|The Book of Ruth|
Ruth Chapter 1
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Go to Bible: Ruth 1
“there was a famine in the land.” This famine happened in the period of the book of Judges, and likely during one of the periods when Israel had abandoned Yahweh and was worshiping pagan gods because famine was one of the signs of the judgment of God (Lev. 26:19-26; Deut. 28:23-24, 38-42). When people abandon God they open themselves up to the cruel attacks of the Devil. Elimelech, like Abraham, left the land when there was a famine (see commentary on Genesis 12:10). It is very unusual that there would be a famine in Israel, especially around Bethlehem, and not in Moab, the border of which was only about 25 miles from Bethlehem. One of the many lessons in Ruth is that often righteous people suffer because of the sins of the people around them. Elimelech and Naomi were righteous people, but they suffered when God’s judgment fell on Israel. The fact that the righteous suffer along with the wicked when people abandon and defy God is a major reason godly people should be invested in making sure a nation has godly rulers and godly laws. A nation that defies God will suffer many hardships.
“Bethlehem in Judah.” Since “Bethlehem” means “house of bread,” there are a couple of Bethlehems in Israel, this Bethlehem is Bethlehem in Judah.
“went to live in the country of Moab.” The Hebrew text reads literally, “in the fields of Moab,” but Moab was referred to by the idiom, “the fields of Moab.” The central area of Moab was a high plateau that had fields. The NAB reads, “the plateau of Moab,” which is geographically correct. The Bible never gives the reason that Elimelech left Israel. Obviously many other people did not leave but endured the famine. It is possible that Elimelech was so discouraged by the idolatry of the people of Israel during the Judges period that he thought God’s judgment would be on Israel for years to come, and upon hearing that Moab was not experiencing the famine simply decided to go there.(top)
“Elimelech.” The name means, “My God is King.” Elimelech is the only person in the Bible with that name. It is worth noting that the name is also found in the El-Amarna letters (c. 1350 BC, very close to the time of Ruth), and in a pagan context can mean “El is Milku” but that is highly unlikely in Bethlehem.
“Naomi.” “Naomi” means “pleasant” or “my pleasure.”
“Mahlon and Chilion.” The meanings of the names Mahlon and Chilion are difficult to determine with certainty. However, it is likely that Mahlon is from malah, “to be sick, to be weak,” and Chilion is from kalah, “to come to an end” thus “to be frail.” It is possible that those were the names actually given to the children when they were named because they were weak and frail. Children were not named at birth. Male children were usually named when they were circumcised at eight days old. It is also possible that these “names” were given to them due to their characteristics as they grew up, in a sense like nicknames based on character and behavior. It is common that names in the Bible tell us about the character or circumstances of the person and was not the person’s given name. For example, “Job” basically means “attacked one,” and would not have been his given name but a name he was called after his horrible ordeal of losing his children, wealth, and health. In any case, the names point to the circumstances of the boys and so it was no surprise to the Hebrew reader that they died when very young.
“Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah.” That both Elimelech and Naomi were “Ephrathites” means they were locals. They were born and raised in the Bethlehem area. “Ephrath” (or Ephrathah, Micah 5:2) means “fruitful,” but exactly what it refers to is debated. It could be another name for Bethlehem (and was likely used that way), or the area around Bethlehem, or a small village very close to Bethlehem, or perhaps the name of a clan that lived in Bethlehem or the general area. Ephrath was often identified with Bethlehem (Gen. 35:19; Ruth 4:11; Mic. 5:2). We see from the book of Ruth that although Naomi was an Ephrathite, she lived in Bethlehem.(top)
“Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died.” We are not told how Elimelech died, even though we might wish to know it. This is the case with all the records in the Bible, for they are written in a way that gives the reader enough information to get the flow of the story, but not so much information as to burden down the reader with details. “They don’t tell us too much. They leave a lot of blanks….” (Eugene Peterson). The effect this has is to invite the reader into the story, to think about it, muse about it, reflect on it, and discuss it with others. The Bible is not designed for speed-reading, but for communing with God, the Creator of the Universe, who has hand-picked the records in the Bible to teach us about Him and about us. Indeed, as the reader grows and matures in their knowledge of the text and in their experiences in life, the Bible becomes richer, more enjoyable, more satisfying, more profound. The Bible encourages us to be imitators of God and Christ, but to truly imitate them one must know how they think and how life works. Those truths are in the Bible, which is why it should be read daily, and why God encourages us to discuss it and meditate on what it says. The Bible is to be a subject of thought and discussion “when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:7).
