Chapter 1

(Verses 1 through 5) 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 Bethlehem-Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab , he, and his wife, and his two sons. 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, Ephratthites of Bethlehem-judah. 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.


Certainly this is in need of no explanation, so far as the story itself is concerned. It has, all through the history of that portion of the world, been common for famines to come in one area or another. And when one does come, people have often been known to move to another part, where they think it to be less severe. That was the reason why Jacob and his family moved from the land of Canaan to Egypt . In the present case, Elimelech and his family moved to Moab , and there they stayed for about ten years. While there Elimelech died. Then his two sons married women of Moab . And both of these sons died also, leaving only Naomi and her two daughters in law. In the event one might be interested in the meanings of the names so far given, we pass them on, as given in CRUDEN’S DICTIONARY OF PROPER NAMES.


Thus: “Elimelech, My God is king:” “Naomi; pleasantness, i. e. of the Lord:” “Mahlon; great infirmity:” “Chilion; pining, or consuming:” “Orpah; mane, i. e., the neck of an animal:” and “Ruth; beauty.”


(Verses 6 through 18)  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. 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 of you to her mother’s house: and the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 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? 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 tonight, and should also bear sons; would ye tarry for them till they be 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. 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. And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following 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 aught but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.


When Naomi heard that the LORD had ended the famine in Judah , she decided to return. Her two daughters in law were, apparently, living with her instead of having returned to the homes of their fathers and mothers. So they all started on the journey. But Naomi thought the younger women would be better off to return to the homes of their parents than to go with her. So she told them to return. She knew that the law of the LORD required that if a man married a wife, and died, leaving no child, his brother was to marry his widow and raise up a child to his dead brother. But she had no more children, and no husband. In addition to this, she said that she was too old to bear children. So there was no hope that the law could be fulfilled in this case. Therefore she counseled the younger women to go back to their parents. This Orpah agreed to do: but Ruth refused to do so. And her speech to Naomi is one of the most beautiful declarations of love that has ever been spoken. We shall not at this point re-quote it, but it is set forth in verses 16 and 17, and should be read very closely. Some have often used it to illustrate what they consider the love of God’s children for the church. And just to take these two verses alone might seem to serve admirably in that illustration. However, if we take the whole incident, it hardly seems to fit. For the church never tries to send anyone, who comes to it seeking a home, back into the world, which would certainly be the picture, if the whole is used thus. When Naomi understood that Ruth was not to be deterred from her decision, she quit trying to send her back to her parents.


(Verses 19 through 22) So they two went until they came to Beth-lehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Beth-lehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? 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 Beth-lehem in the beginning of the barley harvest.


When Naomi and Ruth arrived at Beth-lehem, all the people turned out to see them. And, as is often the case when first seeing a friend after a long absence, they said, “Is this Naomi?” But Naomi replied to them, “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty.” As we have pointed out, the name Naomi means pleasantness of the LORD: and Mara means bitterness. She had not yet seen the fullness of the blessing of the LORD in causing Ruth to return to Beth-lehem with her. This we shall see in the last chapter of this book.

Chapter 2

(Verses 1 through 4) And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. and she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech. And, behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered, The LORD bless thee.


According to the law of the LORD, those who had fields were not to reap them completely clean, but were to leave the corners of the fields, and if they happened to drop any of their grain, they were not to pick it up, but leave it for the poor, the widows, the fatherless, etc. So Ruth wanted to go out into the fields, and glean after the reapers. Naomi gave her permission to do so; and she, by chance so far as she was concerned, came to a field that belonged to Boaz. Here she began to glean. While she was thus gleaning, Boaz came from Beth-lehem. His greeting to his reapers and their answer are noteworthy, in that they give us a little hint of what manner of man he was. He said to his reapers, “The LORD be with you.” And their response was, “The LORD bless thee.”


(Verses 5 through 10) Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: and she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little while in the house. Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide fast by my maidens: let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn. Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?


