Lesson 10, Ruth 3:1-5

*I will add an article soon which is referenced here in the notes (“Ruth 3:7: Did She or Didn’t She?”) and add some tips for translating verses other than vs. 4. Here is a start to Lesson 10 and I will add more shortly.

וִיהִי בְשָׁכְבוֹ וְיָדַעַתְּ אֶת־הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב־שָׁם וּבָאת וְגִלִּית מַרְגְּלֹתָיו וְשָׁכָבְתְּ וְהוּא יַגִּיד לָךְ אֵת אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשִׂין:

(Ruth 3:4, we have followed the Qere [read aloud] form וְשָׁכָבְתְּ).

VERSE 4, DETAILED TRANSLATION NOTES:

  • The first word can easily fool you. It is not the usual וַיְהִי vav-conversive. Rather note that וִיהִי is the Imperfect 3ms of היה but with a Jussive (modal) sense (a complicated idea, but the lead verb can set the tone for verbs that follow — so this “and it should be” colors the next verb וְיָדַעַתְּ, rendering is modal also: “you should note”).
  • בְשָׁכְבוֹ Note that the ב preposition can mean “when.” שָׁכְבוֹ is a kind of Infinitive Construct worth noting and learning the pattern. An infinitive is a verbal noun. In many cases the infinitive has the ל prefix, making it a “to” verb (“to lie down”). But this Infinitive Construct has no ל prefix, but rather a pronominal suffix וֹ. When an Infinitive Construct has a pronoun suffixed to it, use “-ing” with the verb (“lying down”) and then add the meaning of the suffix (“his lying down”).
  • וִיהִי בְשָׁכְבוֹ on the whole could be rendered “and it should be in his lying down…” No translations go for this awkward a rendering, but smooth out the meaning as this clause runs into the next verbal clause.
  • The ו conjunction does not merely mean “and,” but following a modal (Jussive) clause means “that.”
  • The “it should be” which opened vs. 4 is answered by the “that” of וְיָדַעַתְּ vav-conversive (which in this case makes it Jussive like the lead verb of the sentence) 2fs of ידע.
  • We might expect the final letter in בָאת to have a sh’va under it (בָאתְּ) but even without it, this is easily recognizable as the Perfect 2fs form. It has a ו attached, making it a vav-conversive (still carrying the Jussive-modal meaning from the lead verb).
  • וְגִּלִּית is the same in form as וּבָאת and is from the root גלה.
  • מַרְגְּלֹתָיו is a noun, מַרְגְּלֹת, in construct (genitive) form with the 3ms suffix attached. The meaning of this noun is somewhat in doubt. The usual word for foot is רֶגֶל and the plural feet is sometimes in the dual form often found with body parts that come in twos, רַגְלָיִם, and sometimes in the regular plural, רַגְלִים. But מַרְגְּלֹת is found only in Ruth and Daniel 10:6. It is another way to make a noun from the root רגל. It’s exact meaning could be “feet” or “place of the feet.” The distinction could be important in the question of exactly how sexual was Ruth’s action with Boaz on the threshing floor (see “Ruth 3:7: Did She or Didn’t She?”).
  • There are some convoluted explanations for why the written and handed down (Ketiv) text says וְשָׁכַבְתי and the text to be read aloud (Qere) says וְשָׁכַבְתְּ. The bottom line is that the meaning follows the Qere here. Note that this is still vav-conversive as are the verbs in this chain of “shoulds” which are all Jussive (modal) because the tone was set by the lead verb.
  • יַגִּיד from נגה Imperfect 3ms (the vav-conversive chain has been broken now by the word order, since the ו in this clause was attached to the subject, וְהוּא).
  • תַּעֲשִׂין from עשׂה and it is 2fs Imperfect. The extra (technical term is paragogic) נ on the end can be ignored.
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