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.