Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The Book of Ruth
(Note: The book of Ruth does not indeed belong to the prophetical books of history so far as its historical character is concerned, and even in the Hebrew canon it is placed among the hagiographa; but as its contents directly follow upon those of the book of Judges, it seemed advisable to place the exposition immediately after that of Judges.)
Content, Character, and Origin of the Book of Ruth
The book of Ruth (Ῥούθ) introduces us to the family life of the ancestors of king David, and informs us, in a simple and attractive form of historical narrative, and one in harmony with the tender and affectionate contents, how Ruth the Moabitess, a daughter-in-law of the Bethlehemite Elimelech, of the family of Judah, who had emigrated with his wife and his two sons into the land of Moab on account of a famine, left father and mother, fatherland and kindred, after the death of her husband, and out of childlike affection to her Israelitish mother-in-law Naomi, whose husband had also died in the land of Moab, and went with her to Judah, to take refuge under the wings of the God of Israel (Ruth 1); and how, when there, as she was going in her poverty to glean some ears of corn in the field of a wealthy man, she came apparently by accident to the field of Boaz, a near relation of Elimelech, and became acquainted with this honourable and benevolent man (Ruth 2); how she then sought marriage with him by the wish of her mother-in-law (Ruth 3), and was taken by him as a wife, according to the custom of Levirate marriage, in all the ordinary legal forms, and bare a son in this marriage, named Obed. This Obed was the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:1-17), with whose genealogy the book closes (Ruth 4:18-22).
In this conclusion the meaning and tendency of the whole narrative is brought clearly to light. The genealogical proof of the descent of David from Perez through Boaz and the Moabitess Ruth (Ruth 4:18-22) forms not only the end, but he starting-point, of the history contained in the book. For even if we should not attach so much importance to this genealogy as to say with Auberlen that "the book of Ruth contains, as it were, the inner side, the spiritually moral background of the genealogies which play so significant a part even in the Israelitish antiquity;" so much is unquestionably true, that the book contains a historical picture from the family life of the ancestors of David, intended to show how the ancestors of this great king walked uprightly before God and man in piety and singleness of heart, an din modesty and purity of life. "Ruth, the Moabitish great-great-grandmother of David, longed for the God and people of Israel to them with all the power of love; and Boaz was an upright Israelite, without guile, full of holy reverence for every ordinance of God and man, and full of benevolent love and friendliness towards the poor heathen woman. From such ancestors was the man descended in whom all the nature of Israel was to find its royal concentration and fullest expression" (Auberlen). But there is also a Messianic trait in the fact that Ruth, a heathen woman, of a nation so hostile to the Israelites as that of Moab was, should have been thought worthy to be made the tribe-mother of the great and pious king David, on account of her faithful love to the people of Israel, and her entire confidence in Jehovah, the God of Israel. As Judah begat Perez from Tamar and Canaanitish woman (Genesis 38), and as Rahab was adopted into the congregation of Israel (Joshua 6:25), and according to ancient tradition was married to Salmon (Matthew 1:5), so the Moabitess Ruth was taken by Boaz as his wife, and incorporated in the family of Judah, from which Christ was to spring according to the flesh (see Matthew 1:3, Matthew 1:5, where these three women are distinctly mentioned by name in the genealogy of Jesus).
The incidents described in the book fall within the times of the judges (Ruth 1:1), and most probably in the time of Gideon (see at Ruth 1:1); and the book itself forms both a supplement to the book of Judges and an introduction to the books of Samuel, which give no account of the ancestors of David. So far as its contents are concerned it has its proper place, in the Septuagint, the Vulgate, the Lutheran and other versions, between the book of Judges and those of Samuel. In the Hebrew Codex, on the contrary, it is placed among the hagiographa, and in the Talmud (bab bathr.f. 14b) it is even placed at the head of them before the Psalms; whilst in the Hebrew MSS it stands among the five megilloth: Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther. The latter position is connected with the liturgical use of the book in the synagogue, where it was read at the feast of weeks; whilst its place among the hagiographa is to be explained from the principle upon which the general arrangement of the Old Testament canon was founded, - namely, that the different books were divided into three classes according to the relation in which their authors stood to God and to the theocracy, and the books themselves in their contents and spirit to the divine revelation (see Keil, Lehrbuch der Einleitung, 155).
