Ruth 1



-Year before the common year of Christ, 1186.

-Year from the Flood, 1162.

-Year before the first Olympiad, 410.

-Creation from Tisri, or September, 2818.

-This chronology is upon the supposition that Obed was forty

years of age at the birth of Jesse; and Jesse, fifty at the

birth of David.


Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and

Chilion, flee from a famine in the land of Israel, and go

to sojourn tn Moab, 1, 2.

Here his two sons marry; and, in the space of ten years, both

their father and they die, 3-6.

Naomi sets out on her return to her own country, accompanied by

her daughters-in-law Orpah and Ruth; whom she endeavours to

persuade to return to their own people, 7-13.

Orpah returns, but Ruth accompanies her mother-in-law, 14-18.

They arrive at Beth-lehem in the time of the barley harvest,



Verse 1. When the judges ruled] We know not under what judge

this happened; some say under Ehud, others under Shamgar. See the


There was a famine] Probably occasioned by the depredations of

the Philistines, Ammonites, &c., carrying off the corn as soon as

it was ripe, or destroying it on the field.

The Targum says: "God has decreed ten grievous famines to take

place in the world, to punish the inhabitants of the earth, before

the coming of Messiah the king. The first in the days of Adam; the

second in the days of Lamech; the third in the days of Abraham;

the fourth in the days of Isaac; the fifth in the days of Jacob;

the sixth in the days of Boaz, who is called Abstan, (Ibzan,) the

just, of Beth-lehem-judah; the seventh in the days of David, king

of Israel; the eighth in the days of Elijah the prophet; the ninth

in the days of Elisha, in Samaria; the tenth is yet to come, and

it is not a famine of bread or of water but of hearing the word of

prophecy from the mouth of the Lord; and even now this famine is

grievous in the land of Israel."

Verse 2. Elimelech] That is, God is my king.

Naomi] Beautiful or amiable.

Mahlon] Infirmity.

Chilion] Finished, completed.

Verse 3. Elimelech-died] Probably a short time after his arrival

in Moab.

Verse 4. And they took them wives] The Targum very properly

observes, that they transgressed the decree of the word of the

Lord, and took to themselves strange women.

Verse 5. And Mahlon and Chilion died] The Targum adds, And

because they transgressed the decree of the word of the Lord, and

joined affinity with strange people, therefore their days were cut

off. It is very likely that there is more here than conjecture.

Verse 6. She had heard] By the mouth of an angel, says the


The Lord had visited his people] "Because of the righteousness

of Ibzan the judge, and because of the supplications of pious


It is imagined, and not without probability, that Mahlon and

Chilion are the same with Joash and Saraph, mentioned 1Ch 4:22,

where the Hebrew should be thus translated, and Joash and Saraph,

who married in Moab, and dwelt in Lehem. See the Hebrew.

Verse 11. Are there yet any more sons] This was spoken in

allusion to the custom, that when a married brother died without

leaving posterity, his brother should take his widow; and the

children of such a marriage were accounted the children of the

deceased brother. There is something very persuasive and affecting

in the address of Naomi to her daughters-in-law. Let us observe

the particulars:-

1. She intimates that she had no other sons to give them.

2. That she was not with child; so there could be no


3. That she was too old to have a husband.

4. That though she should marry that night, and have children,

yet they could not wait till such sons were marriageable; she

therefore begs them to return to their own country where they

might be comfortably settled among their own kindred.

Verse 14. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law] The Septuagint

add, καιεπεστρεψενειςτονλαοναυτης, And returned to her own

people. The Vulgate, Syrian, and Arabic, are to the same purpose.

Verse 15. Gone back-unto her gods] They were probably both

idolaters, their having been proselytes is an unfounded

conjecture. Chemosh was the grand idol of the Moabites. The

conversion of Ruth probably commenced at this time.

Verse 16. And Ruth said] A more perfect surrender was never made

of friendly feelings to a friend: I will not leave thee-I will

follow thee: I will lodge where thou lodgest-take the same fare

with which thou meetest; thy people shall be my people-I most

cheerfully abandon my own country, and determine to end my days in

thine. I will also henceforth have no god but thy God, and be

joined with thee in worship, as I am in affection and

consanguinity. I will cleave unto thee even unto death; die where

thou diest; and be buried, if possible, in the same grave. This

was a most extraordinary attachment, and evidently without any

secular motive.

