Ruth 1:1-5 . ELIMELECH, DRIVEN BY FAMINE INTO MOAB, DIES THERE.
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 king."
Naomi--"fair or pleasant"; and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, are supposed to be the same as Joash and Saraph ( 1 Chronicles 4:22 ).
Ephrathites--The ancient name of Beth-lehem was Ephrath ( Genesis 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 ( Micah 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 ( Deuteronomy 7:3 , 23:3 , Ezra 9:2 , Nehemiah 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.
Ruth 1:6-18 . NAOMI RETURNING HOME, RUTH ACCOMPANIES HER.
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 they lived.
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 peculiarly exposed.
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 ( Genesis 38:26 ) afterwards expressly sanctioned by the law of Moses ( Deuteronomy 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].
Ruth 1:19-22 . THEY COME TO BETH-LEHEM.
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 departure.
22. in the beginning of barley harvest--corresponding to the end of our March.