Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

Ruth 1



A famine in Canaan. Elimelech removes to Moab; with Naomi his wife, and his two sons, who marry Orpah and Ruth there; and die, Ruth 1:1-5.

Naomi returns to Judah; her daughters-in-law accompany her on her way, Ruth 1:6-13.

Orpah returns home to her people and gods; Ruth remains, being converted, Ruth 1:14-18.

They come to Beth-lehem, Ruth 1:19-22.

Verse 1

In the days when the judges ruled; which is noted as the cause of the following famine, because in much of that time they were guilty of great defection from God. But under which of the judges this happened, Scripture being silent, it seems presumptuous to determine; nor is it necessary to know. What is said about this matter from the genealogy, mentioned Ruth 1:18, &c., it will be most proper to consider it there.

In the land, or, in that land, to wit, of Canaan.

The country of Moab; a fruitful land beyond Jordan, eastward.

Verse 2

Ephrathites; so called, because this Beth-lehem is otherwise called Ephrath or Ephratah, Genesis 35:19; Micah 5:2; either from Caleb’s wife of that name, 1 Chronicles 2:19; 1 Chronicles 4:4, or from the fertility of the soil about it; which title may therefore be used here, to show the greatness of the famine, which affected even fertile parts.

Of Bethlehem-Judah: See Poole "Judges 17:7".

Continued there, to wit, during the famine.

Verse 4

Of the women of Moab; either these were proselytes when they married them, which may well be doubted, from Ruth 1:15, or they sinned in marrying them, as appears from Deuteronomy 7:3; Deuteronomy 23:3; Ezra 9:1,Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 13:23, and therefore were punished with short life and want of issue, Ruth 1:5,Ruth 1:19,Ruth 1:21.

About ten years; as long as the famine lasted.

Verse 6

i.e. Food; so she staid no longer than necessity forced her.

Verse 8

Each to her mother’s house; not that they wanted fathers, Ruth 2:11, but because daughters used to converse more frequently with their mothers, and to be most endeared to them, and to dwell in the same apartments with them, which then were distinct from those parts of the house where the men dwelt.

With the dead; with my sons, your husbands, whilst they lived.

Verse 9

Rest, i.e. a quiet and happy life, free from those cares, vexations, encumbrances, and troubles which widows are in a special manner exposed unto.

She kissed them, as the manner there was when friends parted.

Verse 11

According to the ancient custom, Genesis 38:0, and the express law of God, Deuteronomy 25:5, which doubtless she had acquainted them with before, among other branches of the Jewish religion, wherein she did instruct them.

Verse 12

Go your way.

Quest. Why doth she dissuade them from this journey, and not rather persuade them to go with her, and to embrace the Jewish religion?

Answ. 1. Possibly she thought such dissuasion might be the best way to persuade them, as it oft happens; especially in that sex.

2. She would not have them rashly and inconsiderately to embrace the Jewish religion, in hopes of some advantage from it, which she justly thought they would be disappointed of; and withal, exposed to many straits and troubles, and on that occasion revolt from the true religion, which would be far worse than never to have embraced it. And therefore she doth justly, and wisely, and piously in representing to them the truth of the business, and the outward inconveniences which would accompany the change of their place and religion; as also our blessed Lord Christ did, Matthew 8:20.

Verse 13

Would ye stay for them from having husbands? it is unreasonable for me to expect it, or for you to perform it.

For your sakes; that you are left without the comfort of husbands or children; that I must part with such dear and affectionate daughters; and that my circumstances are such that I cannot invite nor encourage you to go along with me. For her condition was so mean at this time, that Ruth, when she came to her mother’s city, was forced to glean for a living, Ruth 2:2.

Verse 14

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, i.e. departed from with a kiss, as the manner was, Genesis 31:28; 1 Kings 19:20.

Verse 15

Unto her people, and unto her gods; which she saith, partly, to try Ruth’s sincerity and constancy; partly, that by upbraiding Orpah with her idolatry she might consequently turn her from it; and partly, that she might intimate to her, that if she went with her, she must embrace the true God and religion.

Verse 16

I renounce those idols which my sister hath returned to, and I wilt worship no other God but thine, who is indeed the only true God.

Verse 19

Is this she that formerly lived in so much plenty and honour? Oh how marvellously is her condition changed, that she is returned in this forlorn and desolate condition!

Verse 20

Naomi signifies pleasant or cheerful, or amiable.

Mara signifies bitter or sorrowful.

Verse 21

Full; with my husband and sons, and a plentiful estate for our support.

Hath testified against me, i.e. hath borne witness, as it were, in judgment, and given sentence against me, and declared my sin by my punishment.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ruth 1". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.