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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Ruth 4

 

 


Verse 1

Ruth 4:1. Then went Boaz up to the gate — Where the elders sat. The Chaldee interprets it, “He went up to the gate of the house of judgment, where the Sanhedrim sat.” Behold, the kinsman came by — Providence so ordering it that he should come by thus opportunely when the matter was ready to be proposed to him. Great affairs are frequently much furthered and expedited by small circumstances.


Verse 2

Ruth 4:2. He took ten men — To be witnesses; for though two or three witnesses were sufficient, yet in weightier matters they used more. And ten was the usual number among the Jews in causes of matrimony and divorce, and translation of inheritances; who were both judges of the causes and witnesses of the fact.


Verse 3

Ruth 4:3. Naomi — Both Naomi and Ruth had an interest in this land during their lives, but he mentions only Naomi, because all was done by her direction; lest the mention of Ruth should raise a suspicion of the necessity of his marrying Ruth, before he had given his answer to the first proposition. Which was our brother Elimelech’s — He calls him their brother, because he was near of kin to them. And he mentions Naomi’s return out of the country of Moab, to intimate that her poverty constrained her to sell her estate which her husband left her.


Verse 4-5

Ruth 4:4-5. I thought to advertise thee — I have had it in my mind to speak to thee about it. There is none to redeem it besides thee — That is, thou hast the first right to do so; for it is plain Boaz had a right, but it was in the second place: and if he had refused, the next kinsman would have had the right, and so on. Thou must buy it also of Ruth — According to the law, Deuteronomy 25:5. To raise up seed — To revive his name, which was buried with his body, by raising up a seed to him to be called by his name.


Verse 6

Ruth 4:6. Lest I mar mine own inheritance — It seems he had a wife and children already, which made him afraid to marry a poor woman with a small parcel of land, which would not provide for the children he might have by her, lest he should thereby diminish the inheritance of which he was already possessed. The Chaldee paraphrase on the passage is, “I cannot redeem it on this condition,” namely, the condition of marrying Ruth; “because I have a wife already, and do not choose to bring another into my house, lest quarrels and divisions arise in it, and I hurt my own inheritance.”


Verse 7

Ruth 4:7. Now this was the manner in Israel, &c. — We do not know that there was any law of God enjoining any such ceremony as is here mentioned; but only it was a long-established custom to act thus in transferring one man’s right in any land to another. To confirm all things That is, in all alienation of lands. So that it is no wonder if this ceremony differ a little from that mentioned Deuteronomy 25:9, because that concerned only one case, but this is more general. Besides, he alleges, not the command of God, but only ancient custom for this practice. A man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour — That is, he who relinquished his right to another did this. The reason of the custom, as Bishop Patrick observes, is plain enough, “it being a natural signification that the man resigned his interest in the land by giving to the person redeeming his shoe wherewith he used to walk in it, to the end that he might enter into it, and take possession of it himself.” Or it might signify that as he pulled off, and divested himself of his shoe, so he divested himself of that which he was about to surrender. “It is now the custom with us,” says Rabbi Jarchi, “that a handkerchief or veil be given, instead of a shoe, when we purchase any thing.” This was a testimony in Israel — This was admitted for sufficient evidence in all such cases.


Verse 10

Ruth 4:10. Ruth the Moabitess have I purchased to be my wife — He had her by the right of the same purchase, and did not succeed into the right of a brother, as mentioned Deuteronomy 25.; for he was not a brother to Elimelech, but only a remote kinsman of the same family, who could not enjoy the land while she lived, unless he would take her with it; to whom it belonged while she lived, and was to go to her issue when she died. From the gate of his place — That is, from among the inhabitants dwelling within the gate of his city, which was Beth-lehem-judah.


Verse 11

Ruth 4:11. Rachel and Leah — Amiable and fruitful. These two are singled out, because they were of a foreign original, and yet ingrafted into God’s people, as Ruth was; and because of that fertility which God vouchsafed unto them above their predecessors, Sarah and Rebecca. Rachel is placed before Leah, because she was his most lawful and best beloved wife. Which two did build the house of Israel — Were blessed with a numerous posterity. They do not mention the two handmaids, because the former were Jacob’s principal wives, whose servants bare children not for themselves, but their mistresses.


Verse 12

Ruth 4:12. Like the house of Pharez — As honourable and numerous as his family was; whom, though he also was born of a stranger, God so blessed, that his family was one of the five families to which all the tribe of Judah belonged, and the progenitor of the inhabitants of this city.


Verse 13

Ruth 4:13. Took Ruth — Which he might do, though she was a Moabitess, because the prohibition against marrying such is to be restrained to those who continued heathen; whereas Ruth was a sincere proselyte and convert to the God of Israel. Thus he that forsakes all for Christ, shall find more than all with him.


Verse 14

Ruth 4:14. The women said unto Naomi — After Ruth’s delivery. Which hath not left thee without a kinsman — The words may be rendered, who hath not made, or suffered, thy kinsman to fail thee; that is, to refuse to perform his duty to thee and thine, as the other kinsman did. The Hebrew גאל, goel, which we translate kinsman, properly belonged to Boaz, and not to his son who was born; and yet the women seem to speak this with a reference to the child, which probably induced the Arabic translator to render it, hath not left thee without an heir. That his name may — Hebrew, and his name shall be famous in Israel; On account of this noble and worthy action.


Verse 15

Ruth 4:15. A restorer of thy life — Of the comfort of thy life, such a comfort as to make thee, in some sort, young again. For they hoped the child would inherit his mother’s virtues, and particularly her affection to Naomi, which was so surpassing, that it made her a greater blessing to her than a great many children of her own body would have been. Better than seven sons — See how God sometimes makes up the want of those relations from whom we expected most comfort, in those from whom we expected least! The bonds of love prove stronger than those of nature.


Verse 17

Ruth 4:17. Her neighbours gave it a name — That is, gave her advice about his name; for it did not belong to them, but to the father or mother, to name the child. They called his name Obed — That is, a servant, meaning to express their hopes that he would nourish, comfort, and assist her, duties which children owe to their progenitors. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David — For whose sake chiefly this whole book seems to have been written, that it might be certainly known from whom he was descended, the Messiah being to spring from him; which is the reason why the following genealogy is annexed for the conclusion of this book.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ruth 4:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ruth-4.html. 1857.

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Thursday, December 3rd, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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