would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from having husbands? No, my daughters! For life is bitter for me, too much for you, for the hand of Yahweh has gone out against me. Bible

“refrain.” The Hebrew word occurs only here in the Hebrew Bible. It is related to the word “anchor.”

“No, my daughters!” Naomi has just asked two rhetorical questions, the last being “Would you therefore refrain from having husbands?” Nevertheless, when she then says “No, my daughters,” it seems clear that she is not answering the questions she has just asked but rather is continuing in her urging Ruth and Orpah to return to their homes in Moab. She is saying, “No, my daughters, don’t come with me. Go home.” Ruth certainly seems to understand that that is what Naomi is saying because Ruth tells Naomi not to press her to go back to Moab (Ruth 1:16).

“too much for you.” Naomi knows that life for a widowed and unmarried young woman, especially with no family to take care of her, would be incredibly hard, and Naomi thinks that this is unfair and too much for the two young Moabite women. Naomi feels like her life has not gone well, and it is not the fault of the two young Moabite women, nor Naomi’s fault either, but Naomi does not want the difficulty of her life to become part of the life experience of the Moabite women she has come to love. There is likely some self-pity and bitterness in her words in that she thinks life has been unfair to her, which it had been. A lot of anger and bitterness that people feel in life is due to feelings that God should have somehow worked to make life better.

Commentary for: Ruth 1:13