The latter is therefore to be regarded as the original classification, and not the one in the Septuagint rendering, where the original arrangement has unquestionably been altered in the case of this and other books, just because this principle has been overlooked.
(Note: Many critics of the present day, indeed, appeal to the testimony of Josephus and the earlier fathers as favouring the opposite view, viz., that the book of Ruth was originally placed at the close of the book of Judges, to which it formed an appendix. Josephus (c. Ap. i. 8) reckons, as is well known, only twenty-two books of the Old Testament; and the only way by which this number can be obtained is by joining together the books of Judges and Ruth, so as to form one book. Again, Melito of Sardes, who lives in the second century, and took a journey into Palestine for the purpose of obtaining correct information concerning the sacred writings of the Jews (πόσα τὸν ἀριθμὸν καὶ ὁποῖα τὴν τάξιν εἶεν), places Ruth after Judges in the list which has been preserved by Eusebius (h. e. iv. 26), but does not give the number of the books, as Bertheau erroneously maintains, nor observes that "Judges and Ruth form one book under the name of Shofetim." This is first done by Origen in his list as given by Eusebius (h. e. vi. 25), where he states that the Hebrews had twenty-two ἐνδιαθήκους βίβλους, and then adds in the case of Ruth, παρ' αὐτοῖς ἐν ἑνὶ Σωφετὶμ. Ruth occupies the same place in the lists of the later Greek fathers, as in Rufinus (Expos. in Symb. Apost.) and Jerome (in Prolog. Gal.), the latter of whom makes this remark on the book of Judges, Et in eundem compingunt Ruth, quia in diebus Judicum facta ejus narratur historia; and after enumerating the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, adds, Quanquam nonnulli Ruth et Kinoth inter Hagiographa scriptitent et hos libros in suo putent numero supputandos, etc. But all these testimonies prove nothing more than that the Hellenistic Jews, who made use of the Old Testament in the Greek rendering of the lxx, regarded the book of Ruth as an appendix of the book of Judges, and not that the book of Ruth ever followed the book of Judges in the Hebrew canon, so as to form one book. The reduction of the sacred writings of the Old Testament to twenty-two is nothing more than the product of the cabbalistic and mystical numbers wrought out by the Hellenistic or Alexandrian Jews. If this numbering had been the original one, the Hebrew Jews would never have increased the number to twenty-four, since the Hebrew alphabet never contained twenty-four letters. Josephus, however, is not a witness with regard to the orthodox opinions of the Hebrew Jews, but was an eclectic and a Hellenist, who used the Old Testament in the Septuagint version and not in the original text, and who arranged the books of the Old Testament in the most singular manner. The fathers, too, with the exception of Jerome, whenever they give any account of their inquiries among the Jews with regard to the number and order of the books accepted by them as canonical, never give them in either the order or number found in the Hebrew canon, but simply according to the Septuagint version, which was the only one that the Christians understood. This is obvious in the case of Melito, from the fact that he reckons Βασιλειῶν τέσσαρα and Παραλειπομένων δύο, and places Daniel between the twelve minor prophets and Ezekiel. We find the same in Origen, although he gives the Hebrew names to the different books, and states in connection with the four books of Kings and the two books of Paralipomena, that the Hebrews named and numbered them differently. Lastly, it is true that Jerome arranges the writings of the Old Testament in his Prol. Gal. according to the three classes of the Hebrew canon; but he endeavours to bring the Hebrew mode of division and enumeration as much as possible into harmony with the Septuagint numbering and order as generally adopted in the Christian Church, and to conceal all existing differences. You may see this very clearly from his remarks as to the number of these books, and especially from the words, Porro quinque litterae duplices apud Hebraeos sunt, Caph, Mem, Nun, Pe, Sade ... Unde et quinque a plerisque libri duplices existimantur, Samuel, Melachim, Dibre Hajamim, Esdras, Jeremias cum Kintoh, i.e., Lamentationibus suis. For the plerique who adopt two books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, are not Hebrew but Hellenistic Jews, as the Hebrew Jews did not divide these writings in their canon into two books each, but this mode of dividing them was first introduced into the Hebrew Bibles by Dan. Bomberg from the Septuagint or Vulgate. The further remark of this father, quanquam nonnulli Ruth et Kinoth inter hagiographa scriptitent, etc., is also to be estimated in the same way, and the word nonnulli to be attributed to the conciliatory efforts of Jerome. And lastly, his remark concerning the connection between the book of Ruth and that of Judges is not to be regarded as any evidence of the position which this book occupied in the Hebrew canon, but simply as a proof of the place assigned it by the Hellenistic Jews.)