This text, and the remainder of this book contain some things that seem to illustrate the work of the LORD in bringing His elect to Himself. Of course, there may be a few things set forth in some of the story that we cannot see exactly how they fit into that illustration. But many of them do. Although, so far as Ruth is concerned, she accidentally came upon the field of Boaz to begin her gleaning. But as the story unfolds, surely we can see the hand of the Lord in bringing her there. When Boaz came to the field, and saw her, he, recognizing her as a stranger, inquired as to who she was. Whereupon his overseer of the reapers informed him of her identity, and told him that she had not only come that morning to glean, but had continued “even until now.” She had not been running from place to place. So Boaz spoke to her, and, in essence, told her to make herself at home among his workers, He told her that he had even charged his young men not to bother her in any way. This overwhelmed her, and she fell down on her face before him and asked why he would take such gracious notice of her, inasmuch as she was a stranger. This is very much like our Lord’s taking care of us even before we even know Him.


(Verses 11 through 14) And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel , under Whose wings thou art come to trust. Then she said, Let me find grace in thy sight, my lord; for thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens. And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat by the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.


As Boaz informed Ruth that he had been fully informed concerning her, both of her past and her present, it reminds us that our Lord knows all about us. And He pronounces a blessing upon her, just as our Lord does upon us. Then he instructs her to come at mealtime, and eat with his servants, making herself fully at home with them. And He even personally serves her food that she was able to eat, and be satisfied, Does not our Lord also do the same for us?


(Verses 15 through 17) And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: and let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not. So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out what she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.


Thus just as the Lord provides for His own, Boaz gave orders that his reapers should purposely let fall some of the handfuls of barley that Ruth might glean them. So she continued all that day in that field. And when she had, at the end of the day, threshed her gleaning, she had about an Ephah of grain. In our comparison of this to the way the LORD deals with us, the size of the vessel with which she measured the barley is not as important as the fact that the vessel was about full.


(Verses 18 through 23) And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed. And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned today? And where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought today is Boaz. And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, Who hath not left off His kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen. And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest. And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field. So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.


If in this we are looking for an illustration of our Lord’s working with his children, we might well consider that the instructions Naomi gave to Ruth answer to the instructions wisdom gives to those who have been drawn to the LORD. We are to continue in the field of our “Near Kinsman,” which is none other than Christ Jesus our Lord. we shall deal a little more with the subject of “the Near Kinsman” in our comments on Chapter 4.


Chapter 3

(Verses 1 through 5) Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the thrashing floor. Wash thy self therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall be, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do. And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.


In the law of the LORD there was a provision that if a man married, and died leaving no child, his brother was to marry his widow, and raise up a child unto him. The Jews had extended this provision beyond a brother so that it included also a near kinsman. Here Naomi instructs Ruth that Boaz is a near kinsman, and gives her instructions for secretly talking with him , that he may tell her what she must do to fulfill this commandment. And Ruth agrees to do what Naomi tells her to do.


(Verses 6 and 7) And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.


Thus Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions. She did not even wake up Boaz as she did this.


(Verses 8 through 13) And it came to pass at midnight , that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. And he said, Blessed be thee of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning.


Boaz woke up about midnight , and finding a woman lying at his feet, he was afraid. So he asked her to identify herself, which she did, and also asked him to claim her as his wife, “spread his skirt“ over her, for he was a near kinsman. Boaz praised her for her virtue in following the commandment of the LORD instead of following after young men whether poor or rich. Then he told her that there was a kinsman who was of nearer kin than he. And, according to protocol, he must first be notified of her position: and if he would perform the duty of a near kinsman, it was his right to do so. But if he refused, then Boaz took an oath, “as the LORD liveth,” that he would himself do what was required. Then he told her to lie down until morning.


(Verses 14 through 18) And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. Also he said, Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measur4d six measures of barley, and laid it upon her: and she went into the city. And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her. And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law. Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.


When morning came, but before it was light enough for one to recognize another, Ruth and Boaz arose. Boaz said that none should know that a woman had come to the threshing floor, and he measured six measures of barley and put it in the veil that Ruth was wearing, and told her to take it to Naomi. So she went into the city. And when she came to Naomi she told her everything that had taken place. Then Naomi told her to, as we would say, “rest easy” until this matter was brought to a finish, assuring her that it would be so finished this day.