“And she was left.” The Hebrew verb translated “left” often refers to someone who is left after the death of another, and often is used in the context of surviving the wrath of God (cp. Lev. 26:36, 39; Deut. 4:27; 28:62; 2 Chron. 34:21; Ezek. 6:12; 9:8; Zech. 11:9.(top)
“And they took wives for themselves of the women of Moab.” It is not until Ruth 4:10 that we learn that Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah.(top)
“Mahlon and Chilion both died.” See commentary on Ruth 1:2, “Mahlon and Chilion.”(top)
“Then she arose.” Ruth 1:6-7 is dominated by the feminine singular. It is Naomi, now the matriarch of the family, who is making the decisions. Ruth and Orpah follow her lead. Although there certainly would have been discussions, Naomi made the final decision.
“Yahweh had visited his people.” Yahweh had intervened and blessed the people. How did God “visit”? Not by a personal presence of some kind, but rather by giving them bread, which the people understood as being from God.
[For more on God “visiting,” see commentary on Exod. 20:5.]
“by giving them bread.” “Bread” is a common idiom for food. “Bread” came to be used by metonymy for food in general because bread was the main food in the culture and a staple of life. Bread was indeed the staff upon which the people leaned for food, and in literature it is sometimes referred to as the “staff of life” (cp. Lev. 26:26; Ps. 105:16; Ezek. 4:16; 5:16). It is not clear how Naomi could have heard there was food in Israel at the start of the barley harvest, but there are several possibilities (see commentary on Ruth 1:22).
[See figure of speech “metonymy.”](top)
|Rut 1:7||- (top)|
“Go, each of you return.” Naomi directs the young women, who were likely in their early to mid-20s, to return. Girls in that culture were generally married around 12-14, and if they lived with their husbands for 10 years (Ruth 1:4), then Ruth was likely 22-24 years old. Naomi gave them three opportunities to return to their families (Ruth 1:8, 11-12, and 1:15). On the basis of the book of Ruth, modern Judaism gives potential converts to Judaism three chances to change their minds. The text does not say why Naomi waited until they were on the road back to Israel to tell the young women to return to their families. One possibility is that it was not until Naomi was actually on the road that it became clear to her that the better choice for the women was to go back to their own homes. But it is also possible that where Elimelech decided to settle in Moab was east of the villages where the girls lived and so as Naomi was heading west back to Israel she had to pass that area, and so it was close to their own villages that Naomi told them to return to their families.
“the house of her mother.” This phrase is very unusual and unexplained. It is normally, “to the house of your father,” which is so common that it is the reading of one of the Septuagint manuscripts, which was apparently altered to fit the culture. Elsewhere in the Bible, the “house (or “room”) of the mother had to do with love and marriage (cp. Song 3:4, 8:2) and Isaac consummated his marriage in his mother’s tent (Gen. 24:67), so it is possible that Naomi used “the house of your mother” as a subtle way of saying that the girls had her blessing to remarry.
“May Yahweh show faithful love.” Naomi had not lost her belief in Yahweh, and was not embarrassed about it, even though she had lived in Moab for ten years. The top god in Moab was Chemosh, and Naomi knew Chemosh, if he acted at all, would not deal kindly with people. Naomi may not have known the spiritual reality behind Chemosh, that he was a demon, but she knew by the way he was worshiped that he was not a kind god.
The Hebrew word translated “faithful love” is hesed (#02617 חֶסֶד), and it cannot be easily translated into English. It is rooted in the concept of covenant and relates itself to the faithfulness that God shows in keeping His covenants and His promises. Although hesed is rightly used of God because of His covenants and promises and behaviors associated with covenants and keeping them, it is also used by people in a more general way to indicate devotion, kindness, faithfulness, love, etc., depending on the context. The broad semantic range of hesed explains why when it is used in the Hebrew text the English translations differ so widely in exactly how to translate it. For example, when Boaz says that Ruth showed hesed (Ruth 3:10) some of the English translations of it are “devotion,” “kindness,” “faithful,” “loyalty,” “goodness,” “faithful love,” and “lovingkindness.”
