1. Now after the death of Samson, Eli the high priest was governor of the Israelites. Under him, when the country was afflicted with a famine, Elimelech of Bethlehem, which is a city of the tribe of Judah, being not able to support his family under so sore a distress, took with him Naomi his wife, and the children that were born to him by her, Chillon and Mahlon, and removed his habitation into the land of Moab; and upon the happy prosperity of his affairs there, he took for his sons wives of the Moabites, Orpah for Chillon, and Ruth for Mahlon. But in the compass of ten years, both Elimelech, and a little while after him, the sons, died; and Naomi being very uneasy at these accidents, and not being able to bear her lonesome condition, now those that were dearest to her were dead, on whose account it was that she had gone away from her own country, she returned to it again, for she had been informed it was now in a flourishing condition. However, her daughters-in-law were not able to think of parting with her; and when they had a mind to go out of the country with her, she could not dissuade them from it; but when they insisted upon it, she wished them a more happy wedlock than they had with her sons, and that they might have prosperity in other respects also; and seeing her own affairs were so low, she exhorted them to stay where they were, and not to think of leaving their own country, and partaking with her of that uncertainty under which she must return. Accordingly Orpah staid behind; but she took Ruth along with her, as not to be persuaded to stay behind her, but would take her fortune with her, whatsoever it should prove.
2. When Ruth was come with her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, Booz, who was near of kin to Elimelech, entertained her; and when Naomi was so called by her fellow citizens, according to her true name, she said, "You might more truly call me Mara." Now Naomi signifies in the Hebrew tongue happiness, and Mara, sorrow. It was now reaping thee; and Ruth, by the leave of her mother-in-law, went out to glean, that they might get a stock of corn for their food. Now it happened that she came into Booz's field; and after some thee Booz came thither, and when he saw the damsel, he inquired of his servant that was set over the reapers concerning the girl. The servant had a little before inquired about all her circumstances, and told them to his master, who kindly embraced her, both on account of her affection to her mother-in-law, and her remembrance of that son of hers to whom she had been married, and wished that she might experience a prosperous condition; so he desired her not to glean, but to reap what she was able, and gave her leave to carry it home. He also gave it in charge to that servant who was over the reapers, not to hinder her when she took it away, and bade him give her her dinner, and make her drink when he did the like to the reapers. Now what corn Ruth received of him she kept for her mother-in-law, and came to her in the evening, and brought the ears of corn with her; and Naomi had kept for her a part of such food as her neighbors had plentifully bestowed upon her. Ruth also told her mother-in-law what Booz had said to her; and when the other had informed her that he was near of kin to them, and perhaps was so pious a man as to make some provision for them, she went out again on the days following, to gather the gleanings with Booz's maidservants.
3. It was not many days before Booz, after the barley was winnowed, slept in his thrashing-floor. When Naomi was informed of this circumstance she contrived it so that Ruth should lie down by him, for she thought it might be for their advantage that he should discourse with the girl. Accordingly she sent the damsel to sleep at his feet; who went as she bade her, for she did not think it consistent with her duty to contradict any command of her mother-in-law. And at first she lay concealed from Booz, as he was fast asleep; but when he awaked about midnight, and perceived a woman lying by him, he asked who she was;—and when she told him her name, and desired that he whom she owned for her lord would excuse her, he then said no more; but in the morning, before the servants began to set about their work, he awaked her, and bid her take as much barley as she was able to carry, and go to her mother-in-law before any body there should see that she had lain down by him, because it was but prudent to avoid any reproach that might arise on that account, especially when there had been nothing done that was ill. But as to the main point she aimed at, the matter should rest here,—"He that is nearer of kin than I am, shall be asked whether he wants to take thee to wife: if he says he does, thou shalt follow him; but if he refuse it, I will marry thee, according to the law."
