1Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the land of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.2The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the land of Moab and remained there.3Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons.4And they took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt there about ten years.5Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman survived her two children and her husband.6Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that Jehovah had visited His people by giving them bread.7Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.8And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each to her mother's house. Jehovah deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.9Jehovah grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband. And she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.10And they said to her, Surely we will return with you to your people.11And Naomi said, Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?12Turn back, my daughters, go; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons,13would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of Jehovah has gone out against me!14And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.15And she said, Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.16But Ruth said: Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.17Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. Jehovah do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.18When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.19So the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was in a stir because of them; and they said, Is this Naomi?20And she said to them, Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.21I went out full, and Jehovah has brought me back home empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since Jehovah has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?22Thus Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the land of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Jamieson Fausset Brown Bible Commentary 1
ELIMELECH, DRIVEN BY FAMINE INTO MOAB, DIES THERE. (Ruth 1:1
in the days when the judges ruled--The beautiful and interesting story which this book relates belongs to the early times of the judges. The precise date cannot be ascertained. 2
Elimelech--signifies "My God is king."
Naomi--"fair or pleasant"; and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, are supposed to be the same as Joash and Saraph (1Chr 4:22
Ephrathites--The ancient name of Beth-lehem was Ephrath (Gen 35:19
; Gen 48:7
), which was continued after the occupation of the land by the Hebrews, even down to the time of the prophet Micah (Mic 5:2
Beth-lehem-judah--so called to distinguish it from a town of the same name in Zebulun. The family, compelled to emigrate to Moab through pressure of a famine, settled for several years in that country. After the death of their father, the two sons married Moabite women. This was a violation of the Mosaic law (Deut 7:3
; Deut 23:3
; Ezra 9:2
; Neh 13:23
); and Jewish writers say that the early deaths of both the young men were divine judgments inflicted on them for those unlawful connections. 6
NAOMI RETURNING HOME, RUTH ACCOMPANIES HER. (Ruth 1:6
Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, that she might return from the country of Moab--The aged widow, longing to enjoy the privileges of Israel, resolved to return to her native land as soon as she was assured that the famine had ceased, and made the necessary arrangements with her daughters-in-law. 8
Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each to her mother's house--In Eastern countries women occupy apartments separate from those of men, and daughters are most frequently in those of their mother.
the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead--that is, with my sons, your husbands, while they lived. 9
The Lord grant you that ye may find rest--enjoy a life of tranquillity, undisturbed by the cares, incumbrances, and vexatious troubles to which a state of widowhood is peculiarly exposed.
Then she kissed them--the Oriental manner when friends are parting. 11
are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?--This alludes to the ancient custom (Gen 38:26
) afterwards expressly sanctioned by the law of Moses (Deut 25:5
), which required a younger son to marry the widow of his deceased brother. 12
Turn again, my daughters, go your way--That Naomi should dissuade her daughters-in-law so strongly from accompanying her to the land of Israel may appear strange. But it was the wisest and most prudent course for her to adopt: first, because they might be influenced by hopes which could not be realized; second, because they might be led, under temporary excitement, to take a step they might afterwards regret; and, third, because the sincerity and strength of their conversion to the true religion, which she had taught them, would be thoroughly tested. 13
the hand of the Lord is gone out against me--that is, I am not only not in a condition to provide you with other husbands, but so reduced in circumstances that I cannot think of your being subjected to privations with me. The arguments of Naomi prevailed with Orpah, who returned to her people and her gods. But Ruth clave unto her; and even in the pages of Sterne, that great master of pathos, there is nothing which so calls forth the sensibilities of the reader as the simple effusion he has borrowed from Scripture--of Ruth to her mother-in-law [CHALMERS]. 19
THEY COME TO BETH-LEHEM. (Ruth 1:19
all the city was moved about them--The present condition of Naomi, a forlorn and desolate widow, presented so painful a contrast to the flourishing state of prosperity and domestic bliss in which she had been at her departure. 22
in the beginning of barley harvest--corresponding to the end of our March.