The book of Ruth is not a mere (say a third) appendix to the book of Judges, but a small independent work, which does indeed resemble the two appendices of the book of Judges, so far as the incidents recorded in it fall within the period of the Judges, and are not depicted in the spirit of the prophetic view of history; but, on the other hand, it has a thoroughly distinctive character both in form and contents, and has nothing in common with the book of Judges either in style or language: on the contrary, it differs essentially both in substance and design fro the substance and design of this book and of its two appendices, for the simple reason that at the close of the history (Ruth 4:17), where Obed, the son of Boaz and Ruth, is described as the grandfather of David, and still more clearly in the genealogy of Perez, which is brought down to David (Ruth 4:18-22), the book passes beyond the times of the JudGes. In this simple fact the author very plainly shows that his intention was not to give a picture of the family life of pious Israelites in the time of the judges from a civil and a religious point of view, but rather to give a biographical sketch of the pious ancestors of David the king.
The origin of the book of Ruth is involved in obscurity. From its contents, and more especially from the object so apparent in the close of the book, it may be inferred with certainty that it was not written earlier than the time of David's rule over Israel, and indeed not before the culminating point of the reign of this great king. There would therefore be an interval of 150 to 180 years between the events themselves and the writing of the book, during which time the custom mentioned in Ruth 4:7, of taking off the shoe in acts of trade and barter, which formerly existed in Israel, may have fallen entirely into disuse, so that the author might think it necessary to explain the custom for the information of his contemporaries. We have not sufficient ground for fixing a later date, say the time of the captivity; and there is no force in the arguments that have been adduced in support of this (see my Lehrb. der Einl. 137).The discovery that words and phrases such as מרגּלות (Ruth 3:7-8, Ruth 3:14), כּנפים פּרשׂ (Ruth 3:9), מקרה, chance (Ruth 2:3), either do not occur at all or only very rarely in the earlier writings, simply because the thing itself to which they refer is not mentioned, does not in the least degree prove that these words were not formed till a later age. The supposed Chaldaisms, however, - namely the forms תּעבוּרי and תּדבּקין (Ruth 2:8, Ruth 2:21), יקצרוּן (Ruth 2:9), שׂמתּ, ירדתּי, שׁכבתּי (Ruth 3:3-4), מרא for מרה (Ruth 1:20), or the use of להן, and of the ἁπ. λεγ. עגן (Ruth 1:13), etc., - we only meet with in the speeches of the persons acting, and never where the author himself is narrating; and consequently they furnish no proofs of the later origin of the book, but may be simply and fully explained from the fact, that the author received these forms and words from the language used in common conversation in the time of the judges, and has faithfully recorded them. We are rather warranted in drawing the conclusion from this, that he did not derive the contents of his work from oral tradition, but made use of written documents, with regard to the origin and nature of which, however, nothing certain can be determined.
