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I. Contents. In the book of Ruth is presented to David, that is, probably lived a hundred years before as a family, consisting of father, mother and two sons, him. Of this last point, however, we can be by no means whi under the pressure of a famine in the days of the certain, both because we undoubtedly find sometimes Judges, migrated from Bethlehem to the land of Moab. gaps in the genealogies in the Bible, (see e.g., three Here the two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, took two generations omitted in Matt. i. 8) and because the numMoabitesses, Ruth and Orpah, to wife. After a ten ber of generations from Pharez to David (given as ten, years' sojourn, Elimelech the father, and the two sons Ruth iv. 18-22) seems insufficient to fill up the interhaving died, and tidings having come of the change of vening space of over 900 years. It is probable that if famine to plenty in the land of Judah, Naomi and her there are any omissions in the
genealogy, they are to be two daughters-in-law set off to return. In spite, how- assigned to the period before Boaz. ever, of her evident affection for them, and of their un- | It may be noticed that the father of Boaz is given as willingness to leave her, 'she unselfishly urges them to Salmon, (iv. 21) who (Matt. i. 5) was the husband of seek their own kindred, and not to venture on what must Rahab, so that we should thus have Boaz born no great have been a long toilsome journey. After a struggle number of years after the taking of Jericho. Orpah yields, but Ruth, with a devotedness which says Josephus (Ant. v. 9. 1) refers the events to a time almost as much for Naomi as herself, sinks all ties of after Samson, in the days of Eli, but this must certainly home and kindred in the outburst, " Thy people shall be too late; and at any rate the date given above may be my people, and thy God my God.” Thus she takes be taken as fairly probable. her last look at the fertile fields of Moab, to enter a The various attempts to fix the date more closely (as strange land, where the result of her devotion to her for example, to connect the famine with the ravages of mother-in-law was to be, that from her line in
to the Midianites, Judges vi. 1 seq.) involve mere guesses, come should be born, David, the sweet psalmist of and rest on too uncertain grounds to warrant our Israel, Solomon, the wisest of the sons of men, Zerub- entering into the discussion. babel, the later Moses, and the Messiah, the son of David, whom all these prefigured.
III. Date of composition. We cannot speak When Bethlehem is reached, the barley harvest is with any degree of certainty as to the time at which the beginning, and Ruth, going to glean, chances upon the book was written. From chap. i. 1, the reference to field of Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of the family of the Judges would suggest that they had now been reElimelech. Learning that the unknown woman was the placed by the Monarchy, and from chap. iv. 17 it is clear daughter-in-law of Naomi, and having clearly been much that the book is not to be put before the time of David. impressed with the story of her devotedness, he bids her Whether we are to fix it later than David's time, and to continue to glean in his fields, and to make use of the if so, how much later, must be considered very doubtful. food provided for his own people. Through the kind- The Talmud (Baba Bathra, f. 14 b.) tells us, Samuel ness of Boaz, she gleans barley, which when beaten out, wrote his own book, and Judges and Ruth.” This gives is about an ephah, and so first the barley and then the the earliest date possible, and in our opinion there is wheat harvest pass by.
nothing in the phenomena of the book itself which renThe end of the harvest having come, Naomi bids Ruth ders this view inadmissible, though, on the other hand, it to claim a kinsman's help from Boaz in his threshing cannot be held that any great amount of positive probafloor, where he had been winnowing barley, and ac- bility attaches to it. Most critics have fixed the date cordingly at midnight when Boaz awoke he found Ruth later, and some much later, as for example Ewald, who lying at his feet. He promises then to discharge the supposes the book to have been written during the kinsman's duty unless a still nearer relative should Babylonian captivity. The various arguments, however, claim to do it. The case was brought into judgment on which these theories are built, are many of them most on the following morning. The next kinsman, afraid of arbitrary, and need not be entered upon here. One “marring his own inheritance,” declines to redeem the point sometimes relied upon to prove the late date is the land that was Elimelech's. Accordingly Boaz himself presence of a certain Aramæan element in the Hebrew redeems it, taking therewith Ruth to wife to raise up of Ruth. To discuss this at length would be beside the name of the dead Mahlon on his inheritance. The our present purpose, but it may be remarked here that offspring of the marriage was Obed the father of Jesse, it is at least as likely that these alleged Aramæisms are the father of David.
