Ruth 1:6
Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.
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(6) That she might return.—Literally, and she returned. Clearly, therefore, the three women actually began the journey; and when the start has been made. Naomi urges her companions to return. Then, as with Pliable in the Pilgrim’s Progress, so with Orpah: the dangers and difficulties of the way were too much for her affection.

The Lord had visited His people.—The famine had ceased, and Naomi’s heart yearns for the old home. Perhaps, too, the scenes where everything reminded her of her husband and sons, filled her with sadness (for it would appear that she set out immediately after her sons’ death), and perhaps, too, her conscience smote her for distrusting the mercies of the God of Israel.

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.Marriages of Israelites with women of Ammon or Moab are nowhere in the Law expressly forbidden, as were marriages with the women of Canaan 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. Ru 1:6-18. Naomi Returning Home, Ruth Accompanies Her.

6, 7. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, that she might return from the country of Moab—The aged widow, longing to enjoy the privileges of Israel, resolved to return to her native land as soon as she was assured that the famine had ceased, and made the necessary arrangements with her daughters-in-law.

i.e. Food; so she staid no longer than necessity forced her. Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab,.... After the death of her two sons, and having heard of the ceasing of the famine in Israel, she had a desire to go into her own country, where she would have better opportunities of serving the Lord; and having no heart to stay in Moab, an idolatrous country, where she had lost her husband, and her two sons; and therefore prepared for her journey, and set forward, and her two daughters-in-law with her, to accompany her some part of the way; for it does not appear to be their intention, at least at first setting out, to go with her into the land of Canaan; and therefore it is only said, that they arose

that she might return, &c.

for she had heard in the country of Moab: which was near the land of Israel, the borders of it reaching to the salt sea; the Targum says she heard it by the mouth of an angel, but it is highly probable it was by common fame:

that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread; that he had been kind and gracious to the people of Israel, by granting them plenty of provisions; which might be their happy case after Gideon had vanquished the Midianites, who came yearly, and destroyed and carried off the fruits of the earth, which had caused a famine; see Judges 6:3. It seems as if the famine had continued ten years, see Ruth 1:4 nor need this be thought incredible, since there was a famine in Lydia, which lasted eighteen years (b).

(b) Herodot Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 94.

Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had {d} visited his people in giving them bread.

(d) By sending them plenty again.

6. the Lord had visited his people] i. e. shewn a practical interest in; cf. Genesis 1:24 f E, Exodus 3:16; Exodus 4:31 J; St Luke 1:68; Luke 7:16. Apparently the famine lasted ten years, Ruth 1:4. With giving them bread cf. Psalm 132:15.Verse 6. - Then - the conjunction in Hebrew is the common generic copulative and - she arose. She had been sitting, as it were, where her husband had settled, and she now rose up to depart (see ver. 4). She, and her daughters-in, law. The word for "her daughters-in-law -" כַּלּתֶיהָ - is literally "her brides," that is, the brides of her sons. That she might return - an admirable rendering into English idiom. The phrase in the original is simply "and she returned," that is, "and she began to return." From the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. Or, more literally, "for she heard in the country of Moab that Jehovah" - or, rather, "Yahveh," or, as Epiphanius gives it, Ἰαβέ - "had visited his people to give them bread." There is no warrant, however, and no need, to add, with the Chaldee Targumist, that the news was conveyed by the mouth of an angel. And the representation is not that Yahveh, in giving, bread to his people, had thereby visited them; it is that he hid visited them" to give them bread. The word פָקַד, rendered visited, is quite peculiar, with no analogue in English, German, Greek, or Latin. Yahveh had directed his attention to his people, and had, so to speak, made inquisition into their state, and had hence taken steps to give them bread (see Exodus 3:16; Exodus 4:31). They had already got it, or, as the Septuagint translates, they had got loaves (ἀρτοῦς). The Vulgate translates it meats (eseas). It is assumed in the tidings that the seasons and their products, and all beneficent influences in nature, belong to Yahveh. It is likewise assumed that the Hebrews were his people, albeit not in such a sense as to secure for them more "bread" and "milk and honey" than other peoples enjoyed. Their chief prerogatives were spiritual and moral. They were his Messianic people. That is the key to unlock the secret of the whole Old Testament Scriptures. In 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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