IV The next kinsman refuses to marry Ruth, ver. 1-8. Boaz marries her, ver. 9-12. Their issue, ver. 13-22.
Verse 2. Ten men - To be witnesses: for though two or three witnesses were sufficient, yet in weightier matters they used more. And ten was the usual number among the Jews, in causes of matrimony and divorce, and translation of inheritances; who were both Judges of the causes, and witnesses of the fact.
Verse 3. Naomi - Both Naomi and Ruth had an interest in this land during their lives, but he mentions only Naomi, because all was done by her direction; lest the mention of Ruth should raise a suspicion of the necessity of his marrying Ruth, before he had given his answer to the first proposition.
Verse 5. Buy it - According to the law, Deut. xxv, 5. To raise,&c. - To revive his name, which was buried with his body, by raising up a seed to him, to be called by his name.
Verse 6. Mar - Either because having no children of his own, he might have one, and but one son by Ruth, who, though he should carry away his inheritance, yet would not bear his name, but the name of Ruth's husband; and so by preserving another man's name, he should lose his own. Or, because as his inheritance would be but very little increased by this marriage, so it might be much diminished by being divided amongst his many children, which he possibly had already, and might probably have more by Ruth. My right - Which I freely resign to thee.
Verse 7. All things - That is, in all alienation of lands. So that it is no wonder if this ceremony differ a little from that, Deut. xxv, 9, because that concerned only one case, but this is more general. Besides, he pleads not the command of God, but only ancient custom, for this practice. Gave it - He who relinquished his right to another, plucked off his own shoe and gave it to him. This was symbolical, and a significant and convenient ceremony, as if he said, take this shoe wherewith I used to go and tread upon my land, and in that shoe do thou enter upon it, and take possession of it. This was a testimony - This was admitted for sufficient evidence in all such cases.
Verse 10. From the gate - That is, from among the inhabitants dwelling within the gate of this city, which was Bethlehem-judah.
Verse 11. Rachel and Leah - Amiable and fruitful. These two are singled out, because they were of a foreign original, and yet ingrafted into God's people, as Ruth was; and because of that fertility which God vouchsafed unto them above their predecessors, Sarah and Rebecca. Rachel is placed before Leah, because she was his most lawful, and best-beloved wife. Did build - That is, increase the posterity. Ephratah and Bethlehem - Two names of one and the same place.
Verse 12. Pharez - As honourable and numerous as his family was; whom, though be also was born of a stranger, God so 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.
Verse 13. Took Ruth - Which he might do, though she was a Moabite, because the prohibition against marrying such, is to be restrained to those who continue Heathens; whereas Ruth was a sincere proselyte and convert to the God of Israel. Thus he that forsakes all for Christ, shall find more than all with him.
Verse 14. Which hath not, &c. - The words may be rendered, Which hath not made, or suffered thy kinsman to fail thee; that is, to refuse the performances of his duty to thee and thine, as the other kinsman did. Famous - Hebrew. and his name shall be famous in Israel, for this noble and worthy action.
Verse 15. Thy life - That is, of the comfort of thy life. Born him - Or, hath born to him; that is, to thy kinsman a son. Better than seven sons - See how God sometimes makes up the want of those relations from whom we expected most comfort, in those from whom we expected least! The bonds of love prove stronger than those of nature.
Verse 17. A name - That is, they gave her advice about his name; for otherwise they had no power or right to do so. Obed - A servant, to thee, to nourish, and comfort, and assist thee; which duty children owe to their progenitors.