corner graphic

Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ruth 1:4

 

 

They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years.

Adam Clarke Commentary

And they took them wives - The Targum very properly observes, that they transgressed the decree of the word of the Lord, and took to themselves strange women.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ruth-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Marriages of Israelites with women of Ammon or Moab are nowhere in the Law expressly forbidden, as were marriages with the women of Canaan Deuteronomy 7:1-3. In the days of Nehemiah the special law Deuteronomy 23:3-6 was interpreted as forbidding them, and as excluding the children of such marriages from the congregation of Israel Nehemiah 13:1-3. Probably the marriages of Mahlon and Chilion would be justified by necessity, living as they were in a foreign land. Ruth was the wife of the older brother, Mahlon Rth 4:10 .


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ruth-1.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Ruth 1:4

They took them wives of the women of Moab.

Sinful marriages

The sin of these young men in marrying strange women is not expressly denounced as a sin in the story, although it is denounced in the Targum, which commences Ruth 1:4 thus: “They transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and took foreign wives from among the daughters of Moab.” But no one can read the Old Testament without feeling that they sinned against the law, for to the Hebrews marriage was a religious covenant; and St. Paul does but utter an admitted and familiar truth when he asks, “What fellowship has light with darkness, or Belial with God?” The reason of the law is given in the passage just cited from Deuteronomy--“they will turn away thy children from Me, and they will serve false gods.” The daughters of Moab were specially obnoxious to the faithful Israelites. They appear to have been among the most fascinating, and the most wanton and profligate, women of antiquity. Their gods--Chemosh, Moloch, Baal-peor--were incarnations of lust and cruelty. They demanded human sacrifices. Children were cast into their burning arms. In their ritual sensuality was accounted piety. True, Mahlon and Chilion were exceptionally fortunate in their wives. They were not turned to the service of false gods, though there was grave reason to fear that they might be; but, on the other hand, neither did they turn their wives to the service of the only true God. It was not till after her husband’s death that Ruth learned to take shelter under the wings of the Lord God of Israel (Ruth 2:12); and Orpah, as we are expressly told (Ruth 1:15), “went back to her people and her gods.”(S. Cox, D. D.)

In the country of Moab

It is wonderful how soon and how easily one gets used to a change of circumstances when the change itself is brought about gradually. The country of Moab, into which Elimelech and his family had journeyed, had of course its own language, its own fashions, and its own religion too, and these were as dissimilar as possible from those of the country which they had just now left. Yet the new-comers were in no serious sense shocked by what they saw and heard--had they so been they would have retraced their steps without delay; but each day brought its own novelty, and they managed to accustom themselves to the new things of to-day before it became necessary to face those of the morrow. Looking calmly at our fashion of living and way of acting now, some of us are compelled to admit how much we have changed in recent years; we never guessed that the alteration was so great or so complete; we never meant to have come so far. Worst of all, we never thought we should have felt the change so little. We remember well the qualms of conscience by which we were troubled when first we commenced to wander: we recollect now how the protests of our heart became fainter and fainter day by day until they ceased to be anything more than a hardly audible whisper. We went to sojourn in the country of Moab: we came into the country of Moab, and continued there. To begin with, our intentions were purely selfish, as selfish as were those of Lot when he elected to pitch his tent toward Sodom. We were going to get what we could out of Moab; they who lived there had something that we coveted, and we determined to make them share it with us. And, moreover, we had no serious intention of giving Moab anything in return. It is, indeed, just possible that at one time we may have possessed the Quixotic idea of remodelling life in Moab to suit our own ideas, but if so we soon abandoned the idea; for on the one hand we found that Moab was not willing to be remodelled--indeed, when we faintly suggested something of the kind, they said to us, as Sodom had said to Lot, and with not a little point, “Stand back; this one came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge”; and on the other hand, our own opinions were neither sufficiently clear in our own minds nor dear to our own hearts to enable us to graft them upon others. We were somewhat surprised, it may be, and a little pained, at the way in which our new neighbours received our well-meant attempts, in the early days of our life in Moab, to bring before them the advantages of a life of obedience and surrender to God. “If Bethlehem was such a charming place, and the life there so delightful, why did you exchange it for our country?” they not unnaturally inquired; “if Bethlehem did not satisfy you, how can you suppose that it will satisfy us?” Nor may we forget that in leaving the land of promise the wanderer never intends to be absent for other than a short period. If, on parting from our true home, any one had suggested that we should have been found in Moab to-day, we should have denied the imputation with indignation. Yet here we are still; and here in His great mercy the Good Shepherd has found us, and hence He desires to carry us home again--to our home and His. So they came into the country of Moab, and appear to have been received there with courtesy and hospitality. The world is always glad when those who have been making a somewhat definite profession of devotion to God show signs of a desire to relax the strictness of their behaviour; it is always willing to meet such persons more than half-way, and to do its best to enable them to quiet the still struggling conscience with as little delay as possible. If the world would only persecute us when it finds us on its own ground, there would be some hope that our stay in Moab would prove short indeed. Not that the world is any more prompted by unselfishness in its reception of us than were we ourselves in our journey to Moab; our new friends rejoice that, by our change of front, another protest against their way of life has died a natural death, and they are only too glad to be present and assist at its obsequies; they are, moreover, clear-sighted enough to see without being told that our surrender is a tacit victory for the world and indifferentism, and pro tanto a defeat for the gospel and a discredit to the life of faith in Christ. (H. A. Hall, B. D.)

