Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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RUTH - Chapter 4

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Ruth iv.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Gate, where justice was administered. --- Calling. Hebrew Ploni Almoni. (Calmet) --- Protestants, " Ho! such a one." (Haydock) --- This form of speech is used concerning a person whose name we know not, or will not mention, 1 Kings xxi. 2. (Calmet) --- The name of this man is buried in eternal oblivion, perhaps because he was so much concerned about the splendour of his family, that he would not marry the widow of his deceased relation. (Tirinus)

Ver. 2. Here, as witnesses, not as judges, ver. 9. (Calmet) --- This number was requisite in matters of consequence. (Grotius)

Ver. 3. Will sell. Some Latin copies read, "sells, or has sold." But the sequel shews that she was only now disposed to do it. But what right had Noemi or Ruth to the land, since women could not inherit? The latter might indeed retain her title, as long as she continued unmarried. But Noemi only acted in her behalf. Selden thinks that their respective husbands had made them a present of some land. Josephus (ver. 11) asserts, that the person whom Booz addressed had already possession, and that he resigned his claim, as he would not take another wife. (Calmet) --- Our brother. He was his nephew, and calls him brother, as Abraham did Lot. (Worthington)

Ver. 4. This. Hebrew, "I thought to uncover thy ear," or to admonish thee. Virgil (frag.) uses a similar expression, Mors aurem vellens, vivite, ait, venio: "Death pulls the ear; live now, he says, I come." --- Not. Hebrew printed erroneously, "But if he will not redeem it." (Kennicott)

Ver. 5. When. Hebrew again corruptly, "On the day thou buyest the land of the hand of Noemi, I will also buy it of Ruth," &c. It ought to be, conformably to some manuscripts and the ancient versions, "thou must also take Ruth," ver. 10. (Capel, p. 144, and 362.) (Kennicott) (Haydock) --- We see here the observance of two laws, the one preserving the inheritance in the same family, and the other obliging the next of kin to marry the widow of the deceased, if he would enjoy his land, Leviticus xxv. 10., and Deuteronomy xxv. 5. (Calmet) --- Such widows as designed to comply with this condition, took possession of the land on the death of their husband, and conveyed it to those whom they married, till their eldest son became entitled to it. (Abulensis, q. 30 to 61.) --- Inheritance. The son to be born, would be esteemed the heir of his legal parent. (Menochius)

Ver. 6. Family. Hebrew, "I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I spoil my own inheritance." He was afraid of having too many children, and sensible that the first son that should be born of the proposed marriage, would not be counted as his. (Haydock) --- The miserable Onan had the same pretext, Genesis xxxviii. 9. Chaldean, "Since I cannot make use of this privilege, having already a wife, and not being allowed to take another, as that might cause dissensions in my family, and spoil my inheritance, do thou redeem it,….as thou art unmarried."

Ver. 7. Israel. Hebrew, "and this was the testimony in Israel." The ceremony here specified is very different from that which the law prescribed, Deuteronomy xxv. 7. But Josephus says, that they complied with all the regulations of the law, and that Ruth was present on this occasion. (Calmet) --- Perhaps the law was not executed in all its rigour, when another was found to marry the widow, (Worthington) and when no real brother was living. (Tirinus)

Ver. 9. Chelion. As Orpha, his widow, took no care to comply with the law, all his possessions devolved on his brother’s posterity. (Menochius) --- It was presumed that she would marry some Moabite. (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Moabitess. The sons of Elimelech were excused in taking such women to wife, on account of necessity, and to avoid the danger of incontinence, which is a greater evil. Booz was under another sort of necessity, and was bound to comply with the law; (Calmet) so that he was guilty of no sin, as Beza would pretend. (Tirinus) --- Some also remark, that the exclusion of the people of Moab from the Church of God, regarded not the females, (St. Augustine, q. 35, In Deut.; Serar.; Tirinus; &c.) particularly if they embraced the true religion. According to the Rabbins, Obed should have been accounted a Moabite, as they say children follow the condition of their mothers: but we need not here adopt their decisions. --- People. Hebrew, "and from the gate of his place." In the assemblies, the legal son of Mahalon would represent him, though he was also considered as the son of Booz, at least if the latter had no other, as was probably the case.