4. When she had informed her mother-in-law of this, they were very glad of it, out of the hope they had that Booz would make provision for them. Now about noon Booz went down into the city, and gathered the senate together, and when he had sent for Ruth, he called for her kinsman also; and when he was come, he said, "Dost not thou retain the inheritance of Elimelech and his sons?" He confessed that he did retain it, and that he did as he was permitted to do by the laws, because he was their nearest kinsman. Then said Booz, "Thou must not remember the laws by halves, but do every thing according to them; for the wife of Mahlon is come hither, whom thou must marry, according to the law, in case thou wilt retain their fields." So the man yielded up both the field and the wife to Booz, who was himself of kin to those that were dead, as alleging that he had a wife already, and children also; so Booz called the senate to witness, and bid the woman to loose his shoe, and spit in his face, according to the law; and when this was done, Booz married Ruth, and they had a son within a year's time. Naomi was herself a nurse to this child; and by the advice of the women, called him Obed, as being to be brought up in order to be subservient to her in her old age, for Obed in the Hebrew dialect signifies a servant. The son of Obed was Jesse, and David was his son, who was king, and left his dominions to his sons for one and twenty generations. I was therefore obliged to relate this history of Ruth, because I had a mind to demonstrate the power of God, who, without difficulty, can raise those that are of ordinary parentage to dignity and splendor, to which he advanced David, though he were born of such mean parents.
1. And now upon the ill state of the affairs of the Hebrews, they made war again upon the Philistines. The occasion was this: Eli, the high priest, had two sons, Hophni and Phineas. These sons of Eli were guilty of injustice towards men, and of impiety towards God, and abstained from no sort of wickedness. Some of their gifts they carried off, as belonging to the honorable employment they had; others of them they took away by violence. They also were guilty of impurity with the women that came to worship God at the tabernacle, obliging some to submit to their lust by force, and enticing others by bribes; nay, the whole course of their lives was no better than tyranny. Their father therefore was angry at them for such their wickedness, and expected that God would suddenly inflict his punishments upon them for what they had done. The multitude took it heinously also. And as soon as God had foretold what calamity would befall Eli's sons, which he did both to Eli himself and to Samuel the prophet, who was yet but a child, he openly showed his sorrow for his sons' destruction.
2. I will first despatch what I have to say about the prophet Samuel, and after that will proceed to speak of the sons of Eli, and the miseries they brought on the whole people of the Hebrews. Elcanah, a Levite, one of a middle condition among his fellow citizens, and one that dwelt at Ramathaim, a city of the tribe of Ephraim, married two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. He had children by the latter; but he loved the other best, although she was barren. Now Elcanah came with his wives to the city Shiloh to sacrifice, for there it was that the tabernacle of God was fixed, as we have formerly said. Now when, after he had sacrificed, he distributed at that festival portions of the flesh to his wives and children, and when Hannah saw the other wife's children sitting round about their mother, she fell into tears, and lamented herself on account of her barrenness and lonesomeness; and suffering her grief to prevail over her husband's consolations to her, she went to the tabernacle to beseech God to give her seed, and to make her a mother; and to vow to consecrate the first son she should bear to the service of God, and this in such a way, that his manner of living should not be like that of ordinary men. And as she continued at her prayers a long time, Eli, the high priest, for he sat there before the tabernacle, bid her go away, thinking she had been disordered with wine; but when she said she had drank water, but was in sorrow for want of children, and was beseeching God for them, he bid her be of good cheer, and told her that God would send her children.
3. So she came to her husband full of hope, and ate her meal with gladness. And when they had returned to their own country she found herself with child, and they had a son born to them, to whom they gave the name of Samuel, which may be styled one that was asked of God. They therefore came to the tabernacle to offer sacrifice for the birth of the child, and brought their tithes with them; but the woman remembered the vows she had made concerning her son, and delivered him to Eli, dedicating him to God, that he might become a prophet. Accordingly his hair was suffered to grow long, and his drink was water. So Samuel dwelt and was brought up in the temple. But Elcanah had other sons by Hannah, and three daughters.
