks, the clue for readers that Boaz’s speech has ended is context and grammar. וַתֵּשֶׁב is a vav-conversive marking the past tense, so we can tell the syntax has returned to narrating the story.


VERSE 15: וַתָּקָם The root of this vav-conversive is קוּם, which is an example of a “hollow” verb: the middle root letter is a vav (interchangeable with yod) and the middle letter tends to disappear in most verb forms (hence it is called hollow). It is valuable to familiarize yourself with the various “weak” letters in verbs (3rd hey, 1st nun, 1st vav/yod, hollow, and geminate [2nd and 3rd root letter the same]). לְלַקֵּט is listed as a Piel Infinitive Construct (the “to” form of the verb). וַיְצַו is a 3rd hey verb (צוה, one of the “weak” letter root types just mentioned above). נְעָרָיו is a noun with 3ms ending. Note in הָעֳמָרִים the “o” vowel under the ayin, which is a shortening of the vowel (because of the added syllable at the end marking this noun as plural) from עֹמֶר. Learning the syllable rules and how adding syllables to the end of words changes vowels is helpful. תַכְלִימוּהָ has as its root כלם and it is a Hiphil form, as you can tell by the khireq vowel (the i-class vowel which makes the “ee” sound) between the 2nd and 3rd root letter. It is an Imperfect 2mp and has the 3fs ending attached.

VERSE 16: שֹׁל־תָּשֹׁלּוּ Is a hard verb pair to recognize at first for two reasons. First, it is a geminate root, שׁלל, which means the 2nd and 3rd root letter are the same. Thus, in most of its forms, the 3rd root letter will disappear. Second, this is a pair of verbs and that sort of double verb is not used in English. It is a fairly common phenomenon in Hebrew, however. If you look up שׁלל you will find that שֹׁל is the Infinitive Absolute (usually an “-ing” form) and תָּשֹׁלּוּ is the Imperfect 2mp. You might render it “in pulling you will pull.” This Infinitive + Imperfect (or Perfect) verb pair in Hebrew tends to have an emphatic meaning (“you will surely pull” or “you must pull”). הַצְּבָתִים is the definite plural form of the noun צֶבֶת. We then have two vav-conversives in a row, וַעֲזַבְתֶּם וְלִקְּטָה, with the first being 2mp and the second 3fs converting Perfects into imperatives (“you will ___ and she will ___”). תִגְעֲרוּ־בָהּ is the Imperfect 2mp of גער and it is followed by the preposition ב with the 3fs suffix (but you can leave the ב untranslated and simply render it “her”).

VERSE 17: אֲשֶׁר־לִקֵּטָה uses אֲשֶׁר in the sense of “that which ___.” לִקֵּטָה is Piel Imperfect 3fs. כְּאֵיפָה is the preposition כ in front of the noun אֵיפָה, with the כ in this case meaning “approximately” (its general meaning is “like” and context gives us the sense).


Leave a comment

Filed under Lessons

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s