I Naomi removes to Moab, ver. 1, 2. Her husband and sons die, ver. 3-5. Designing to return to Bethlehem, she addresses her daughters-in-law, ver. 6-13. Orpah stays, but Ruth returns with her, ver. 14-18. They came to Bethlehem, ver. 19-22.
Verse 1. In the land - Of Canaan. It must be early: for Boaz was born of Rahab. So Christ descended from two Gentile mothers.
Verse 2. Ephrathites - Bethlehem was otherwise called Ephratha. Naomi signifies my amiable or pleasant one: Mahlon and Chilon signify sickness and consumption. Probably they were sickly children, and not likely to be long-lived. Such are the products of our pleasant things, weak and infirm, fading and dying.
Verse 4. Took wives - Either these were Proselytes when they married them, or they sinned in marrying them, and therefore were punished with short life, and want of issue.
Verse 5. Was left of her two sons, and her husband - Loss of children and widowhood are both come upon her. By whom shall she be comforted? It is God alone that is able to comfort those who are thus cast down.
Verse 6. Bread - That is, food; so she staid no longer there than necessity forced her.
Verse 8. Mother's house - Because daughters used to converse more frequently with their mothers, and to dwell in the same apartments with them, which then were distinct from those parts of the house where the men dwelt. The dead - With my sons, your husbands, while they lived.
Verse 11. Your husbands - According to the ancient custom, Gen. xxxviii, 8, and the express law of God, Deut. xxv, 5, which doubtless she had acquainted them with before, among other branches of the Jewish religion.
Verse 13. It grieveth me - That you are left without the comfort of husbands or children; that I must part with such affectionate daughters; and that my circumstances are such, that I cannot invite you to go alone with me. For her condition was so mean at this time, that Ruth, when she came to her mother's city, was forced to glean for a living. It is with me, that God has a controversy. This language becomes us, when we are under affliction; tho' many others share in the trouble, yet we are to hear the voice of the rod, as if it spake only to us. But did not she wish to bring them to the worship of the God of Israel? Undoubtedly she did. But she would have them first consider upon what terms, lest having set their hand to the plow, they should look back.
Verse 14. Kissed - Departed from her with a kiss. Bade her farewell for ever. She loved Naomi, but she did not love her so well, as to quit her country for her sake. Thus many have a value for Christ, and yet come short of salvation by him, because they cannot find in their hearts, to forsake other things for him. They love him, and yet leave him, because they do not love him enough, but love other things better.
Verse 15. To her gods - Those that forsake the communion of saints, will certainly break off their communion with God. This she saith, to try Ruth's sincerity and constancy, and that she might intimate to her, that if she went with her, she must embrace the true religion.
Verse 17. There will I be buried - Not desiring to have so much as her dead body carried back into the land of Moab: but Naomi and she having joined souls, she desires they may mingle dust, in hopes of rising together, and remaining together for ever. 18. Left speaking unto her - See the power of resolution! Those who are half- resolved, are like a door a-jar, which invites a thief. But resolution shuts and bolts he door, and then the devil flees from us.
Verse 19. Is this - Is this she that formerly lived in so much plenty and honour? How marvelously is her condition changed?
Verse 20. Naomi - Which signifies pleasant, and chearful. Mara - Which signifies bitter or sorrowful.
Verse 21. Full - With my husband and sons, and a plentiful estate for our support. Testified - That is, hath born witness, as it were, in judgment, and given sentence against me.