וַיְהִי בִּימֵי שְׁפֹט הַשֹּׁפְטִים. לִפְנֵי מְלֹךְ מֶלֶךְ שָׁאוּל, שֶׁהָיוּ הַדּוֹרוֹת מִתְפַּרְנְסִים עַל יְדֵי שׁוֹפְטִים. וּבִימֵי אִבְצָן הָיָה, שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ, אִבְצָן זֶה בֹּעַז:
And it happened in the days when judges judged. [During the period] before King Shaul reigned, when the generations were administered by judges;1There was no individual judge who could exercise control over all of Yisroel, rather there were many judges. (Malbim) Alternatively, this was a period when God judged the judges. (Gra) and this occurred in the days of Ivtzan, as our sages said, “Ivtzan is Bo’az.”2Maseches Bava Basra 91a; and Bo’az is a central figure in Megillas Rus.
וַיֵּלֶךְ אִישׁ. עָשִׁיר גָּדוֹל הָיָה וּפַרְנַס הַדּוֹר. וְיָצָא מֵאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְחוּץ לָאָרֶץ מִפְּנֵי צָרוּת הָעָיִן, שֶׁהָיְתָה עֵינוֹ צָרָה בָעֲנִיִּים הַבָּאִים לְדָחְקוֹ, לְכַךְ נֶעֱנַשׁ:
And a man went. He was very wealthy,3איש denotes an important person, as Targum renders, גברא רבא, “a great man.” and the leader of the generation. He left Eretz Yisroel for regions out of the land because of stinginess, for he was miserly toward the poor who came to press him;4He was the only man to leave Eretz Yisroel because of the famine. Because of his stature and greatness he was severely punished for leaving Eretz Yisroel and remaining in Mo’av. (Malbim) therefore he was punished.5He was afraid that the poor would unite and confiscate all of his possessions. (Malbim)