Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Of one. Hebrew, “And it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled.” (Haydock) — The and shews the connection with the former book. (Calmet) — Land. Chaldean adds, “of Israel,” (Menochius) while the less fertile country of Moab had abundance. God thus punished the idolatry of his people. Some say the famine lasted ten years; but this is uncertain, though Noemi continued so long out of the country, ver. 4. (Salien)
Ver. 2. Elimelech. Josephus and others read erroneously, Abimelech. He was probably called also Jokim, 1 Paralipomenon iv. 22. — Ephrathites. This title often designates people of the tribe of Ephraim; (Judges xii. 5., and 1 Kings i. 2,) but here it means those of Ephrata, which is also called Bethlehem of Juda, about five or six miles south of Jerusalem, Genesis xxxv. 19., and Micheas v. 2. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Ruth was the wife of Mahalon; (chap. iv. 10,) and signifies one “well watered, (Menochius) or inebriated,” &c. (Haydock) — The sons of Noemi were excused by necessity in marrying idolaters, though they ought to have done their best to convert them. The Chaldean greatly condemns their marriage, and thinks that their death was in punishment of their prevarication, Deuteronomy vii. 3. and xx. 11. (Calmet) — Salien is of the same opinion. So various have always been the sentiments of people on this head! (Haydock) See Serarius, q. 11.
Ver. 8. Mothers, who had separate apartments from the men. (Calmet) — Me. They had behaved with great respect and love towards their husbands, and towards Noemi, whom they even wish to accompany. (Menochius) — The pronouns in this, and verses 9, 11, 13, and 19, are surprisingly corrupted in Hebrew being masculine or feminine, where we should expect the contrary. (Kennicott)
Ver. 9. Take. She proposes marriage to them, as a state more suitable to their years, (Haydock) and wishes that they may experience none of its solicitudes, (1 Corinthians vii. 28,) but be constantly protected by their husbands. Widows are exposed to many difficulties. (Menochius)
Ver. 11. Of me. Hence it appears that the Rabbins are under a mistake, when they say that those children who are born after the death of their brothers, are not obliged to take their widows.
Ver. 13. Marry. Hebrew, “would you stay for them from having husbands?”
Ver. 14. And returned, is not expressed in Hebrew. But the Septuagint have, “and she returned to her people.” (Haydock).
Ver. 15. To her gods, &c. Noemi did not mean to persuade Ruth to return to the false gods she had formerly worshipped; but by this manner of speech, insinuated to her, that if she would go with her, she must renounce her false gods, and turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. (Challoner) — She wished to try her constancy. (Salien) — Most infer from this passage, that Orpha was never converted, or that she relapsed. — Her gods, may indeed be rendered in the singular, “god.” But what god was peculiar to her and the Moabites, but Chamos? (Calmet) — Noemi might well fear that Orpha would give way to the superstition of her countrymen, to which she had been addicted, even though she might have made profession of serving the true God, while she lived with her. (Haydock).
Ver. 17. The Lord do so and so, &c. A form of swearing usual in the history of the Old Testament, by which the person wished such and such evils to fall upon them, if they did not do what they said. (Challoner) — It is not certain that they expressed what particular evils. (Calmet) — They might be willing to undergo any punishment, if they should transgress. (Haydock) — The pagans used a similar form of imprecation, 3 Kings xix., and 4 Kings xx. 10. (Calmet)
Ver. 19. That Noemi. This exclamation might proceed either from surprise, or from contempt. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. That is. The explanations are added by St. Jerome. (Haydock) — Noemi had formerly a husband and two sons, with great riches, of which she was now deprived. (Worthington)
Ver. 21. Almighty. Hebrew Sadai, (“the self-sufficient) hath afflicted.”
Ver. 22. Harvest. About the month of Nisan, or our March (Calmet) and April. (Menochius)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Elimelech of Bethlehem going with his wife Noemi, and two sons, into the land of Moab, dieth there. His sons marry wives of that country, and die without issue. Noemi returneth home with her daughter-in-law, Ruth, who refuseth to part with her.
1 In the *days of one of the judges, when the judges ruled, there came a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem Juda, went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons.
2 He was named Elimelech, and his wife, Noemi: and his two sons, the one Mahalon, and the other Chelion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem Juda. And entering into the country of Moab, they abode there.
3 And Elimelech the husband of Noemi died: and she remained with her sons.
4 And they took wives of the women of Moab, of which one was called Orpha, and the other Ruth. And they dwelt there ten years,
5 And they both died, to wit, Mahalon and Chelion: and the woman was left alone, having lost both her sons and her husband.
6 And she arose to go from the land of Moab to her own country, with both her daughters-in-law: for she had heard that the Lord had looked upon his people, and had given them food.
7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place of her sojournment, with both her daughters-in-law: and being now in the way to return into the land of Juda,
8 She said to them: Go ye home to your mothers, the Lord deal mercifully with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.
9 May he grant you to find rest in the houses of the husbands which you shall take. And she kissed them. And they lifted up their voice, and began to weep,
10 And to say: We will go on with thee to thy people.
11 But she answered them: Return, my daughters, why come ye with me? have I any more sons in my womb, that you may hope for husbands of me?
12 Return again, my daughters, and go your ways: for I am now spent with age, and not fit for wedlock. Although I might conceive this night, and bear children,
13 If you would wait till they were grown up, and come to man’s estate, you would be old women before you marry. Do not so, my daughters, I beseech you: for I am grieved the more for your distress, and the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.
14 And they lifted up their voice, and began to weep again: Orpha kissed her mother-in-law and returned: Ruth stuck close to her mother-in-law.
15 And Noemi said to her: Behold thy kinswoman is returned to her people, and to her gods, go thou with her.
16 She answered: Be not against me, to desire that I should leave thee and depart: for whithersoever thou shalt go, I will go: and where thou shalt dwell, I also will dwell. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
17 The land that shall receive thee dying, in the same will I die: and there will I be buried. The Lord do so and so to me, and add more also, if ought but death part me and thee.
18 Then Noemi seeing that Ruth was steadfastly determined to go with her, would not be against it, nor persuade her any more to return to her friends:
19 So they went together, and came to Bethlehem. And when they were come into the city, the report was quickly spread among all: and the women said: This is that Noemi.
20 But she said to them: Call me not Noemi (that is, beautiful), but call me Mara (that is, bitter), for the Almighty hath quite filled me with bitterness.
21 I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me back empty. Why then do you call me Noemi, whom the Lord hath humbled, and the Almighty hath afflicted?
22 So Noemi came with Ruth, the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, from the land of her sojournment: and returned into Bethlehem, in the beginning of the barley harvest.
1: Year of the World about 2706, Year before Christ 1298.