Ruth 4:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 4:11, NIV: Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, 'We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.

Ruth 4:11, ESV: Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem,

Ruth 4:11, KJV: And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:

Ruth 4:11, NASB: And all the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, 'We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem.

Ruth 4:11, NLT: Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, 'We are witnesses! May the LORD make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.

Ruth 4:11, CSB: All the people who were at the city gate, including the elders, said, "We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is entering your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built the house of Israel. May you be powerful in Ephrathah and your name well known in Bethlehem.

What does Ruth 4:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

When Naomi returned to Bethlehem, her old friends were excited to see her (Ruth 1:19). Despite her despised Moabite heritage, Ruth quickly gained a reputation in the city as an honorable woman because of her care for her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:11; 3:11). Boaz is also known as a worthy man, perhaps even a military hero (Ruth 2:1). To see the three of them together is almost more than the people can stand.

The people and the ten elders declare "we are witnesses." They affirm that Boaz has bought Naomi's land, he has accepted Ruth as his wife, and he will provide Naomi's deceased husband with an heir to re-inherit that land.

That Ruth is "coming into [Boaz's] house" means they affirm Ruth's declaration that she abandoned her people and her gods and declared herself to be an Israelite and a worshiper of Yahweh (Ruth 1:16–17). God's pronouncement that Moabites will be barred from the assembly of the Israelites until the tenth generation is avoided; Ruth is grafted in (Deuteronomy 23:3–6). This was exactly the intent of the law: not as racial prejudice, but to ensure that only those loyal to the One True God were part of Israel.

Rachel and Leah were Jacob's wives. Together with their handmaidens, they gave Jacob thirteen children (Genesis 30:21; 35:23–26). The people pray blessings of fertility on Ruth.

"Ephrathah" is a name somehow associated with Bethlehem, but the exact relationship is unknown. It may have been a pre-Israelite name for the district. The phrase "May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem" is a typical example of synonymous parallelism, which is common in Hebrew poetry.

This blessing of fertility, and a misinterpretation of Boaz's comment on kindness (Ruth 3:10), leads many biblical scholars to speculate that until this point, Boaz had never married or had married but not had sons. As a "worthy man" (Ruth 2:1) it seems unlikely Boaz had not married before. If he had sons, it would seemingly make more sense for Boaz to marry Ruth to one of them. But the text doesn't say. In all the genealogies that mention Boaz, Obed is the only son mentioned (Ruth 4:18–22; 1 Chronicles 2:11–15; Matthew 1:1–16; Luke 3:23–38). It's unknown if this is because Boaz had no other sons or because those chronologies are focused on the genealogical march to David and ultimately to Jesus.