to be considered as dialectic varieties, mere provincial
isms, or in some cases even as archaisms. It is curious II. Date of events recorded.-It may be asked also, that these occur in the dialogues exclusively, the next, when are we to fix the period when the events here narrative proper being in the purest Hebrew. recorded happened. Here our data are sufficiently On the whole, then, the book may indeed belong vague, being indeed but two. The famine broke out in to a comparatively late period, but this certainly has the days “when the judges judged,” and if the gene- not been proved; nor has anything been satisfactorily alogy be complete, Ruth was the great-grandmother of established by those who have maintained, as Ewald, RUTH.
that Ruth is a section of a larger work, the solitary some, however, that this was not its original position, surviving fragment, or that it is really part of the for Josephus (contr. Apion. i. 8) as well as some book of Judges, from which it somehow got separated. important early Christian witnesses to the Jewish Such arbitrary theorising can only be considered as Canon, as Melito, Bishop of Sardis in the second guessing pure and simple.
century, (cited by Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. iv. 26), and The main reason why the Book of Ruth is included in Origen, (cited by Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. vi. 25), reckoned the Old Testament seems sufficiently obvious, namely on the number of books of the Old Testament as twentyaccount of David, of whose lineage it may be remarked two, counting Judges and Ruth as one book. This might the books of Samuel make no mention. This definite rather suggest that the original position of Ruth was association of the book with David may perhaps be taken immediately after the book of Judges. On the other as evidence of a comparatively early date, prior to the hand, the Talmud (I. c.) includes Ruth in the Hagiobooks of Samuel, in which it was not considered neces. grapha, and mentions it first, preceding the Psalms. In sary to repeat matter already given.
the LXX. and Vulgate, the book of Ruth follows the
Judges, and the same order is found in the English IV. Place in Canon. In the Hebrew Bible, Ruth Bible, and in that of Luther. forms the second of the five so called Megilloth [i.e., Rolls] (the others being, Song of Solomon, Lamenta
• This was doubtless with the view of making the number of
the books agree with the number of the letters of the Hebrew tions, Ecclesiastes, Esther). It has been thought by alphabet.
THE BOOK OF RUTH.
B.C. cir. 1322.
CHAPTER 1.-(1) Now it came to pass in the days when the judges 'ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. (2) And the name of the man was Elime
1 Heb. judged. lech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Beth-lehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.
(3) And Elimelech Naomi's husband 2 Heb. were.
died; and she was left, and her two sons. (4) And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.
(5) And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.
(6) Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD
(1) When the judges ruled.--Literally, when chap. i. 2, 5, and Chilion in chap. iv. 9. It is probable, the judges judged. This note of time is by no means however, that Mahlon was the elder. definite. As we have seen, some have proposed to Ephrathites.-See note on Gen. xxxv. 19. Ephconnect the famine with the ravages of the Midianites rath was the old name of Bethlehem. Why, in the (Judges vi. 1); or, supposing the genealogy to be com. present passage, the town is called Bethlehem-judah, plete (which is more likely, however, to be abridged, if and the inhabitants Ephrathites, does not appear. at all, in the earlier generations), then since Boaz was (4) They took them wives.—This seems to have the son of Salmon (Salma, 1 Chron. ii. 11) and Rahab been after the father's death. The fault of settling on a (Matt. i. 5), whom there can be no reasonable grounds heathen soil begun by the father is carried on by the sons for supposing to be other than the Rahab of Jericho, in marrying heathen women, for such we cannot doubt the events must be placed comparatively early in the they must have been in the first instance. The Targum period of the judges.
