Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV

This short history fitly follows the book of Judges, the events related therein happening in the time of the Judges. It was probably wrote by Samuel. The design of it is,

  1. To lead us to Providence, acknowledging God in all our ways;
  2. To lead to Christ, who descended from Ruth, and part of whose genealogy concludes the book.

Chapter I

Naomi removes to Moab, ver. 1, 2. Her husband and sons die, ver. 3 - 5. Designing to return to Bethlehem, she addresses her daughters - in - law, ver. 6 - 13. Orpah stays, but Ruth returns with her, ver. 14 - 18. They came to Bethlehem, ver. 19 - 22.

1 In the land - Of Canaan. It must be early: for Boaz was born of Rahab. So Christ descended from two Gentile mothers.
2 Ephrathites - Bethlehem was otherwise called Ephratha. Naomi signifies my amiable or pleasant one: Mahlon and Chilon signify sickness and consumption. Probably they were sickly children, and not likely to be long - lived. Such are the products of our pleasant things, weak and infirm, fading and dying.
4 Took wives - Either these were Proselytes when they married them, or they sinned in marrying them, and therefore were punished with short life, and want of issue.
5 Was left of her two sons, and her husband - Loss of children and widowhood are both come upon her. By whom shall she be comforted? It is God alone that is able to comfort those who are thus cast down.
6 Bread - That is, food; so she staid no longer there than necessity forced her.
8 Mother's house - Because daughters used to converse more frequently with their mothers, and to dwell in the same apartments with them, which then were distinct from those parts of the house where the men dwelt. The dead - With my sons, your husbands, while they lived.
11 Your husbands - According to the ancient custom, Gen 38:8, and the express law of God, Deut 25:5, which doubtless she had acquainted them with before, among other branches of the Jewish religion.
13 It grieveth me - That you are left without the comfort of husbands or children; that I must part with such affectionate daughters; and that my circumstances are such, that I cannot invite you to go alone with me. For her condition was so mean at this time, that Ruth, when she came to her mother's city, was forced to glean for a living. It is with me, that God has a controversy. This language becomes us, when we are under affliction; tho' many others share in the trouble, yet we are to hear the voice of the rod, as if it spake only to us. But did not she wish to bring them to the worship of the God of Israel? Undoubtedly she did. But she would have them first consider upon what terms, lest having set their hand to the plow, they should look back.
14 Kissed - Departed from her with a kiss. Bade her farewell for ever. She loved Naomi, but she did not love her so well, as to quit her country for her sake. Thus many have a value for Christ, and yet come short of salvation by him, because they cannot find in their hearts, to forsake other things for him. They love him, and yet leave him, because they do not love him enough, but love other things better.
15 To her gods - Those that forsake the communion of saints, will certainly break off their communion with God. This she saith, to try Ruth's sincerity and constancy, and that she might intimate to her, that if she went with her, she must embrace the true religion.
17 There will I be buried - Not desiring to have so much as her dead body carried back into the land of Moab: but Naomi and she having joined souls, she desires they may mingle dust, in hopes of rising together, and remaining together for ever.
18 Left speaking unto her - See the power of resolution! Those who are half - resolved, are like a door a - jar, which invites a thief. But resolution shuts and bolts he door, and then the devil flees from us.
19 Is this - Is this she that formerly lived in so much plenty and honour? How marvelously is her condition changed?
20 Naomi - Which signifies pleasant, and chearful. Mara - Which signifies bitter or sorrowful.
21 Full - With my husband and sons, and a plentiful estate for our support. Testified - That is, hath borne witness, as it were, in judgment, and given sentence against me.

Chapter II

Providence directs Ruth to glean in Boaz's field, ver. 1 - 3. The favour which Boaz shewed her, ver. 4 - 16. Her return to Naomi, ver. 17 - 23.

