Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Gate, where justice was administered. --- Calling. Hebrew Ploni Almoni. (Calmet) --- Protestant, " Ho! such a one." (Haydock) --- This form of speech is used concerning a person whose name we know not, or will not mention, 1 Kings xxi. 2. (Calmet) --- The name of this man is buried in eternal oblivion, perhaps because he was so much concerned about the splendour of his family, that he would not marry the widow of his deceased relation. (Tirinus)
Here, as witnesses, not as judges, ver. 9. (Calmet) --- This number was requisite in matters of consequence. (Grotius)
Will sell. Some Latin copies read, "sells, or has sold." But the sequel shews that she was only now disposed to do it. But what right had Noemi or Ruth to the land, since women could not inherit? The latter might indeed retain her title, as long as she continued unmarried. But Noemi only acted in her behalf. Selden thinks that their respective husbands had made them a present of some land. Josephus (ver. 11) asserts, that the person whom Booz addressed had already possession, and that he resigned his claim, as he would not take au other wife. (Calmet) --- Our brother. He was his nephew, and calls him brother, as Abraham did Lot. (Worthington)
This. Hebrew, "I thought to uncover thy ear," or to admonish thee. Virgil (frag.) uses a similar expression, Mors aurem vellens, vivite, ait, venio: "Death pulls the ear; live now, he says, I come." --- Not. Hebrew printed erroneously, "But if he will not redeem it." (Kennicott)
When. Hebrew again corruptly, "On the day thou buyest the land of the hand of Noemi, I will also buy it of Ruth," &c. It ought to be, conformably to some manuscripts and the ancient versions, "thou must also take Ruth," ver. 10. (Capel, p. 144, and 362.) (Kennicott) (Haydock) --- We see here the observance of two laws, the one preserving the inheritance in the same family, and the other obliging the next of kin to marry the widow of the deceased, if he would enjoy his land, Leviticus xxv. 10., and Deuteronomy xxv. 5. (Calmet) --- Such widows as designed to comply with this condition, took possession of the land on the death of their husband, and conveyed it to those whom they married, till their eldest son became entitled to it. (Abulensis, q. 30 to 61.) --- Inheritance. The son to be born, would be esteemed the heir of his legal parent. (Menochius)
Family. Hebrew, "I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I spoil my own inheritance." He was afraid of having too many children, and sensible that the first son that should be born of the proposed marriage, would not be counted as his. (Haydock) --- The miserable Onan had the same pretext, Genesis xxxviii. 9. Chaldean, "Since I cannot make use of this privilege, having already a wife, and not being allowed to take another, as that might cause dissensions in my family, and spoil my inheritance, do thou redeem it,….as thou art unmarried."
Israel. Hebrew, "and this was the testimony in Israel." The ceremony here specified is very different from that which the law prescribed, Deuteronomy xxv. 7. But Josephus says, that they complied with all the regulations of the law, and that Ruth was present on this occasion. (Calmet) --- Perhaps the law was not executed in all its rigour, when another was found to marry the widow, (Worthington) and when no real brother was living. (Tirinus)
Chelion. As Orpha, his widow, took no care to comply with the law, all his possessions devolved on his brother’s posterity. (Menochius) --- It was presumed that she would marry some Moabite. (Calmet)
Moabitess. The sons of Elimelech were excused in taking such women to wife, on account of necessity, and to avoid the danger of incontinence, which is a greater evil. Booz was under another sort of necessity, and was bound to comply with the law; (Calmet) so that he was guilty of no sin, as Beza would pretend. (Tirinus) --- Some also remark, that the exclusion of the people of Moab from the Church of God, regarded not the females, (St. Augustine, q. 35, In Deut.; Serarius; Tirinus; &c.) particularly if they embraced the true religion. According to the Rabbins, Obed should have been accounted a Moabite, as they say children follow the condition of their mothers: but we need not here adopt their decisions. --- People. Hebrew, "and from the gate of his place." In the assemblies, the legal son of Mahalon would represent him, though he was also considered as the son of Booz, at least if the latter had no other, as was probably the case.