(or ancient Chaldee paraphrase) says: “They transBeth-lehem.-See note on G Xxxv. 19. Judah is
gressed against the decree of the Word of the Lord, added by way of distinction from the Bethlehem in the and took to themselves strange wives.” This act was tribe of Zebulun (Josh. xix. 15).
to incur a further risk of being involved in idolatry, as Moab. See notes on Gen. xix. 37; Num. xxi. 13; King Solomon found. Deut. ii. 9. The land of Moab seems to have been of Ruth.-This name will mean either “comeliness” exceptional richness and fertility, as allusions in the or “companion,” according to the spelling of which we threats of Isaiah xvi., Jeremiah' xxxviii., indicate. It suppose the present name to be a contraction. The was divided from the land of Israel by the Dead Sea, Syriac spelling supports the latter view. Ruth was the and on the north by the river Arnon, the old boundary wife of Mahlon (chap. iv. 10), apparently
the elder son. between Moab and the Amorites (Num. xxi. 13). The The Targum calls Ruth the danghter of Eglon, king of journey of the family from Bethlehem would probably Moab, obviously from the wish to exalt the dignity of first lead them near Jericho, and so across the fords of Ruth. the Jordan into the territory of the tribe of Reuben. (5) And they died.-Clearly as quite young men. Through the hilly country of this tribe, another long It is not for us to say how far those are right who see journey would bring them to the Arnon, the frontier in the death of Elimelech and his sons God's punishriver.
ment for the disregard of His law. Thus Naomi is How far Elimelech was justified in fleeing, even left alone, as one on whom comes suddenly the loss of under the pressure of the famine, from the land of children and widowhood. Jehovah to a land where Chemosh was worshipped (6) That she might return.--Literally, and she and the abominations practised of Baal-peor, may returned. Clearly, therefore, the three women actually well be doubted, even though God overruled it all for began the journey; and when the start has been made, good. It was disobeying the spirit of God's law, and Naomi urges her companions to return. Then, as with Holding of little value the blessings of the land of Pliable in the Pilgrim's Progress, so with Orpah: the promise.
dangers and difficulties of the way were too much for (2) Naomi.-The name is derived from the Hebrew her affection. root meaning to be pleasant (see below, ver.20). Mahlon The Lord had visited His people.-The famine and Chilion mean sickness and wasting, it may be in had ceased, and Naomi's heart yearns for the old home. reference to their premature death, the names being Perhaps, too, the scenes where everything reminded given by reason of their feeble health. It is not certain her of her husband and sons, filled her with sadness (for which was the elder: Mahlon is mentioned first in it would appear that she set out immediately after her Naomi returns Home.
Ruth cleares to her.
had visited his people in giving them 0r, if I were with would ye stay for them from having bread. (7) Wherefore she went forth
husbands ? nay, my daughters; for 'it out of the place where she was, and her
grieveth me much for your sakes that two daughters in law with her; and
the hand of the Lord is gone out against they went on the way to return unto the
(14) And they lifted up their voice, land of Judah. (8) And Naomi said unto
and wept again : and Orpah kissed her her two daughters in law, Go, return 2 Heb. hope. mother in law; but Ruth clave unto each to her mother's house: the LORD
her. deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt
(15) And she said, Behold, thy sister in with the dead, and with me.
law is gone back unto her people, and Lord grant you that ye may find rest,
unto her gods : return thou after thy each of you in the house of her husband.
sister in law. (16) And Ruth said, InThen she kissed them; and they lifted Hcb. Thave much treat me not to leave thee, or to return up their voice, and wept. (10) And they
from following after thee: for whither said unto her, Surely we will return wit
thou goest, I will go; and where thou thee unto thy people.
lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be (11) And Naomi said, Turn again, my
my people, and thy God my God : daughters: why will ye go with me?
(17) where thou diest, will I die, and there are there yet any more sons in my womb,
will I be buried : the LORD do so to me, that they may be your husbands?
and more also, if ought but death part (12) Turn again, my daughters, go your
thee and me. (18) When she saw that way; for I am too old to have an hus
she 5 was stedfastly minded to go with band. If I should say, I have hope, if
her, then she left speaking unto her. I should have an husband also to night,
(19) So they two went until they came and should also bear sons ;
to Beth-lehem. And it came to pass, 2 tarry for them till they were grown ? 5 este trength, when they were come to Beth-lehem,
4 Or, be not against
(13) would ye
sons' death), and perhaps, too, her conscience smote gum support this translation; the Vulg. is rather loose her for distrusting the mercies of the God of in its rendering. Israel.
