Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Ruth 1

Verse 1

Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.

Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled. In the use of this formula the sacred writer has respect to the unwritten history of the transactions with which this episode is connected; whereas in Joshua it refers to the previous record of Moses. The beautiful and interesting story which this book relates belongs to the early times of the judges. The precise date cannot be ascertained.

Verse 2

And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

Elimalech - signifies 'My God is king.'

Naomi - fair or pleasant; and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, are supposed to be the same as Joash and Saraph (1 Chronicles 4:22).

Ephrathites. The ancient name of Beth-lehem was Ephrath (Genesis 35:19; Genesis 47:7), which was continued after the occupation of the land by the Hebrews, even down to the time of the prophet Micah (Micah 5:2).

Beth-lehem-judah - so called to distinguish it from a town of the same name in Zebulun. The family, compelled to emigrate to Moab through pressure of a famine, settled for several years in that country; and after the death of their father, the two sons married Moabite women. This was a violation of the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 7:3; Deuteronomy 23:3; Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 13:23); and Jewish writers say that the early deaths of both the young men were divine judgments inflicted on them for those unlawful connections.

Verses 3-5

And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 6

Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law. The aged widow, longing to enjoy the privileges of Israel, resolved to return to her native land as soon as she was assured that the famine had ceased, and made the necessary arrangements with her daughters-in-law.

Verse 7

Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 8

And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.

Go, return each to her mother's house. In Eastern countries women occupy apartments separate from those of men, and daughters are most frequently in those of their mother.

With the dead - i:e., with my sons, your husbands, while they lived.

Verse 9

The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

The Lord grant you that ye may find rest - enjoy a life of tranquility undisturbed by the cares, incumbrances, and vexatious troubles to which a state of widowhood is peculiarly exposed.

Then she kissed them - the Oriental manner when friends are parting.

Verse 10

And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?

Are there yet any more sons ... This alludes to the ancient custom (Genesis 38:26), afterward expressly sanctioned by the law of Moses (Deuteronomy 25:5), which required a younger son to marry the widow of his deceased brother.

Verse 12

Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;

Turn again, my daughters, go your way. That Naomi should dissuade her daughters-in-law so strongly from accompanying her to the land of Israel may appear strange. But it was the wisest and most prudent course for her to adopt: First, because they might be influenced by hopes which could not be realized; Second, because they might be led, under temporary excitement, to take a step they might afterward regret; and third, because the sincerity and strength of their conversion to the true religion, which she had taught them, would be thoroughly tested.

Verse 13

Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.

The hand of the Lord is gone out against me - i:e., I am not only not in a condition to provide you with other husbands, but so reduced in circumstances that I cannot think of your being subjected to privations with me. The arguments of Naomi prevailed with Orpah, who returned to her people and her [ 'ªlohiym (H430)], gods. But Ruth was clinging to her, and said, 'Thy God shall be my God.' These expressions of Ruth, are as much plural as that of Naomi in the preceding verse; and yet our translators have very properly rendered them in the singular, "God." The language indicates the most devoted affection; and even in the pages of Sterne, that great master of pathos, there is nothing which so calls forth the sensibilities of the reader as the simple effusion he has borrowed from Scripture-of Ruth to her mother-in-law (Chalmers). The name Ruth was a Moabite name Hebraicized; or perhaps, as some suppose, that Moabites may, in consequence of their descent from Lot, have spoken a Hebrew dialect.

Verses 14-18

And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 19

So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?

All the city was moved about them - the present condition of Naomi, a forlorn and desolate widow, presented so painful a contrast to the flourishing state of prosperity and domestic bliss in which she had been at her departure.

Verse 20

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

Mara - bitter, bitterness (see the note at Exodus 15:23).

Verse 21

I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

The Almighty, [ Shaday (H7706)]. This name of God was employed in the early after the flood, as we find it in Genesis 49:25, in Numbers 1:6, and in Job very frequently. But there are not many instances in the sacred books after the time of Moses and their fewness (amounting only to four, Psalms 68:14; Psalms 91:1; Isaiah 13:6; Joel 1:15) show that it was in familiar use. When employed, it was only for the sake of a special significancy felt to belong to it (Kidd 'On the Divine Names').

Verse 22

So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

In the beginning of barley harvest - corresponding to the end of our April.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ruth 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.