Ruth Goes With Naomi to Bethlehem - Ruth 1
In the time of the judges Elimelech emigrated from Bethlehem in Judah into the land of Moab, along with his wife Naomi, and his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, because of a famine in the land (Ruth 1:1, Ruth 1:2). There Elimelech died; and his two sons married Moabitish women, named Orpah and Ruth. But in the course of ten years they also died, so that Naomi and her two daughters-in-law were left by themselves (Ruth 1:3-5). When Naomi heard that the Lord had once more blessed the land of Israel with bread, she set out with Orpah and Ruth to return home. But on the way she entreated them to turn back and remain with their relations in their own land; and Orpah did so (Ruth 1:6-14). But Ruth declared that she would not leave her mother-in-law, and went with her to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:15-22).
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.Elimelech's Emigration (Ruth 1:1, Ruth 1:2). - By the word ויהי the following account is attached to other well-known events (see at Joshua 1:1); and by the definite statement, "in the days when judges judged," it is assigned to the period of the judges generally. "A famine in the land," i.e., in the land of Israel, and not merely in the neighbourhood of Bethlehem. The time of this famine cannot be determined with certainty, although it seems very natural to connect it, as Seb. Schmidt and others do, with the devastation of the land by the Midianites (Judges 6); and there are several things which favour this. For example, the famine must have been a very serious one, and not only have extended over the whole of the land of Israel, but have lasted several years, since it compelled Elimelech to emigrate into the land of the Moabites; and it was not till ten years had elapsed, that his wife Naomi, who survived him, heard that Jehovah had given His people bread again, and returned to her native land (Ruth 1:4, Ruth 1:5).Now the Midianites oppressed Israel for seven years, and their invasions were generally attended by a destruction of the produce of the soil (Judges 6:3-4), from which famine must necessarily have ensued. Moreover, they extended their devastations as far as Gaza (Judges 6:4). And although it by no means follows with certainty from this, that they also came into the neighbourhood of Bethlehem, it is still less possible to draw the opposite conclusion, as Bertheau does, from the fact they encamped in the valley of Jezreel (Judges 6:33), and were defeated there by Gideon, namely, that they did not devastate the mountains of Judah, because the road from the plain of Jezreel to Gaza did not lie across those mountains. There is just as little force in the other objection raised by Bertheau, namely, that the genealogical list in Ruth 4:18. would not place Boaz in the time of Gideon, but about the time of the Philistian supremacy over Israel, since this objection is founded partly upon an assumption that cannot be established, and partly upon an erroneous chronological calculation. For example, the assumption that every member is included in this chronological series cannot be established, inasmuch as unimportant members are often omitted from the genealogies, so that Obed the son of Boaz might very well have been the grandfather of Jesse. And according to the true chronological reckoning, the birth of David, who died in the year 1015 b.c. at the age of seventy, fell in the year 1085, i.e., nine or ten years after the victory gained by Samuel over the Philistines, or after the termination of their forty years' rule over Israel, and only ninety-seven years after the death of Gideon (see the chronological table). Now David was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse. If therefore we place his birth in the fiftieth year of his father's life, Jesse would have been born in the first year of the Philistian oppression, or forty-eight years after the death of Gideon. Now it is quite possible that Jesse may also have been a younger son of Obed, and born in the fiftieth year of his father's life; and if so, the birth of Obed would fall in the last years of Gideon. From this at any rate so much may be concluded with certainty, that Boaz was a contemporary of Gideon, and the emigration of Elimelech into the land of Moab may have taken place in the time of the Midianitish oppression. "To sojourn in the fields of Moab," i.e., to live as a stranger there. The form שׂדי (Ruth 1:1, Ruth 1:2, Ruth 1:22, and Ruth 2:6) is not the construct state singular, or only another form for שׂדה, as Bertheau maintains, but the construct state plural of the absolute שׂדים, which does not occur anywhere, it is true, but would be a perfectly regular formation (comp. Isaiah 32:12; 2 Samuel 1:21, etc.), as the construct state singular is written שׂדה even in this book (Ruth 1:6 and Ruth 4:3). The use of the singular in these passages for the land of the Moabites by no means proves that שׂדי must also be a singular, but may be explained from the fact that the expression "the field ( equals the territory) of Moab" alternates with the plural, "the fields of Moab."
