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1. Naomi and Ruth

1And it came to pass in the days when the judges judged, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2And 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 Bethlehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3And Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4And 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 dwelt there about ten years. 5And Mahlon and Chilion died both of them; and the woman was left of her two children and of her husband.

6Then 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 Jehovah had visited his people in giving them bread. 7And 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. 8And Naomi said unto her two daughters-in-law, Go, return each of you to her mother's house: Jehovah deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9Jehovah 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. 10And they said unto her, Nay, but we will return with thee unto thy people. 11And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should even have a husband to-night, and should also bear sons; 13would ye therefore tarry till they were grown? would ye therefore stay from having husbands? nay, my daughters, for it grieveth me much for your sakes, for the hand of Jehovah is gone forth against me. 14And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clave unto her.

15And she said, Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her god: return thou after thy sister-in-law. 16And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, and 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; 17where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: Jehovah do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me. 18And when she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, she left off speaking unto her.

19So 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 the women said, Is this Naomi? 20And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara; for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21I went out full, and Jehovah hath brought me home again empty; why call ye me Naomi, seeing Jehovah hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? 22So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

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Ru 1:1-5. Elimelech, Driven by Famine into Moab, Dies There.

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 (1Ch 4:22).

Ephrathites—The ancient name of Beth-lehem was Ephrath (Ge 35:19; 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 (De 7:3; 23:3; Ezr 9:2; Ne 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.

Ru 1:6-18. Naomi Returning Home, Ruth Accompanies Her.

6, 7. 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 (Ge 38:26) afterwards expressly sanctioned by the law of Moses (De 25:5), which required a younger son to marry the widow of his deceased brother.

12, 13. 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].

Ru 1:19-22. They Come to Beth-lehem.

19-22. 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.

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