[For more on hesed, see commentary on Ruth 2:20.]
It also seems clear that at this time in Israel’s history people freely spoke the name of Yahweh, which the Jews no longer do. Sadly, we do not know exactly how they pronounced the name.(top)
“in the house of her husband.” In the times of the Old Testament, a woman on her own was unheard of and her life would have been extremely difficult, even impossible. A woman found “rest” i.e., safety and security, by being married and/or being a part of a large family.(top)
|Rut 1:10||- (top)|
“Go back, my daughters!” The imperative verb translated “Go back” (more literally, “return”) shows the emphatic nature of Naomi’s urging the women to go back home. She cares for them and genuinely thinks they will be better off in Moab, where they would either find protection with their family or be able to remarry. There are three emphatic statements that bring great emphasis to Naomi’s urging: “Go back, my daughters!” (Ruth 1:11, 12), and “No, my daughters!” (Ruth 1:13).
“Why would you go with me?” By this time in her life, Naomi was wrestling with bitterness against Yahweh and life. We see this when she asked that she be called “Mara” which means “Bitter,” instead of “Naomi,” which means “Pleasant” (Ruth 1:20), and also in the fact that in Ruth 1:20-21 she levels four accusations against Yahweh. Here in this exchange, two things show forth quite clearly: the anger and bitterness she was dealing with personally, and her love for Ruth and Orpah.
It is important to recognize that Naomi’s question, “Why would you go with me,” is a rhetorical one. Naomi is not actually asking Ruth and Orpah for reasons that they would want to go back to Israel with her, rather, she is making the statement that “It is silly (even stupid) for you to go back to Israel with me, you are much better off in your own country with your own family.”
“Do I still have sons in my gut that they could be your husbands?” We can see Naomi’s bitterness even more clearly in this statement. It is an absurd question, and one that comes from a bitter and angry heart, not a logical and loving mind. Ruth and Orpah were in their 20s, so how could they wait at least 15 or 20 more years for Naomi to marry and then have boys who could marry them? The suggestion is absurd.
Furthermore, Naomi reveals her bitterness when she speaks of sons in her “gut.” Naomi does not use the normal word for womb (rechem, #07358) or even “belly” (beten, #0990), which is often used for the womb, but reveals her anger by rhetorically asking if she has sons in her “gut.” The Hebrew word translated “gut” is me`eh (#04578 מֵעֶה), and it refers to the internal organs, bowels, intestines; the “gut.” Although me`eh is sometimes used non-specifically or euphemistically of a male’s reproductive organs (cp. Gen. 15:4; 2 Sam. 7:12; 16:11), the Bible never uses it that way of a female’s reproductive organs, and the English Bibles that translate me`eh as “womb” in Ruth 1:11 only translate it that way in this one verse. But the translation “womb” does not carry the proper emphasis of the Hebrew text, which is Naomi’s bitterness. She curtly asked if she had any more sons in her gut.(top)
“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.(top)
“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.(top)
“They lifted up their voice and wept.” That is, they wept aloud. The CSV says, “they wept loudly,” which gets the sense.
“and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law.” That is, she kissed her to show her love and in saying “goodbye.” We should know that at no time in the text is Orpah criticized by the Author or by anyone else. Orpah had no promise from God that she would be well taken care of in Israel. Besides that, she likely had no real confidence in the goodness of Yahweh, Israel’s God. After all, in the thinking of the time, He was the reason for the famine in Israel and certainly did not protect her husband Chilion from dying. So she did the natural thing and went back to her mother’s house where in all likelihood she remarried.