Ver. 11. Israel, by a numerous posterity. --- That she. Hebrew, "mayst thou acquire riches," &c. (Calmet). --- Protestants, "do thou (Booz) worthily in," &c. (Haydock). --- Ephrata: another name of Bethlehem. (Challoner)

Ver. 12. Phares. His family was chief among the five, descended from Juda. (Menochius)

Ver. 14. Successor. Hebrew, "redeemer, that his (Booz, or the Lord's) name," &c. (Calmet)

Ver. 15. Comfort. Hebrew, "to make thy soul revive."

Ver. 17. Obed; "serving," to comfort the old age of Noemi, (ver. 15,) who gave him this name, (Serar. q. 14,) at the suggestion of her neighbours. (Menochius)

Ver. 18. These. Hence the design of the sacred writer becomes evident, (Calmet) to shew the genealogy of David, from whom Christ sprang, as it had been foretold. See Genesis xlix., and Matthew i.; &c. (Worthington)

Ver. 19. Aram. He is called Ram in Hebrew and 1 Paralipomenon ii. 9.

Ver. 20. Salmon. Hebrew and Chaldean, Salma, (Haydock) though we read Salmon in the following verse. (Calmet) --- This is one argument adduced by Houbigant, to shew that this genealogy is now imperfect. He concludes that Salma ought to be admitted, as well as Salmon; and, as the reason for calling the first son of Ruth, Obed, "serving or ploughing," seems rather harsh, as we should naturally expect some more glorious title. He thinks that the immediate son of Ruth was called Jachin, "he shall establish;" and that Solomon called one of the pillars before the temple by his name, as he did the other Booz, "in strength," in honour of his ancestors. Bz icin means, "In strength (or solidity) it (he) shall (stand or) establish." As the son of Booz established his father's house, (ver. 10, 11,) so these pillars denoted the stability of the temple. We must thus allow that the hand of time has mutilated the genealogy of David, and that two ought to be admitted among his ancestors, who have been here omitted, as St. Matthew likewise passes them over as well as three others, who were the descendants of Joram. The same omission of Jachin occurs 1 Paralipomenon ii. 11, where we find Salma instead of Salmon. Houbigant supposes that the sacred writers, Esdras and St. Matthew, gave the genealogies as they found them, without correcting the mistakes of transcribers. (Chronolog. sacra, p. 81.) But there might be some reason for the omission which we do not know; and Nahasson, Booz, and Joram might be said to beget Salmon, Obed, and Jechonias, though they were not their immediate children. Salien and many others assert, that there were three of the name of Booz, succeeding each other, so that six persons instead of four fill up the space of 440 years, from the taking of Jericho till the building of the temple. Salien, in the year of the world 2741, in which year he places the birth of the third Booz, who married Ruth, seventy years afterwards. Petau allows 520 years from the coming out of Egypt till the fourth year of Solomon, so that he leaves above 420 years to the three generations of Booz, Obed, and Isai. But he prudently passes over this chronological difficulty. Usher supposes that each of these people were almost 100 years old when they had children; and he produces many examples of people who lived beyond that age, but he does not mention any, since the days of Moses, who had children at such an advanced age, much less that many in the same family, and in succession, were remarkable for such a thing. Moreover, according to Houbigant's chronology, Booz and Obed must have had children when they were almost 120, and Isai in his 107th year. But by admitting Salma and Jachin, the five persons might each have sons when they were about seventy, and thus would complete 347 years. See chap. ii. 1. (Haydock).

