Ruth 1

Naomi's Family in Moab

1 During the time[a] of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem[b] in Judah with his wife and two sons to live in the land of Moab for a while.
2 The man's name was Elimelech,[c] and his wife's name was Naomi.[d] The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites[e] from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the land of Moab and [settled] there.
3 Naomi's husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons.
4 Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about 10 years,
5 both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband.

Ruth's Loyalty to Naomi

6 She and her daughters-in-law prepared to leave the land of Moab, because she had heard in Moab that the Lord had paid attention to His people's [need] by providing them food.
7 She left the place where she had been living, accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, and traveled along the road leading back to the land of Judah.
8 She said to them, "Each of you go back to your mother's home.[f] May the Lord show faithful love to you as you have shown to the dead and to me.
9 May the Lord enable each of you to find security[g] in the house of your [new] husband." She kissed them, and they wept loudly.
10 "No," they said to her. "We will go with you to your people."
11 But Naomi replied, "Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons[h] who could become your husbands?
12 Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was [still] hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons,
13 would you be willing to wait for them to grow up? Would you restrain yourselves from remarrying?[i] No, my daughters, [my life] is much too bitter for you [to share],[j] because the Lord's hand has turned against me."
14 Again they wept loudly, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 Naomi said, "Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her god. Follow your sister-in-law."
16 But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do this to me,[k] and even more, if anything but death separates you and me.
18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped trying to persuade her.
19 The two of them traveled until they came to Bethlehem. When they entered Bethlehem, the whole town was excited about their arrival[l] and [the local women] exclaimed, "Can this be Naomi?"
20 "Don't call me Naomi. Call me Mara,"[m] she answered,[n] "for the Almighty has made me very bitter.
21 I left full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.[o] Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has pronounced [judgment] on[p] me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?"
22 So Naomi came back from the land of Moab with her daughter-in-law Ruth the Moabitess. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

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Ruth 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

We find in this book excellent examples of faith, piety, patience, humility, industry, and loving-kindness, in the common events of life. Also we see the special care which God's providence take of our smallest concerns, encouraging us to full trust therein. We may view this book as a beautiful, because natural representation of human life; as a curious detail of important facts; and as a part of the plan of redemption.

Elimelech and his sons die in the land of Moab. (1-5) Naomi returns home. (6-14) Orpah stays behind, but Ruth goes with Naomi. (15-18) They come to Bethlehem. (19-22)

Verses 1-5 Elimelech's care to provide for his family, was not to be blamed; but his removal into the country of Moab could not be justified. And the removal ended in the wasting of his family. It is folly to think of escaping that cross, which, being laid in our way, we ought to take up. Changing our place seldom is mending it. Those who bring young people into bad acquaintance, and take them out of the way of public ordinances, thought they may think them well-principled, and armed against temptation, know not what will be the end. It does not appear that the women the sons of Elimelech married, were proselyted to the Jewish religion. Earthly trials or enjoyments are of short continuance. Death continually removes those of every age and situation, and mars all our outward comforts: we cannot too strongly prefer those advantages which shall last for ever.

Verses 6-14 Naomi began to think of returning, after the death of her two sons. When death comes into a family, it ought to reform what is amiss there. Earth is made bitter to us, that heaven may be made dear. Naomi seems to have been a person of faith and piety. She dismissed her daughters-in-law with prayer. It is very proper for friends, when they part, to part with them thus part in love. Did Naomi do well, to discourage her daughters from going with her, when she might save them from the idolatry of Moab, and bring them to the faith and worship of the God of Israel? Naomi, no doubt, desired to do that; but if they went with her, she would not have them to go upon her account. Those that take upon them a profession of religion only to oblige their friends, or for the sake of company, will be converts of small value. If they did come with her, she would have them make it their deliberate choice, and sit down first and count the cost, as it concerns those to do who make a profession of religion. And more desire "rest in the house of a husband," or some wordly settlement or earthly satisfaction, than the rest to which Christ invites our souls; therefore when tried they will depart from Christ, though perhaps with some sorrow.

