Ruth 4


Boaz gathers a council of the elders at the city gates, states

the case, and proposes to the nearest kinsman to redeem the

inheritance of Elimelech, and take Ruth to wife, 1-5.

The kinsman refuses, and relinquishes has right to Boaz, 6.

The manner of redemption in such cases, 7, 8.

Boaz redeems the inheritance in the presence of the elders, and

of the people, who witness the contract, and pray for God's

blessing upon the marriage, 9-12.

Boaz takes Ruth for wife, and she bears a son, 13.

The people's observations on the birth of the child, 14, 15.

It is given to Naomi to nurse, 16.

The neighbouring women name the child, and the book concludes

with the genealogy of David, 17-22.


Verse 1. Then went Boaz up to the gate] We have often had

occasion to remark that the gate or entrance to any city or town

was the place where the court of justice was ordinarily kept. For

an account of the officers in such places,

See Clarke on De 16:18.

Ho, such a one!-sit down here.] This familiar mode of

compellation is first used here. The original is

shebah poh, peloni almoni! "Hark ye, Mr. Such-a-one of such a

place! come and sit down here." This is used when the person of

the individual is known, and his name and residence unknown.

almoni comes from alam, to be silent or hidden, hence

the Septuagint render it by κρυφε thou unknown person:

peloni comes from palah, to sever or distinguish; you of

such a particular place. Modes of compellation of this kind are

common in all languages.

Verse 2. He took ten men] Probably it required this number to

constitute a court. How simple and how rational was this

proceeding! 1. The man who had a suit went to the city gates. 2.

Here he stopped till the person with whom he had the suit came to

the gate on his way to his work. 3. He called him by name, and he

stopped and sat down. 4. Then ten elders were called, and they

came and sat down. 5. When all this was done, the appellant

preferred his suit. 6. Then the appellee returned his answer. 7.

When the elders heard the case, and the response of the appellee,

they pronounced judgment, which judgment was always according to

the custom of the place. 8. When this was done, the people who

happened to be present witnessed the issue. And thus the business

was settled without lawyers or legal casuistry. A question of this

kind, in one of our courts of justice, in these enlightened times,

would require many days' previous preparation of the attorney, and

several hours' arguing between counsellor Botherum and counsellor

Borum, till even an enlightened and conscientious judge would

find it extremely difficult to decide whether Naomi might sell her

own land, and whether Boaz or Peloni might buy it! O,

glorious uncertainty of modern law!

Verse 3. Naomi-selleth a parcel of land] She was reduced to

want; the immediate inheritors were extinct, and it was now open

for the next heir to purchase the land, and thus preserve the

inheritance in the family according to the custom of Israel.

Verse 4. I thought to advertise thee] Both Dr. Kennicott and

Father Houbigant have noticed several corruptions in the pronouns

of this and the following verses; and their criticisms have been

confirmed by a great number of MSS. since collated. The text

corrected reads thus: "And I said I will reveal this to thy ear,

saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my

people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it; but if thou wilt not

redeem it, tell me, that I may know; for there is none to redeem

it but thou, and I who am next to thee. And he said, I will redeem

it. And Boaz said, In the day that thou redeemest the land from

the hand of Naomi, thou wilt also acquire Ruth, the wife of the

dead, that thou mayest raise up the name of the dead upon his

inheritance;" Ru 4:4, 5.-See

Kennicott's Dissertations, vol. i., p. 449; Houbigant in loco;

and the Variae Lectiones of Kennicott and De Rossi. This is

Boaz's statement of the case before the kinsman, and before the

people and the elders.

I will redeem it.] I will pay down the money which it is worth.

He knew not of the following condition.

Verse 5. Thou must buy it also of Ruth] More properly, Thou wilt

also acquire Ruth. Thou canst not get the land without taking the

wife of the deceased and then the children which thou mayest have

shall be reputed the children of Mahlon, thy deceased kinsman.

Verse 6. I cannot redeem it for myself] The Targum gives the

proper sense of this passage: "And the kinsman said, On this

ground I cannot redeem it, because I have a wife already; and I

have no desire to take another, lest there should be contention in

my house, and I should become a corrupter of my inheritance. Do

thou redeem it, for thou hast no wife; for I cannot redeem it."

This needs no comment. But still the gloss of the Targum has no

foundation in the law of Moses. See the law, De 25:5-9.

Verse 7. A man plucked off his shoe] The law of such a case is

given at large in De 25:5-9. It was simply this: If a brother,

who had married a wife, died without children, the eldest brother

was to take the widow, and raise up a family to the brother

deceased; and he had a right to redeem the inheritance, if it had

been alienated. But if the person who had the right of redemption

would not take the woman, she was to pull off his shoe and spit in

his face, and he was ever after considered as a disgraced man. In

the present case the shoe only is taken off, probably because the

circumstances of the man were such as to render it improper for

him to redeem the ground and take Ruth to his wife; and because of

this reasonable excuse, the contemptuous part of the ceremony is

omitted. See Clarke on De 25:9.

Verse 11. We are witnesses.] It is not very likely that any

writing was drawn up. There was an appeal made to the people then

present, whether they had seen and understood the transaction; who

answered, We have witnessed it. If any minutes of court were kept,

then the transaction was entered probably in some such words as

these: "On --- day of ---, Boaz bought the land of Elimelech from

Naomi his widow, and took Ruth, her daughter-in-law, to wife; ---,

who had the nearest right, refusing to buy the land on the

conditions then proposed."

The Lord make this woman-like Rachel and like Leah] May thy

family be increased by her means, as the tribes were formed by

means of Rachel and Leah, wives of the patriarch Jacob!

