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Ruth 1:3-5: Death Visits in Moab

Verse 3:[1] And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

Verse 4:[2] And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

[Who took] To take a wife is derived from the ancient custom whereby the bride was handed over by her parents to the bridegroom, and he received/ took her. It could be translated, and they had taken, that is, with their father yet living. Thus Josephus’ Antiquities 5:9 (Drusius).

[Moabite Wives] Moab is part of Arabia Petra (Lapide, Tirinus), as Pliny testifies, the metropolis of which is Petra, which Bellonius supposes to be today’s Mecca (Tirinus). Question: Was this lawful for them? or did they sin in marrying them? Response 1: It appears to have been lawful, because it is not forbidden: neither is it repugnant to Deuteronomy 23:3, a Moabite shall not come into the church, etc. (Drusius). [But Drusius only affirms this, and he does not undertake to prove it with even one word.] They are able to be excused, 1. by necessity; because they were not going to find Israelites that they might marry in Moab; and celibacy was dangerous to them, as young men (Lapide). 2. Because this appears to have been done by Naomi by inspiration of God, who willed the Christ to be born of a Moabitess (Bonfrerius out of Lapide). 3. Because Orpah and Ruth were proselytes (Lapide). The the contrary is evident from verses 15 and 16 (Bonfrerius). Responses 2: Others maintain that they sinned (thus the Rabbis and Feuardent[3] in Bonfrerius). Thus Jonathan: They transgressed the statute of the word of the Lord by taking foreign wives of the daughters of Moab. And the same Jonathan a little after thus writes, Because they transgressed, etc., their days were cut short. Add the rationale of the law, Deuteronomy 7:3, 4, Thou shalt not take his daughter, because she will turn away thy son: Then, in Ezra 9:1, the Ammonite and the Moabite, to which he subjoins, for they have taken of their daughters for themselves (Drusius). There is nothing that compels us to excuse them of sin (Tostatus, Bonfrerius).

Of the women of Moab; either these were proselytes when they married them, which may well be doubted, from verse 15, or they sinned in marrying them, as appears from Deuteronomy 7:3; 23:3; Ezra 9:1, 2; Nehemiah 13:23, and therefore were punished with short life and want of issue, Ruth 1:5, 19, 21.

[And they remained] Hebrew: and they sat.[4] It is well-known that to sit is used by the Hebrews for to dwell (Drusius). Now, with good reason did Matthew place Rahab and Ruth in the genealogy of the Messiah, as a prelude to the calling of the Gentiles, which was to be done through the Messiah (Grotius).

About ten years; as long as the famine lasted.

Verse 5:[5] And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

[And they both died] Hebrew: also both.[6] The language of also is to be referred to Elimelech (Drusius).

[And the woman was left bereaved of her two sons and husband,וַתִּשָּׁאֵר֙ הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה מִשְּׁנֵ֥י יְלָדֶ֖יהָ וּמֵאִישָֽׁהּ׃] And remained (was left [Septuagint, Jonathan], was left as a survivor [Junius and Tremellius]) the woman (understanding, bereaved [Pagnine, Jonathan]) of her two sons and of her husband (Montanus). And she was left a widow after her sons, etc. (Munster, Tigurinus). [Thus they take the מ/from, just as the Latins sometimes take à for after.]

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּ֥מָת אֱלִימֶ֖לֶךְ אִ֣ישׁ נָעֳמִ֑י וַתִּשָּׁאֵ֥ר הִ֖יא וּשְׁנֵ֥י בָנֶֽיהָ׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׂא֣וּ לָהֶ֗ם נָשִׁים֙ מֹֽאֲבִיּ֔וֹת שֵׁ֤ם הָֽאַחַת֙ עָרְפָּ֔ה וְשֵׁ֥ם הַשֵּׁנִ֖ית ר֑וּת וַיֵּ֥שְׁבוּ שָׁ֖ם כְּעֶ֥שֶׂר שָׁנִֽים׃

[3] François Feuardent (1539-1610) was a French Franciscan theologian. He produced a new edition of Lyra’s Biblia Sacra, and wrote commentaries on several Biblical books, including Ruth and Esther.

[4] Hebrew: וַיֵּשְׁבוּ.

[5] Hebrew: וַיָּמ֥וּתוּ גַם־שְׁנֵיהֶ֖ם מַחְל֣וֹן וְכִלְי֑וֹן וַתִּשָּׁאֵר֙ הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה מִשְּׁנֵ֥י יְלָדֶ֖יהָ וּמֵאִישָֽׁהּ׃

[6] Hebrew: גַם־שְׁנֵיהֶם.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday

Matthew Henry: 'The marriage of his two sons to two of the daughters of Moab after his death, Ruth 1:4. All agree that this was ill done. The Chaldee says, They transgressed the decree of the word of the Lord in taking strange wives. If they would not stay unmarried till their return to the land of Israel, they were not so far off but that they might have fetched themselves wives thence. Little did Elimelech think, when he went to sojourn in Moab, that ever his sons would thus join in affinity with Moabites. But those that bring young people into bad acquaintance, and take them out of the way of public ordinances, though they may think them well-principle…

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