Ruth 1:6: Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food. (NASB: Lockman)
ASV: Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that Jehovah had visited his people in giving them bread.
BBE: So she and her daughters-in-law got ready to go back from the country of Moab, for news had come to her in the country of Moab that the Lord, in mercy for his people, had given them food.
CEV: When Naomi heard that the LORD had given his people a good harvest, she and her two daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab and go to Judah. As they were on their way there, (CEV)
GWT: Naomi and her daughters-in-law started on the way back from the country of Moab. (While they were still in Moab she heard that the LORD had come to help his people and give them food. (GWT)
KJV: When she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.
NIV: When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. (NIV - IBS)
Young's Literal: And she riseth, she and her daughters-in-law, and turneth back from the fields of Moab, for she hath heard in the fields of Moab that God hath looked after His people, --to give to them bread.
Septuagint (LXX): kai aneste (3SAAI) aute kai ai duo numphai autes kai apestrepsan (3PAAI) ec agrou Moab hoti ekousan (3PAAI) en agro Moab hoti epeskeptai (3SRMI) kurios ton laon autou dounai (AAN) autois artous (Click here for explanation of abbreviations in parentheses after each verb)
English of Septuagint: And she rose up and her two daughters-in-law, and they returned out of the country of Moab, for she heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited his people to give them bread.
THEN SHE AROSE:
Arose (6965) (quwm/qum) from a root word which describes the physical action or rising up or standing as the result of rising up.
This same phrase was used to describe David's arising and moving on after his first son's death…
"But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" And they said, "He is dead. So David arose (6965) (quwm/qum) from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate." (2Sa 12:19, 20).
Jehovah had "surely seen the affliction of" (cf Ex 3:7 3:8) Naomi and so moves heaven and earth (rain, sun, fruitful grain harvest) to inspire Naomi to move on.
There is a time when we must choose to RISE UP and lay hold of what we have been laid hold of by Christ for. we must forget
"what lies behind and (reach) forward to what lies ahead… (pressing) on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (see note Php 3:12-14).
We must make a decision of our will to…
"strengthen (aorist imperative - an command to be carried out even with a sense of urgency) the hands (the author has just given a lengthy discourse on divine discipline which is not joyful at the moment we are experiencing it) that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for (our) feet" (Heb 12:12,13-note).
"no good thing… from those who walk uprightly"… "for the LORD God is a sun and shield. Jehovah gives grace and glory." (Ps 84:11-note)
How important it is for us to look expectantly for the hand of the LORD in every event in our life. He is in the process of training up His children to full maturity, that we "may share His holiness" (Heb 12:10, 11-note) and be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Ro 8:29-note), the Perfecter (Finisher) of the race of life (He 12:2-note).
So keep your eyes fixed on Jesus as you "walk through the valley of the shadow of death" (Ps 23:4-note), as your dreams die and all earthly hope seems lost. Recall to your mind God's promise of His faithfulness (Lam 3:21, 22, 23, 24) even when the clouds seem to hide Him. That's when faith walks out and takes God at His Word (Heb 11:6-note) and is enabled to see "Him Who is unseen" (Heb 11:27).
"God is in the heavens. He does whatever He pleases" (Ps 115:3-note) exercising His sovereignty, orchestrating events behind the scenes and all the while allowing each individual free will to make the decisions that determine destiny.
Naomi's decision would indeed determine the destiny of Ruth and of many who would come after her. Let us thank God that she arose from her grieving and moved toward God, although had she chosen not to do so, God's purpose of raising up a Redeemer would not have been thwarted (Job 42:2) (Study the "Attributes of God")
Matthew Henry calls our attention to "The good affection Naomi bore to the land of Israel" specifically noting that "Though she could not stay in it while the famine lasted, she would not stay out of it when the famine ceased. Though the country of Moab had afforded her shelter and supply in a time of need, yet she did not intend it should be her rest for ever" for as Henry rightly observes "no land should be that but the holy land, in which the sanctuary of God was, of which He had said, "This is My resting place for ever and ever" (Ps 132:14-note, NIV) Naomi began to think of returning, after the death of her two sons. When death comes into a family, it ought to reform what is amiss there. Earth is made bitter to us, that heaven may be made dear."
