And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ruth 4:7; Judges 18:1; Judges 17:6, indicates that this Book was written after the rule of the judges had ceased. The genealogy Ruth 4:17-22 points to the time of David as the earliest when the Book of Ruth could have been written.
A famine - Caused probably by one of the hostile invasions recorded in the Book of Judges. Most of the Jewish commentators, from the mention of Bethlehem, and the resemblance of the names Boaz and Ibzan, refer this history to the judge Ibzan Judges 12:8, but without probability.
The country of Moab - Here, and in Ruth 1:2, Ruth 1:22; Ruth 4:3, literally, "the field" or "fields." As the same word is elsewhere used of the territory of Moab, of the Amalekites, of Edom, and of the Philistines, it would seem to be a term pointedly used with reference to a foreign country, not the country of the speaker, or writer; and to have been specially applied to Moab.
Naomi—"fair or pleasant"; and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, are supposed to be the same as Joash and Saraph (1Ch 4:22).
Ephrathites—The ancient name of Beth-lehem was Ephrath (Ge 35:19; 48:7), which was continued after the occupation of the land by the Hebrews, even down to the time of the prophet Micah (Mic 5:2).
Beth-lehem-judah—so called to distinguish it from a town of the same name in Zebulun. The family, compelled to emigrate to Moab through pressure of a famine, settled for several years in that country. After the death of their father, the two sons married Moabite women. This was a violation of the Mosaic law (De 7:3; 23:3; Ezr 9:2; Ne 13:23); and Jewish writers say that the early deaths of both the young men were divine judgments inflicted on them for those unlawful connections.And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verses 3-5. - "In these words," says Fuller, "we have two marriages ushered and followed by funerals." Verse 3. - And Elimelech Naomi's husband died. Apparently soon after the settlement of the family. No details, however, are given, as, on the one hand, no blame is attached to the conduct of Elimelech, and as, on the other, the line of biographical interest runs in another direction. And she was left, and her two sons. Not only was the mother her husband's relict; they were all left behind. He had gone somewhither in advance, and they "remained." So the word is frequently rendered. Judges 21:12); for we did not receive every one his wife through the war (with Jabesh); for ye have not given them to them; how would ye be guilty." The words "Present them to us," etc., are to be understood as spoken in the name of the Benjaminites, who were accused of the raid, to the relatives of the virgins who brought the complaint. This explains the use of the pronoun in the first person in חנּוּנוּ and לקחנוּ, which must not be altered therefore into the third person.
(Note: One circumstance which is decisive against this alteration of the text, is, that the Seventy had the Masoretic text before them, and founded their translation upon it (ἐλεήσατε ἡμῖν αυτάς, ὅτι οὐκ ἐλάβομεν ἀνὴρ γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ πολέμῳ). The different rendering of Jerome given in the Vulgate - miseremini eorum! non enim rapuerunt eas jure bellantium atque victorum - is nothing but an unfortunate and unsuccessful attempt to get rid of the difficulties connected with the readings in the text.)
The two clauses commencing with כּי are co-ordinate, and contain two points serving to enforce the request, "Present them," etc. The first is pleaded in the name of the Benjaminites; the second is adduced, as a general ground on the part of the elders of the congregation, to pacify the fathers and brothers making the complaint, on account of the oath which the Israelites had taken, that none of them would give their daughters as wives to the Benjaminites. The meaning is the following: Ye may have your daughters with the Benjaminites who have taken them by force, for ye have not given them voluntarily, so as to have broken your oath by so doing. In the last clause כּעת has an unusual meaning: "at the time" (or now), i.e., in that case, ye would have been guilty, viz., if ye had given them voluntarily.
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