UPON THE BOOK OF
This short history of the domestic affairs of one particular family, fitly follows the book of Judges, (the events related here, happening in the days of the Judges,) and fitly goes before the books of Samuel, because in the close it introduces David: yet the Jews, in their Bibles, separate it from both, and make it one of the five Megilloth, or Volumes, which they put together toward the latter end; in this order, Solomon's Song, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. It is probable that Samuel was the penman of it. It relates, not miracles or laws, wars or victories, or the revolutions of states, but the afflictions first, and afterward the comfort, of Naomi; the conversion first, and afterward, the preferment, of Ruth. Many such events have happened, which perhaps we may think as well worthy to be recorded. But these God saw fit to transmit the knowledge of to us; and even common historians think they have liberty to choose their subject. The design of this book is,
I. To lead to providence; to show us how conversant it is about our private concerns, and to teach us in them all to have an eye to it, acknowledging God in all our ways, and in all events that concern us. See 1 Sam. 2. 7. 8. Ps. 113. 7••9.
II. To lead to Christ, who descended from Ruth, and part of whose genealogy concludes the book, from whence it is fetched into Matth. 1. In the conversion of Ruth the Moabitess, and the bringing of her into the pedigree of the Messiah, we have a type of the calling of the Gentiles in due time into the fellowship of Christ Jesus our Lord. The afflictions of Naomi and Ruth we have an account of, ch. 1. Instances of their industry and humility, ch. 2. The bringing of them into an alliance with Boaz, ch. 3. And their happy settlement thereby, ch. 4. And let us remember the scene is laid in Beth-lehem, the city where our Redeemer was born.
In this chapter we have Naomi's afflictions. I. As a distressed housekeeper, forced by famine to remove into the land of Moab, v. 1, 2. II. As a mournful widow and mother, bewailing the death of her husband and her two sons, V. 3..5. III. As a careful mother-in-law, desirous to be kind to her two daughters, but at a loss how to be so, when she returns to her own country, v. 6..13. Orpah she parts with in sorrow, v. 14. Ruth she takes with her in fear, v. 15..18. IV. As a poor woman sent back to the place of her first settlement, to be supported by the kindness of her friends, v. 19..22. All these things were melancholy, and seemed against her, and yet all were working for good.
1. NOW it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Beth-lehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3. And Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. 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. 5. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.
The first words give all the date we have of this story. It was in the days when the Judges ruled, v. 1. not in those disorderly times when there was no king in Israel. But under which of the judges