WITH HER DAUGHTERS-IN-LAW THAT SHE MIGHT RETURN (turn back) FROM THE LAND OF MOAB:
- "she turneth back from the fields of Moab" (YLT)
- "So she and her daughters-in-law got ready to go back from the country of Moab" (BBE)
The word for "her daughters-in-law" is literally "her brides" or the brides of her sons. "Land of Moab" is more accurately the "fields of Moab". It's interesting that in the fields of Moab where the grain was grown that Naomi learned there was food in the fields of Israel.
Return (07725)(shub/shuv) conveys the basic meaning of movement, spatially or spiritually and is variously translated turn back, restore and repent. Shub refers to a reversal or change of direction, an “about face.” Shub describes movement back to the point of departure or reversal of direction.
Scripture is replete with picturesque idioms emphasizing man's responsibility in repentance -
"incline your heart unto the Lord your God" (Josh 24:23)
"circumcise yourselves to the LORD & remove the foreskins of your heart" (Jer 4:4)
"wash your heart from evil O Jerusalem, that you may be saved. How long will your wicked thoughts Lodge within you?" (Jer 4:14)
"break up your fallow ground (usually cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season), for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you" (Hos 10:12).
Observe the central role of our heart. All these expressions of man's activity are pictured in the Hebrew verb shub which combines the two requisites of repentance -- turn from evil and turn to God and to good. However lest we forget that even repentance is a gift of His grace, we need to be mindful not to "think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience" for it is "the kindness of God leads (us) to repentance" (Ro 2:4-note)
Repenters always find God has the "welcome mat" out.
Is it possible for someone who has dwelt in a "distant land" for many years to come home again? The answer is always "yes". Speaking to rebellious Israel God declared that
"though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18).
Have you wandered away from God? (And which of us can honestly say "Not me, no never"!) Do you think you been away too long? Do you fear His response if you were to return now?
Take heart for Jesus is
"the same yesterday and today, yes and forever" (Heb 13:8-note) and says that
"the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out." (John 6:37)
Even as God was leading Naomi back , He had affirmed to Jacob
"behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back (shub) to this land for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." (Genesis 28:15)
In both Naomi's and Jacob's "returns" God was working out His sovereign purpose of redemption.
Bible Knowledge Commentary observes that
"Return is a key word in Ruth. Hebrew forms of this word are used several times in this first chapter. Here is an apt illustration of repentance. Naomi reversed the direction she and her husband had taken. She turned away from Moab and the errors of the past. She turned her back on the tragic graves of her loved ones and headed back to Judah, her homeland." (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible knowledge commentary).
To where was Naomi returning? To Israel. To her God. To her people.
Have circumstances occurred in your life that have caused you to meander off the path and into "Moab"?
Will you "remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first"? (Rev 2:5-note)
Encouraged by what transpired in the next 3 chapters in Naomi's life, you can be
"confident… that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Php 1:6-note)
In truth every person ever born was at one time in the "land of Moab", helplessly mired in sin, engaged in idolatrous practices and at continual enmity with the Almighty (Ro 5:6, 8, 10-notes Ro 5:6, 5:8, 5:10).
Today in the Word devotional…
A book recently tackled one of life's minor puzzles--how do homing pigeons find their way home? The answer seems to be: we're not sure. One theory is that young pigeons develop an ""odor map"" by smelling odors that are carried to their homes on the winds from various directions. Another theory is that the birds use the earth's magnetic field to determine course and position. Whatever technique homing pigeons use, their instincts are uncanny. They always finish their journeys in the right place… The Bible is filled with stories of people who did and of those who did not finish well. They have much to teach us… The story of Ruth gets us off to a great start. This young woman from Moab definitely finished well. She became the great-grandmother of David. Ruth's name is on a short list of women singled out for special mention in the genealogy of Jesus. She was part of the Savior's royal bloodline and is therefore a background figure in the Christmas story.