2 Glean - Which was permitted to the poor, and the stranger, Deut 24:19, nor was she ashamed to confess her poverty, nor would she eat the bread of idleness. In whose sight - For though it was their duty to permit this, yet she thought it might perhaps be denied her; at least, that it became her modestly and humbly to acknowledge their kindness herein.
3 Her hap - It was a chance in reference to second causes, but ordered by God's providence. God wisely orders small events, even those that seem altogether contingent. Many a great affair is brought about by a little turn, fortuitous as to men, but designed by God.
4 Said, &c - They expressed their piety, even in their civil conversation, and worldly transactions; which now so many are ashamed of.
7 I pray - She did not boldly intrude herself, but modestly ask leave of us. 'Till now - She is not retired through idleness, for she hath been diligent and constant in her labours. The house - In the little house or tent, which was set up in the fields at these times, and was necessary in those hot countries, where the labourers might retire for a little repose or repast. Being weary with her continued labours, she comes hither to take a little rest.
8 Maidens - Not by the young men, to avoid both occasion of sin, and matter of scandal. Herein he shews his piety and prudence.
9 Touch - So as to offer any incivility or injury to thee.
10 Fell - This was the humblest posture of reverence, either civil when performed to men, or religious, when to God. Take knowledge - That is, shew any respect and kindness to me.
12 Wings - That is, protection and care. An allusion either to hens, which protect and cherish their young ones under their wings; or to the wings of the Cherubim, between which God dwelt.
13 Tho' I be not - I humbly implore the continuance of thy good opinion of me, though I do not deserve it, being a person more mean, necessitous, and, obscure, a stranger, and one born of heathen parents, and not of the holy and honourable people of Israel, as they are.
14 She sat - Not with or among them, but at some little distance from them, as one inferior to them. It is no disparagement to the finest hand, to be reached forth to the needy.
17 An Ephah - About a bushel.
18 Reserved - At dinner, after she had eaten and was sufficed, or satisfied.
19 Where hast thou gleaned to - day? - It is a good question to ask ourselves in the evening, "Where have I gleaned to - day?" What improvements have I made in grace or knowledge? What have I learned or done, which will turn to account?
20 To the dead - That is, which he formerly shewed to those who are now dead, my husband and his sons whilst they were living, and now continues to us.
21 Harvest - Both barley - harvest, and wheat - harvest. She tells what kindness Boaz had shewed her; but not, how he had commended her. Humility teaches not only not to praise ourselves, but not to be forward in repeating the praise which others have given us.
22 Other field - Whereby thou wilt both expose thyself to many inconveniences, which thou mayst expect from strangers; and incur his displeasure, as if thou didst despise his kindness.

Chapter III

The directions Naomi gives to Ruth, ver. 1 - 5. Her punctual observance of them, ver. 6, 7. The honourable treatment which Boaz gave her, ver. 8 - 15. Her return to Naomi, ver. 16 - 18.

1 Rest - A life of rest, and comfort, and safety, under the care of a good husband.
2 Threshing - floor - Which was in a place covered at the top, but open elsewhere, whither Ruth might easily come. And this work of winnowing corn was usually ended with a feast.
3 Raiment - Thy best raiment. Known - In so familiar a way, as thou mayest do hereafter.
4 Uncover his feet - Remove the clothes that were upon his feet; thereby to awaken him. Will tell thee - What course thou shalt take to obtain that marriage which belongs unto thee.
8 At midnight - He did not discover her sooner.
9 Spread thy Skirt - That is, take me to be thy wife, and perform the duty of an husband to me.
10 Shewed kindness - Both to thy deceased husband, the continuance of whose name and memory thou seekest; and to thy mother - in - law, whose commands thou hast punctually obeyed. Followedst not - To seek thy marriage here, or in thy own country, as thou wouldst have done if thou hadst not preferred obedience to God's command, before pleasing thyself.
13 Perform, &c. - Take thee to wife, to raise up seed to his brother. Bishop Hall sums up the matter thus. "Boaz, instead of touching her as a wanton, blesseth her as a father, encourages her as a friend, promises her as a kinsman, rewards her as a patron, and sends her away laden with hopes and gifts, no less chast, but more happy than she came. O admirable temperance, worthy the progenitor of him, in whose lips and heart there was no guile!"
14 Let it not, &c. - He takes care to preserve not only his conscience towards God, but his reputation, and hers also, among men.
15 Veil - Or, the apron.
16 Who art thou? - This is not a question of doubting, but of wonder, as if she had said, Art thou in very deed my daughter? I can hardly believe it. How camest thou hither in this manner, and thus early?

