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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Ruth 1

 

 

Verse 1

Ruth 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 Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.

The Book of Ruth.] So, "The Book of Esther": not because these thrice worthy women - in whom, besides their sex, there was nothing woman like or weak - were the authors of those books, but the subject matter of them. Whether Samuel wrote this history of Ruth, or some other prophet, it is not much material: but it fitly precedeth his book, as a preparative to the history of David, whose acts it recordeth. And it no less fitly followeth the Book of Judges, as being an appendix to it, and treating of things done in their days. A precious piece it is surely, though but short; και πολλη και ελαχιστη, as St Bartholomew said of divinity; of special concernment, as pointing to Christ born of Boaz a Jew, and Ruth a Gentile, as a Saviour to both sorts; [Acts 10:34-35] and of singular worth: whence Hugo compareth it to a little bee, great in fruitfulness, gathering wax and honey, for light and medicine; Lavater, to such precious stones as are small in bulk, but of egregious virtue.

Ver. 1.

Now it came to pass.] Not without the special hand and providence of God, which we are diligently to observe this whole story throughout; as likewise in reading the Book of Esther.

In the days when the judges ruled.] But what judges ruled when Ruth was thus preferred to be grandmother to Messiah the Prince, is hard to say. Josephus and Zonaras are for Eli. The Rabbins say that these things began under Ehud, and that Ruth was the daughter of Eglon king of Moab. But neither of these is likely. Gallianus will have Abimelech and Tola to have been judges when these things were done. Lyra and some Jewish doctors hold Boaz to be the same with that judge Ibzan of Bethlehem. [ 12:8] Tostatus, and after him Tremellius, think the history of Ruth fell out in the days of Deborah; others, in the beginning of Gideon: and these speak most probably, as may be gathered by comparing Matthew 1:5 with the end of this history.

That there was a famine in the land.] In the promised land, that sumen totius terroe: and at Bethlehem also, that "house of bread," famous for its fertility. See 6:4-6, with Psalms 107:34. There is food in Moab when famine in Israel. "Wicked men have their portion in this life"; [Psalms 17:14] but David neither coveteth their cates, nor envieth their happiness. [Psalms 17:15]

And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went.] So did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in like case, and for like cause. So the prophet Elisha counselled the Shunamite to do, &c. Some Jews tell us, - but who told them? - that Elimelech was a great rich man, and that, through contempt of the law, and base covetousness, lest he should part with his wealth to his poor kindred, he left his country and went into the land of Moab, where he died a beggar, &c. Let this pass for a Jewish fable.

He, and his wife, and his two sons.] Whom he had in his heart, ad commoriendum et convivendum. This condemneth those miscreants which run away from wife and children, and are worse than infidels, [1 Timothy 5:8] yea, than brute beasts.


Verse 2

Ruth 1:2 And the name of the man [was] Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

Ver. 2. And the name of the man was Elimelech,] i.e., My God is King: an excellent name, and such as might yield great comfort in those calamitous times. Christ liveth and reigneth, alioqui totus desperassem, saith one, else I had been down on all fours ere this day.

And the name of his wife Naomi,] i.e., My sweet or pleasant one: a fit name for a wife, who should be to her husband "as the loving hind and pleasant roe." [Proverbs 5:19] Loving appellations serve to increase love betwixt married couples, as well as to express it.

And the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion.] Mahlon signifieth infirmity; Chilion, finished. Why so called, is not showed, saith an interpreter, (a) but they answer the event of things: the first, his father’s infirmity in going from among God’s people, to live with idolaters for preservation of his outward estate; and the other, his father’s death, he being taken away in Moab. [Ruth 1:3] He was Mahlon in his leaving of Bethlehem, and Chilion in abiding in Moab.

Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah.] Not Ephrathites of the tribe of Ephraim, as 1 Kings 11:26.

And continued there.] Heb., Were there as sojourners: and were kindly used; though the Moabites had been formerly hard-hearted enough, [Deuteronomy 23:3] and afterwards also, [Isaiah 16:6] and are therefore threatened.


Verse 3

Ruth 1:3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

Ver. 3. And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died.] Her head was cut off, her root uncovered. Mulier vel hoc solo nomine misera est quod vidua est; To be a widow is misery enough of itself, and haleth at the heels of it many miseries. "I am indeed a widow woman, and my husband is dead." [2 Samuel 14:5] But Naomi as a "widow indeed," though desolate and a relict, as here, "yet trusted in God, and continued in prayers and supplications day and night." [1 Timothy 5:5] Her motto was that of a certain French lady, Sola facta solum Deum sequor; Now that I am alone, I follow hard after God alone.