FOR SHE HAD HEARD IN THE LAND OF MOAB THAT THE LORD HAD VISITED HIS PEOPLE: (Ge 21:1; 50:25; Ex 3:16; 4:31; 1Sa 2:21; Lk 1:68; 19:44; 1Pe 2:12-note):
For - This word is often a term of explanation, which should prompt a pause to ponder what is the writer explaining. This will usually force you to re-read the text (never a bad thing) and also to check the context. In a sense you are carrying out a "mini-meditation" on the Scriptural text (always a good thing! - Ps 1:2-3, Joshua 1:8).
This is the first mention of God's covenant Name, Jehovah (I Am) in a way that clearly acknowledges He is sovereign and in control of the affairs of both individuals and nations. (Ru 1:13, 21, 2:20, 4:12, 13, 14, 15- see notes Ru 1:13, 1:21, 2:20, 4:12-15). What is so beautiful about Ruth’s story is that it never loses sight of Jehovah, Whose covenant love assures the culmination of this short story and of all history exactly as He has purposed. As you take time to linger and meditate on this narrative jewel, you will find the presence of the "Author and Perfecter" radiating forth from every verse and your faith will be encouraged to hold fast to the One Who is "I Am".
God is not a "genie" but He is truly the great I Am. He is anything and everything we will ever need no matter how dark our circumstances or how hopeless our outlook. The key is to glance at your circumstances but gaze at your God, and your "uplook" will change the perspective of your "outlook"!
Naomi may have felt like God had dealt bitterly but she still sought His face even in the midst of her dark despair! What a challenging lesson for us all. Even when we are feeling hopeless, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, not on our circumstances. Then we need to behave according to what He leads us to do. In this case He was leading Naomi to return to home and ultimately to her Kinsman-Redeemer. She may have been emotionally downtrodden but she retained her hope in God. Paul experiencing suffering chose a similar attitude declaring
"I know Whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him until that day". (2Ti 1:12-note)
God's people need to learn from the
"perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope!" (Ro 15:4-note)
When Naomi was finding life bleak, Ruth chose to stand by her mother-in-law rather than leave her to face the journey into the future all alone. Ruth's steadfast commitment to Naomi was God's provision to enable her to endure. Naomi was discovering the glorious truth that
"No temptation (test) has overtaken you but such as is common to man and God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (test) will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it (not that you may be able to "escape it"!)." (1Corinthians 10:13-note)
God's provision of bread in Israel and Ruth in Moab provided the way of escape for Naomi. And He will do the same for you in your hour of testing. Beloved, trust in Jehovah with all your heart and don't lean on your own ways in your hour of testing.
Visited (06485) (paqad) means primarily to pay attention to or to observe with care or interest. For example Moses gives us a record of the faithfulness and power of God in keeping His promise and providing an heir miraculously through Sarah: …
"Then (always ask - when is "then"?) the LORD took note (paqad) of Sarah as He had said (when God gives a promise beloved, He keeps it!), and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised (note repetition for emphasis = "He had said" ~ "He had promised")." (Genesis 21:1)
Again in Genesis as Joseph is about to fall asleep, to the very end firmly trusting in God to carry out His promise (to bring them back to Canaan - a promise God fulfilled 4 centuries later in the exodus) and thus declaring to his brothers…
"I am about to die, but God will surely take care (paqad - NIV = "surely come to your aid") of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, "God will surely take care take care (paqad - NIV = "surely come to your aid", "doth certainly inspect you" YLT, "will surely visit you", NKJV) of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here." (Genesis 50:24, 25)
Paqad can mean to visit for good or for evil. The visit was for good in the present context and is paraphrased with this meaning by the NIV which renders it
"the LORD (Jehovah) had come to the aid of His people"
David cried out
"Remember me, O LORD, in Thy favor toward Thy people. Visit (paqad) me with Thy salvation." (Ps 106:4-note)
In sum, paqad conveys the idea that Jehovah directs His attention to His people, inquires into their state and is thus informed and able to take steps to meet their need. God was not deaf or blind to Naomi's suffering, even as He had not been deaf to the groaning of Israel oppressed under the cruel hand of Pharaoh, for as Moses writes
"Jehovah was concerned (paqad) about the sons of Israel and… He had seen their affliction" (Exodus 4:31)
About the same time that "Jehovah visited His people" in Bethlehem, another barren downcast Hebrew woman had a "visit" from Jehovah:
"Jehovah visited (paqad) Hannah and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew before the LORD." (1Samuel 2:21)
The Greek verb used by the Septuagint (LXX) to translate paqad is episkeptomai (see word study) (1980) (epi = upon + sképtomai = looking at or paying attention to) which has the idea of going to see with the goal of relieving distress, sickness or bondage. The verb often described the visiting of the sick and in the NT almost exclusively refers to a visitation for good. The idea is to look upon one in distress with mercy, favor or regard.