(11) Kissed.-Orpah, though unwilling to leave her (7) Her two daughters in law with her.- mother-in-law, and though warmly attached to her, still Both clearly purposing to go with Naomi to the land of thinks of the hardships of the journey, of the hardships Israel (verse 10), not merely to escort her a little way. when the journey is done; and the comforts of home Naomi had obviously won the affections of her detain her. daughters-in-law, and they were loth to part with her, (15) Naomi, now armed with a fresh argument, urges since such a parting could hardly but be final.
Ruth to follow her sister-in-law's example. (8) Return.-Naomi's love is all unselfish. The Her gods.-Naomi doubtless views the Moabite company of Ruth and Orpah would clearly have been a idols as realities, whose power is, however, confined to great solace to her, yet she will not sacrifice them to the land of Moab. She is not sufficiently enlightened herself. They each had a mother and a home; the in her religion to see in the Lord more than the God of latter, Naomi might fail to secure to them.
Israel. (9) The Lord grant you ...--A twofold bless. (16) Intreat me not.-Ruth's nobleness is proof ing is invoked by Naomi on her daughters-in-law, made against all. The intensity of her feeling comes out all the more solemn by the twofold mention of the sacred the more strongly now that she pleads alone: “I will name Jehovah. She prays first for the general blessing, undertake with thee the toilsome journey, I will lodge that God will show them mercy, and secondly for the ; with thee however hardly, I will venture among a special blessing, that they may find rest and peace in a strauge people, and will worship a new god.” new home.
(17) The Lord do so to me.-Ruth clinches her (11) The advice of Naomi thus far is insufficient to shake resolutions with a solemn oath, in which, if we are to the affectionate resolve of the two women. She then take the words literally, she swears by the name of the paints the loneliness of her lot. She has no more sons, God of Israel. With this Naomi yields; after so and can hope for none; nay, if sons were to be even i solemn a protest she can urge no more. now born to her, what good would that do them? Still (19) They went.--The journey for two women apher lot is worse than theirs. They, in spite of their parently alone was long and toilsomne, and not free great loss, are young, and from their mothers' houses from danger. Two rivers, Arnon and Jordan, had to they may again go forth to homes of their own. She, be forded or otherwise crossed; and the distance of old, childless, and solitary, must wend her weary way actual journeying cannot have been less than fifty back to live unaided as best she
miles. Thus, weary and travel-stained, they reach (13) It grieveth me much for your sakes.- Bethlehem, and neighbours, doubtless never looking to A much more probable translation is, it is far more see Naomi again, are all astir with excitement. It would bitter for me than for you. An exact parallel to the seem that though the news of the end of the famine construction is found in Gen. xix. 9. The ancient ver- bad reached Naomi in Moab, news of her had not sions are divided, the LXX., Peshito Syriac, and Tar- reached Bethlehem,
Naomi at Bethlehem.
Ruth in the field of Boaz.
that all the city was moved about them, 1 That Is, Pleasant. my daughter. (3) And she went, and and they said, Is this Naomi ?
came, and gleaned in the field after the she said unto them, Call me not Naomi,
reapers : and her 3 hap was to light call me ? Mara : for the Almighty hath
on a part of the field belonging unto dealt very bitterly with me. (21) I went
4 Boaz, who was of the kindred of Eliout full, and the Lord hath brought me
melech. home again empty: why then call ye me
(1) And, behold, Boaz came from BethNaomi, seeing the LORD hath testified ? That is, Bitter. lehem, and said unto the reapers, The against me, and the Almighty hath af
LORD be with you. And they answered, flicted me?