 

Ver. 22. David, the king, whom Samuel crowned, though he did not live to see him in the full enjoyment of his power, (Haydock) as he died before Saul. (Calmet) --- Thus the greatest personages have people of mean condition among their ancestors, that none may be too much elated on account of their high birth. Ruth, notwithstanding her poverty, was a striking figure of the Christian Church. (Haydock) --- The Gentiles were strangers to Christ, on account of their errors, but related to him in as much as they were his creatures. Their miserable condition pleaded hard for them, that Jesus would receive them under his protection, espouse and give them rest and peace. Booz would not marry Ruth till the nearer relation had refused, and thus brought dishonour on himself; (Deuteronomy xxv.) so Jesus was principally sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and did not send his apostles to the Gentiles till the Jews had rejected their ministry. (Calmet) --- See St. Ambrose, de fide, iii. 5. (Du Hamel) --- Ruth was also a pattern of the most perfect virtues. See Louis de Puente. (Tirinus)


Bible Text & Cross-references:

Upon the refusal of the nearer kinsman, Booz marrieth Ruth, who brings forth Obed, the grandfather of David.

1 Then Booz went up to the gate, and sat there. And when he had seen the kinsman going by, of whom he had spoken before, he said to him, calling him by his name: Turn aside for a little while, and sit down here. He turned aside, and sat down.

2 And Booz, taking ten men of the ancients of the city, said to them: Sit ye down here.

3 They sat down, and he spoke to the kinsman: Noemi, who is returned from the country of Moab, will sell a parcel of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.

4 I would have thee to understand this, and would tell thee before all that sit here, and before the ancients of my people. If thou wilt take possession of it by the right of kindred: buy it, and possess it: But if it please thee not, tell me so, that I may know what I have to do. For there is no near kinsman besides thee, who art first, and me, who am second. But he answered: I will buy the field.

5 And Booz said to him: When thou shalt buy the field at the woman's hand, thou must take also Ruth, the Moabitess, who was the wife of the deceased: to raise up the name of thy kinsman in his inheritance.

6 He answered: I yield up my right of next akin: for I must not cut off the posterity of my own family. Do thou make use of my privilege, which I profess I do willingly forego.

7 *Now this in former times was the manner in Israel between kinsmen, that if at any time one yielded his right to another: that the grant might be sure, the man put off his shoe, and gave it to his neighhour; this was a testimony of cession of right in Israel.

8 So Booz said to his kinsman: Put off thy shoe. And immediately he took it off from his foot.

9 And he said to the ancients, and to all the people: You are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and Chelion's, and Mahalon's, of the hand of Noemi:

10 And have taken to wife Ruth, the Moabitess, the wife of Mahalon, to raise up the name of the deceased in his inheritance, lest his name be cut off, from among his family and his brethren, and his people. You, I say, are witnesses of this thing.

11 Then all the people that were in the gate, and the ancients, answered: We are witnesses: The Lord make this woman who cometh into thy house, like Rachel, and Lia, who built up the house of Israel: that she may be an example of virtue in Ephrata, and may have a famous name in Bethlehem:

12 And that thy house may be, as the house of Phares, *whom Thamar bore unto Juda, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.

13 Booz therefore took Ruth, and married her: and went in unto her, and the Lord gave her to conceive, and to bear a son.

14 And the women said to Noemi: Blessed be the Lord, who hath not suffered thy family to want a successor: that his name should be preserved in Israel.

15 And thou shouldst have one to comfort thy soul, and cherish thy old age. For he is born of thy daughter-in-law: who loveth thee: and is much better to thee, than if thou hadst seven sons.

16 And Noemi taking the child, laid it in her bosom, and she carried it, and was a nurse unto it.

17 And the women, her neighbours, congratulating with her, and saying, There is a son born to Noemi, called his name Obed: he is the father of Isai, the father of David.

18 These are the generations of Phares: *Phares begot Esron,

19 Esron begot Aram, Aram begot Aminadab,

20 Aminadab begot Nahasson, Nahasson begot Salmon,

21 Salmon begot Booz, Booz begot Obed,

22 Obed begot Isai, Isai begot David.

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*

7: Deuteronomy xxv. 7.

12: Genesis xxxviii. 29.

18: 1 Paralipomenon ii. 5. and xi. 15.; Matthew i. 3.