The Targum adds several things to this conversation between

Naomi and Ruth. I shall subjoin them: "And Ruth said, Entreat me

not to leave thee," for I desire to become a proselyte. And Naomi

said, We are commanded to keep the Sabbath and other holy days;

and on it not to travel more than two thousand cubits. And Ruth

said, "Whither thou goest, I will go." And Naomi said, We are

commanded not to lodge with the Gentiles. Ruth answered, "Where

thou lodgest, I will lodge." And Naomi said, We are commanded to

observe the one hundred and thirteen precepts. Ruth answered, What

thy people observe, that will I observe; as if they had been my

people of old. And Naomi said, We are commanded not to worship

with any strange worship. Ruth answered, "Thy God shall be my

God." Naomi said, We have four kinds of capital punishment for

criminals; stoning, burning, beheading, and hanging. Ruth

answered, "In whatsoever manner thou diest, I will die." Naomi

said, We have a house of burial. Ruth answered, "And there will I

be buried."

It is very likely that some such conversation as this took place

between the elders and those who were becoming proselytes. This

verse is famous among those who strive to divine by the Bible. I

should relate the particulars, but am afraid they might lead to a

continuance of the practice. In my youth I have seen it done, and

was then terrified.

Verse 17. The Lord do so to me, and more] May he inflict any of

those punishments on me, and any worse punishment, if I part from

thee till death. And it appears that she was true to her

engagement; for Naomi was nourished in the house of Boaz in her

old age, and became the fosterer and nurse of their son Obed,

Ru 4:15, 16.

Verse 19. All the city was moved about them] It appears that

Naomi was not only well known, but highly respected also at

Bethlehem; a proof that Elimelech was of high consideration in

that place.

Verse 20. Call me not Naomi] That is, beautiful or pleasant.

Call me Mara] That is, bitter; one whose life is grievous to


The Almighty] Shaddai, He who is self-sufficient, has

taken away the props and supports of my life.

Verse 21. I went out full] Having a husband and two sons.

The Lord hath brought me home again empty] Having lost all three

by death. It is also likely that Elimelech took considerable

property with him into the land of Moab; for as he fled from the

face of the famine, he would naturally take his property with him;

and on this Naomi subsisted till her return to Bethlehem, which

she might not have thought of till all was spent.

Verse 22. In the beginning of barley harvest.] This was in the

beginning of spring, for the barley harvest began immediately

after the passover, and that feast was held on the 15th of the

month Nisan, which corresponds nearly with our March.

The Targum says, "They came to Beth-lehem on that day in which

the children of Israel began to mow the sheaf of barley which was

to be waved before the Lord." This circumstance is the more

distinctly marked, because of Ruth's gleaning, mentioned in the

succeeding chapter.

1. THE native, the amiable simplicity, in which the story of the

preceding chapter is told, is a proof of its genuineness. There

are several sympathetic circumstances recorded here which no

forger could have invented. There is too much of nature to admit

any thing of art.

2. On the marriage of Orpah and Ruth, and the wish of Naomi that

they might find rest in the house of their husbands, there are

some pious and sensible observations in Mr. NESS'S History and

Mystery of the Book of Ruth, from which I shall lay the following

extract before my readers:-

"A married estate is a state of rest; so it is called here, and

in Ru 3:1. Hence marriage is called

portus juventutis, the port or haven of young people; whose

affections, while unmarried, are continually floating or tossed to

and fro, like a ship upon the waters, till they come into this

happy harbour. There is a natural propension in most persons

towards nuptial communion, as all created beings have a natural

tendency towards their proper centre, (leve sursum, et grave

deorsum,) and are restless out of it, so the rabbins say, Requiret

vir costam suam, et requiret femina sedem suam, 'The man is

restless while he misses his rib that was taken out of his side;

and the woman is restless till she get under the man's arm, from

whence she was taken.' O! look up to God then, ye unmarried ones,

and cry with good Naomi, The Lord grant me rest for my roving

affections in the house of some good consort, that I may live in

peace and plenty, with content and comfort all my days. Know that

your marriage is, of all your civil affairs, of the greatest

importance, having an influence upon your whole life. It is either

your making or marring in this world; 'tis like a stratagem in

war, wherein a miscarriage cannot be recalled when we will, for we

marry for life. I am thine, and thou art mine, brevis quidem

cantiuncula est, 'is a short song;' sed longum habet epiphonema,

'but it hath a long undersong.' So an error here is irrecoverable;

you have need of Argus's hundred eyes to look withal before you

leap." This is good advice; but who among the persons concerned

will have grace enough to take it?

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