22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
In the beginning of barley harvest - This was in the beginning of spring, for the barley harvest began immediately after the passover, and that feast was held on the 15th of the month Nisan, which corresponds nearly with our March.
The Targum says, "They came to Beth-lehem on that day in which the children of Israel began to mow the sheaf of barley which was to be waved before the Lord." This circumstance is the more distinctly marked, because of Ruth's gleaning, mentioned in the succeeding chapter.
1. The native, the amiable simplicity, in which the story of the preceding chapter is told, is a proof of its genuineness. There are several sympathetic circumstances recorded here which no forger could have invented. There is too much of nature to admit any thing of art.
2. On the marriage of Orpah and Ruth, and the wish of Naomi that they might find rest in the house of their husbands, there are some pious and sensible observations in Mr. Ness's History and Mystery of the Book of Ruth, from which I shall lay the following extract before my readers: -
"A married estate is a state of rest; so it is called here, and in Ruth 3:1. Hence marriage is called portus juventutis, the port or haven of young people; whose affections, while unmarried, are continually floating or tossed to and fro, like a ship upon the waters, till they come into this happy harbour. There is a natural propension in most persons towards nuptial communion, as all created beings have a natural tendency towards their proper center, (leve sursum, et grave deorsum), and are restless out of it, so the rabbins say, Requiret vir costam suam, et requiret femina sedem suam, 'The man is restless while he misses his rib that was taken out of his side; and the woman is restless till she get under the man's arm, from whence she was taken.' O! look up to God then, ye unmarried ones, and cry with good Naomi, The Lord grant me rest for my roving affections in the house of some good consort, that I may live in peace and plenty, with content and comfort all my days. Know that your marriage is, of all your civil affairs, of the greatest importance, having an influence upon your whole life. It is either your making or marring in this world; 'tis like a stratagem in war, wherein a miscarriage cannot be recalled when we will, for we marry for life. I am thine, and thou art mine, brevis quidem cantiuncula est, 'is a short song;' sed longum habet epiphonema, 'but it hath a long undersong.' So an error here is irrecoverable; you have need of Argus's hundred eyes to look withal before you leap."
This is good advice; but who among the persons concerned will have grace enough to take it?
So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of (i) barley harvest.
(i) Which was in the month of Nisan, that is, part March and part April.
So Naomi returned,.... Aben, Ezra thinks this is to be understood of her returning at another time; but it is only an observation of the writer of this history, to excite the attention of the reader to this remarkable event, and particularly to what follows:
and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter in law with her, which returned out of the country of Moab; to Bethlehem, the birth place of the Messiah, and who was to spring from her a Gentile; and which, that it might be the more carefully remarked, she is called a Moabitess, and said to return out of the country of Moab:
and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest; which began on the second day of the feast of unleavened bread, on the "sixteenth" of Nisan, which answers to our March, and part of April, when they offered the sheaf of the firstfruits to the Lord, and then, and not till then, might they begin their harvest; see Gill on Leviticus 23:10; see Gill on Leviticus 23:14, hence the Targum here is,"they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the day of the passover, and on that day the children of Israel began to reap the wave sheaf, which was of barley.''So the Egyptians and Phoenicians, near neighbours of the Jews, went about cutting down their barley as soon as the cuckoo was heard, which was the same time of the year; hence the comedian (n) calls that bird the king of Egypt and Phoenicia. This circumstance is observed for the sake of the following account in the next chapter.
(n) Aristoph. in Avibus, p. 565.
in the beginning of barley harvest--corresponding to the end of our March.
*More commentary available at chapter level.