Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. in the days when the judges ruled--The beautiful and interesting
story which this book relates belongs to the early times of the judges.
The precise date cannot be ascertained.
2. Elimelech--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
Ephrathites--The ancient name of Beth-lehem was Ephrath
(Ge 35:19; 48:7),
which was continued after the occupation of the land by the Hebrews,
even down to the time of the prophet Micah
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. After
the death of their father, the two sons married Moabite women. This was
a violation of the Mosaic law
(De 7:3; 23:3;
and Jewish writers say that the early deaths of both the young men were
divine judgments inflicted on them for those unlawful connections.
6, 7. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, that she might return
from the country of Moab--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.
8. Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, 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
the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead--that is,
with my sons, your husbands, while they lived.
9. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest--enjoy a life of
tranquillity, 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.
11. are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your
husbands?--This alludes to the ancient custom
afterwards expressly sanctioned by the law of Moses
which required a younger son to marry the widow of his deceased
12, 13. 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
afterwards regret; and, third, because the sincerity and strength of
their conversion to the true religion, which she had taught them, would
be thoroughly tested.
13. the hand of the Lord is gone out against me--that is, 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 gods. But Ruth clave unto her; 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
19-22. 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.
22. in the beginning of barley harvest--corresponding to the end
of our March.