And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And they died.—Clearly as quite young men. It is not for us to say how far those are right who see in the death of Elimelech and his sons God’s punishment for the disregard of His law. Thus Naomi is left alone, as one on whom comes suddenly the loss of children and widowhood.Ruth 1:5-6. The woman was left of her two sons and her husband — Loss of children and widowhood are both come upon her. By whom shall she be comforted? It is God alone who is able to comfort those who are thus cast down. The Lord had visited his people in giving them bread — That is, food: so she stayed no longer than necessity forced her. Deuteronomy 7:1-3. In the days of Nehemiah the special law Deuteronomy 23:3-6 was interpreted as forbidding them, and as excluding the children of such marriages from the congregation of Israel Nehemiah 13:1-3. Probably the marriages of Mahlon and Chilion would be justified by necessity, living as they were in a foreign land. Ruth was the wife of the older brother, Mahlon Ruth 4:10.
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 the woman was left of her two sons and her husband; deprived both of her husband and her sons, which was a great affliction, aggravated by her being in a strange country; many are the afflictions of the righteous.And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 5. - And, to make a long story short, Machlon and Chillon died also both of them. "Like green apples," says Fuller, "cudgelled off the tree." But why "cudgelled?" There is no evidence in the text of Divine displeasure, and the Christian expositor, when going beyond the text in quest of principles, should not forget the tower of Siloam, and the victims of Pilate s bloodthirstiness (see Luke 13:1-5). And the woman was left of her two children and of her husband. That is, "of her two children as well as of her husband." She became as it were their relict too. She remained behind after they had gone on before. If all sentiment were to be taken out of the expression, it might then be simply said, in very commonplace prose, she survived them. Poor woman! "Of the two sexes," says Fuller, "the woman is the weaker; of women, old women are most feeble; of old women, widows most woeful; of widows, those that are poor, their plight most pitiful; of poor widows, those who want children, their case most doleful; of widows that want children, those that once had them, and after lost them, their estate most desolate; of widows that have had children, those that are strangers in a foreign country, their condition most comfortless. Yet all these met together in Naomi, as in the center of sorrow, to make the measure of her misery pressed down, shaken together, running over. I conclude, therefore, many men have had affliction - none like Job; many women have had tribulation - none like Naomi."
CHAPTER 1:6-14. Judges 21:24 and Judges 21:25, the account of this event is brought to a close with a twofold remark: (1) that the children of Israel, i.e., the representatives of the congregation who were assembled at Shiloh, separated and returned every man into his inheritance to his tribe and family; (2) that at that time there was no king in Israel, and every man was accustomed to do what was right in his own eyes. Whether the fathers or brothers of the virgins who had been carried off brought any complaint before the congregation concerning the raid that had been committed, the writer does not state, simply because this was of no moment so far as the history was concerned, inasmuch as, according to Judges 21:22, the complaint made no difference in the facts themselves.
(Note: "No doubt the fathers and brothers of the virgins demanded them both from the Benjaminites themselves, and also from the elders of Israel, or at any rate petitioned that the Benjaminites might be punished: but the elders replied as they had said that they should; and the persons concerned were satisfied with the answer, and so the affair was brought to a peaceable termination." - Seb. Schmidt.)
With the closing remark in Judges 21:25, however, with which the account returns to its commencement in Judges 19:1, the prophetic historian sums up his judgment upon the history in the words, "At that time every man did what was right in his own eyes, because there was no king in Israel," in which the idea is implied, that under the government of a king, who administered right and justice in the kingdom, such things could not possibly have happened. This not only refers to the conduct of the Israelites towards Benjamin in the war, the severity of which was not to be justified, but also to their conduct towards the inhabitants of Jabesh, as described in Judges 21:5. The congregation had no doubt a perfect right, when all the people were summoned to deliberate upon important matters affecting the welfare of the whole nation, to utter the "great oath" against such as failed to appear, i.e., to threaten them with death and carry out this threat upon such as were obstinate; but such a punishment as this could only be justly inflicted upon persons who were really guilty, and had rebelled against the congregation as the supreme power, and could not be extended to women and children unless they had also committed a crime deserving of death. But even if there were peculiar circumstances in the case before us, which have been passed over by our author, who restricts himself simply to points bearing upon the main purpose of the history, but which rendered it necessary that the ban should be inflicted upon all the inhabitants of Jabesh, it was at any rate an arbitrary exemption to spare all the marriageable virgins, and one which could not be justified by the object contemplated, however laudable that object might be. This also applies to the oath taken by the people, that they would not give any of their daughters as wives to the Benjaminites, as well as to the advice given by the elders to the remaining two hundred, to carry off virgins from the festival at Shiloh. However just and laudable the moral indignation may have been, which was expressed in that oath by the nation generally at the scandalous crime of the Gibeites, a crime unparalleled in Israel, and at the favour shown to the culprits by the tribe of Benjamin, the oath itself was an act of rashness, in which there was not only an utter denial of brotherly love, but the bounds of justice were broken through. When the elders of the nation came to a better state of mind, they ought to have acknowledge their rashness openly, and freed themselves and the nation from an oath that had been taken in such sinful haste. "Wherefore they would have acted far more uprightly, if they had seriously confessed their fault and asked forgiveness of God, and given permission to the Benjaminites to marry freely. In this way there would have been no necessity to cut off the inhabitants of Jabesh from their midst by cruelty of another kind" (Buddeus). But if they felt themselves bound in their consciences to keep the oath inviolably, they ought to have commended the matter to the Lord in prayer, and left it to His decision; whereas, by the advice given to the Benjaminites, they had indeed kept the oath in the letter, but had treated it in deed and truth as having no validity whatever.
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