Alternation of shadow and sunshine in life

And thus the world moves on--deaths and marriages, marriages and deaths. The household which to-day mourns as though all joy had taken flight for ever to-morrow resounds with the laughter of many voices at a newborn happiness. The faces all tear-stained yesterday are bright with smiles to-day. The bell which slowly tolled the funeral knell an hour ago now rings out the joyous wedding chime. So it must be, so it ought to be. Probably life would lose half its beauty but for this alternation of shadow and sunshine; at least, this we know, that human hearts need both the darkness and the light, or they will not grow to that perfection of truth and purity which God has designed they shall attain. Elimelech died, the sons married. It is a simple statement, yet a whole world of change is involved in it for that small household. (W. Braden.)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ruth 1:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/ruth-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And they took them wives of the women of Moab,.... Not before they were proselyted to the Jewish religion, as Aben Ezra thinks, and which seems plainly to be the case of Ruth; at least she was so afterwards, if not before; and also of Orpah, as the same writer concludes from 1:15 though others are of a different opinion, and some excuse their marriage, and others condemn it as unlawful, among whom is the Targumist, who paraphrases the words,"and they transgressed the decree of the Word of the Lord, and took to them strange wives of the daughters of Moab;'however it was so permitted by the Lord, and ordered in Providence, that from one of them the Messiah might spring:

and the name of the one was Orpah; she was married to Chilion; and Alshech gathers from hence that the youngest was married first before his brother:

and the name of the other Ruth the Targum adds,"the daughter of Eglon, king of Moab;'and that she was his daughter, or the daughter of his son, is a notion commonly received with the JewsF25T. Bab. Nazir, fol. 23. 2. Sotah, fol. 47. 1. Sanhedrin, fol. 105. 2. Horayot, fol. 10. 2. Zohar in Deut. fol. 109. 2. though without any just foundation; she was married to Mahlon, 4:10, one PhiloF26Apud Drusium in loc. asserts these two women to be own sisters, for what reason does not appear; and a Jewish writerF1Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 8. 1. says they were both daughters of Eglon, king of Moab: and they dwelt there about ten years; that is, Mahlon and Chilion, who married these women; which is to be reckoned either from the time they came into the land, or from the time of their marriage; the latter seems to be the case from the connection of the words.


Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ruth-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And they took them wives of the c women of Moab; the name of the one [was] Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

(c) By this wonderful providence of God Ruth became one of God's household, of whom Christ came.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/ruth-1.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

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.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/ruth-1.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

A HEBREW IDYLL

‘The name of the other Ruth.’

Ruth 1:4

The Book of Ruth is a love-story told in four chapters. It gives us a glimpse of everyday life in Bethlehem; in home and in harvest-field, in its general gossip and its law-suits, more than three thousand years ago.

I. Glancing back over the lines of this sweet and pure pastoral idyll, we feel that rarely did human story more impressively demonstrate the unspeakable worth of lowly folk, the fine and favourable issues of seemingly suppressed lives, the hidden wealth of true and unobtrusive souls, for nations and for the race. Notoriety counts for nothing in the sum of things. The world’s future lay more in quiet Bethlehem, with Naomi and Ruth, than it did at the headquarters of Judge Eli. Let us not despise ourselves. God does not, and our future is with Him. Every name is historic in His estimate.

II. But we are not near enough to the heart of this story to hear its beat and feel its warmth, until we see that it is a true and tender, pure and heroic woman’s love that gives such grace to these Hebrew homes and confers such peerless worth on these lowly lives.—The spell of the Book of Ruth is Ruth herself, and the chief charm of Ruth is her unselfish and devoted love.

III. Life and love lead to God.—For life is God’s gift, and love is of God’s nature. ‘We love, because He first loved us.’ This is true of the love in the home as much as of the love of the Church. All pure and unselfish love comes from God and leads to God.

