Go back, my daughters! Go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I were to say, ‘I have hope,’ and even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, Bible

“I am too old to have a husband.” This statement, although possibly true in the sense that Naomi might have passed menopause, is not literally true. It is a hyperbole, an exaggeration displaying her perhaps justified emotion: her anger, frustration, and grief at her situation. In the biblical culture, just as today, men married women for more reasons than children. If Naomi married Elkanah by age 15 and had her sons by age 20, and if they married at 15 and were married 10 years, then Naomi would have been 45 or so, and even if she was closer to age 55 that was not too old to marry, and may not have even been too old for her to have children.

Especially in the biblical culture when both men and women died unexpectedly and quickly, remarriage was common. The woman the Sadducees made an example of to Jesus had married seven times (Matt. 22:24-27). Naomi’s statement misses the point entirely. Neither Ruth nor Orpah would have thought that Naomi would bear sons who could be their husbands. What they would have thought was that Naomi would look for husbands for them from among her and Elimelech’s relatives, which is in fact what happened to Ruth. Naomi’s frustration and anger were so acute at this point that she did not even mention the natural and proper course of action, which was to look for husbands for the women among her relatives.

Commentary for: Ruth 1:12