Israel, by a numerous posterity. --- That she. Hebrew, "mayst thou acquire riches," &c. (Calmet). --- Protestant, "do thou (Booz) worthily in," &c. (Haydock). --- Ephrata: another name of Bethlehem. (Challoner)
Phares. His family was chief among the five, descended from Juda. (Menochius)
Successor. Hebrew, "redeemer, that his (Booz, or the Lord's) name," &c. (Calmet)
Comfort. Hebrew, "to make thy soul revive."
Obed; "serving," to comfort the old age of Noemi, (ver. 15,) who gave him this' name. (Serarius, q. 14,) at the suggestion of her neighbours. (Menochius)
These. Hence the design of the sacred writer becomes evident, (Calmet) to shew the genealogy of David, from whom Christ sprang, as it had been foretold. See Genesis xlix., and Matthew i.; &c. (Worthington)
Aram. He is called Ram in Hebrew and 1 Paralipomenon ii. 9.
Hebrew and Chaldean, Salma, (Haydock) though we read Salmon in the following verse. (Calmet) --- This is one argument adduced by Houbigant, to shew that this genealogy is now imperfect. He concludes that Salma ought to be admitted, as well as Salmon; and, as the reason for calling the first son of Ruth, Obed, "serving or ploughing," seems rather harsh, as we should naturally expect some more glorious title. He thinks that the immediate son of Ruth was called Jachin, "he shall establish;" and that Solomon called one of the pillars before the temple by his name, as he did the other Booz, "in strength," in honour of his ancestors. Baz icin means, "In strength (or solidity) it (he) shall (stand or) establish." As the son of Booz established his father's house, (ver. 10, 11,) so these pillars denoted the stability of the temple. We must thus allow that the hand of time has mutilated the genealogy of David, and that two ought to be admitted among his ancestors, who have been here omitted, as St. Matthew likewise passes them over as well as three others, who were the descendants of Joram. The same omission of Jachin occurs 1 Paralipomenon ii. 11, where we find Salma instead of Salmon. Houbigant supposes that the sacred writers, Esdras and St. Matthew, gave the genealogies as they found them, without correcting the mistakes of transcribers. (Chronolog. sacra, p. 81.) But there might be some reason for the omission which we do not know; and Nahasson, Booz, and Joram might be said to beget Salmon, Obed, and Jechonias, though they were not their immediate children. Salien and many others assert, that there were three of the name of Booz, succeeding each other, so that six persons instead of four fill up the space of 440 years, from the taking of Jericho till the building of the temple. Salien, in the year of the world 2741, in which year he places the birth of the third Booz, who married Ruth, seventy years afterwards. Petau allows 520 years from the coming out of Egypt till the fourth year of Solomon, so that he leaves above 420 years to the three generations of Booz, Obed, and Isai. But he prudently passes over this chronological difficulty. Usher supposes that each of these people were almost 100 years old when they had children; and he produces many examples of people who lived beyond that age, but he does not mention any, since the days of Moses, who had children at such an advanced age, much less that many in the same family, and in succession, were remarkable for such a thing. Moreover, according to Houbigant's chronology, Booz and Obed must have had children when they were almost 120, and Isai in his 107th year. But by admitting Salma and Jachin, the five persons might each have sons when they were about seventy, and thus would complete 347 years. See chap. ii. 1. (Haydock).
David, the king, whom Samuel crowned, though he did not live to see him in the full enjoyment of his power, (Haydock) as he died before Saul. (Calmet) --- Thus the greatest personages have people of mean condition among their ancestors, that none may be too much elated on account of their high birth. Ruth, notwithstanding her poverty, was a striking figure of the Christian Church. (Haydock) --- The Gentiles were strangers to Christ, on account of their errors, but related to him in as much as they were his creatures. Their miserable condition pleaded hard for them, that Jesus would receive them under his protection, espouse and give them rest and peace. Booz would, not marry Ruth till the nearer relation had refused, and thus brought dishonour on himself; (Deuteronomy xxv.) so Jesus was principally sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and did not send his apostles to the Gentiles till the Jews had rejected their ministry. (Calmet) --- See St. Ambrose, de fide, iii. 5. (Du Hamel) --- Ruth was also a pattern of the most perfect virtues. See Louis de Puente. (Tirinus)