Thus the story of Ruth is a fragment in a missionary report. It tells of the conversion of a Gentile and illustrates the wisest way of winning souls. God saves the world by love, and we cannot succeed by departing from His method and ignoring His Spirit. Naomi is a typical home missionary, and Ruth is the pattern and prophecy of the success that crowns wise and loving labour.

Illustrations

(1) ‘Before God sets His nation aside, He will try them under human kings for several hundred years; and in the Books of Samuel we have the opening of the record of these kings. Before our knowledge of the period of the Judges is complete, the story of the Book of Ruth remains to be told. It is in sweet contrast to the two closing stories of the Book we have just finished, but that it belongs to this period is clear from the first verse. This is the only instance in the Bible in which a whole Book is devoted to the history of a woman. But Ruth was an ancestress of Christ—the Mary of the Old Testament. The chief interest of the Book to us, outside of its own beauty, is the genealogical table at the end. Probably the events here recorded occurred near the close of the period of the Judges.’

(2) ‘Ruth, when we first see her, was a Gentile, worshipping idols in a far country. At the close of her history we see her in God’s chosen land, worshipping Him, and sustaining the part of the bride of Boaz. Her history just shows how any lost and wandering soul far from God can, if willing to make the decision which Ruth made, be brought nigh, be numbered among God’s children, and become a part of the Bride of Christ. Notice the genealogical table (Ruth 4:18-22), and remember that Moab, one of Ruth’s ancestors, was the son of Lot, Abraham’s nephew (see Genesis 19:36-37). It matters not what our ancestors have been, or done; that does not hinder from coming to Christ.’

(3) ‘The Book of Ruth is the romance of the Bible. The tale has movement, and tragic incident, and happy consummation. Its pastoral simplicity delights us. We are tired of heated discussions and high politics, of jarring controversy and commercial panics. We pine for the country air, for the fragrant meadows and the yellow corn, and the simple discourse of simple men. We can forget the haste and hurry of the world, and even ourselves, in the hopes and fears and fortunes of country life. The lessons we learn are easy and pointed; they are practical rather than deep, and yet they are of living force; and as we read, the sense of greater things is with us, for we know that the story plays a part—subordinate, no doubt, but real—in the great drama of the world. Ruth, for all that her own life’s story is complete, is one who takes a place in the great moving procession of characters which preceded the Christ.’


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/ruth-1.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ruth 1:4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one [was] Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

Ver. 4. And they took them wives of the women of Moab.] Which haply they had not been suffered to do if their father had lived: their mother, it may be, could as little hinder it, as Rebekah Esau’s marrying those daughters of Heth. But God had a holy hand in it: he ordereth the disorders of men to his own glory.

The name of the one was Orpah.] She was Chilion’s wife, as Ruth was Mahlon’s; [Ruth 4:10] whether they were sisters is uncertain, but sure enough they were not King Eglon’s daughters, as the Chaldee Paraphrast thinketh.

And they dwelt there about ten years.] A sore affliction to Naomi no doubt. See Psalms 120:5. Lord - said a certain good woman on her deathbed, and in trouble of mind, - send me not to hell among the wicked; for thou knowest I could never in all my life like their company.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ruth-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ruth 1:4. They took them wives of the women of Moab We must necessarily conclude from this, that these women had become proselytes to the Jewish religion; for otherwise it was not lawful for Jews to have married them. The case is plain with respect to Ruth (see Ruth 1:16.); and it appears to me, that Orpah not only left her mother and returned to her own country, but also apostatised from the religion that she had embraced to the idol worship of Moab. See Ruth 1:15 and also Prideaux's Connection, vol. 2:

Note; Worldly comforts and crosses are nearer than we suspect; while we are rejoicing in the settlement of our children, the pleasing prospect vanishes in an instant, and death lays all our hopes in the grave.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/ruth-1.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Of the women of Moab; either these were proselytes when they married them, which may well be doubted, from Ruth 1:15, or they sinned in marrying them, as appears from Deuteronomy 7:3 23:3 Ezra 9:1,2 Ne 13:23, and therefore were punished with short life and want of issue, Ruth 1:5,19,21.

About ten years; as long as the famine lasted.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ruth-1.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

And they took for themselves wives of the women of Moab, the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth, and they dwelt there about ten years.’

But gradually the sons would grow up, and it was at that point that they took Midianite wives for themselves. These were named Orpah and Ruth. There is no certainty as to the significance of the names, which would be Moabite names. While there appears to have been good relations between Israel and Moab at the time, their taking of foreign wives might well have been seen by many as a downward step, a consequence of Elimelech’s initial mistake. Compare how associating with surrounding nations is disapproved of in Judges 1, although admittedly there it was because they were Canaanites. But the Moabites were disapproved of almost as much, as Deuteronomy 23:1 ff makes clear. And then ‘about ten years’ passed by while they continued to dwell among the Moabites. ‘Ten’ regularly means ‘a good number’. There may be a hint in this that they remained there overlong. That may have been seen as the reason why the sons also died.

