So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass when they came to Bethlehem that the whole city was astir about them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” Bible

“and they asked.” The phrase, “they asked” is the feminine plural; it is the women of the city who asked. The women were curious and concerned about these two women who had come to their city, Bethlehem.

“Is this Naomi?” There is a lot of meaning in this phrase. There is the surface meaning, “Is this actually Naomi, or someone who sort of looks like her?” Yes, it was Naomi, but it was not the Naomi they had known. The “Ms. Pleasant” who had left ten years earlier had left with a husband and two sons and in the prime of life. Now Naomi returns without her husband or her sons, but accompanied by a young Moabite woman. Furthermore, the years and the hardships of life had taken their toll on Naomi’s appearance, and almost certainly her posture as well—she did not look like the Naomi of ten years earlier. Naomi picked up on the nuances of the question, “Is this Naomi,” and responded that “Naomi” was no longer a fit name for her, that she was now “Ms. Mara,” the bitter woman.

Commentary for: Ruth 1:19