In Rus 1:4 it says that Naomi's two sons married to Moabite women, Orpah and Rus. We know that Rus married Machlon (4:10) the older brother and Orpah, Rus's sister (Rus Rabba 2:9) married Kilyon. Why then does it list Orpah before Rus?

Furthermore, I realize that it is possible that Kilyon and Orpah married earlier than Machlon and Rus. However, I have found no source which says so, and it would seem that standard practice was to marry off the older sibling before the younger (bereshis 29:26).

  • 1
    I don't think that Bereshis can really be used to determine the standard practice in the time of Ruth. There's a big time gap there. – Daniel Apr 23 '13 at 15:58
  • @Daniel I partially agree. At the very least it is a precedent, if something changed we should have a source which says so, no? – user2110 Apr 23 '13 at 16:05
  • @nikmasi Why would you expect a source to tell us that something changed? The Torah tells us important things. – Double AA Apr 23 '13 at 16:10
  • @DoubleAA I'm not expecting the torah to tell us something changed, i'm expected chazal or one of the commentators to do so, which, as far as I can see they do not. The fact that the torah tell us important things is the basis of my question. Apparently it is important to know that Orpah comes before Rus. – user2110 Apr 23 '13 at 16:31
  • 1
    @DoubleAA ...or someone could bring an answer which disproves this point, say from the sefer meishiv nefer or the pirush of rabbenu vidal tzarfati. Perhaps Orpah was simply the older one? – user2110 Apr 23 '13 at 18:00


בתחילה נשא כליון, על אף היותו הצעיר שבבנים, את ערפה. לאחר מכן נשא מחלון את רות, משום כך הזכיר הפסוק את ערפה לפני רות.‏

In translation:

Kilyon married Orpa first even though he was younger; then Machlon married Rus. That's why Scripture mentions Orpa before Rus.


The Malbim learns from the order of this listing two points regarding the character of Machlon and Kilyon:

1) They had a lack of decency (מעוט המוסר) that the younger went and got married before the older, and the older did not protest.

2) Had Machlon gotten married first, there would be a partial vindication of the brothers, because Machlon could be said to have married Rus recognizing her piety as is born out through the rest of the story, and Kilyon for thinking that maybe he would find a woman as pious as his brother did. But now that Kilyon got married first, and Orpah was not as pious as Rus (As we see from her not following through to return with Naomi), Kilyon had no precedent on which to base himself, and Machlon should have learned from how his younger brother had stumbled.

You must log in to answer this question.