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Bible Commentaries
Ruth 4

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

The gate is the place of concourse, of business, and of justice in Oriental cities (see Judges 19:15 note; Genesis 34:20; Deuteronomy 16:18).

Ho, such a one! - Indicating that the name of the kinsman was either unknown or purposely concealed 1 Samuel 21:2; 2 Kings 6:8.

Verse 2

Every city was governed by elders (see Deuteronomy 19:12; Judges 8:14). For the number “ten,” compare Exodus 18:25. Probably the presence of, at least, ten elders was necessary to make a lawful public assembly, as among modern Jews ten (a minyon) are necessary to constitute a synagogue.

Verse 3

According to the law Leviticus 25:25-28, if any Israelite, through poverty, would sell his possession, the next of kin (the גאל gā'al) had a right to redeem it by paying the value of the number of years remaining until the jubilee (see the marginal reference). This right Boaz advertises the גאל gā'al of, so as to give him the option which the law secured to him of redeeming “our brother Elimelech’s” land, i. e. our kinsman’s, according to the common use of the term brother, for near relation (see Genesis 13:8; Genesis 24:27; Leviticus 25:25; Numbers 27:4; Judges 9:1).

Verse 4

See the margin; a phrase explained by the act of removing the end of the turban, or the hair, in order to whisper in the ear (see 1 Samuel 9:15 : 2 Samuel 7:27).

Verse 5

Observe the action of the Levirate law. If there had been no one interested but Naomi, she would have sold the land unclogged by any condition, the law of Levirate having no existence in her case. But there was a young widow upon whom the possession of the land would devolve at Naomi’s death, and who already had a right of partnership in it, and the law of Levirate did apply in her case. It was, therefore, the duty of the גאל gā'al to marry her and raise up seed to his brother, i. e. his kinsman. And he could not exercise his right of redeeming the land, unless he was willing at the same time to fulfill his obligations to the deceased by marrying the widow. This he was unwilling to do.

Verse 6

I mar mine own inheritance - The meaning of these words is doubtful. Some explain them by saying that the גאל gā'al had a wife and children already, and would not introduce strife into his family. Others think that there was a risk (which he would not incur) of the go’el’s own name being blotted out from his inheritance Ruth 4:10. Others take the word translated as “mar” in a sense of wasting or spending. If he had to find the purchase-money, and support Naomi and Ruth, his own fortune would be broken down, if, as is likely, he was a man of slender means. Boaz, being “a mighty man of wealth,” could afford this.

Redeem thou my right ... - Literally, redeem my redemption - perform that act of redemption which properly belongs to me, but which I cannot perform.

Verse 7

In former time in Israel - Showing that the custom was obsolete in the writer’s days. The letter of the law (see the marginal reference) was not strictly followed. It was thought sufficient for the man to pull off his own shoe and give it to the man to whom he ceded his right, in the presence of the elders of his city.

Verse 11

See the margin. There is something of a poetical turn in this speech of the elders, and something prophetic in the blessing pronounced by them. It is unique and obscure. The Greek Version (lxx) is unintelligible. Jerome seems to have had a slightly different reading, since he applies both clauses to Ruth. “May she be a pattern of virtue in Ephratah, and have a name famous in Bethlehem.” The meaning of “be famous” seems to be, Get thyself a name which shall be celebrated in Bethlehem, as the head of a powerful and illustrious house: literally it is, “proclaim a name,” i. e. cause others to proclaim thy name, as in Ruth 4:14.

Verse 14

Without a kinsman - i. e. Boaz, not the infant Obed.

Verse 17

Obed - i. e. serving, with allusion to the service of love and duty which he would render to his grandmother Naomi.

Verse 18

It is probable that there was a family book for the house of Pharez, in which their genealogies were preserved, and important bits of history were recorded; and that the Book of Ruth was compiled from it. (See the note at Genesis 2:4)

Verse 21

Salmon begat Boaz - Matthew has preserved the additional interesting information that the mother of Boaz was Rahab Joshua 2:0; Joshua 6:0. It is possible that the circumstance that the mother of Boaz was a Canaanite may have made him less indisposed to marry Ruth the Moabitess. As regards the whole genealogy in Ruth 4:18-22, it should be remarked that it occurs four times in Scripture, namely, here, 1 Chronicles 2:10-12; Matthew 1:3-6; and Luke 3:32-33, and is of course of singular importance as being the genealogy of our Lord. One or two difficulties in it still remain unsolved.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ruth 4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/ruth-4.html. 1870.
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