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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Ruth 4

 

 


Verse 1

Ruth 4:1 Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.

Ver. 1. Then went Boaz up to the gate.] Which was the place of judicature among the Jews; as for other reasons, so to put all that entered into the city in mind of their duty, whilst they were imminded, that

Hic locus odit, amat, punit, conservat, honorat,

Nequitiam, pacem, crimina, iura, bonos. ”

And sat him down there.] As a judge, and a principal person; for he took place. The Hebrews make him the same with Ibsan, as was forenoted.

And, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by.] Not without a guiding hand of divine providence: hence it is set forth with a behold, as with a starry note.

Unto whom he said, Ho, such a one!] Heus tu: ( ω δεινα). Boaz called him by his name, doubtless, for he also was a man of quality, and sat next to Boaz above the other ten elders or senators; but the Spirit of God nameth him not, haply because he would not continue the name of his deceased kinsman upon his inheritance, but being totus in se, like the snail, that is still in his house, he loved land better than the law of his God, desiring the one, but not caring to obey the other.


Verse 2

Ruth 4:2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.

Ver. 2. And he said, Sit ye down here.] Elders they were called for their gravity and authority. Ten, haply, to immind them of the Ten Commandments, the rule of their sovereignty. Sit they must, to teach them to be of a sedate and considerate spirit, in hearing and determining controversies.


Verse 3

Ruth 4:3 And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which [was] our brother Elimelech’s:

Ver. 3. And he said unto the kinsman.] Without a pleader, without preface or passion, in few and fit words he propounds the cause and brings it to an issue. Men should not go lightly to law, or spin out their suits to that length they do.

Naomi, that is come again, … selleth a parcel of land.] Boaz, having to do with a wily worldling, dealeth warily with him for prevention of further strife; telling him first of the land, and then of the wife that must go along with it. How forcible are right words!


Verse 4

Ruth 4:4 And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy [it] before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem [it], redeem [it]: but if thou wilt not redeem [it, then] tell me, that I may know: for [there is] none to redeem [it] beside thee; and I [am] after thee. And he said, I will redeem [it].

Ver. 4. And I thought to advertise thee.] Heb., I said I will reveal in thine ear: so the Latins say, Aurem tibi vellam. Honesty promoteth to plain dealing.

And before the elders of my people.] For more assurance, ratification, and confirmation. Thus also amongst us many acts betwixt private persons are done before a judge or public notary for like reason.

And he said, I will redeem it.] This showeth that he was rich, ready for a purchase after so long a famine; but wretched, not willing to part with a penny to his two poor kinswomen, as good Boaz did. Many are, the richer the harder.


Verse 5

Ruth 4:5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy [it] also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

Ver. 5. What day thou buyest the field.] Here God is making provision for these two widows, his clients; maintenance for Naomi, and marriage for Ruth. Henceforth it shall be no more Marah, but, as heretofore, Naomi: and while Orpah lacked bread in her own country, Ruth is grown a great lady in Israel. "Who would not serve thee, O King of Nations?" &c.

To raise up the name of the dead.] This Boaz kept in till now at last; at the hearing whereof, the other relinquisheth his right in the land, since it was so encumbered. It is a witty and pious advice that a grave divine giveth; When thou art making a covenant with sin, saith he, say to thy soul as Boaz did to his kinsman, At what time thou buyest it, thou must have Ruth with it. If thou wilt have the pleasure of sin, the wages of wickedness, thou must also have the curse that is due to it. And let thy soul answer as he there doth, No, I may not do it, I shall mar and spoil a better inheritance.


Verse 6

Ruth 4:6 And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem [it] for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem [it].

Ver. 6. I cannot redeem it.] And again, I cannot redeem it. Note here: (1.) His verbosity; see the like, Ecclesiastes 10:14; {See Trapp on "Ecclesiastes 1:14"} (2.) His levity and inconstancy, aliud stuns, aliud sedens, erewhile he could, but now he cannot. (a) And why so?