We note that during those ten years neither son had fathered an heir. Both marriages were barren, a further sign of YHWH’s disapproval. It would have been seen as signifying YHWH’s disapproval of their presence in Moab. And it meant that Orpah and Ruth had no one to act as their protector in the future. They shared in Naomi’s desolation, three poor women with no male protector.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/ruth-1.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4. They took them wives — “A kind of phrase,” says Kitto, “which usually occurs in a bad sense, as done without the concurrence of their parents, or not left so entirely to them as custom required.”

Of the women of Moab — The law condemned intermarriages with the Canaanitish tribes, but, inasmuch as Israel and Moab were descended from kindred ancestors, Abraham and Lot, not with the daughters of the Moabites, (Deuteronomy 7:3;) it commanded, however, that no Moabite, even to the tenth generation, should enter the congregation of the Lord. Deuteronomy 23:3. In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah the law was so construed as to prohibit all intermarriage with foreigners. Exodus 9, and Nehemiah 13.

But it was a distinguishing feature of the age of the Judges that every man did that which was right in his own eyes, (Judges 17:6;) the law was not enforced, and men forgot the commandments of the Lord and indulged in such looseness as even to intermarry with the idolatrous Canaanites. See Judges 3:5-6.

In this marriage of Ruth, the Moabitess, and Mahlon, the Beth-lehemite, we may now see the overruling hand of Providence, by which a Gentile woman is adopted into the family from which Christ had his human lineage, thus typifying the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of the Messiah, and the elevation, by the Gospel, of different nations above narrow sectional prejudices and partition-walls into feelings of a common brotherhood. “The story of Ruth has shed a peaceful light over what else would be the accursed race of Moab. We strain our gaze to know something of the long line of the purple hills of Moab, which form the background at once of the history and of the geography of Palestine. It is a satisfaction to feel that there is one tender association which unites them with the familiar history and scenery of Judea — that from their recesses, across the deep gulf which separates the two regions, came the Gentile ancestress of David and the Messiah.” — Stanley.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ruth-1.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ruth 1:4. They took them wives of the daughters of Moab — Either these women were proselytes when they married them, which what is afterward recorded of Ruth (Ruth 1:16) renders very probable, or they sinned in marrying them, and therefore might be punished with short lives and want of issue. The Chaldee paraphrast declares for the latter opinion. “Their days were cut short,” says he, “because they married strange women.”


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ruth-1.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ruth was the wife of Mahalon; (chap. iv. 10,) and signifies one "well watered, (Menochius) or inebriated," &c. (Haydock) --- The sons of Noemi were excused by necessity in marrying idolaters, though they ought to have done their best to convert them. The Chaldean greatly condemns their marriage, and thinks that their death was in punishment of their prevarication, Deuteronomy vii. 3., and xx. 11. (Calmet) --- Salien is of the same opinion. So various have always been the sentiments of people on this head! (Haydock) See Serarius, q. 11.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/ruth-1.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

took them wives. Canaanitish wives forbidden (Deuteronomy 7:3, &c.), but not Moabitish wives; though a Moabite man might not enter the congregation of Jehovah. See note, Deuteronomy 23:3.

Orpah = Hind or Fawn.

Ruth = Beauty. Wife of Mahlon the elder.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/ruth-1.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) They took them wives.—This seems to have been after the father’s death. The fault of settling on a heathen soil begun by the father is carried on by the sons in marrying heathen women, for such we cannot doubt they must have been in the first instance. The Targum (or ancient Chaldee paraphrase) says: “They transgressed against the decree of the Word of the Lord, and took to themselves strange wives.” This act was to incur a further risk of being involved in idolatry, as King Solomon found.

Ruth.—This name will mean either “comeliness” or “companion.” according to the spelling of which we suppose the present name to be a contraction. The Syriac spelling supports the latter view. Ruth was the wife of Mahlon (Ruth 4:10), apparently the elder sou. The Targum calls Ruth the daughter of Eglon, king of Moab, obviously from the wish to exalt the dignity of Ruth.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/ruth-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.
they took
The Targum says, "they transgressed the decree of the word of the Lord, and took to them strange women."
wives
Deuteronomy 7:3; 23:3; 1 Kings 11:1,2
Ruth
Matthew 1:5

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ruth 1:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/ruth-1.html.

To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology