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Ruth 4:14, 15: A Blessing for Naomi

Verse 14:[1] And (Luke 1:58; Rom. 12:15) the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without (Heb. caused to cease unto thee[2]) a kinsman (or, redeemer[3]), that his name may be famous in Israel.

[Who hath not allowed it that a successor fail to thy family, and that his name should be called in Israel, אֲ֠שֶׁר לֹ֣א הִשְׁבִּ֥ית לָ֛ךְ גֹּאֵ֖ל הַיּ֑וֹם וְיִקָּרֵ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃] Who not to cease (or to be wanting [Septuagint]) caused to thee (did not transfer, or remove, from thee [Syriac, Munster]) a redeemer (kinsman [Vatablus]) today (Montanus, Piscator); He hath not left thee today without an avenger (Junius and Tremellius) [similarly the remaining interpreters]; and let be called (thou shalt call [Syriac]), or shall be called, his name in Israel (Montanus, Pagnine); today his name shall be called and remembered in the midst of Israel (Arabic). He did not allow to be wanting to thee this day a kinsman, namely, he whose name is going to be celebrated in Israel. The name of someone to be called in some place, in the place of, to be made famous (Vatablus). That his name may be famous (or called [Munster]), etc. (Junius and Tremellius). And it should be called, in the place of, that it may be called. That his name may be proclaimed, etc. Since the name of him, who departed without children, appears to be extinguished, as it were. Or, his name may be called, that is, may be, that is, may be named, in Israel. To call in the place of to be is quite common (Drusius). [Others refer it to Boaz:] Let the name of that man be celebrated; that is, of that pious redeemer, who raised up seed to his deceased kinsman, etc. (Junius).

Without a kinsman; which is understood, either, first, Of the son new born. Or rather, secondly, Of Boaz; for the name of גֹּאֵל/ goel, which is translated kinsman or redeemer, is never, that I know of, given to the child born, but always to the person begetting him of his brother’s or near kinsman’s wife. And whereas it is objected, that there was no cause for this congratulation at this time in reference to Boaz, because that was done divers months before this time; it may be replied, that the memory of that generous action was revived upon this occasion, and therefore is fitly mentioned as the foundation of this child’s birth; and this happy effect justly leads them to the cause and original of it, which was this, that Boaz had shown himself to be a kinsman or not only in name and title, as the other kinsman was, verse 6, but in truth and reality. The words may be rendered, which hath not made or suffered thy kinsman to fail to thee, that is, to neglect or refuse the performance of his duty to thee and thine, as the other kinsman did. That his name may be famous in Israel; Hebrew, and his name shall be famous in Israel, for this noble and worthy action, wherein he gave so great an example of piety, charity, humility, and self-denial.

Verse 15:[4] And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher (Heb. to nourish;[5] Gen. 45:11;[6] Ps. 55:22[7]) of thine old age (Heb. thy gray hairs[8]): for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is (1 Sam. 1:8) better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.

[And thou shouldest have one to comfort thy soul, וְהָ֤יָה לָךְ֙ לְמֵשִׁ֣יב נֶ֔פֶשׁ] And he shall be to thee for one restoring (or reviving [Vatablus, similarly Pagnine, Septuagint, Jonathan]) the soul (Montanus). He shall restore, or shall call back, to thee thy soul, despairing of offspring (Vatablus). A comforter of thy soul (Syriac). A restorer of thy soul, that is, thy life (Malvenda out of Junius).

A restorer of thy life, that is, of the comfort of thy life, which was in a great measure dead and gone.

[And to nourish thine old age, וּלְכַלְכֵּ֖ל אֶת־שֵׂיבָתֵ֑ךְ] And he shall nourish (or may he sustain [Tigurinus]) thine old age (Pagnine, Montanus, etc.); and that by sustaining thy gray hairs (Junius and Tremellius).

