Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Then went Boaz up to the gate of the city--a roofed building,
unenclosed by walls; the place where, in ancient times, and in many
Eastern towns still, all business transactions are made, and where,
therefore, the kinsman was most likely to be found. No preliminaries
were necessary in summoning one before the public assemblage; no
writings and no delay were required. In a short conversation the matter
was stated and arranged--probably in the morning as people went out, or
at noon when they returned from the field.
2. he took ten men of the elders of the city--as witnesses. In ordinary
circumstances, two or three were sufficient to attest a bargain; but in
cases of importance, such as matrimony, divorce, conveyancing of
property, it was the Jewish practice to have ten
3. Naomi . . . selleth a parcel of land--that is, entertains the idea
of selling. In her circumstances she was at liberty to part with it
Both Naomi and Ruth had an interest in the land during their lives; but
Naomi alone was mentioned, not only because she directed all the
negotiations, but because the introduction of Ruth's name would awaken
a suspicion of the necessity of marrying her, before the first
proposition was answered.
4. there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after
The redemption of the land of course involved a marriage with Ruth, the
widow of the former owner.
6. The kinsman said, I cannot redeem it . . ., lest I mar mine own
inheritance--This consequence would follow, either, first, from his
having a son by Ruth, who, though heir to the property, would not bear
his name; his name would be extinguished in that of her former husband;
or, secondly, from its having to be subdivided among his other
children, which he had probably by a previous marriage. This right,
therefore, was renounced and assigned in favor of Boaz, in the way of
whose marriage with Ruth the only existing obstacle was now removed.
7, 8. a man plucked off his shoe--Where the kinsman refused to perform
his duty to the family of his deceased relation, the widow was directed
to pull off the shoe with some attendant circumstances of contemptuous
disdain. But, as in this case, there was no refusal, the usual ignominy
was spared; and the plucking off the shoe, the only ceremony observed,
was a pledge of the transaction being completed.
9. Boaz said unto the elders, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have
bought all that was . . . Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of
Naomi--Although the widow of Chilion was still living, no regard was
paid to her in the disposal of her husband's property. From her
remaining in Moab, she was considered to have either been married
again, or to have renounced all right to an inheritance with the family
10. Ruth the Moabitess . . . have I purchased to be my wife--This
connection Boaz not only might form, since Ruth had embraced the true
religion, but he was under a legal necessity of forming it.
11. all the people and the elders, said, We are witnesses--A multitude,
doubtless from curiosity or interest, were present on the occasion.
There was no signing of deeds; yet was the transfer made, and complete
security given, by the public manner in which the whole matter was
carried on and concluded.
the Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and
like Leah--This was the usual bridal benediction.
12. let thy house be like the house of Pharez--that is, as honorable
and numerous as his. He was the ancestor of the Beth-lehem people, and
his family one of the five from which the tribe of Judah sprang.
17. Obed--means "servant."
18-22. these are the generations of Pharez--that is, his descendants.
This appendix shows that the special object contemplated by the
inspired author of this little book was to preserve the memory of an
interesting domestic episode, and to trace the genealogy of David.
There was an interval of three hundred eighty years between Salmon and
David. It is evident that whole generations are omitted; the leading
personages only are named, and grandfathers are said, in Scripture
language, to beget their grandchildren, without specifying the