Chapter IV

The next kinsman refuses to marry Ruth, ver. 1 - 8. Boaz marries her, ver. 9 - 12. Their issue, ver. 13 - 22.

2 Ten men - To be witnesses: for though two or three witnesses were sufficient, yet in weightier matters they used more. And ten was the usual number among the Jews, in causes of matrimony and divorce, and translation of inheritances; who were both judges of the causes, and witnesses of the fact.
3 Naomi - Both Naomi and Ruth had an interest in this land during their lives, but he mentions only Naomi, because all was done by her direction; lest the mention of Ruth should raise a suspicion of the necessity of his marrying Ruth, before he had given his answer to the first proposition.
5 Buy it - According to the law, Deut 25:5. To raise, &c - To revive his name, which was buried with his body, by raising up a seed to him, to be called by his name.
6 Mar - Either because having no children of his own, he might have one, and but one son by Ruth, who, though he should carry away his inheritance, yet would not bear his name, but the name of Ruth's husband; and so by preserving another man's name, he should lose his own. Or, because as his inheritance would be but very little increased by this marriage, so it might be much diminished by being divided amongst his many children, which he possibly had already, and might probably have more by Ruth. My right - Which I freely resign to thee.
7 All things - That is, in all alienation of lands. So that it is no wonder if this ceremony differ a little from that, Deut 25:9, because that concerned only one case, but this is more general. Besides, he pleads not the command of God, but only ancient custom, for this practice. Gave it - He who relinquished his right to another, plucked off his own shoe and gave it to him. This was symbolical, and a significant and convenient ceremony, as if he said, take this shoe wherewith I used to go and tread upon my land, and in that shoe do thou enter upon it, and take possession of it. This was a testimony - This was admitted for sufficient evidence in all such cases.
10 From the gate - That is, from among the inhabitants dwelling within the gate of this city, which was Bethlehem - judah.
11 Rachel and Leah - Amiable and fruitful. These two are singled out, because they were of a foreign original, and yet ingrafted into God's people, as Ruth was; and because of that fertility which God vouchsafed unto them above their predecessors, Sarah and Rebecca. Rachel is placed before Leah, because she was his most lawful, and best - beloved wife. Did build - That is, increase the posterity. Ephratah and Bethlehem - Two names of one and the same place.
12 Pharez - As honourable and numerous as his family was; whom, though be also was born of a stranger, God so blessed, that his family was one of the five families to which all the tribe of Judah belonged, and the progenitor of the inhabitants of this city.
13 Took Ruth - Which he might do, though she was a Moabite, because the prohibition against marrying such, is to be restrained to those who continue Heathens; whereas Ruth was a sincere proselyte and convert to the God of Israel. Thus he that forsakes all for Christ, shall find more than all with him.
14 Which hath not, &c. - The words may be rendered, Which hath not made, or suffered thy kinsman to fail thee; that is, to refuse the performances of his duty to thee and thine, as the other kinsman did. Famous - Heb. and his name shall be famous in Israel, for this noble and worthy action.
15 Thy life - That is, of the comfort of thy life. Born him - Or, hath born to him; that is, to thy kinsman a son. Better than seven sons - See how God sometimes makes up the want of those relations from whom we expected most comfort, in those from whom we expected least! The bonds of love prove stronger than those of nature.
17 A name - That is, they gave her advice about his name; for otherwise they had no power or right to do so. Obed - A servant, to thee, to nourish, and comfort, and assist thee; which duty children owe to their progenitors.