Ruth 1:2: Elimelech's Move to Moab (Justified?)

Verse 2:[1] And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, (see Gen. 35:19) Ephrathites of Beth-lehem-judah. And they came (Judg. 5:30) into the country of Moab, and continued (Heb. were[2]) there.



[Elimelech] His name means, my God is King[3] (Piscator, Malvenda). The Hebrews surmise that this was the brother of Salmon, the father of Boaz. Let confidence be placed in them (Malvenda). This man was of the first rank and wealthy, as of the family of Salmon, Prince of the Tribe of Judah, and a relative of Boaz, Salmon’s son (Lapide).


[Noemi, נָעֳמִי] Naomi. I prefer, Noomi; because in Hebrew it is a Qametz-hatuph (ָ), with a Hateph-qametz (ֳ) following, that is, a short o, with a hurried o following. Noomi means my pleasantness[4] (Piscator).


[Mahlon, מַחְלוֹן] It means sick, sickly, sorrowful;[5] or one that pays for a theatrical production[6] (Malvenda, Lapide).


[Chilion, וְכִלְיוֹן] It means consumed, finite (Malvenda); or something wanting.[7] Suitably, because both died prematurely in Moab (Lapide).



[Ephrathites] Natives of Ephratah, which is Beth-lehem-judah by another name (Drusius): which is to say, born at Ephratah. Thus Beth-lehem was called in Genesis 35:19. Although here I rather understand the region in which Beth-lehem was situated, just as in Micah 5:2, and thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah. Which is favored by the fact that the name of Beth-lehem is immediately attached here, like a species to a genus. See Junius on Genesis 26 (Piscator).


[Of Beth-lehem-judah] It appears to be superfluous to some; but it is added for the sake of clarity (Drusius). For those of the tribe of Ephraim are also called Ephrathites, Judges 12:5, Art thou an Ephrathite?[8] and in 1 Kings 11:26 (Drusius, Lapide, Estius, Menochius), and in 1 Samuel 1:1 (Lapide). David is called the son of an Ephrathite,[9] that is, a Beth-lehemite (Estius).


Ephrathites; so called, because this Beth-lehem is otherwise called Ephrath or Ephratah, Genesis 35:19; Micah 5:2; either from Caleb’s wife of that name, 1 Chronicles 2:19; 4:4, or from the fertility of the soil about it; which title may therefore be used here, to show the greatness of the famine, which affected even fertile parts. Of Beth-lehem-judah: see the notes on Judges 17:7.


[They continued there] While the famine continued, which was lawful: But it was not lawful to abide perpetually in a foreign land, both because of the danger of idolatry; and on account forgetfulness of the ceremonies of the Law, which disuse readily occasions; and because all the males were bound to go up three times in a year to the Temple (Tostatus). To me it appears otherwise from the practice of the Jews, most of whom after the Babylonian captivity were living outside of Judea, and were erecting Synagogues almost everywhere, as it is evident from Acts 2:9-11. Never do we read that this was regarded as a fault in them. But that law was not obliging those that were leaving abroad to go up to Jerusalem three times every year. For those that were on a journey were exempt from the law of the Passover, Numbers 9:13, because they had a moral and legitimate impediment. This is also evident from the practice of the Jews, who, namely, those living abroad, were delivering the sacred tribute of the half shekel[10] to the Temple, not in person, but through others, as Josephus, Antiquities 16:4, 10, and Philo, Life of Moses 3, testify (Bonfrerius).


Continued there, to wit, during the famine.

[1] Hebrew: וְשֵׁ֣ם הָאִ֣ישׁ אֱֽלִימֶ֡לֶךְ וְשֵׁם֩ אִשְׁתּ֙וֹ נָעֳמִ֜י וְשֵׁ֥ם שְׁנֵֽי־בָנָ֣יו׀ מַחְל֤וֹן וְכִלְיוֹן֙ אֶפְרָתִ֔ים מִבֵּ֥ית לֶ֖חֶם יְהוּדָ֑ה וַיָּבֹ֥אוּ שְׂדֵי־מוֹאָ֖ב וַיִּֽהְיוּ־שָֽׁם׃


[2] Hebrew: וַיִּהְיוּ.


[3] From אֱלִי/eli, my God, and מֶלֶךְ/melech/king.


[4] נֹעַם signifies pleasantness.


[5] מַחֲלָה signifies sickness, from חָלָה, to be sick.


[6] חוּל signifies to dance.


[7] כָּלָה signifies to be at an end.


[8] Judges 12:5: “And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites (לְאֶפְרָיִם): and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped (פְּלִיטֵ֤י אֶפְרַ֙יִם֙) said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite (הַאֶפְרָתִי)? If he said, Nay…”


[9] 1 Samuel 17:12.


[10] See Exodus 30:13-15.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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