“Ruth clung to her.” The word “clung” is the same word used in Genesis 2:24 for a man being joined to his wife. The text shows that Ruth’s bond with her mother-in-law was very strong.(top)
”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 worshiping Yahweh over serving and worshiping other gods; she certainly urged Ruth and Orpah to go back to Moab instead of going to Israel and worshiping 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 (Judg. 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 Kings 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.](top)
“Do not press me to abandon you.” These are the first words in the book of Ruth solely attributed to Ruth, and they show her firmly, resolutely, and honestly dealing with her mother-in-law. First, Ruth lovingly demands that Naomi stop pressuring her to leave. The Hebrew word for “press me” (“urge me” in many English versions) is paga (#06293 פָּגַע) and it has a few different meanings, including “confront, assault, attack.” While paga can mean press or urge, it rarely completely loses its attachment to the idea of a confrontation, assault, or attack, and so while Ruth is in fact saying, “do not press me to abandon you,” buried in the Hebrew words she uses is her making it clear to Naomi that she feels that Naomi’s imperative pressure for Ruth to leave is an attack, and she answers with her own imperative vocabulary, “Don’t press (attack) me!” She had decided to go to Israel and support Naomi and has chosen Yahweh as her God and that is the end of the story.
What a powerful lesson we learn from Ruth. Yes, Naomi’s life had many unexpected disappointments. Yes, Naomi was angry and bitter. And there is a time to be very gentle and accommodating in such situations, but there is also a time to get gut-level honest and say what needs to be said, and that is exactly what Ruth did. She met Naomi’s frustration and bitterness head-on and told her in no uncertain terms that she, Ruth, had made up her mind that the Israelites were going to be her people and Yahweh was her God. But Ruth did not stop speaking to Naomi with this mild rebuke. She immediately confirmed her love for Naomi, saying she would go wherever Naomi went and be with her where she lived and where she died. Finally, Ruth ends her speaking to Naomi by demonstrating her sincerity by speaking an oath-curse over herself if she abandoned Naomi: “Yahweh do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” Ruth’s love for Naomi and her determination to be with her and help support her opened the door for her, a Moabite woman, to be part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, showing that God cares for all people and looks on the heart, not on outward circumstances.
“your people are my people, and your God is my God.” Ruth 1:16 indicates that Ruth had already made up her mind who her people and her God were—she accepted Yahweh as her God—and so told Naomi not to press her to leave. Although most English versions have the future tense verb, “will be” in the verse, and thus read, “your people will be my people,” the Hebrew has a future tense verb but does not use it here. Generally in Hebrew when no verb is in the text—and there is no verb here in Ruth 1:16—then it is understood that the present tense verb is meant unless the context directs otherwise, which it does not seem to do. Young’s Literal Translation gets the sense correctly: “thy people is my people and thy God my God.”
The idea that Ruth is speaking of the future is imported in many versions from Ruth 1:17, where the future tense Hebrew verbs are used, but the events in Ruth 1:17, death and burial, are future events so future tense verbs would be used to describe those events. But here in Ruth 1:16, the reason Ruth told Naomi not to press her to leave was that she had already decided who her people and her God were, and that is reflected in the Hebrew text which would normally be translated with a present tense verb, as in the YLT and REV.
Ruth 1:16 is one of the profound verses in the Bible that shows that the attributes of Yahweh—His care and concern for people, and His fairness, grace, and mercy—are clearly displayed for anyone who cares to take the time and make the effort to get to know Him, and His arms are open to all who will come to Him. Ruth was openly accepted into the society of Israel, and God clearly accepted her, so she is in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.(top)
“Yahweh do so to me, and more also.” This phrase is a curse formula. This let Naomi know that Ruth was extremely serious about her commitment to Naomi and Yahweh. Here in Ruth 1:17, we see that by using the name Yahweh the way she does, Ruth has taken Yahweh as her God. Her native god was Chemosh, but typical of pagan gods, he was cruel. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia,a Chemosh was essentially of the same nature as Baal. As such, Chemosh was worshiped by ritual sex (cp. Num. 25:1-4), might demand human sacrifice, and demanded other such impure and ungodly things. Ruth found out enough about Yahweh that she not only clung to Naomi, but to Yahweh as well, saying to Naomi “your God is my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Isadore Singer, ed., Jewish Encyclopedia, s.v. “Chemosh” by Morris Jastrow and George A. Barton.