James uses episkeptomai to "define" real religion writing that…
For example, in Luke we find
"Zacharias… filled with the Holy Spirit (prophesying)… "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited (episkeptomai) us and accomplished redemption (lutrosis - word study) (how? by sending a Kinsman-Redeemer!) for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation (Messiah) for us in the house of David (a descendent from the line of Boaz and Ruth) His servant… 78 Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit (episkeptomai) us, (Luke 1:67, 68, 69, 78)
What a fascinating parallel between Luke and Ruth, where God's visitation draws Naomi back to Bethlehem where Jehovah would accomplish redemption for Ruth and place her in the line of the Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel and all mankind. Naomi had eyes to recognize and a heart to respond to the "Lord's visitation" and was rewarded.
Centuries later Israel is recompensed (negatively) for failure to recognize His visitation, Luke recording Jesus' "Triumphal Entry" into Jerusalem…
"And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying "If you had known in this day, (the specific day = see comment below) even you, the things which make for peace! (See comment below - when a king entered a city on a donkey it was for peace! A white horse signified war = see Messiah's return Rev 19:11f-note) But now they have been hidden from your eyes. "For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you (Jerusalem) to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another (this prophecy fulfilled in 70AD with Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple), because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:41, 42, 43, 44)
Comment: Daniel 9:25, 26-note clearly predicted the visitation of the Messiah to Jerusalem, and there is good support for the fact that Daniel's prophecy specified the exact day the Messiah entered Jerusalem on "Psalm Sunday" mounted on a donkey being welcomed by the cry from the multitudes of "Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord", quoting Ps 118:6-note. In 1894 Sir Robert Anderson in his monumental work, The Coming Prince - click book, [independently confirmed by the study of Dallas Theological Seminary professor Dr Harold Hoehner in 1976] calculated from Da 9:25, 26-note that following the decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 445BC in Neh 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 until Messiah, the Prince was 177,880 days which coincided with the very day Jesus entered Jerusalem -- Palm Sunday -- riding on a donkey fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you. He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey." -- Zech 9:9
Finally Peter reminds us that the certainty of the Lord's "visitation" should motivate godly behavior, exhorting saints to
Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation (the related noun episkope, used for public office of an overseer and gives us our English "Episcopal" ) (1Pe 2:12-note)
In the Septuagint (LXX) episkeptomai is found some 127 times and is used almost exclusively to describe a visitation for good or looking toward someone with a view to benefiting him. The psalmist for example prays…
Remember me, O LORD, in Thy favor toward Thy people;
This explains how Jehovah visited or came to the aid of His people.
