So Naomi returned
Aben, Ezra thinks this is to be understood of her returning at another time; but it is only an observation of the writer of this history, to excite the attention of the reader to this remarkable event, and particularly to what follows:
and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter in law with her, which returned out
of the country of Moab;
to Bethlehem, the birth place of the Messiah, and who was to spring from her a Gentile; and which, that it might be the more carefully remarked, she is called a Moabitess, and said to return out of the country of Moab:
and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest;
which began on the second day of the feast of unleavened bread, on the "sixteenth" of Nisan, which answers to our March, and part of April, when they offered the sheaf of the firstfruits to the Lord, and then, and not till then, might they begin their harvest, (See Gill on Leviticus 23:10), (See Gill on Leviticus 23:14): hence the Targum here is,
``they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the day of the passover, and on that day the children of Israel began to reap the wave sheaf, which was of barley.''So the Egyptians and Phoenicians, near neighbours of the Jews, went about cutting down their barley as soon as the cuckoo was heard, which was the same time of the year; hence the comedian F14 calls that bird the king of Egypt and Phoenicia. This circumstance is observed for the sake of the following account in the next chapter.
F14 Aristoph. in Avibus, p. 565.