4. Now when Samuel was twelve years old, he began to prophesy: and once when he was asleep, God called to him by his name; and he, supposing he had been called by the high priest, came to him: but when the high priest said he did not call him, God did so thrice. Eli was then so far illuminated, that he said to him, "Indeed, Samuel, I was silent now as well as before: it is God that calls thee; do thou therefore signify it to him, and say, I am here ready." So when he heard God speak again, he desired him to speak, and to deliver what oracles he pleased to him, for he would not fail to perform any ministration whatsoever he should make use of him in;—to which God replied, "Since thou art here ready, learn what miseries are coming upon the Israelites,—such indeed as words cannot declare, nor faith believe; for the sons of Eli shall die on one day, and the priesthood shall be transferred into the family of Eleazar; for Eli hath loved his sons more than he hath loved my worship, and to such a degree as is not for their advantage." Which message Eli obliged the prophet by oath to tell him, for otherwise he had no inclination to afflict him by telling it. And now Eli had a far more sure expectation of the perdition of his sons; but the glory of Samuel increased more and more, it being found by experience that whatsoever he prophesied came to pass accordingly.
1. About this time it was that the Philistines made war against the Israelites, and pitched their camp at the city Aphek. Now when the Israelites had expected them a little while, the very next day they joined battle, and the Philistines were conquerors, and slew above four thousand of the Hebrews, and pursued the rest of their multitude to their camp.
2. So the Hebrews being afraid of the worst, sent to the senate, and to the high priest, and desired that they would bring the ark of God, that by putting themselves in array, when it was present with them, they might be too hard for their enemies, as not reflecting that he who had condemned them to endure these calamities was greater than the ark, and for whose sake it was that this ark came to be honored. So the ark came, and the sons of the high priest with it, having received a charge from their father, that if they pretended to survive the taking of the ark, they should come no more into his presence, for Phineas officiated already as high priest, his father having resigned his office to him, by reason of his great age. So the Hebrews were full of courage, as supposing that, by the coming of the ark, they should be too hard for their enemies: their enemies also were greatly concerned, and were afraid of the ark's coming to the Israelites: however, the upshot did not prove agreeable to the expectation of both sides, but when the battle was joined, that victory which the Hebrews expected was gained by the Philistines, and that defeat the Philistines were afraid of fell to the lot of the Israelites, and thereby they found that they had put their trust in the ark in vain, for they were presently beaten as soon as they came to a close fight with their enemies, and lost about thirty thousand men, among whom were the sons of the high priest; but the ark was carried away by the enemies.
3. When the news of this defeat came to Shiloh, with that of the captivity of the ark, [for a certain young man, a Benjamite, who was in the action, came as a messenger thither,] the whole city was full of lamentations. And Eli, the high priest, who sat upon a high throne at one of the gates, heard their mournful cries, and supposed that some strange thing had befallen his family. So he sent for the young man; and when he understood what had happened in the battle, he was not much uneasy as to his sons, or what was told him withal about the army, as having beforehand known by Divine revelation that those things would happen, and having himself declared them beforehand,—for what sad things come unexpectedly they distress men the most; but as soon as [he heard] the ark was carried captive by their enemies, he was very much grieved at it, because it fell out quite differently from what he expected; so he fell down from his throne and died, having in all lived ninety-eight years, and of them retained the government forty.
4. On the same day his son Phineas's wife died also, as not able to survive the misfortune of her husband; for they told her of her husband's death as she was in labor. However, she bare a son at seven months, who lived, and to whom they gave the name of Icabod, which name signifies disgrace,—and this because the army received a disgrace at this thee.
5. Now Eli was the first of the family of Ithamar, the other son of Aaron, that had the government; for the family of Eleazar officiated as high priest at first, the son still receiving that honor from the father which Eleazar bequeathed to his son Phineas; after whom Abiezer his son took the honor, and delivered it to his son, whose name was Bukki, from whom his son Ozi received it; after whom Eli, of whom we have been speaking, had the priesthood, and so he and his posterity until the thee of Solomon's reign; but then the posterity of Eleazar reassumed it.
