In Ruth 2:3 it states

חֶלְקַת הַשָּׂדֶה לְבֹעַז אֲשֶׁר מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת אֱלִימֶלֶךְ׃ - it was the piece of land belonging to Boaz, who was of Elimelech’s family (Sefaria trans.)

I was curious if instead of reading 'of the family of Elimelech' as referring to Boaz (about whom we were already told he is of the family of Elimelech in verse 1) could this instead be referring back to the field? In other words the verse would be read as "Ruth chanced into the portion of a field. That portion belonged to Boaz, but the field itself belonged to the family of Elimelech." Does the text support this reading?

  • 1
    The whole point of the book (about redemption and the gaal , the kinsman-redeemer) is that Boaz was related. But there was a 'nearer' kinsman, who must first have opportunity to redeem . . . . . So the translation of the text should not dissociate Boaz and the family of Elimelech.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 11:24

1 Answer 1


In the phrase חלקת השדה, the word חלקת is חלק, "portion", in construct form (סמיכות). This form creates a single, indivisible term "field portion", which in English we commonly render as "portion of the field" because there is no English usage "field portion".

The English rendering "portion of the field" gives the impression that we might be able to read "portion, of the field that...", but the use of the construct form in Hebrew prevents separating the words in this way.

Furthermore the preposition מ, "from" in word initial position in ממשפחת can only refer to a person from the family of Elimelech. To refer to a "field portion" belonging to the family the preposition would be ל, or "אשר ל", "belonging to".

The verse could have been written

חלקת השדה אשר לבועז אשר ממשפחת אלימלך


חלקת השדה אשר לבועז ממשפחת אלימלך

The latter is how I would write the verse if I were writing a contract in modern Hebrew.

Using only one אשר and using it before ממשפחת אלימלך as in the MT moves the emphasis to the latter portion of the phrase, to the fact that this portion is Elimelech family land and therefore due process is needed to find the redeemer from the family.

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