The LORD bless thee. (5) Then said Boaz (22) So Naomi returned, and Ruth the
unto his servant that was set over the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her,
reapers, Whose damsel is this? (6) And which returned out of the country of
the servant that was set over the reapers Moab: and ti came to Beth-lehem in
answered and said, It is the Moabitish the beginning of barley harvest.
damsel that came back with Naomi out
of the country of Moab: (7) and she said, CHAPTER II.-(1) And Naomi had a
pray you, let me glean and gather after kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man
reapers among the sheaves : so she of wealth, of the family of Elimelech ;
came, and hath continued even from the and his name was Boaz. (2) And Ruth
morning until now, that she tarried a the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me
little in the house. now go to the field, and glean ears of
(8) Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest corn after him in whose sight I shall
thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean find grace. And she said unto her, Go,
in another field, neither go from hence,
3 Heb. hap hap
4 Called, Matt.1.5,
They said. -The Bethlehemite women, that which might perhaps seem humiliating. Nor does she is, for the verb is feminine. Grief and toil had doubt. hanker after her old home in the land of Moab and the less made her look aged and worn.
plenty there. Energy, honesty of purpose, and loyalty (20) Call me not Naomi, call me Mara.- are alike evinced here. Here we have one of the constant plays on words and (3) Her hap was to light on.-Literally, her hap names found in the Hebrew Bible. Naomi, we have happened. A chance in outward seeming, yet a clear already said, means pleasant, or, perhaps, strictly, my shaping of her course by unseen hands. Her steps pleasantness. Mara is bitter, as in Exod. xv. 23. The were divinely guided to a certain field, that God's latter word has no connection with Miriam or Mary, good purposes should be worked out. which is from a different root.
(4) The Lord be with you. There is a trace The Almighty.-Heb., Shaddai. According to here of the good feeling prevailing between Boaz and one derivation of the word, “He who is All Sufficient," his servants. Though he has come to his field to all sufficing; the God who gives all things in abundance supervise the work, it is not in a fault-finding spirit, is He who takes back (see Note on Gen. xvii. 1). but with true courtesy and friendliness; nor is it a
Hath dealt very bitterly.-Heb., hemar, refer- frivolous jesting manner that he displays, but with ring to the preceding Mara. The pleasantness and joys gravity and soberness he presents a true gentleman in of life are at an end for me, my dear ones passed away,
his intercourse with his inferiors. bitterness and sadness are now my lot.
(6, 7) The steward gives a detailed account of Ruth. (22) Barley-harvest.-God had restored plenty to She is “the (rather “a”) Moabitish damsel," she is a His people, and the wayfarers thus arrive to witness foreigner [as such she had a special claim to the and receive their share of the blessing. The barley gleaning, Lev. xix. 9, 10). She is the daughter-inharvest was the earliest (Exod. ix. 31, 32), and would law of Naomi; and he adds that her behaviour has ordinarily fall abjut the end of April.
been praiseworthy, for she asked leave before be
ginning to glean, and she has worked hard all day, II.
save for a short interval of rest. It would seem that (1) Boaz.-It has been already said that if there are Boaz's visit to the field fell at the time when Ruth was any gaps in the genealogy, these are most probably to thus resting : “This is her tarrying for a little in the be referred to its earlier portion. According to the house”; apparently, that is, some rude shelter from line, however, given in chap. iv. 18 seq., Pjaz is the heat set up in the field, like the lodge of Isa. i. 8. grandson of the Nahshon who was prince of the tribe (8) My daughter. This address suggests that of Judah during the wanderings in the desert, and son Boaz was no longer a young man; clearly the account of Salmon and Rahab of Jericho. It may be noted he had heard of Ruth, both from his servant and that the difficulty of date may be lessened by supposing from general report, as well as her appearance and that in the last two generations we have children of behaviour, and doubtless a feeling of pity at her contheir fathers' old age.
dition, had prepossessed him in her favour. (2) Let me now go.—The character of Ruth Abide here fast by my maidens.-Literally, comes out strongly here. She does not hesitate to cleave to (Gen. ii. 24). The true courtesy of Boaz’s face the hard work necessary on her mother-in-law's character shows itself in the mention of the maidens. account; nor is she too proud to condescend to a work | He will not have the stranger even run the chance of