Elimelech, Driven by Famine into Moab, Dies
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
Naomi—"fair or pleasant"; and their
two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, are supposed to be the same as Joash and
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 (Mic 5:2).
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; Ezr 9:2; Ne 13:23); and Jewish writers say that the early
deaths of both the young men were divine judgments inflicted on them
for those unlawful connections.
Naomi Returning Home, Ruth Accompanies
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 mother.
the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt
with the dead—that is, with my sons, your husbands, while
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
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
38:26) afterwards expressly
sanctioned by the law of Moses (De 25:5), which required a younger son to marry
the widow of his deceased brother.
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 [Chalmers].
Ru 1:19-22. They Come to
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
22. in the beginning of barley
harvest—corresponding to the end of our March.