“was determined.” The Hebrew verb is a participle and thus expresses persistence as well as determination. Ruth did not waver in her decision.
“she said no more to her.” After Naomi experienced Ruth’s determination to be with her and go to Israel, she said no more to Ruth about returning to Moab. Ruth 1:18 is the end of the dialogue between Ruth and Naomi, and the scene now changes to Bethlehem and the reaction and reception that Naomi and Ruth received at Bethlehem.(top)
“the women said.” In the Hebrew, the word “said” 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 was 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.(top)
“She said to them.” Naomi had not seen these women for ten years, and they had a lot to catch up on. This conversation could have lasted for hours with many women speaking in the conversation. Yet what the Divine Author wants to draw our attention to is Naomi’s four statements against Him, which reveal her bitterness; an understandable emotion given what Naomi has been through with the death of her husband and sons. It is very human to be bitter at God when things go wrong in life, but we should learn from the New Testament that there is a furious war going on between Good and Evil, and God does not cause harm to believers. The New Testament lesson is that it is wrong to blame God for evil and misfortune; those things come from the Devil (see commentary on Luke 4:6).
“Do not call me.” The verb is feminine plural, so it is the women of the city who Naomi is addressing.
“Call me Mara.” Although many names in the biblical world were like names today, just chosen because they sounded nice or the parents liked them, some names were significant. Some were used because they were long-standing family names, and other names were used because of the meaning of the name. We do not know why Naomi’s parents decided to name her “Pleasant” (“Naomi” means “pleasant”) but it fit until she lost her husband and sons, at which time her name no longer fit her circumstances and she did not want to be called “Pleasant.” Sadly, she wanted to be called “Mara,” “Bitter.” This reflects a difference between The Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Testament has exhortation to put away things like bitterness, anger, and rage (Eph. 4:31), whereas the Old Testament does not have that same exhortation, although it recognizes the value of joy and gladness.
“the Almighty.” The Hebrew is Shaddai (also in Ruth 1:21). Naomi’s talk with the women revealed her bitterness, and the Author draws our attention to it by a beautiful introversion pattern, where Naomi speaks of (A) “the Almighty” then (B) “Yahweh” then (b) “Yahweh,” and lastly (a) “the Almighty.”(top)
“I went out full and Yahweh has brought me home again empty.” Life is unpredictable. Jacob left the Promised Land with only his staff, and returned with much livestock, wives, and concubines, and many children (Gen. 32:10). Naomi left Israel with a husband and two sons, and in her estimation came back empty. It was the women of the town who pointed out to her that her daughter-in-law Ruth was better than seven sons (Ruth 4:15).
“Yahweh has testified against me.” The general thought of the time was that if a person lived righteously then Yahweh would bless them, and if they were evil then things would not go well with them. Based on that belief, Naomi said Yahweh had testified against her by way of the circumstances of her life.
The Old Testament did not reveal the Devil, nor the intensity of the war between Good and Evil, and that left a lot of questions unanswered. Even kings and prophets had a lot of unanswered questions when it came to the evil that occurs on earth (and people who read the Old Testament without realizing that it had been superseded by the teaching in the New Testament have those same questions). When Jesus revealed the Devil and demons to his disciples, he told them things never before revealed: “And turning to the disciples, he said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see the things that you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings desired to see the things that you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things that you hear, and did not hear them” (Luke 10:23-24). Grace and “truth” came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
[For more on why bad things happen on earth, see commentary on Luke 4:6, that God is not in control of what happens on earth.]
“the Almighty has afflicted me?” This statement reflects Naomi’s theology and belief, but we learn from the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ that what Naomi believed is not accurate. God does not kill people (Naomi’s husband and sons) and cause pain and trouble to people like Naomi and Ruth just to bring about His ends. The greatness of God is that He works in the warzone between Good and Evil like a master chess player, working to bring good from the evil that the Devil and evil people do (cp. Rom. 8:28).(top)
“So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law.” This is a summary statement, not a sequel. Summary statements are common in the Bible, and this one adds the information about the barley harvest.
“in the beginning of barley harvest.” This is the time of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It generally occurs in our month of April.(top)