Verse 4

Ruth 1:4 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.

Ver. 4. And they took them wives of the women of Moab.] Which haply they had not been suffered to do if their father had lived: their mother, it may be, could as little hinder it, as Rebekah Esau’s marrying those daughters of Heth. But God had a holy hand in it: he ordereth the disorders of men to his own glory.

The name of the one was Orpah.] She was Chilion’s wife, as Ruth was Mahlon’s; [Ruth 4:10] whether they were sisters is uncertain, but sure enough they were not King Eglon’s daughters, as the Chaldee Paraphrast thinketh.

And they dwelt there about ten years.] A sore affliction to Naomi no doubt. See Psalms 120:5. Lord - said a certain good woman on her deathbed, and in trouble of mind, - send me not to hell among the wicked; for thou knowest I could never in all my life like their company.


Verse 5

Ruth 1:5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

Ver. 5. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them.] For a further trial and exercise of Naomi’s faith and patience.

And the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.] Catenata piorum crux. Crosses seldom come single. This excellent woman was left desolate and disconsolate, only she "comforted herself in the Lord her God," as David in like distress did. [1 Samuel 30:6]


Verse 6

Ruth 1:6 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 had visited his people in giving them bread.

Ver. 6. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law.] Now she "heard the rod, and who had appointed it," [Micah 6:9] saying, "He, he, come forth," Arise and he gone; "this is not your rest, for it is polluted." God’s corrections are vocal and disciplinary. Her daughters-in-law, moved by her virtues, arise to go with her. If moral virtue could be seen with mortal eyes, it would attract all hearts to itself, saith Plato. How much more then would true grace, [Song of Solomon 6:1] which is such an elixir, as by contaction, if there be any disposition of goodness in the same metal, it will render it of the property!

That she might return from the country of Moab.] Where, although she had been courteously used, yet her heart hankereth homewards, So should ours heavenwards, though we might live here in the height of the world’s blandishments, quae non sunt tantum fallacia quia dubia, sed etiam insidiosa, guia dulcia, which are not only deceitful because doubtful, but also dangerous because delicious, saith a father. (a)

For she had heard in the country of Moab.] This "good news from a far country was as cold water to her thirsty soul"; [Proverbs 25:25] this cheered up her good heart, when almost dead within her. God reserveth his hand for a dead lift.


Verse 7

Ruth 1:7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.

Ver. 7. Wherefore she went forth out of the place.] And should not we hasten home to our Father’s house, where is bread enough? Fugiendum est ad clarissimam patriam ubi Pater, ibi omnia, said Plotinus, the Platonist. (a) Away to heaven; there is our Father, there are all things. And what though we here suffer hardship, as did Naomi and Ruth when they came to Judea? Mendicato pane hic vivamus, saith Luther: heaven will make amends for all. Meanwhile, bread and cheese with the gospel is good cheer, said Mr Greenham.

And her two daughters-in-law.] Few such daughters-in-law to be found. Vellent multae socrus suas ad extremes Garamantas solas proficisci, &c.

And they went on the way.] Orpah also set forth as forward as Ruth, but persisted not. The end is better than the beginning: the evening crowneth the day. He that continueth to the end shall be saved. "Remember Lot’s wife."


Verse 8

Ruth 1:8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.

Ver. 8. And Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law.] Hitherto she hath acted her part by doing and suffering. Now, and not till now, we find her speaking. Her tongue did not hang loose, to be upon every touch extolling: but "she openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness," as Proverbs 31:26.

Go, return each to her mother’s house.] Ite, redite. This she spake as a wise woman, to make trial of the soundness of their love. Videas cui fidas, try before you trust. Open heartedness is a sign of folly; credulity, of levity.

The Lord deal kindly with you.] This, her motherly benediction, was the best valediction. Gold and silver she had not for them, but that which was better, heartiest prayers and well wishes; and of these people should be even prodigal, since this their labour of love cannot be in vain in the Lord.

As ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.] Though of an ill race, they proved dutiful wives and kind daughters-in-law. Howbeit nothing is more dangerous than to graft in a bad stock, to be imped in a wicked family. This relation too often draweth in a share both of sin and punishment. Ahab and Ahaziah, for instance.


Verse 9

Ruth 1:9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each [of you] in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

Ver. 9. The Lord grant you, that ye may find rest,] i.e., The Lord give you good husbands - [Ruth 3:2-9] - with whom you may live contentedly and comfortably. God is the chief marriage maker: but now-a-days, Dowry not God { Dos, non Deus:} and it proveth accordingly. Bag and baggage go oft together, &c.