Verses 15-18 See Ruth's resolution, and her good affection to Naomi. Orpah was loth to part from her; yet she did not love her well enough to leave Moab for her sake. Thus, many have a value and affection for Christ, yet come short of salvation by him, because they will not forsake other things for him. They love him, yet leave him, because they do not love him enough, but love other things better. Ruth is an example of the grace of God, inclining the soul to choose the better part. Naomi could desire no more than the solemn declaration Ruth made. See the power of resolution; it silences temptation. Those that go in religious ways without a stedfast mind, stand like a door half open, which invites a thief; but resolution shuts and bolts the door, resists the devil and forces him to flee.

Verses 19-22 Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem. Afflictions will make great and surprising changes in a little time. May God, by his grace, fit us for all such changes, especially the great change!, Naomi signifies "pleasant," or "amiable;" Mara, "bitter," or "bitterness." She was now a woman of a sorrowful spirit. She had come home empty, poor, a widow and childless. But there is a fulness for believers of which they never can be emptied; a good part which shall not be taken from those who have it. The cup of affliction is a "bitter" cup, but she owns that the affliction came from God. It well becomes us to have our hearts humbled under humbling providences. It is not affliction itself, but affliction rightly borne, that does us good.

Footnotes 16

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF RUTH

This book is called Ruth, not because she was the author of it, but because she is the principal subject of it. In the Syriac and Arabic versions, it is called the Book of Ruth the Moabitess, which describes her by the country of which she was. Her name, according to Hillerus {l}, signifies beautiful, of a good aspect, the same with Calliope in Greek. As to the author of this book, some attribute it to Eli the priest, who seems to have been too soon to give an account of the birth of David; others to Gad or Nathan; some to Hezekiah, and others to Ezra; but what the Talmudists assert, which is most generally received, and most probable, is, that it was written by Samuel; so they say Samuel {m} wrote his own book, Judges, and Ruth; and it is commonly said that this book is an appendix to that of the Judges, and the introduction to Samuel, and is fitly placed between them both. According to Eusebius {n}, with the Hebrews, Judges and Ruth make one book they call Shophetim, or Judges; the principal design of it is to give the genealogy of David, whom Samuel had anointed to be king of Israel, and from whom the Messiah was to come, and who therefore may be said to be the aim and scope of it, as he is of all Scripture; and whereby it appears that he sprung both from Jews and Gentiles, and is the Saviour of both, and there is a good foundation for both to hope in him; and the call and conversion of Ruth the Moabitess may be considered as a shadow, emblem, and pledge of the conversion of the Gentiles. Manythings besides may be learnt from this little book, as the different circumstances of good people in this life, and the particular providence of God respecting them. It furnishes out examples of bearing afflictions patiently, of industry, courteousness, kindness to strangers, and young converts; and none can doubt of the divine authority of this book, that considers the use made of it in the genealogies of Christ by the Evangelists Matthew and Luke.

{l} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 211. {m} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 13. 2. {n} Eccl. Hist. 1. 6. c. 25.

\\INTRODUCTION TO RUTH 1\\

This chapter treats of a family that removed from the land of Canaan to the land of Moab on account of a famine, where the father of it and his two sons died, and each of them left a widow, Ru 1:1-5 the mother-in-law proposed to return to her own country, and set forward with her two daughters-in-law, whom, when they had gone a little way with her, she entreated to go back, and expostulated with them about it, Ru 1:6-13, upon which one of them did, but the other, Ruth, the subject of this book, resolved to go the journey with her, Ru 1:14-18 and they both came to Bethlehem, the former residence of her mother-in-law Naomi, who was greatly taken notice of by her old friends and acquaintance, to whom she related her present circumstances, Ru 1:19-22.

Ruth 1 Commentaries