|The Book of Ruth|
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Go to Bible: Ruth 1
“famine in the land.” Elimelech, like Abraham, left the land when there was a famine. See commentary on Genesis 12:10.
“Bethlehem Judah.” Since “Bethlehem” means “house of bread,” there are a couple of Bethlehems in Israel, this Bethlehem is Bethlehem in Judah.
“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.(top)
“Elimelech.” The name means, “My God is King.” “Naomi” means “pleasant” or “my pleasure.” The names of the two sons are more difficult to determine.(top)
|Rut 1:3||- (top)|
|Rut 1:4||- (top)|
|Rut 1:5||- (top)|
“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].
“bread.” 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 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).(top)
|Rut 1:7||- (top)|
“May Yahweh deal.” Naomi had not lost her belief in Yahweh, and was not embarrassed about it, even though she had lived in Moab for ten years, and the top Moabite God was Chemosh.(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.(top)
|Rut 1:10||- (top)|
|Rut 1:11||- (top)|
|Rut 1:12||- (top)|
“refrain.” The Hebrew word occurs only here in the Hebrew Bible. It is related to the word “anchor.”
“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.(top)
|Rut 1:14||- (top)|
”Naomi.” The Hebrew text reads “she,” but we substituted “Naomi” for clarity.
“and to her god.” 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.(top)
“Do not entreat me to leave you.” Ruth’s love for Naomi and her determination to be with her and help support her opened the door for a Moabite woman to be part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, showing that God cares for all people, and looks on the heart.
“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, then it is understood that the present tense verb is meant unless the context directs otherwise, which in this case 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 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.(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 Ruth has taken Yahweh as her God. Her native god was Chemosh, but typical of pagan gods, he was cruel. According to Morris Jastrow and George A. Barton (Jewish Encyclopedia), Chemosh was essentially of the same nature as Baal. As such, Chemosh might demand human sacrifice, ritual sex, and 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).(top)
“she said no more to her.” That is, Naomi said no more to Ruth about it.(top)
“and they asked.” The phrase, “they asked” is the feminine plural; it is the women of the city who asked.(top)
“Do not call me.” The verb is feminine plural, so it is the women of the city who Naomi is addressing.
“the Almighty.” The Hebrew is Shaddai (also in Ruth 1:21).(top)
|Rut 1:21||- (top)|
“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)