And they lifted up their voice, and wept.] And so answered the kindness of her kiss. See 1 Samuel 20:41, Acts 20:37.


Verse 10

Ruth 1:10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.

Ver. 10. Surely we will return with thee.] So they both said, and said as they thought: but Orpah, upon second thoughts, did otherwise. Saul in a passion promised fair, [1 Samuel 24:16-17; 1 Samuel 26:21] but David knew there was no trusting to either his tears or his talk.


Verse 11

Ruth 1:11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? [are] there yet [any more] sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?

Ver. 11. Turn again, my daughters.] Though she were but their step-mother, yet, as one stepped in to be instead of a natural mother, she calleth them her daughters. It is good policy to preserve an opinion of our love in the hearts of those whom we would persuade to any good, and to speak them fair.

Why will ye go with me?] q.d., Go not, unless ye be first of a well-knit resolution, lest all too late ye come in with a fool’s, Had I known. Those that intend for heaven must not dream of a delicacy: but, being to build the tower of godliness, let them consider first, and cast up what it will cost them, lest they with shame give over in the midst, and "lose the things that they have wrought": but that they may "receive a full reward." [2 John 1:8]

Are there yet any more sons in my womb?] If you aim at worldly advantage, or are acted by sinful selflove in this your enterprise, I have not for you, nor am likely to accommodate you. See Luke 9:57. Sed vix diligitur Iesus propter Iesum, saith a father. Poor Christ is slighted.


Verse 12

Ruth 1:12 Turn again, my daughters, go [your way]; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, [if] I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;

Ver. 12. Turn again, my daughters.] A probational persuasion, as Ruth 1:8, that she might sound them to the bottom.

For I am too old to have an husband.] Second marriages are not unlawful: but thought of death is enough to forbid the bans of such marriage. Cogita te quotidie moriturum et nunquam de secundis nuptiis cogitabis, saith Jerome.

If I should have an husband also tonight, and should also bear sons.] Without having a husband, she doth not once think of having children, as many wantons and light-skirts do; making themselves whores, and their children bastards, and all for satisfying the rage of present lust, though after they repent with grief and shame. (a)


Verse 13

Ruth 1:13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.

Ver. 13. Would ye tarry for them?] Heb., Hope. The Hebrew word that signifieth hope, signifieth a line: because by hope the heart is stretched out as a line, to the thing it hopeth for.

Till they were grown.] Children are not to be married till mature and marriageable.

Nay, my daughters,] q.d., If you mean to marry at all, marry in due time, and defer not too long. Every Jew at this day is bound to marry before he is twenty years old, else he is looked upon as one that liveth in sin.

For it grieveth me much.] I have much bitterness: "remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall." [Lamentations 3:19] But did not Naomi herself cast this gall into God’s cup, by her impatiency and excess of grief? which yet was much mitigated, no doubt, when she considered that it was -

The hand of the Lord that was gone out against her.] That her afflictions befell her not by fate or blind fortune. Among philosophers the most noted sect for patience was that of the Stoics, who ascribed all to fate. God’s people have better comforts. Virtus lecythos habet in malis.


Verse 14

Ruth 1:14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

Ver. 14. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again.] As loath to part, for the old love’s sake. Tears are no sign of an effeminate spirit, witness David, Paul, Peter, &c. Seneca, though a Stoic, saith, Flendum, non plorandum; men may weep, but not wail.

And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law.] For a final farewell. Kαταφιλειν ουκ εστι φιλειν, saith Philo. Apostates betray Christ with a kiss: temporaries forsake him, and embrace this present world. So did Jehu, Judas, Demas, Henry IV of France, once Bonus orbi, afterwards Orbus boni, as one wittily anagrammatised his name Borbonius.

But Ruth clave unto her.] Heb., Was glued unto her, as a wife to her husband, inseparably. [Genesis 2:24 Matthew 19:5] "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." [1 Corinthians 6:17]


Verse 15

Ruth 1:15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.

Ver. 15. Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back.] A great temptation to Ruth - [Hebrews 11:37, "they were tempted"} - as it was likewise to the disciples, when many fell off; {John 6:66] to the primitive Christians, when Hymenaeus and Philetus made defection; [2 Timothy 2:17] to Galeacius, when forsaken of all.

And unto her gods.] Her devil gods, Baalpeor, Chemosh, Milchom, &c. In finita deorum lerna ad triginta millia Hesiodi tempore excreverat. The Chinese are said to have a hundred thousand.