Chapter 4

(Verses 1 through 8) Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there, and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by: unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! Turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said sit ye down here. And they sat down. And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab , selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s: And I thought to advertise thee, saying Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said I will redeem it. Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it. Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel . Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.


First Boaz went to the gate of the city, and sat down there. Then he waited for the near kinsman, of whom he had spoken to Ruth, to come along. He called him, and had him sit down with him. But he started no conversation with him concerning the business he had in mind, until he had called ten of the elders of the city to sit with them as witnesses of the business he wished to transact with this kinsman. The LORD had made provision in His law for the redemption of the children of Israel from servitude, in the event that poverty had caused a man to sell himself to his neighbor as a servant; and He also made provision for the redemption of land. Leviticus 25:47-49 tells us concerning the redemption of one who has sold himself as a servant. “And if a sojourner or a stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or the stock of the stranger’s family: after that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he is able, he may redeem himself.” And Leviticus 25:25-27 tells us of the redemption of land that has been sold. “If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession.” There is nothing in this transaction that pertains to the redemption of a servant. We are here concerned only with the redemption of a possession, but both are so established that it takes the same one to redeem the possession that it would to redeem a servant, that is, a near kinsman. Boaz was concerned with redeeming the possession before it was actually sold. Naomi was going to have to sell this field, because she was not able to use it herself. And her sons were both dead, leaving only her daughter in law to take care of it. So Boaz informs the other near kinsman that Naomi is going to sell this possession, and that, according to protocol, he is the one who must have the first opportunity of buying, or refusing it. If he will buy it, that will be fine; but if not, Boaz is next in line to do so. The other kinsman says that he will buy it: but Boaz brings up another of God’s laws, as set forth in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, which basically provides that if a man marry and die, leaving no child, his brother shall marry his widow, and raise up a son to be the heir of the dead brother. This had also been interpreted to include a near kinsman under the same law. More details are given in the above mentioned reference. When Boaz informed this near kinsman that when he bought this field, he must also take Ruth the Moabitess as his wife and raise up a child as heir of her dead husband, he said that he could not do that, lest it mar his own inheritance. Then he told Boaz to redeem this possession for himself. According to Deuteronomy 25: 9-10, if a brother of a dead man refused to marry his widow and raise up a son to the dead, we are told, “Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house. And his name shall be called in Israel , ‘The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.” It may be that since this man was not a brother to the dead man, but only a near kinsman, such severe action was not required. But he , to confirm the deal, did take off his shoe, and give it to Boaz as a testimony, or seal of the transaction.


(Verses 9 through 12) And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachael and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel : and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Beth-lehem. And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah , of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.


This concluded the entire transaction of Boaz’s buying the inheritance left by Elimelech and his two sons, and his taking Ruth as his wife. It was witnessed by all the elders who were sitting in the gate with him and the other near kinsman, and by all the people who were assembled there. Also all the witnesses pronounced a blessing upon Boaz and his marriage to Ruth.


Inasmuch as our Lord’s redeemed are often called His bride, some take this story of Ruth to be a type of His calling forth His elect from the world. Certainly, since Boaz is the near kinsman who redeems both Ruth and her inheritance, he could, in that, well represent our Lord Jesus. For our Lord is He, who has redeemed us and has taken us for His bride. But since there are other figures in the story that would be somewhat harder to identify, some trouble might arise from such an analogy.


(Verses 13 through 17) So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife: and when he went in unto her , the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, Which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel . And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age; for thy daughter in law , which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.


This all seems clear enough to need no explanation. But there is a fact revealed here that might escape our minds in just a casual reading. It is that, inasmuch as Moab was a Gentile nation, through Ruth comes Gentile blood into the family tree of David, and thus goes also down to our Lord Jesus; for Ruth was a Moabitess, and she is also the great-grandmother of  David.


(Verses 18 through 22) Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nashon, and Nashon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.


This is only a simple listing of the genealogy of David, from Pharez who was the son of Judah the son of Israel . It stands on its own, with no need for commentary.


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