[ The Amorites were one of the seven nations of Canaan. Hence Reland is willing to suppose that Josephus did not here mean that their land beyond Jordan was a seventh part of the whole land of Canaan, but meant the Arnorites as a seventh nation. His reason is, that Josephus, as well as our Bible, generally distinguish the land beyond Jordan from the land of Canaan; nor can it be denied, that in strictness they were all forgot: yet after two tribes and a half of the twelve tribes came to inherit it, it might in a general way altogether be well included under the land of Canaan, or Palestine, or Judea, of which we have a clear example here before us in Josephus, whose words evidently imply, that taking the whole land of Canaan, or that inhabited by all the twelve tribes together, and parting it into seven parts, the part beyond Jordan was in quantity of ground one seventh part of the whole. And this well enough agrees to Reland's own map of that country, although this land beyond Jordan was so peculiarly fruitful, and good for pasturage, as the two tribes and a half took notice, Numbers 32:1, 4, 16, that it maintained about a fifth part of the whole people.]
[ It plainly appears by the history of these spies, and the innkeeper Rahab's deception of the king of Jericho's messengers, by telling them what was false in order to save the lives of the spies, and yet the great commendation of her faith and good works in the New Testament, Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25, as well as by many other parallel examples, both in the Old Testament and in Josephus, that the best men did not then scruple to deceive those public enemies who might justly be destroyed; as also might deceive ill men in order to save life, and deliver themselves from the tyranny of their unjust oppressors, and this by telling direct falsehoods; I mean, all this where no oath was demanded of them, otherwise they never durst venture on such a procedure. Nor was Josephus himself of any other opinion or practice, as I shall remark in the note on Antiq. B. IX. ch. 4. sect. 3. And observe, that I still call this woman Rahab, an innkeeper, not a harlot, the whole history, both in our copies, and especially in Josephus, implying no more. It was indeed so frequent a thing, that women who were innkeepers were also harlots, or maintainers of harlots, that the word commonly used for real harlots was usually given them. See Dr. Bernard's note here, and Judges 11:1, and Antiq. B. V. ch. 7. sect. 8.]
[ Upon occasion of this devoting of Jericho to destruction, and the exemplary punishment of Achar, who broke that duerein or anathema, and of the punishment of the future breaker of it, Hiel, 1 Kings 16:34, as also of the punishment of Saul, for breaking the like chefera or anathema, against the Amalekites, 1 Samuel 15., we may observe what was the true meaning of that law, Leviticus 27:28: "None devoted which shall be devoted of shall be redeemed; but shall be put to death;" i.e. whenever any of the Jews' public enemies had been, for their wickedness, solemnly devoted to destruction, according to the Divine command, as were generally the seven wicked nations of Canaan, and those sinners the Amalekites, 1 Samuel 15:18, it was utterly unlawful to permit those enemies to be redeemed; but they were to be all utterly destroyed. See also Numbers 23:2, 3.]
[ That the name of this chief was not Achan, as in the common copies, but Achar, as here in Josephus, and in the Apostolical Constit. B. VII. ch. 2., and elsewhere, is evident by the allusion to that name in the curse of Joshua, "Why hast thou troubled us?—the Lord shall trouble thee;" where the Hebrew word alludes only to the name Achar, but not to Achan. Accordingly, this Valley of Achar, or Achor, was and is a known place, a little north of Gilgal, so called from the days of Joshua till this day. See Joshua 7:26; Isaiah 65:10; Hosea 2:15; and Dr. Bernard's notes here.]
[ Here Dr. Bernard very justly observes, that a few words are dropped out of Josephus's copies, on account of the repetition of the word shekels, and that it ought to be read thus:—"A piece of gold that weighed fifty shekels, and one of silver that weighed two hundred shekels," as in our other copies, Joshua 7:21.]
[ I agree here with Dr. Bernard, and approve of Josephus's interpretation of Gilgal for liberty. See Joshua 5:9.]