Solomon writes that "Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land." (Pr 25:25)
God is restocking the "house of Bread" with "food" (lechem) or bread. We once again see God's sovereignty for "He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man, so that he may bring forth food from the earth… food which sustains man's heart." (Ps 104:14;15-note)
As the psalmist records "The eyes of all look to Thee, and Thou dost give them their food in due time." (Ps 145:15-note)
The return of physical prosperity foreshadowed the reality of a coming spiritual prosperity through the line of David in the person of Christ. The Chaldee Targum speculates without any Scriptural support that the news of this visitation was conveyed by the mouth of an angel. In the ancient world news was carried to a largely by caravan traders, mariners, and other travelers but exactly how Naomi knew the text does not say. The point is that when God wants us to know something, He will find a way to convey His message, even if he has to make a dumb donkey speak! (cf 2Pe 2:16-note)
The sovereignty of God permeates the pages of Ruth:
Matthew Henry observes that "God, at last, returned in mercy to His people; for, though He contend long, He will not contend always. As the judgment of oppression, under which they often groaned in the time of the judges, still came to an end, after a while, when God had raised them up a deliverer, so here the judgment of famine: At length God graciously visited his people in giving them bread. Plenty is God's gift, and it is His visitation which by bread, the staff of life, holds our souls in life. Though this mercy be the more striking when it comes after famine, yet if we have constantly enjoyed it, and never knew what famine meant, we are not to think it the less valuable.
J Vernon McGee draws an interesting parallel with the story of the prodigal son commenting that now Naomi "wants to return home. It’s interesting. The prodigal family and the prodigal son will long for the father’s house. And if they don’t long for the father’s house, they just don’t happen to be the children of the father. The prodigal son will never be happy in the pigpen. He just wasn’t made for a pigpen. He hasn’t the nature of a pig… So eventually this family must go home. Finally Naomi says she’s going back to Bethlehem-Judah." (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Some practical thoughts regarding these events:
Naomi would have died in Moab had God not intervened. If God choose not to arrest and arouse us, we all would perish in "Moab". However, Jehovah speaks sending "awakening providences", sometimes as affliction and loss and sometimes in the form of His unmerited goodness. In both situations it is the kindness of God which leads us to repentance (Ro 2:4-note).
Dear reader, are you still in "Moab" having never lived in "Bethlehem", having never responded to His call to repent and in danger of dying in "Moab" and entering into the "eternal fire" (Mt 25:41, cf 2Thes 1:6 1:7 1:8 1:9 1:10)?
Dearly beloved saint, have you wandered off the "highway of holiness" (Isa 35:8) to "Moab" where you are practicing idolatry that you know God despises and which He must discipline? Is God speaking to you through your circumstances? Good news from the LORD’s land comes to the awakened wanderer. Are you listening? Will you repent and walk in the light dear one? (1Jn 1:7 1:8 1:9)
God so loved those in "Moab" that He gave "He gave His only begotten Son (as our Kinsman-Redeemer), that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (Jn 3:16)
Let His lovingkindness which is new every morning awaken in your heart an attitude of gratitude and contrition.
Tyng (Biblical Illustrator) adds "Many think they must first feel much, and mourn much, and suffer much, before they can hope to go back in peace to God. But why? Will your suffering save you? Will your multiplied tears add anything to a Saviour’s worth? Is your dwelling on fire? And must you wait until you are scorched with the flames before you can escape in safety? Have you mistaken your road in journeying? And can you recover your lost steps the better by delay or hesitation or fruitless grief? Nay. You want all the time for actual pursuit. You have none to waste. Turn! Turn! fly! Fly! ‘Tis madness to defer. Naomi goes to no other part of Moab, to no other land of idolatry. She goes directly back to the land of Judah. This is a blessed example. How many go from one broken cistern to another!" But all these efforts are vain. Edom or Babylon are no better than Moab. No. You must fly to Bethlehem at once. Now is the accepted time. This is the day of your salvation."
KJV: Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.
NLT: With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.
Young's Literal: And she goeth out from the place where she hath been, and her two daughters-in-law with her, and they go in the way to turn back unto the land of Judah.
English of Septuagint: And she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her: and they went by (imperfect tense = were going, proceeding by) the way to return to the land of Juda.
SO SHE DEPARTED FROM THE PLACE WHERE SHE WAS: (2Ki 8:3)
Scofield places the date of these events at about 1100BC.