Lest I mar mine own inheritance.] Oh! take heed of that by any means: this is the worldling’s greatest care; he preferreth haram domesticam arae domicae, a swine sty before a sanctuary: and feareth more iacturam regionis quam religionis, the loss of his part in Paris, than of his part in paradise, with that carnal cardinal. But what meant this man by marring his inheritance, in marrying the widow? First, she was poor; and then the old woman must be kept too, which would be a double charge. More than this: she might fill him with children, and so weaken his inheritance, while it was divided among so many. Or if he had but one child only by her, he should lack an heir to bear his own name: for the child must bear the name of his kinsman deceased: he should but beget children on another man’s bed, &c. Quae vero illa fuit vel impudentia vel audacia? saith Lavater here. What strange impudency was it thus to reason, and thus to resolve! Would this man be wiser than God? Is it not he who preserveth families, and blesseth those that obey his commandments, &c. But this fellow hath many fellows in these our days, &c.


Verse 7

Ruth 4:7 Now this [was the manner] in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave [it] to his neighbour: and this [was] a testimony in Israel.

Ver. 7. Now this was the manner.] Tyrannus ille trium literarum, Mos, permultum apud omnes gentes invaluit. Several nations have their several customs and ceremonies. In this, there was some resemblance of that which had been appointed by Moses, [Deuteronomy 25:9] but only there was some alteration crept in. (a)

A man plucked off his shoe.] In token of giving place to another; whence some will have it that David went barefoot from Jerusalem when Absalom was up against him. And others herehence expound that speech of his, Psalms 60:8. Possessio est quasi pedum positio. In taking possession, a man goeth and setteth his foot upon the possession: and the giving his shoe to his neighbour, is a symbol of foregoing his right to him, so that he may not pass that way, but upon sufferance. Among us, a man may sue another for treading upon his grass: but such extremity is utterly void of charity.


Verse 8

Ruth 4:8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy [it] for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

Ver. 8. So he drew off his shoe.] See Ruth 4:7. Answerable hereunto is that custom amongst us, of giving possession by turf and twig, by taking up a piece of earth and laying it upon the deed or writing, &c.


Verse 9

Ruth 4:9 And Boaz said unto the elders, and [unto] all the people, Ye [are] witnesses this day, that I have bought all that [was] Elimelech’s, and all that [was] Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.

Ver. 9. Ye are witnesses this day.] Fit witnesses ye are, because eyewitnesses: and faithful I hope ye will be, if I need your testimony. Boaz’s care was to make all sure in his new purchase: so it was Abraham’s. [Genesis 23:13-18 Jeremiah 32:10-11; Jeremiah 32:25]


Verse 10

Ruth 4:10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye [are] witnesses this day.

Ver. 10. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess.] But a proselyte: not such as were Solomon’s mistresses of Moab, who caused him to sin, [Nehemiah 13:26] but such as was Jether, by nature an Ishmaelite, [1 Chronicles 2:17] but by his faith and religion an Israelite. [2 Samuel 17:25]

Have I purchased to be my wife.] Neither could he pay too dear for such a purchase, since procul prae unionibus precium eius, "her price is far above rubies." [Proverbs 31:10] A good wife was one of the first real and royal gifts bestowed on Adam.

And from the gate of his place.] Hence some note that Elimelech had been a man of authority among them, an elder and judge in the gate.


Verse 11

Ruth 4:11 And all the people that [were] in the gate, and the elders, said, [We are] witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:

Ver. 11. We are witnesses.] And will be ready to help the truth in necessity. "A faithful witness will not lie," saith Solomon. Among the Turks, those that bear false witness have their tongues shaved and washed in vinegar.

The Lord make the woman.] Marriage, though no sacrament, as Papists make it, yet is it to be solemnised, as here, and sanctified with prayer; as being a holy ordinance, and an honourable estate.

That is come into thy house.] Or, Shortly is to come, and to share with thee in all. The heathen truly saith, that every man when he marrieth bringeth either a good or an evil spirit into his house; and so maketh it either a heaven or a hell.

