Category Archives: Lessons

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).


  • 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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Lesson 9, Ruth 2:18-23

וַתֹּאמֶר נָעֳמִי לְכַלָּתָהּ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לַיהוָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא־עָזַב חַסְדּוֹ אֶת־הַחַיִּים וְאֶת־הַמֵּתִים וַתֹּאמֶר לָהּ נָעֳמִי קָרוֹב לָנוּ הָאִישׁ מִגֹּאֲלֵנוּ הוּא

(Ruth 2:20)



  • וַתֹּאמֶר נָעֳמִי לְכַלָּתָהּ Naomi is the subject and the indirect object (adjunct prepositional phrase) is לְכַלָּתָהּ (the preposition ל followed by כַּלָּה in construct [word pair] form with the 3fs suffix added).
  • בָּרוּךְ הוּא The “he” here is Boaz from vs. 19. It could be rendered “Blessed be he” or “may he be blessed.”
  • בָּרוּךְ הוּא לַיהוָה Now we are faced with an indirect object of the verb (an adjunct prepositional phrase, לַיהוָה). While in English it might seem this should be rendered “blessed be he to Adonai,” how does the ל preposition function with בָּרוּךְ usually? This s where a lexicon can help. Holladay notes the clauses with ל following בָּרוּךְ mean “blessed by Adonai.” So “may he be blessed by Adonai” is a good rendering (see example of Genesis 14:19). Continue reading

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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)
Continue reading

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Lesson 7, Ruth 2:8-13

וַיֹּאמֶר בֹּעַז אֶל־רוּת הֲלוֹא שָׁמַעַתְּ בִּתִּי אַל־תֵּלְכִי לִלְקֹט בְּשָׂדֶה אַחֵר וְגַם לֹא תַעֲבוּרִי מִזֶּה וְכֹה תִדְבָּקִין עִם־נַעֲרֹתָי

(Ruth 2:8)

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 bo-az el-root ha-loe sha-ma-at-te beetee al-taylkhee leel-koat be-sa-day a-khayr ve-gam loe ta-avooree mee-zay ve-khoe teed-bakeen eem-na-a-ro-tie:


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Lesson 6: Ruth 2:1-7

See the bottom of this post for an audio file from the live class.

וַתֹּאמֶר רוּת הַמּוֹאֲבִיָּה אֶל־נָעֳמִי אֵלְכָה־נָּא הַשָּׂדֶה וַאֲלַקֳטָה בַשִּׁבֳּלִים אַחַר אֲשֶׁר אֶמְצָא־חֵן בְּעֵינָיו וַתֹּאמֶר לָהּ לְכִי בִתִּי
(Ruth 2:2)

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-toe-mer root ha-moe-avee-yah el-na-oe-mee ayl-kha-nah ha-sa-day va-alakoe-tah va-shee-boe-leem akhar asher emtza-khayn be-aynav va-toe-mer lah le-khee vee-tee:

See “Chance and Divine Purpose” for some extra insight into Ruth 2:3.

In English, we might say, “I will go” or “may I go?” We have certain words for permission (the optative mood as some grammarians call it, or the Jussive or Cohortative use of the verb). In Hebrew, an Imperfect verb in the 3rd or 2nd person can sometimes be Jussive, expressing a wish (“may he go,” “may you go”). Sometimes, with some roots, there is a spelling difference between the Imperfect and the Jussive, whereas at other times they look perfectly the same. Continue reading

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Lesson 5: Ruth 1:19-22

Audio and help for translating vss.20-22 have now been added. See bottom of post for audio from a live class.

וַתֵּלַכְנָה שְׁתֵּיהֶם עַד־בֹּאָנָה בֵּית לָחֶם וַיְהִי כְּבֹאָנָה בֵּית לֶחֶם וַתֵּהֹם כָּל־הָעִיר עֲלֵיהֶן וַתֹּאמַרְנָה הֲזֹאת נָעֳמִי׃
(Ruth 1:19)

See “Reading Tutor, Ruth 1:19,” for pronunciation help.

See “Shaddai, an Earthy Title for God,” a comment on Ruth 1:20.

First, Hiphil is pronounced HIF-feel and Niphal is NEEF-fall. Continue reading

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Lesson 4: Ruth 1:11-18

See the bottom of this post for an audio recording of the live class.

וַתֹּאמֶר נָעֳמִי שֹׁבְנָה בְנֹתַי לָמָּה תֵלַכְנָה עִמִּי הַעוֹד־לִי בָנִים בְּמֵעַי וְהָיוּ לָכֶם לַאֲנָשִׁים׃
(Ruth 1:11)

Need help reading? See “Reading Tutor, Ruth 1:11.”

Click here to go to the article: “TIKVAH, THE CORD OF HOPE.”

Vs. 11 is by itself a good lesson in two important kinds of question words (interrogatives) in Hebrew: an interrogative pronoun (what, who, where, why, how) and the interrogative particle (a simple prefix in Hebrew which renders a clause a question. Continue reading

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