What is "the place where she was"? It was a dreary "place" was it not? Multiplied losses - lost husband, lost sons, lost dreams, lost hopes of ever raising a family, etc. Naomi could have stayed at "the place where she was" but upon hearing about the work of Jehovah, she made a choice. Our losses may or may not be of the same magnitude and/or the same character as those of Naomi, but the principle remains the same. We each have a choice - we can choose to move back to "the land" of God's promises or we can stay in the "miry clay of Moab". Beloved, if you find yourself in "Moab" today, run to His word, filled with magnificent and precious promises, and you will find that His arms are open and His promises are "yea and amen" in Christ Jesus. So run to Him dear suffering, afflicted saint. He will succour your soul. Depart "from the place where you are" and return into the arms of the Lover of your soul.
Departed (3318) (yatsa) "movement away" from some point. It is a very common Hebrew verb and means to go out as from a particular locality or from the presence of a person.
So is what is referred to in inductive Bible study as a term of conclusion. Here "so" would equate with "Therefore" or "for this reason". Whenever you see a term of conclusion stop and ask why is it "there for"? Why did she depart? Because she had "heard". May God give us all ears to hear His voice in our darkest distress so that we might journey back into the light and the joy of the Lord. How Naomi's response sets her apart from so many others! Many hear of the good things God is doing in the lives of others, and only wish they could have some of it - instead of actually setting out to receive it! Naomi could have stayed in Moab all of her life wishing things were different, but she did something to receive what God had to give her. It is also noteworthy that Naomi repeats a familiar pattern of behavior of the patriarchs, Abraham and Isaac, both of whom had left their homeland because of famine, and both of whom returned when food became available.
Mills adds that this "The scene painted before our eyes is of a pathetic trio, stricken with poverty and grief, facing the frightening desert mountain wastes of Moab alone, beckoned on only by trust in Yahweh, Israel’s God, and the hope that the proceeds from Elimelech’s property might alleviate their desperate circumstances." (Mills, M. - Ruth: A study guide to the book of Ruth, 1999)
From later events indicating that Naomi had a practical understanding of the concept of the Kinsman-Redeemer, one can assume that Naomi also had a good understanding of Deuteronomy and so must have known that she could expect to receive the humane treatment that Israelite law accorded to aliens and widows. Moses for example had written that
the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do. (Deut 14:29)
Return (7725) (shub/shuv) describes movement back to the point of departure or reversal of direction. This same Hebrew verb is used in Ru 4:15 (see note) where God is referred to as "a Restorer (Shub) of life". (cf Ps 23:3-note "He restores [shub] my soul")
David uses shub to describe the restorative power of the Word of God writing…
The law of the LORD is perfect ("complete" comprehensive, all-sided so as to cover all aspects of some thing, conveys the idea of integrity), restoring (shub) the soul (Psalm 19:7-note)
The Septuagint (LXX) uses an interesting Greek verb, epistrepho (1994) (from epí = motion toward + strépho = turn) to translate shub. The LXX uses epistrepho some 416 times to convey the ideas of restore, return or repent, any or all of these ideas being compatible with Naomi's "return". Epistrepho literally means a change of direction and figuratively also refers to such a change which conveys the idea of repentance or the change of one's mind. For example epistrepho is used by Paul to describe the formerly pagan worshipping Thessalonians who…
turned to (epistrepho) God from idols to serve a living and true God (1Th 1:9-note)
In Naomi's case epistrepho could reflect simply a literal turning back toward her home country, although in the context of the story, this point in time clearly marks a decisive moment which we discover has significant spiritual implications.
Dear reader, perhaps you have wandered off to "Moab" and need to make a definite decision to return to "Bethlehem" and "Bethlehem's greatest Son", the Lord Jesus Christ. Rest assured He is waiting for you to "Return to Bethlehem", as He so poignantly taught in the story of the Prodigal Son, who in a critical moment made the right decision to return declaring…
'I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men." And he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him." (Luke 15:18, 19, 20)
Clearly the two daughter-in-laws saw something in Naomi - perhaps her piety - and were persuaded to go along with her to Bethlehem. Whatever they saw in Naomi, it attracted them. Do others look at my life and desire to come along on the journey? Is my walk with the Lord something that makes others say, "I want that also!"
They had begun their return to the House of Bread (Bethlehem) and the Land of Praise Jehovah (Judah). This is a good journey for us all to begin when circumstances appear humanly hopeless!
