|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:6-14 Naomi began to think of returning, after the death of her two sons. When death comes into a family, it ought to reform what is amiss there. Earth is made bitter to us, that heaven may be made dear. Naomi seems to have been a person of faith and piety. She dismissed her daughters-in-law with prayer. It is very proper for friends, when they part, to part with them thus part in love. Did Naomi do well, to discourage her daughters from going with her, when she might save them from the idolatry of Moab, and bring them to the faith and worship of the God of Israel? Naomi, no doubt, desired to do that; but if they went with her, she would not have them to go upon her account. Those that take upon them a profession of religion only to oblige their friends, or for the sake of company, will be converts of small value. If they did come with her, she would have them make it their deliberate choice, and sit down first and count the cost, as it concerns those to do who make a profession of religion. And more desire rest in the house of a husband, or some wordly settlement or earthly satisfaction, than the rest to which Christ invites our souls; therefore when tried they will depart from Christ, though perhaps with some sorrow.
Verse 14. - And they, the daughters-in-law, lifted up their voice in unison and unity, as if instead of two voices there had been but one. Hence the propriety of the singular number, as in ver. 9. And wept again. The "again" doubles back on the statement in ver. 9. With uplifted voice, in shrill Oriental wail, and amid streams of tears, they bemoaned their hapless lot. Then, after the paroxysm of grief had somewhat spent itself, Orpah yielded to her mother-in-law's dissuasives, and at length imprinted on her, reluctantly and passionately, a farewell kiss. Then, not waiting to ascertain the ultimate decision of Ruth, or rather, perhaps, having now a fixed presentiment what it would be, she moved regretfully and tearfully away. She was afraid, perhaps, that if she, as well as Ruth, should insist on accompanying her mother-in-law, the two might be unreasonably burdensome to the aged widow. Perhaps, too, she was not without fear that her own burden in a foreign land, amid strangers, might be too heavy to be borne. There is not, however, the slightest need for supposing that she was, in any respect, deficient in attachment to her mother-in-law. But, it is added, Ruth clave to her mother-in-law, all reasonings, remonstrances, dissuasives on Naomi's part notwithstanding. Ruth would not be parted from her. "Clave." It is the same word that is used in the primitive law of marriage. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). It occurs again in Psalm 63:8: "My soul followeth hard after thee; and in Psalm 119:31: "I have stuck to thy testimonies." Joshua said, "Cleave unto the Lord thy God" (Joshua 23:8); and many have had sweet, while others have had bitter, experience of the truth that "there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
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And they lifted up their voice, and wept again,.... Not being able to bear the thought of parting, or that they must be obliged to it:
and Orpah kissed her mother in law; gave her the parting kiss, as the Jews (e) call it; and which was used by other people (f); but not without affection to her, and took her leave of her, as her kiss testified, since it must be so; and being moved by her reasons, and having a greater inclination to her own country than Ruth had; of the kiss at parting, see Genesis 31:28.
but Ruth clave unto her; hung about her, would not part from her, but cleaved unto her in body and mind; forsaking her own people, and her father's house; neither the thought of them, nor of her native country, nor of not having an husband, or any likelihood of it, nor of poverty and distress, had any manner of influence upon her, but determined she was to go and abide with her.
(e) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 70. fol. 62. 4. Shemot, sect. 5. fol. 94. 4. (f) "----discedens oscula nulla dedi". Ovid. Ephesians 3. ver. 14.
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