[b-hebrew] uncovering Boaz' 'footsies' was Samson at Gaza - Judges 16:1

George Athas george.athas at moore.edu.au
Sun Aug 19 21:24:25 EDT 2007


Hi Karl!
 
The texts themselves say nothing, thus presenting us with a gap in the
narrative which we then try to fill. We can either import other ideas from
other texts to fill the gap, or we can try to work with the narrative before
us and see what it suggests. You can make a case for doing either or both.
 
In the case of Ruth uncovering Boaz' "feet", I'm trying to work with what
the text itself suggests. In parallel, you mentioned Abigail. However, there
are notable differences her and Ruth: 
 
1. Abigail bows to the ground before David's servants. We're not told that
they are lying down. Boaz, however, is lying down.
2. Abigail does not 'uncover' anyone's feet. Ruth, however, does. This
implies she lifts up a garment of some kind.
3. Abigail does not bow in secret without anyone else seeing. Ruth, however,
comes to Boaz secretively so that no one else does see.
4. Abigail says she will 'wash' the 'feet' of David and his men. Ruth is not
said to wash anyone's feet. Instead, she lies at the place of the feet.
5. The word used for Boaz' feet is MARGALOT, which is not the usual word for
feet. Why this choice of words? It might denote the legs as opposed to just
the feet, though REGEL or RAGLAYIM can also refer to the whole leg(s). I
think we should translate the word as 'legs' (cf. Dan 10.6), but still
there's nothing overtly more that is said. We just have an unusual word used
for legs.
6. Boaz goes to turn over in his sleep and can't because there's a woman
on/at his legs!
 
If Ruth was just lying down at Boaz' feet, why the need to uncover them? It
seems that she wants Boaz to think that he has slept with her. Whether Ruth
does anything to Boaz or not isn't actually stated. And I think that's part
of the beauty of the narrative -- its ability to make suggestions so that,
along with Boaz, we're left wondering whether anything happened. I think
it's fairly clear that Naomi wants Ruth to sleep with Boaz -- she even has a
little Freudian slip in her instructions to Ruth where her words can be
understood as "I [Naomi] will sleep with Boaz".
 
Did the spies do anything in Rahab's house other than talk? The narrative
doesn't say. You've filled the gap with ideas suggested to you from other
texts or scenarios. You're also assuming that the spies followed the
morality of other texts. Fine. However, the narrative itself says nothing.
That's why you should understand that suggestive readings of the text are
also possible here. You can import just about anything to fill the gap. What
I want to know, though, is what the writer intended and what the original
audiences would have thought as they filled the gap.
 
In short, I don't think Abigail works as well in filling the gap as you
suggest.
 
 
Best Regards, 

GEORGE ATHAS 
Moore Theological College (Sydney) 
1 King St, Newtown, NSW 2042, Australia 
Ph: (+61 2) 9577 9774 

 




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