[ Whether this lengthening of the day, by the standing still of the sun and moon, were physical and real, by the miraculous stoppage of the diurnal motion of the earth for about half a revolution, or whether only apparent, by aerial phosphori imitating the sun and moon as stationary so long, while clouds and the night hid the real ones, and this parhelion or mock sun affording sufficient light for Joshua's pursuit and complete victory, [which aerial phosphori in other shapes have been more than ordinarily common of late years,] cannot now be determined: philosophers and astronomers will naturally incline to this latter hypothesis. In the mean thee, the fact itself was mentioned in the book of Jasher, now lost, Joshua 10:13, and is confirmed by Isaiah, 28:21, Habakkuk, 3:11, and by the son of Sirach, Ecclus. 46:4. In the 18th Psalm of Solomon, yet it is also said of the luminaries, with relation, no doubt, to this and the other miraculous standing still and going back, in the days of Joshua and Hezekiah, "They have not wandered, from the day that he created them; they have not forsaken their way, from ancient generations, unless it were when God enjoined them [so to do] by the command of his servants." See Authent. Rec. part i. p. 154. [8: Of the books laid up in the temple, see the note on Antiq. B. III. ch. 1. sect. 7.]
[ Since not only Procopius and Suidas, but an earlier author, Moses Chorenensis, p. 52, 53, and perhaps from his original author Mariba Carina, one as old as Alexander the Great, sets down the famous inscription at Tangier concerning the old Canaanites driven out of Palestine by Joshua, take it here in that author's own words: "We are those exiles that were governors of the Canaanites, but have been driven away by Joshua the robber, and are come to inhabit here." See the note there. Nor is it unworthy of our notice what Moses Chorenensis adds, p. 53, and this upon a diligent examination, viz. that "one of those eminent men among the Canaanites came at the same thee into Armenia, and founded the Genthuniaa family, or tribe; and that this was confirmed by the manners of the same family or tribe, as being like those of the Canaanites."]
[ By prophesying, when spoken of a high priest, Josephus, both here and frequently elsewhere, means no more than consulting God by Urim, which the reader is still to bear in mind upon all occasions. And if St. John, who was contemporary with Josephus, and of the same country, made use of this style, when he says that "Caiaphas being high priest that year, prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation, and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad," chap. 11;51, 52, he may possibly mean, that this was revealed to the high priest by an extraordinary voice from between the cherubims, when he had his breastplate, or Urim and Thummim, on before; or the most holy place of the temple, which was no other than the oracle of Urim and Thummim. Of which above, in the note on Antiq. B. III. ch. 8. sect. 9.]
[ This great number of seventy-two reguli, or small kings, over whom Adonibezek had tyrannized, and for which he was punished according to the lex talionis, as well as the thirty-one kings of Canaan subdued by Joshua, and named in one chapter, Joshua 12., and thirty-two kings, or royal auxiliaries to Benhadad king of Syria, 1 Kings 20:1; Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 14. sect. 1, intimate to us what was the ancient form of government among several nations before the monarchies began, viz. that every city or large town, with its neighboring villages, was a distinct government by itself; which is the more remarkable, because this was certainly the form of ecclesiastical government that was settled by the apostles, and preserved throughout the Christian church in the first ages of Christianity. Mr. Addison is of opinion, that "it would certainly be for the good of mankind to have all the mighty empires and monarchies of the world cantoned out into petty states and principalities, which, like so many large families, might lie under the observation of their proper governors, so that the care of the prince might extend itself to every individual person under his protection; though he despairs of such a scheme being brought about, and thinks that if it were, it would quickly be destroyed." Remarks on Italy, 4to, p. 151. Nor is it unfit to be observed here, that the Armenian records, though they give us the history of thirty-nine of their ancientest heroes or governors after the Flood, before the days of Sardanapalus, had no proper king till the fortieth, Parerus. See Moses Chorehensis, p. 55. And that Almighty God does not approve of such absolute and tyrannical monarchies, any one may learn that reads Deuteronomy 17:14-20, and 1 Samuel 8:1-22; although, if such kings are set up as own him for their supreme King, and aim to govern according to his laws, he hath admitted of them, and protected them and their subjects in all generations.]