If you feel like Naomi in a foreign land with no hope, a good place to begin your journey is by retracing your steps back into the presence of the Almighty, even like the busy church at Ephesus to whom Jesus declared:
'But I have this against you, that you have left your first love (doctrinal orthodoxy had degenerated into mechanical orthodoxy - the fires of their love had grown cold). (1) Remember (present imperative - keep on remembering - forgetfulness is frequently the initial cause of spiritual decline) therefore from where you have fallen, and (2) repent (aorist imperative - do this now! It's urgent!) and (3) do (aorist imperative - do them now!) the deeds you did at first (and this will show your repentance is genuine) or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place-- unless you repent." (Re 2:4-note, Re 2:5-note)
Begin your journey back by remembering how you felt when the Spirit wooed you and you fell in love with Jesus.
There's a bit of "prone to wander" in all of us, but God's covenant love remains available to the all who would repent (Acts 3:19, 20) and who would seek Him diligently (Heb 11:6-note) with a whole heart. Let us return (Hos 6:1) to our God if we have strayed. He is not there to condemn us but to comfort us even as the father welcomed home his prodigal son. (Luke 15:20, 21).
TO THE LAND OF JUDAH:
Judah means "Praise Yahweh" and is derived from Leah's reaction to her bearing Jacob his third son, Moses writing that Leah "conceived again and bore a son and said "This time I will praise Yahweh" Therefore she named him Judah… " (Gen 29:35)
Ness adds a note to ponder:
"1.God’s house of worldly correction is to God’s people a school of heavenly instruction. Naomi’s crosses and losses she met with in Moab made her soul to sit loose from that cursed country, and to long for Canaan— that blessed land of promise. God’s rod hath a voice (Micah 6:9),and now Naomi’s ear was open to hear the instruction of it (Job 36:8, 9, 10;Micah 2:10). It is a rich mercy when affliction brings us from worse to better, from Moab to Canaan, further off from sin and nearer to God.
2. Godly souls should lead convincing lives. Such and so amiable was the conversation of godly Naomi in the eyes of those two daughters of Moab that it convinced them both — to love her and her people, and to go along with her out of their own native country unto her land. Plato saith, "If moral virtue could be beheld with mortal eyes, it would attract all hearts to be enamoured with it." How much more, then, would theological virtue or supernatural grace do so?
3. Every heart should hanker heavenward, as Naomi did homeward from Moab to Canaan." (Biblical Illustrator)
Young's Literal: And Naomi saith to her two daughters-in-law, 'Go, turn back, each to the house of her mother; Jehovah doth with you kindness as ye have done with the dead, and with me;
GWT: Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back! Each of you should go back to your mother's home. May the LORD be as kind to you as you were to me and to our loved ones who have died
Septuagint (LXX): kai eipen (3SAAI) Noemin tais numphais autes poreuesthe (2PPMM) de apostraphete (2PAPM) hekaste eis oikon metros autes poiesai (3SAAO) kurios meth' humon eleos kathos epoiesate (2PAAI) meta ton tethnekoton (RAPMPG) kai met' emou
English of Septuagint: And Noemin said to her daughter-in-law, Go now, return each to the house of her mother: the Lord deal mercifully with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
AND NAOMI SAID TO HER TWO DAUGHTER IN LAWS GO, RETURN EACH OF YOU TO HER MOTHER'S HOUSE: (Jos 24:15-28; Lk 14:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33)
- "Go back! Each of you should go back to yomother's home" (GWT)
- "Don't you want to go back home to your own mothers?" (CEV)
By all common sense, this was the wise thing to do. Orpah and Ruth had stronger family ties in Moab than they did with Naomi, so it made sense for them to stay in Moab instead of going to a new land - Israel - with Naomi.
Return (07725)(shub/shuv) essentially means to turn (Josh 19:12), to return (Ge 3:19), to turn back (Ex 14:2), to do again, to change, to withdraw, to bring back, to reestablish, to be returned, to bring back, to take, to restore, to recompense, to answer, to hinder. Shub essentially refers to a reversal or change of direction, an “about face.”