Which two did build the house of Israel] We have already seen

that ben, a son, comes from the root banah, he

built; and hence eben, a stone, because as a house is

built of stones, so is a family of children. There is a similar

figure in PLAUTUS, Mostell. Act i., sec. 2, ver. 37.

___________________Nunc etiam volo

Dicere, ut homines aedium esse similes arbitremini.

Primum dum parentes fabri liberum sunt,

Et fundamentum liberorum substruunt.

"I would also observe, that ye men are similar to houses; ye

parents are the fabricators of the children, and they are the

foundation of the building."

Verse 12. Like the house of Pharez] This was very appropriate;

for from Pharez, the son of Judah, by Tamar, came the family of

the Beth-lehemites and that of Elimelech.

Verse 13. So Boaz took Ruth] The law of Moses had prohibited the

Moabites, even to the tenth generation, from entering into the

congregation of the Lord; but this law, the Jews think, did not

extend to women; and even if it had, Ruth's might be considered an

exempt case, as she had been already incorporated into the family

by marriage; and left her own country, people, and gods, to become

a proselyte to the true God in the land of Israel.

Verse 16. Naomi took the child] This might do for Naomi, but it

was bad for the child. A child, unless remarkably healthy and

robust, will suffer considerably by being nursed by an old woman,

especially if the child sleep with her. The aged gain refreshment

and energy by sleeping with the young; and from the same means the

young derive premature decrepitude. The vigour which is absorbed

by the former is lost by the latter. It is a foolish and

destructive custom to permit young children, which is a common

case, to sleep with aged aunts and old grandmothers. Bacon's grand

secret of the cure of old age, couched in so many obscure and

enigmatical terms, is simply this: Let young persons sleep

constantly with those who are aged and infirm. And it was on this

principle that the physicians of David recommended a young healthy

girl to sleep with David in his old age. They well knew that the

aged infirm body of the king would absorb a considerable portion

of healthy energy from the young woman.

Verse 17. The neighbours gave it a name] That is, they

recommended a name suitable to the circumstances of the case; and

the parents and grandmother adopted it.

They called his name Obed] obed, serving, from

abad, he served. Why was this name given? Because he was to be

the nourisher of her old age, Ru 4:15. And so he must be by

lying in her bosom, even if services in future life were wholly

left out of the question. These neighbours of Naomi were skilful

people. See on Ru 4:16. Other meanings, of which I am not

ignorant, have been derived from these words; those who prefer

them have my consent.

He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.] And for the

sake of this conclusion, to ascertain the line of David, and in

the counsel of God to fix and ascertain the line of the Messiah

was this instructive little book written.

Verse 18. Now these are the generations] The Targum gives a

copious paraphrase on this and the following verses, I shall

insert the principal parts in their proper places.

Verse 19. Hezron begat Ram] He is called Aram here by the

Septuagint, and also by St. Matthew, Mt 1:3.

Verse 20. Amminadab begat Nahshon] The Targum adds, "And Nahshon

was chief of the house of his father in the tribe of Judah."

Nahshon begat Salmon] In the Hebrew it is Salmah, which

Houbigant thinks was an error of an ancient scribe, before any

final letters were acknowledged in the Hebrew alphabet: for then

the word would be written Salmon, which a scribe, after

final letters were admitted, might mistake for Salmah, and so

write it, instead of Salmon, the vau and

final nun in conjunction () bearing some resemblance to .

The Targum calls him "Salmah the Just; he was the Salmah of

Beth-lehem and Netopha, whose sons abolished the watches which

Jeroboam set over the highways; and their works and the works of

their father were good in Netopha."

Verse 21. And Salmon begat Boaz] The Targum goes on, "And Salmon

begat Absan the judge; he is Boaz the Just, on account of whose

righteousness the people of the house of Israel were redeemed from

the hands of their enemies; and at whose supplication the famine

departed from the land of Israel."

And Boaz begat Obed] "Who served the Lord in this world with a

perfect heart."

Verse 22. And Obed begat Jesse] "Who," says the Targum, "also is

called Nachash, because neither iniquity nor corruption was

found in him, that he should be delivered into the hands of the

angel of death, that he might take away his soul from him. And he

lived many days until the counsel was remembered before the Lord,

that the serpent gave to Eve the wife of Adam, that she should eat

of the tree; by eating of the fruit of which they became wise, to

distinguish between good and evil: and by that counsel all the

inhabitants of the earth became guilty of death; and by this

iniquity Jesse the Just died." Here is no mean or indistinct

reference to the doctrine of original sin: and it shows us, at

least, what the very ancient rabbins thought on the subject. I

should observe that these additions are taken from the London

Polyglot; they are not found in that of Antwerp; but they are the

same that appear in the Targum of the great Bible printed by

Bomberg, at Venice, in 1547-49.

And Jesse begat David] To this no comment is added by the

Targumist, as the history of this king is found in the following


The ten persons whose genealogy is recorded in the five last

verses, may be found, with a trifling change of name, in the

genealogical list in Mt 1:3-6, as forming important links in the

line of the Messiah. To introduce this appears to have been the

principal object of the writer, as introductory to the following

books, where the history of David, the regal progenitor and type

of the Messiah, is so particularly detailed.

FOR the account of the birth of Pharez and his brother Zarah,

the reader is requested to refer to Ge 38:12-30, and to the notes

there; and for several particulars in the genealogy itself, to the

notes on Mt 1:1-16 and Lu 3:23-38, where the wisdom, goodness,

and providence of God, in the preservation of this line, are

particularly noticed.


Number of verses in Ruth is 85.

Middle verse is Ru 2:21.

We have already seen that Archbishop Usher places the event

mentioned here in A.M. 2686, about one hundred years after the

conquest of Canaan.

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