[ Josephus's early date of this history before the beginning of the Judges, or when there was no king in Israel, Judges 19;1, is strongly confirmed by the large number of Benjamites, both in the days of Asa and Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 14:8, and 16:17, who yet were here reduced to six hundred men; nor can those numbers be at all supposed genuine, if they were reduced so late as the end of the Judges, where our other copies place this reduction.]
[ Josephus seems here to have made a small mistake, when he took the Hebrew word Bethel, which denotes the house of God, or the tabernacle, Judges 20:18, for the proper name of a place, Bethel, it no way appearing that the tabernacle was ever at Bethel; only so far it is true, that Shiloh, the place of the tabernacle in the days of the Judges, was not far from Bethel.]
[ It appears by the sacred history, Judges 1:16; 3:13, that Eglon's pavilion or palace was at the City of Palm-Trees, as the place where Jericho had stood is called after its destruction by Joshua, that is, at or near the demolished city. Accordingly, Josephus says it was at Jericho, or rather in that fine country of palm-trees, upon, or near to, the same spot of ground on which Jericho had formerly stood, and on which it was rebuilt by Hiel, 1 Kings 16:31. Our other copies that avoid its proper name Jericho, and call it the City of Palm-Trees only, speak here more accurately than Josephus.]
[ These eighty years for the government of Ehud are necessary to Josephus's usual large numbers between the exodus and the building of the temple, of five hundred and ninety-two or six hundred and twelve years, but not to the smallest number of four hundred and eighty years, 1 Kings 6:1; which lesser number Josephus seems sometimes to have followed. And since in the beginning of the next chapter it is said by Josephus, that there was hardly a breathing time for the Israelites before Jabin came and enslaved them, it is highly probable that some of the copies in his time had here only eight years instead of eighty; as had that of Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolye. 1. iii., and this most probably from his copy of Josephus.]
[ Our present copies of Josephus all omit Tola among the judges, though the other copies have him next after Abimelech, and allot twenty-three years to his administration, Judges 10:1, 2; yet do all Josephus's commentators conclude, that in Josephus's sum of the years of the judges, his twenty-three years are included; hence we are to confess, that somewhat has been here lost out of his copies.]
[ Josephus justly condemns Jephtha, as do the Apostolical Constitutions, B. VII. ch. 37., for his rash vow, whether it were for sacrificing his daughter, as Josephus thought, or for dedicating her, who was his only child, to perpetual virginity, at the tabernacle or elsewhere, which I rather suppose. If he had vowed her for a sacrifice, she ought to have been redeemed, Leviticus 27:1-8; but of the sense of ver. 28, 29, as relating not to things vowed to. God, but devoted to destruction, see the note on Antiq. B. V. ch. 1. sect. 8.]
[ I can discover no reason why Manoah and his wife came so constantly into these suburbs to pray for children, but because there was a synagogue or place of devotion in those suburbs.]
[ Here, by a prophet, Josephus seems only to mean one that was born by a particular providence, lived after the manner of a Nazarite devoted to God, and was to have an extraordinary commission and strength from God for the judging and avenging his people Israel, without any proper prophetic revelations at all.]
[ This fountain, called Lehi, or the Jaw-bone, is still in being, as travelers assure us, and was known by this very name in the days of Josephus, and has been known by the same name in all those past ages. See Antiq. B. VII. ch. 12. sect. 4.]
[ See this justly observed in the Apostolical Constitutions, B. VII. ch. 37., that Samson's prayer was heard, but that it was before this his transgression.]
[ Although there had been a few occasional prophets before, yet was this Samuel the first of a constant succession of prophets in the Jewish nation, as is implied in St. Peter's words, Acts 3:24 "Yea, and all the prophets, from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of those days." See also Acts 13:20. The others were rather sometime called righteous men, Matthew 10:41; 13:17.]