Like Rachel and like Leah.] Amiable as Rachel, fruitful as Leah: both are from God, and to be prayed for, as here. Love is the inward cement of married couples: fruitfulness furthereth love betwixt them.

And do thou worthily in Ephratah.] Te fortem et strenuum praebe; show thyself a worthy man, as 1 Kings 1:52; do good among thy people, as Ezekiel 18:18; be public spirited, though to private disadvantage, and this way get renown. Some render it, Compara tibi opes, vel potestatem, Get thee riches or power: for marriage requireth maintenance, neither is it a little that the gulf of housekeeping swalloweth up.

And be famous (a) in Bethlehem.] Fame waiteth upon worth. The poets feign that Achilles’s sepulchre in Sigaeum is surrounded with green amaranth. Agesilaus, being asked how ενδοξια, renown, may be attained, answered, Si quis loquatur quae sunt optima, et faciat quae sunt honestissima. If a man set himself to say well and do well; but especially the latter. Cicero worthily preferreth Cato before Socrates, Quoniam huius dicta, illius facta laudantur, because the latter is famous for his sayings, the former for his doings.


Verse 12

Ruth 4:12 And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.

Ver. 12. And let thy house be like the house of Pharez.] That breach maker, as the midwife called him, because he would needs be born before his brother, and carried away the first birthright: and afterwards became happy in a numerous and honourable posterity, though he were basely begotten, and that in incest also. [Genesis 38:15; Genesis 38:18; Genesis 38:29] {See Trapp on "Matthew 1:3"} This prayer of the people for Boaz and Ruth God graciously heard and granted: for they: had children, and wealth, and honour: of them came many and mighty kings, yea, "Messiah the Prince," "who is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen." [Romans 9:5]

Of the seed which the Lord shall give thee.] Children are called seed: as if the parents were but the husk only. Here I cannot but insert what I read in the Life of Luther, (a) that he being present at the marriage of Philip, duke of Pomerania, with Mary, daughter to the elector of Saxony, prayed heartily for a blessing thereupon; and taking Philip by the hand, said, The Lord God be with you, and keep your posterity from failing. But his wife continuing barren four years, all his male stock was like to be extinct. Yet at length, by God’s blessing, according to Luther’s prayer, he had seven sons by her, which wonderfully enlarged that noble family.


Verse 13

Ruth 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

Ver. 13. So Boaz took Ruth.] Solemnly, in the face of that assembly, where, it appeareth by the former verse, she was personally present.

And when he went in unto her.] A modest expression of the marriage act. (a) Note this against those broad spoken barbarologi qui dum spurcetias Veneris eliminant, non aliud quam podicem ex ore faciunt.

The Lord gave her conception.] By Boaz an old man: whereas by her first husband, a young man, she had no child. This was, therefore, a singular act of God’s blessing.

And she bare a son.] Which was greater joy than to have born a daughter; not only because he was columen familiae, the upholder of the name and family, but especially because they looked for the Messiah of the line of Judah. And this was, indeed, the end wherefore this Book of Ruth was written, to continue and declare the genealogy of Christ, and what patriarchs lived from Judah (to whom Shiloh was promised) to David, to whom that promise was renewed. But how blank were the foolish Jews when they saw the long hoped for issue of their late Jewish virgin turned to a daughter!


Verse 14

Ruth 4:14 And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed [be] the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.

Ver. 14. And the women said unto Naomi.] This was a holy way of gossipping. So Luke 1:58. God was praised and called upon: the time was not wasted in idle chat and frivolous prattle, much less in scurrility and ribaldry.

Which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman.] So good a kinsnmn, or redeemer, as Boaz, so hopeful a kinsman as Obed, to take charge of thee, and care for thee.

That his name may be famous in Israel.] This the men had wished, [Ruth 4:11] and now the women second it. This cheered up the old woman’s heart exceedingly, whose last years were very happy, as were likewise Jacob’s, Joseph’s, Esther’s, &c. The Jews, after their seventy years’ captivity, had seven seventies of years (Daniel’s weeks) granted for the enjoyment of their own country.


Verse 15

Ruth 4:15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of [thy] life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.