And 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 Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.אפרתים, the plural of אפרתי, an adjective formation, not from אפרים, as in Judges 12:5, but from אפרת (Genesis 48:7) or אפרתה (Ruth 4:11; Genesis 35:19), the old name for Bethlehem, Ephrathite, i.e., sprung from Bethlehem, as in 1 Samuel 17:12. The names - Elimelech, i.e., to whom God is King; Naomi (נעמי, a contraction of נעמית, lxx Νοομμείν, Vulg. Nomi), i.e., the gracious; Machlon, i.e., the weakly; and Chilion, pining - are genuine Hebrew names; whereas the names of the Moabitish women, Orpah and Ruth, who were married to Elimelech's sons, cannot be satisfactorily explained from the Hebrew, as the meaning given to Orpah, "turning the back," is very arbitrary, and the derivation of Ruth from רעוּת, a friend, is quite uncertain. According to Ruth 4:10, Ruth was the wife of the elder son Mahlon. Marriage with daughters of the Moabites was not forbidden in the law, like marriages with Canaanitish women (Deuteronomy 7:3); it was only the reception of Moabites into the congregation of the Lord that was forbidden (Deuteronomy 23:4).
And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.
And 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 dwelled there about ten years.
And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband."Thus the woman (Naomi) remained left (alone) of her two sons and her husband."
Then 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 the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.After the loss of her husband and her two sons, Naomi rose up out of the fields of Moab to return into the land of Judah, as she had heard that Jehovah had visited His people, i.e., had turned His favour towards them again to give them bread. From the place where she had lived Naomi went forth, along with her two daughters-in-law. These three went on the way to return to the land of Judah. The expression "to return," if taken strictly, only applies to Naomi, who really returned to Judah, whilst her daughters-in-law simply wished to accompany her thither.
Wherefore 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.
And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me."On the way," i.e., when they had gone a part of the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go, return each one to her mother's house," - not her father's, though, according to Ruth 2:11, Ruth's father at any rate was still living, but her mother's, because maternal love knows best how to comfort a daughter in her affliction. "Jehovah grant you that ye may find a resting-place, each one in the house of her husband," i.e., that ye may both be happily married again. She then kissed them, to take leave of them (vid., Genesis 31:28). The daughters-in-law, however, began to weep aloud, and said, "We will return with thee to thy people" כּי before a direct statement serves to strengthen it, and is almost equivalent to a positive assurance.
The LORD 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.
And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.
And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?Naomi endeavoured to dissuade them from this resolution, by setting before them the fact, that if they went with her, there would be no hope of their being married again, and enjoying the pleasures of life once more. "Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?" Her meaning is: I am not pregnant with sons, upon whom, as the younger brothers of Mahlon and Chilion, there would rest the obligation of marrying you, according to the Levitate law (Deuteronomy 25:5; Genesis 38:8). And not only have I no such hope as this, but, continues Naomi, in Ruth 1:12, Ruth 1:13, I have no prospect of having a husband and being blessed with children: "for I am too old to have a husband;" year, even if I could think of this altogether improbable thing as taking place, and assume the impossible as possible; "If I should say, I have hope (of having a husband), yea, if I should have a husband to-night, and should even bear sons, would ye then wait till they were grown, would ye then abstain from having husbands?" The כּי (if) before אמרתּי refers to both the perfects which follow. להן is the third pers. plur. neuter suffix הן with the prefix ל, as in Job 30:24, where הן is pointed with seghol, on account of the toned syllable which follows, as here in pause in Ruth 1:9 : lit. in these things, in that case, and hence in the sense of therefore equals לכן, as in Chaldee (e.g., Daniel 2:6, Daniel 