Verse 16

Ruth 1:16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, [or] to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people [shall be] my people, and thy God my God:

Ver. 16. Intreat me not.] Or, Be not troublesome to me by thy dissuasions; hinder me not from bearing thee company. She was unchangeably resolved. So was that martyr (a) who said, The heavens shall sooner fall, than I will forsake my profession. I will follow the Lamb wheresoever he goeth. The hop in its growing windeth itself about the pole, and always followeth the course of the sun from east to west, so that it can by no means be drawn to the contrary, but chooseth rather to break than yield.


Verse 17

Ruth 1:17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, [if ought] but death part thee and me.

Ver. 17. Where thou diest, &c] That both she and her mother should once die, she doubted not. [Hebrews 9:27] This many seem to do, whilst they so live as if their lives were riveted upon eternity. See Psalms 49:10-11; Psalms 49:13.

There will I be buried.] Burial is one of the dues of the dead; and dear friends desire to be buried together. [2 Samuel 19:37] Mezentius in Virgil begs to be buried by his son Lausus. (a)

The Lord do so to me, and more also.] Let him double and treble the evil wished upon me, which is here not mentioned by a usual aposiopesis, not unlike that of the prophet Amos in Amos 4:12; "And because I will do thus unto thee," Ubi non nominat mala, ut omnia timeant, (b) he nameth not any, that they may fear all. This is an oath bound with a curse, which yet is not particularly named, but left unto God. Indeed, every oath is with an execration, either understood or expressed.


Verse 18

Ruth 1:18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.

Ver. 18. When she saw that she was steadfastly minded.] Heb., Strengthened herself, to wit, by her oath; and so gave sufficient testimony of the grace of God in her, that she was "steadfast and unmovable." [1 Corinthians 15:58]

Then she left speaking unto her.] She rested in Ruth’s resolution, being well assured of her honest mind, which now to suspect were breach of charity.


Verse 19

Ruth 1:19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, [Is] this Naomi?

Ver. 19. So they two went until they came to Bethlehem.] Thus God never forsaketh his, Will not forsake even if forsaked { Non deserit etiam si deserat.} but when one comfort faileth, findeth them out another; as when Sarah died, Rebekah came in her room. Yea, God himself stood by Paul when all men forsook him. [2 Timothy 4:16]

So they two.] Amicitia sit inter binos, qui sunt veri; et bonos, qui sunt pauci.

And it came to pass.] See on Ruth 1:1

That all the city was moved about them.] Which showeth that Naomi had been of quality and good account among them.

And they said.] The women said; for the word is of the feminine gender. These women afterwards spake very comfortably to her, as now they do compassionately, saying,

Is this Naomi?] Alas! what a change is in her! O quantum haec (Niobe) Naomi, Naomi mutatur ab illa! Fuimus Troes.


Verse 20

Ruth 1:20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

Ver. 20. And she said unto them.] She put her mouth in the dust, and spake in a low language, suitable to her present condition. God had afflicted her, and she would carry her sails accordingly. Many are humbled, but not humble; low, but not lowly. These have lost the fruit of their afflictions, saith Augustine, and are therefore most miserable. God, saith another, calls no man Benjamin, but those whom their own hearts call Benoni in their humility. He salutes them not "Naomi," beautiful, who do not humbly feel themselves Marah, bitter.

Call me not Naomi, call me Marah.] Non Amaeham sed Amaram. Sic, Da obolum Bellisario. How soon can the Almighty alter our condition, for the better, or for the worse!

Magna repente ruunt, summa cadunt subito.


Verse 21

Ruth 1:21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why [then] call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

Ver. 21. I went out full.] Not for want, but for fear of want. This she now regretteth, as done out of distrust. God’s voice is, "Dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." [Psalms 37:3]

Home again empty.] By weeping cross. They that go out of God’s precincts, go out of his protection: Jehoshaphat’s ships were broken; Lot lost all; Josiah came short home.

Hath testified against me.] As a witness of my sin, and of his just displeasure; - see Job 10:17; Job 16:8; {See Trapp on "Job 10:17"} {See Trapp on "Job 16:8"} - a metaphor from adversaries at law.

Hath afflicted me.] Howbeit, Quos amat, hos non vult, spero, perire Deus.


Verse 22

Ruth 1:22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

Ver. 22. So Naomi returned, &c.] So Jews and Gentiles walk to heaven together.

In the beginning of barley harvest.] In the beginning of the passover, saith the Chaldee Paraphrast, taking the fittest opportunity both for soul and body.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ruth-1.html. 1865-1868.


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Thursday, August 16th, 2018
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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