Ver. 15. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life.] A joyless life is a lifeless life. Mortis habet vices quae trahitur vita gemitibus. Such had been Naomi’s life for a long while, till now that God had raised her up a restorer. "Now we live," &c. [1 Thessalonians 3:8]

And a nourisher of thine old age.] Children should nourish their old parents, and supply their wants, αντι πελαργων. Storks and mice feed their dams when old: boughs incline and bend down toward the root; and in summer, receiving from the root leaves, flowers, and fruit, they let them fall again in winter, to the fatting and nourishing of the root. Unkind and unnatural children are like kites, {bird of prey} which, when grown strong, expel their dams, and with their bills and wings beat them out of the nest.

For thy daughter-in-law, which loveth thee … hath born him.] And it is to be hoped that he will not degenerate, or grow out of kind: for partus sequitur ventrem, the birth followeth the belly, as the proverb is.


Verse 16

Ruth 4:16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.

Ver. 16. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom.] Next her heart, to show her great love and tender affection, though she were but mother-in-law to his mother. What, then, may we think of Ruth, own mother to Obed? There is an ocean of love in a parent’s heart.

φιλτρω μεν συνεδησε θεος γονεας τε τοκους τε.”

Grandfathers and grandmothers oft love their grandchildren better than their own, for love descendeth.

And became his nurse.] A dry nurse no doubt, a foster nurse, a faithful nurse, as the Hebrew word importeth, not a milk nurse, for she was too old to give it suck. That was a miracle, if true, that is reported of the old woman of Bolton in Lancashire, who, when that town was plundered by Prince Rupert in our late unnatural wars, took up a child that lay pitifully crying at the breasts of her slain mother, and having neither food for herself nor for the infant in that common calamity, to still the child, laid it to her breast: and although she were aged above seventy years, and had not given suck above twenty years before, yet the child sucking, milk came into her breasts wherewith she nourished it, to the admiration and astonishment of all beholders. This, saith my reverend author, (a) is attested by three godly ministers, and various others of good credit, who were eyewitnesses of the same.


Verse 17

Ruth 4:17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he [is] the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Ver. 17. And the women her neighbours gave it a name.] Those good women, spoken of before, [Ruth 4:14] persuaded the parents to give the child that name, either when it was born or when it came to be circumcised, which was the usual time.

There is a son born to Naomi.] Now no longer Marah, but a joyful mother; for grandmothers also are so called; and this child was born for her good and comfort. See a like phrase in Isaiah 9:6, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given."

And they called his name Obed,] i.e., A servitor, a servant of God, - a Theodulus, as Lavater gives the reason, - who hath promised to spare his people, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. [Malachi 3:17] Others say he was so called because he should serve as a comforter to old Naomi, as the the women said. [Ruth 4:15]

He is the father of Jesse.] Who was Vir bonus et honestus, saith one, minus tamen clarus [2 Samuel 17:27] He is also called Nahash; and that for his serpentine prudence, saith the Chaldee Paraphrast.

The father of David.] God’s darling, as his name signifieth, a notable type of Christ, and his most famous progenitor.


Verse 18

Ruth 4:18 Now these [are] the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,

Ver. 18. These are the generations.] This catalogue showeth that Shiloh came of Judah, according to the promise.


Verse 19

Ruth 4:19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,

Ver. 19. Hezron.] Who went down with Jacob into Egypt. His firstborn, Jerahmeel, [1 Chronicles 2:9] is passed by in this catalogue.

Ram begat Amminadab.] Whose daughter Elishebah became wife to Aaron.


Verse 20

Ruth 4:20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,

Ver. 20. Nahshon.] Prince of Judah, the first standard.


Verse 21

Ruth 4:21 And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,

Ver. 21. And Salmon begat Boaz.] Whom the Chaldee calleth that just man, by whose prayers the land was freed of the famine.

And Boaz begat Obed,] i.e., Obedient. The Prince of Wales’a word is Ich Dien, I serve.

Laus Deo

 


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

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Friday, October 30th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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