Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled,
&c.] So that it appears that this history is of time and things after the affair of Micah, and of the concubine of the Levite, and of the war between Israel and Benjamin; for in those times there was no king nor judge in Israel; but to what time of the judges, and which government of theirs it belongs to, is not agreed on. Josephus F15 places it in the government of Eli, but that is too late for Boaz, the grandfather of Jesse, the father of David, to live. Some Jewish writers, as Jarchi, say it was in the times of Ibzan, who they say F16 is the same with Boaz, but without proof, and which times are too late also for this history. The Jewish chronology F17 comes nearer the truth, which carries it up as high as the times of Eglon, king of Moab, when Ehud was judge; and with which Dr. Lightfoot F18 pretty much agrees, who puts this history between the third and fourth chapters of Judges, and so must belong to the times of Ehud or Shamgar. Junius refers it to the times of Deborah and Barak; and others F19, on account of the famine, think it began in the times the Midianites oppressed Israel, and carried off the fruits of the earth, which caused it, when Gideon was raised up to be their judge; Alting F20 places it in the time of Jephthah; such is the uncertainty about the time referred to:
that there was a famine in the land;
the land of Canaan, that very fruitful country. The Targum says this was the sixth famine that had been in the world, and it was in the days of Boaz, who is called Ibzan the just, and who was of Bethlehemjudah; but it is more probable that it was in the days of Gideon, as before observed, than in the days of Ibzan
and a certain man of Bethlehemjudah;
so called to distinguish it from another Bethlehem in the tribe of Zebulun, ( Joshua 19:15 ) which had its name from the fruitfulness of the place, and the plenty of bread in it, and yet the famine was here; hence this man with his family removed from it:
and went to sojourn in the country of Moab;
where there was plenty; not to dwell there, but to sojourn for a time, until the famine was over:
he and his wife, and his two sons;
the names of each of them are next given.
F15 Antiqu. l. 5. c. 9. sect. 1.
F16 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 91. 1. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 8. 2. Jarchi & Abendana in loc.
F17 Seder Olam Rabba, c. 12. p. 33.
F18 Works, vol. 1. p. 48.
F19 Rambachius in loc. & Majus in ib. so Biship Patrick. Lampe Hist. Eccl. l. 1. c. 5. p. 22.
F20 Theolog. Hist. loc. 2. p. 84.