[For he hath been born of thy daughter-in-law, who loveth thee,כִּ֣י כַלָּתֵ֤ךְ אֲֽשֶׁר־אֲהֵבַ֙תֶךְ֙ יְלָדַ֔תּוּ] Because thy daughter-in-law, who loveth thee, hath born him (Montanus) [similarly the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius, Pagnine]. Some thus translate it, with the כִּי/for omitted, he, whom thy daughter-in-law hath born, who loveth thee, and who at the same time is better to thee than many sons (Vatablus). Cappel suspects that in the place of יְלָדַתּוּ, she hath born him, יוֹלַדְתִּי is better to be read, for יוֹלֶדֶת,[9] in this sense, because hath born a son thy daughter-in-law, who loveth thee, and who is better to thee than seven sons. Otherwise it is next to be read, הוּא and טוֹב, in the masculine gender, in this sense, because thy daughter-in-law, who loveth thee, hath born him, who[10] shall be to thee better than seven sons; but according to today’s reading the sense is perplexed, because thy daughter-in-law, who loveth thee, hath born him, who[11] is better to thee than seven sons (Cappel’s Sacred Criticism[12]). Response: 1. The יְלָדַתּוּ is able to be translated, she hath born to him, that is, to the avenger, in the place of, יָלְדָה לוֹ: for the pronoun is often set down as a suffix, and is to be expounded by a separate dative: like בִּשְּׁלָם, he boiled them, in the place of, בִּשֵּׁל לָהֶם, he boiled for them, 1 Kings 19:21; נְתַתָּנִי, thou hast given me, in the place of, נָתַתָּה לִי, thou hast given to me, Joshua 15:19; אַגִּידֶנּוּ, I will declare to Him, Job 31:37; עֲשִׂיתִנִי, I have made for myself, Ezekiel 29:3. Thus they render it in this place, she begat to him (Munster, Tigurinus, similarly Castalio). Thus there is no perplexity, and the sense of Cappel emerges, and by the avenger Boaz is understood, who, although he was not bound to perform this office of the levir, undertook it willingly. 2. If it be rendered literally, the sense is not perplexed; but thus the principal part of the congratulations is to be referred to the newborn son, of whom, as if present and placed before their eyes, they do not make express mention, but indicate, when they say, who hath caused not to cease to thee this day an avenger, that is, with this son born of him. They are not so much congratulating her concerning an avenger obtained, as concerning the son born of her daughter-in-law: indeed, the former she had already had for at least nine months; but this son she had received only that day: and, inasmuch as a son was born, he was truly an avenger, through whom would be reclaimed the memory of the name of the deceased son from oblivion, and the inheritance also from heirs of another family. And so what things follow are to be taken of the son born; his name shall be called in Israel; he shall be to thee for restoration, etc., because thy daughter-in-law, who loved, or loveth, thee, hath born him; which daughter-in-law is better to thee than seven sons (Vatablus). Therefore, that she hath born him, has regard to the infant. For relative pronouns are often put without an antecedent substantive noun, and with no mention made of the thing to which they are referred; that is, when that, either being present or in sight, is obvious. Now, those words, who is better to thee than seven sons, they thus understand: That daughter-in-law, with this son of Boaz, a wealthy son-in-law, is not better and more useful to thee than if she had born many to thee from thy son: thence all things necessary for life shall be abundantly funished to thee. 3. Far more perplexed is that reading of Cappel: for יוֹלֶדֶת[13] signifies in the present, she is bearing, or rather in the future, she will bear, as in Genesis 16:11;[14] 17:19, Sarah יֹלֶ֤דֶת לְךָ֙ בֵּ֔ן, shall bear to thee a son: But the sense requires the past tense here, concerning the son already born, as in verse 13, and she bore a son (Buxtorf’s Vindication of the Integrity of the Hebrew[15] 2:13:987).

Hath born him, to wit, a son; the pronoun for the noun understood, which is frequent in the Hebrew tongue. Or, hath born to him, that is, to thy kinsman, to wit, a son, which is easily understood; and so the pronoun affix is put for the separate; of which there are instances; as Joshua 15:19; 1 Kings 19:21; Job 31:37; Ezekiel 29:3.

[1] Hebrew: וַתֹּאמַ֤רְנָה הַנָּשִׁים֙ אֶֽל־נָעֳמִ֔י בָּר֣וּךְ יְהוָ֔ה אֲ֠שֶׁר לֹ֣א הִשְׁבִּ֥ית לָ֛ךְ גֹּאֵ֖ל הַיּ֑וֹם וְיִקָּרֵ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[2] Hebrew: הִשְׁבִּ֥ית לָ֛ךְ.

[3] Hebrew: גֹּאֵל.

[4] Hebrew: וְהָ֤יָה לָךְ֙ לְמֵשִׁ֣יב נֶ֔פֶשׁ וּלְכַלְכֵּ֖ל אֶת־שֵׂיבָתֵ֑ךְ כִּ֣י כַלָּתֵ֤ךְ אֲֽשֶׁר־אֲהֵבַ֙תֶךְ֙ יְלָדַ֔תּוּ אֲשֶׁר־הִיא֙ ט֣וֹבָה לָ֔ךְ מִשִּׁבְעָ֖ה בָּנִֽים׃

[5] Hebrew: וּלְכַלְכֵּל.

[6] Genesis 45:11: “And there will I nourish thee (וְכִלְכַּלְתִּ֤י אֹֽתְךָ֙); for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.”

[7] Psalm 55:22: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee (וְה֪וּא יְכַ֫לְכְּלֶ֥ךָ): he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

[8] Hebrew: אֶת־שֵׂיבָתֵךְ.

[9] The feminine participle.

[10] Namely, the grandson.

[11] Namely, Ruth.

[12] Critica Sacra, sive de Variis quæ in Sacris Veteris Testamenti Libris Occurrunt Lectionibus Libri Sex: in quibus ex Variarum Lectionum Observatione Quamplurima Sacræ Scripturæ Loca Explicantur, Illustrantur, atque adeò Emendantur non Pauca.

[13] The feminine participle.

[14] Genesis 16:11: “And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son (הִנָּ֥ךְ הָרָ֖ה וְיֹלַ֣דְתְּ בֵּ֑ן), and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.”

[15] Anticritica: seu Vindiciæ Veritatis Hebraicæ Adversus Ludovici Cappelli Criticam quam Vocat Sacram.

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