2:9,Daniel 2:24, etc.). תּעגנה (vid., Isaiah 60:4, and Ewald, 195, a.), from עגן ἁπ. λεγ. in Hebrew, which signifies in Aramaean to hold back, shut in; hence in the Talmud עגוּנה, a woman who lived retired in her own house without a husband. Naomi supposes three cases in Ruth 1:12, of which each is more improbable, or rather more impossible, than the one before; and even if the impossible circumstance should be possible, that she should bear sons that very night, she could not in that case expect or advise her daughters-in-law to wait till these sons were grown up and could marry them, according to the Levirate law. In this there was involved the strongest persuasion to her daughters-in-law to give up their intention of going with her into the land of Judah, and a most urgent appeal to return to their mothers' houses, where, as young widows without children, they would not be altogether without the prospect of marrying again. One possible case Naomi left without notice, namely, that her daughters-in-law might be able to obtain other husbands in Judah itself. She did not hint at this, in the first place, and perhaps chiefly, from delicacy on account of the Moabitish descent of her daughters-in-law, in which she saw that there would be an obstacle to their being married in the land of Judah; and secondly, because Naomi could not do anything herself to bring about such a connection, and wished to confine herself therefore to the one point of making it clear to her daughters that in her present state it was altogether out of her power to provide connubial and domestic happiness for them in the land of Judah. She therefore merely fixed her mind upon the different possibilities of a Levirate marriage.
(Note: The objections raised by J. B. Carpzov against explaining Ruth 1:12 and Ruth 1:13 as referring to a Levirate marriage, - namely, that this is not to be thought of, because a Levirate marriage was simply binding upon brothers of the deceased by the same father and mother, and upon brothers who were living when he died, and not upon those born afterwards-have been overthrown by Bertheau as being partly without foundation, and partly beside the mark. In the first place, the law relating to the Levirate marriage speaks only of brothers of the deceased, by which, according to the design of this institution, we must certainly think of sons by one father, but not necessarily the sons by the same mother. Secondly, the law does indeed expressly require marriage with the sister-in-law only of a brother who should be in existence when her husband died, but it does not distinctly exclude a brother born afterwards; and this is the more evident from the fact that, according to the account in Genesis 38:11, this duty was binding upon brothers who were not grown up at the time, as soon as they should be old enough to marry. Lastly, Naomi merely says, in Ruth 1:12, that she was not with child by her deceased husband; and when she does take into consideration, in Ruth 1:12 and Ruth 1:13, the possibility of a future pregnancy, she might even then be simply thinking of an alliance with some brother of her deceased husband, and therefore of sons who would legally be regarded as sons of Elimelech. When Carpzov therefore defines the meaning of her words in this manner, "I have indeed no more children to hope for, to whom I could marry you in time, and I have no command over others," the first thought does not exhaust the meaning of the words, and the last is altogether foreign to the text.)
בּנתי אל, "not my daughters," i.e., do not go with me; "for it has gone much more bitterly with me than with you." מרר relates to her mournful lot. מכּם is comparative, "before you;" not "it grieveth me much on your account," for which עליכם would be used, as in 2 Samuel 1:26. Moreover, this thought would not be in harmony with the following clause: "for the hand of the Lord has gone out against me," i.e., the Lord has sorely smitten me, namely by taking away not only my husband, but also my two sons.
Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;
Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.
And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.At these dissuasive words the daughters-in-law broke out into loud weeping again (תּשּׂנה with the א dropped for תּשּׂאנה, Ruth 1:9), and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, and took leave of her to return to her mother's house; but Ruth clung to her (דּבק as in Genesis 2:24), forsaking her father and mother to go with Naomi into the land of Judah (vid., Ruth 2:11).
