Ruth 4:11, 12: A Wedding Blessing

Verse 11:[1] And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. (Ps. 127:3; 128:3) The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did (Deut. 25:9) build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily (or, get thee riches, or, power[2]) in (Gen. 35:16, 19) Ephratah, and (Heb. proclaim thy name[3]) be famous in Beth-lehem…



[Like Rachel and Leah, who built the house of Israel[4]] That is, for Israel, or for Jacob. This expression is not otherwise used except with the Dative, Exodus 1:21;[5] 1 Samuel 2:35;[6] 2 Samuel 7:27[7] (Bonfrerius). [But the rest generally take it in the Genitive:] the house of Israel (Junius and Tremellius), or, of Israel our father (Jonathan). To build is taken for to provide with children, or to procreate, after the Hebraic manner, as in Genesis 16:2.[8] [See the things noted on that passage.] Question: Question: Why are Rachel and Leah named, before all the other women from whom the Israelites were descended? Why not Sarah and Rebekah? Why not Bilhah and Zilpah?[9] Response: 1. Because Rachel and Leah, like Ruth, with their fatherland left behind, followed Jacob. 2. They also modestly and reservedly asked offspring from Jacob; which Ruth also did (Menochius and Bonfrerius out of Serarius). 3. From them only Israelites were propagated; from Sarah and Rebekah, Idumeans also. 4. Bilhah and Zilpah were handmaids, and mothers of fewer children (Bonfrerius out of Serarius). 5. The sons of the handmaids were in moral estimation the sons of Rachel and Leah, who consequently named the children as mothers, Genesis 30; hence they also obtained an inheritance with the others by equal right. 6. From Rachel and Leah were the most illustrious Tribes, Ephraim, Benjamin, Judah, Levi. 7. All the Bethlehemites were descended from Leah: but the famous sepulchre of Rachel was just outside of the city. But Rachel is here set before Leah, because she was dearer to Jacob (Bonfrerius). Moreover, this formula of blessing is even now used by the Jews in the weddings (Grotius).


Like Rachel and like Leah, amiable and fruitful. Those two are singled out, partly because they were of a foreign and heathenish original, and yet ingrafted into God’s people, as Ruth also was; and partly because of that singular fertility which God vouchsafed unto them above their predecessors, Sarah and Rebekah. Rachel is placed before Leah, because she was his most lawful, and only intended, and chosen, and best beloved wife. Build the house, that is, increase the posterity. See Genesis 16:2; Exodus 1:21.


[That thou mightest be an example of virtue in Ephratah, וַעֲשֵׂה־חַ֣יִל בְּאֶפְרָ֔תָה] And do virtue in Ephratah (Montanus, Vatablus, Osiander); act vigorously, etc. (Munster, Tigurinus, Piscator), as in Psalm 60:12[10] (Piscator, similarly Vatablus). Acquire, or make, wealth (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius). That is to say, We pray that thou, who hast not regarded wealth in this marriage, might be made wealthy by it (Junius). Ephratah and Beth-lehem are two names for one city (Bonfrerius): or, Ephratah is the region, in which Beth-lehem is situated (certain interpreters in Drusius).


[And that he might have…a name, etc.; Hebrew, and call the name, etc., וּקְרָא־שֵׁם] And be famous (English). Proclaim the name (English, Dutch), understanding, thy (English). Acquire for thyself a name (Pagnine, Castalio), or, reputation (Vatablus). And cause to be proclaimed (Hebrew: proclaim) the name, etc., both of the deceased, and then his own, with many children received (Malvenda out of Junius). Call the name. A marvelous sort of speech, and hardly used elsewhere; as if it were written, let thy name be called (Vatablus).


Ephratah and Beth-lehem, two names of one and the same place; of which see on Ruth 1:2.


Verse 12:[11] And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, (Gen. 38:29; 1 Chron. 2:4; Matt. 1:3) whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of (1 Sam. 2:20) the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.


[Like the house of Pharez] Who was the progenitor of the Bethlehemites (Bonfrerius): and whose family was chief of the five families of Judah (Menochius). That is, le it be thus illustrious and numerous (Bonfrerius).


Like the house of Pharez; as honourable and numerous as his family was; whom, though he also was born of a stranger, God so far blessed, that his family was one of the five families to which all the tribe of Judah belonged, and the progenitor of the inhabitants of this city.


[Of the seed] Note that the language of see here, as elsewhere, is used of the one son (Piscator).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמְר֜וּ כָּל־הָעָ֧ם אֲשֶׁר־בַּשַּׁ֛עַר וְהַזְּקֵנִ֖ים עֵדִ֑ים יִתֵּן֩ יְהוָ֙ה אֶֽת־הָאִשָּׁ֜ה הַבָּאָ֣ה אֶל־בֵּיתֶ֗ךָ כְּרָחֵ֤ל׀ וּכְלֵאָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֙ר בָּנ֤וּ שְׁתֵּיהֶם֙ אֶת־בֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַעֲשֵׂה־חַ֣יִל בְּאֶפְרָ֔תָה וּקְרָא־שֵׁ֖ם בְּבֵ֥ית לָֽחֶם׃


[2] Hebrew: וַעֲשֵׂה־חַיִל.


[3] Hebrew: וּקְרָא־שֵׁם.


[4] Hebrew: כְּרָחֵ֤ל׀ וּכְלֵאָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֙ר בָּנ֤וּ שְׁתֵּיהֶם֙ אֶת־בֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל.


[5] Exodus 1:21: “And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made for them houses (וַיַּ֥עַשׂ לָהֶ֖ם בָּתִּֽים׃).”


[6] 1 Samuel 2:35: “And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build for him a sure house (וּבָנִ֤יתִי לוֹ֙ בַּ֣יִת נֶאֱמָ֔ן); and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.”


[7] 2 Samuel 7:27: “For thou, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house (בַּ֖יִת אֶבְנֶה־לָּ֑ךְ): therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.”


[8] Genesis 16:2a: “And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her (אִבָּנֶ֖ה מִמֶּ֑נָּה, I may be built of her)….”


[9] See Genesis 30.


[10] Psalm 60:12: “Through God we shall do valiantly (בֵּֽאלֹהִ֥ים נַעֲשֶׂה־חָ֑יִל): for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.”


[11] Hebrew: וִיהִ֤י בֵֽיתְךָ֙ כְּבֵ֣ית פֶּ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יָלְדָ֥ה תָמָ֖ר לִֽיהוּדָ֑ה מִן־הַזֶּ֗רַע אֲשֶׁ֙ר יִתֵּ֤ן יְהוָה֙ לְךָ֔ מִן־הַֽנַּעֲרָ֖ה הַזֹּֽאת׃

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ABOUT US

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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