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And Naomi said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her god. Go back after your sister-in-law.” Bible

”Naomi.” The Hebrew text reads “she,” but we substituted “Naomi” for clarity.

“and to her god.” Naomi’s statement is noteworthy. It is obviously true, but it reveals a kind of detachment from Yahweh that to the faithful and committed believer, is unsettling. It is as if Naomi sees no advantage to serving and worshipping Yahweh over serving and worshipping other gods; she certainly urged Ruth and Orpah to go back to Moab instead of going to Israel and worshipping Yahweh there. But then, it is likely that at this point in her life Naomi did not see any advantage for the women to go to Israel and worship Yahweh. Naomi likely looked at herself as a good person, yet based on the evidence in her life she said, “the hand of Yahweh has gone out against me.” Given that, could she predict great blessings from Yahweh upon the young women? Also, because of the way Moab treated Israel, the command in Deuteronomy was that a Moabite was not allowed to enter the congregation of Yahweh (Deut. 23:3), so Ruth would not be allowed to worship at the Tabernacle. So to Naomi, the advantages of Ruth and Orpah going back to Moab outweighed the advantages of going to Israel with her.

The word “god” is elohim, which is grammatically plural. In the context of pagan worship, it is difficult to determine whether the translation should be “god” (ASV, CSB) or “gods” (ESV; KJV). In Judges 11:24 the singular Moabite god is referred to as elohim, grammatically plural (Judges 11:24; cp. 1 Kings 11:33, which also uses elohim (plural) to refer to a singular god. The grammatically plural elohim, when used of the Hebrew God Yahweh, does not mean that there is a plurality of “Persons” in God any more than Chemosh has a plurality of Persons in him. The NET text note says, “it is likely that Naomi, speaking from Orpah's Moabite perspective, uses the plural of majesty of the Moabite god Chemosh. For examples of the plural of majesty being used of a pagan god, see BDB 43 s.v. אֱלֹהִים 1.d. Note especially 1 Kgs 11:33, where the plural form is used of Chemosh.” [For more on elohim not referring to a plurality in God, see commentary on Gen. 1:1].


Commentary for: Ruth 1:15