And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.To the repeated entreaty of Naomi that she would follow her sister-in-law and return to her people and her God, Ruth replied: "Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return away behind thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou stayest, I will stay; thy people is my people, and thy God my God! where thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried. Jehovah do so to me, and more also (lit. and so may He add to do)! Death alone shall divide between me and thee." The words יסיף ... יעשׂה י כּה are a frequently recurring formula in connection with an oath (cf. 1 Samuel 3:17; 1 Samuel 14:44; 1 Samuel 20:13, etc.), by which the person searing called down upon himself a severe punishment in case he should not keep his word or carry out his resolution. The following כּי is not a particle used in swearing instead of אם in the sense of "if," equivalent to "surely not," as in 1 Samuel 20:12, in the oath which precedes the formula, but answer to ὅτι in the sense of quod introducing the declaration, as in Genesis 22:16; 1 Samuel 20:13; 1 Kings 2:23; 2 Kings 3:14, etc., signifying, I swear that death, and nothing else than death, shall separate us. Naomi was certainly serious in her intentions, and sincere in the advice which she gave to Ruth, and did not speak in this way merely to try her and put the state of her heart to the proof, "that it might be made manifest whether she would adhere stedfastly to the God of Israel and to herself, despising temporal things and the hope of temporal possessions' (Seb. Schmidt). She had simply the earthly prosperity of her daughter-in-law in her mind, as she herself had been shaken in her faith in the wonderful ways and gracious guidance of the faithful covenant God by the bitter experience of her own life.
(Note: "She thought of earthly things alone; and as at that time the Jews almost universally were growing lax in the worship of God, so she, having spent ten years among the Moabites, though it of little consequence whether they adhered to the religion of their fathers, to which they had been accustomed from their infancy or went over to the Jewish religion." - Carpzov.)
With Ruth, however, it was evidently not merely strong affection and attachment by which she felt herself so drawn to her mother-in-law that she wished to live and die with her, but a leaning of her heart towards the God of Israel and His laws, of which she herself was probably not yet fully conscious, but which she had acquired so strongly in her conjugal relation and her intercourse with her Israelitish connections, that it was her earnest wish never to be separated from this people and its God (cf. Ruth 2:11).
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or 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:
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.As she insisted strongly upon going with her (התאמּץ, to stiffen one's self firmly upon a thing), Naomi gave up persuading her any more to return.
So 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 they said, Is this Naomi?So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived, the whole town was in commotion on their account (תּהם, imperf. Niph. of הוּם, as in 1 Samuel 4:5; 1 Kings 1:45). They said, "Is this Naomi?" The subject to תּאמרנה is the inhabitants of the town, but chiefly the female portion of the inhabitants, who were the most excited at Naomi's return. This is the simplest way of explaining the use of the feminine in the verbs תּאמרנה and תּקראנה. In these words there was an expression of amazement, not so much at the fact that Naomi was still alive, and had come back again, as at her returning in so mournful a condition, as a solitary widow, without either husband or sons; for she replied (Ruth 1:20), "Call me not Naomi (i.e., gracious), but Marah" (the bitter one), i.e., one who has experienced bitterness, "for the Almighty has made it very bitter to me. I, I went away full, and Jehovah has made me come back again empty. Why do ye call me Naomi, since Jehovah testifies against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me? "Full," i.e., rich, not in money and property, but in the possession of a husband and two sons; a rich mother, but now deprived of all that makes a mother's heart rich, bereft of both husband and sons. "Testified against me," by word and deed (as in Exodus 20:16; 2 Samuel 1:16). The rendering "He hath humbled me" (lxx, Vulg., Bertheau, etc.) is incorrect, as ענה with בּ and the construct state simply means to trouble one's self with anything (Ecclesiastes 1:13), which is altogether unsuitable here. - With Ruth 1:22 the account of the return of Naomi and her daughter-in-law is brought to a close, and the statement that "they came to Bethlehem in the time of the barley harvest" opens at the same time the way for the further course of the history. השּׁבה is pointed as a third pers. perf. with the article in a relative sense, as in Ruth 2:6 and Ruth 4:3. Here and at Ruth 2:6 it applies to Ruth; but in Ruth 4:3 to Naomi. המּה, the masculine, is used here, as it frequently is, for the feminine הנּה, as being the more common gender. The harvest, as a whole, commenced with the barley harvest (see at Leviticus 23:10-11).
And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.