Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
This Book is called Ruth, from the name of the person whose history is here recorded; who, being a Gentile, became a convert to the true faith, and marrying Booz, the great-grandfather of David, was one of those from whom Christ sprang according to the flesh, and an illustrious figure of the Gentile church. It is thought this book was written by the prophet Samuel. (Challoner) --- The Holy Ghost chose that the genealogy of David, and of the Messias, should be thus more clearly ascertained. (Theodoret) --- Christ proceeded from the Gentiles, as well as from the Jews, and his grace is given to both. (Worthington) --- Send forth, 0 Lord, the lamb, the ruler of the earth, from Petra, Isaias xvi. This was the capital city of Arabia Petrea, where Ruth is supposed to have lived, (Tostat) being, according to the Chaldean, &c., the daughter of Eglon, king of Moab. The Jews also pretend that Booz was the same person as Abesan, the judge. But it is by no means certain to what period this history belongs. Usher places it under Samgar, about 120 years after Josue. (Calmet) --- Salien believes that the famine, which obliged Elimelech to leave Bethlehem, happened under Abimelech, and that Noemi returned in the 7th year of Thola, A.C. 1243.[1243 B.C.] This event certainly took place under some of the judges; so that we may consider this book as an appendix to the preceding, like the last chapters, (Judges xvii.; &c.; Haydock) and a preface to the history of the kings. (Calmet)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
Marry. Hebrew, "would you stay for them from having husbands!"
And returned, is not expressed in Hebrew. But the Septuagint have, "and she returned to her people." (Haydock).
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).
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)
That Noemi. This exclamation might proceed either from surprise, or from contempt. (Menochius)
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)
Almighty. Hebrew Sadai, ("the self-sufficient) hath afflicted."
Harvest. About the month of Nisan, or our March (Calmet) and April. (Menochius)