MAY THE LORD DEAL KINDLY WITH YOU AS YOU HAVE DEALT WITH THE DEAD AND WITH ME: (Php 4:18, 4:19 2Ti 1:16, 1:17, 1:18) (Ruth 1:5-note; Ru 2:20-note; Ep 5:22-note; Ep 6:2-note; Eph 6:3-note Col 3:18-note, Col 3:24-note)
- "Jehovah deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me" (ASV)
- "May the Lord show you the same kind of devotion that you have shown to the dead and to me" (NET)
- "may the Lord be good to you as you have been good to the dead and to me:" (BBE)
- "You were kind to my husband and sons, and you have always been kind to me. I pray that the LORD will be just as kind to you" (CEV)
- "May the LORD be as good to you as you have been to me and to those who have died" (TEV)
- "May the LORD be as kind to you as you were to me and to our loved ones who have died" (GWT)
- "You have been very kind to me and to my sons who are now dead. I hope the Lord will also be kind to you in the same way" (ICB)
- "And may the LORD reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me" (NLT)
Naomi's discourse in this verse takes the form of a prayer. Note that despite Naomi's distressed state, prayer was part of her everyday language! This is as it should be for all of God's children who pray "without ceasing" (1Thes 5:17), as part of their daily conversation, praying while sitting, standing, walking; praying silently, out loud, for others, with others, in short keeping the "receiver off the hook" and praying whenever the opportunity presents itself.
In Moab, Naomi prayed to the one true God, the God of Israel, for geography is no barrier to prayer. Prayer when parting with friends is a good practice.
Paul parting with the Ephesian elders for the last time "knelt down and prayed with them all." (Acts 20:36)
Naomi prays specifically that God would deal with the two Moabite widows as they had benevolently dealt with her family --
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." (Mt 5:7-note).
Naomi is saying in essence "Ruth, Orpah. You have shown kindness. May God show you kindness in turn." Paul would add
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man (woman) sows, this he (she) will also reap… in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men (women), and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." (Gal 6:7,6:9 10)
What harvest are you going to reap as a result of your thoughts, words and deeds this week? For example, David choose to show kindness (hesed -see below) to Mephibosheth because of the kindness shown to him by Mephibosheth's dead father, Jonathan, saying
"Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness (hesed) to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly." (2Sa 9:7)
A. Thomson adds that the kindness of the two girls likely reflected the kindness of Naomi, adding that
"We often make for ourselves the beds we are to lie upon, and we may be certain that there would be more Ruths in the world if there were more Naomis. But how blessed when it can thus be said of us, that we have dealt kindly with the dead”! We should make it our habitual and earnest aim so to behave ourselves towards our kindred that, should we be called to stand beside their open graves, this would be the testimony of others and of our own consciences. But we must not forget that there is an important sense in which we may prove our undying love for the dead by our kindness to the living. Those two young widows expressed their affection for their departed husbands by their thoughtful attentions to Naomi. They loved her for her own sake, but they loved her doubly for their sakes. Religion, indeed, warrants us to think of our friends beyond the grave as still living, though absent. David’s nobly generous spirit rejoiced that he could still reach his departed Jonathan in lavishing respect and kindness upon Jonathan’s only surviving son, Mephibosheth. And this sentiment reaches its highest possible point of sublimity, and becomes, as it were, transfigured, when we show kindness to another because he belongs to Christ. In this way we can still reach Him in His members, and anoint His blessed feet with our precious ointment and wash them with our tears. That poor sufferer whom you relieved by your benefactions and soothed by your sympathy was a disguised Christ. Even the cup of cold water given to a disciple in the name of a disciple is to be remembered by Him on another day."
Kindly (02617) is the important Hebrew word "hesed/chesed/heced" which is used over 200 times in the OT and most often translated as "lovingkindness". Hesed is the idea of faithful love in action and often in the OT refers to God's lovingkindness expressed in His covenant relationship with Israel (His "loyal love" to His "Wife" Israel [cp Hos 2:18, 19, 20, Is 54:5, Je 31:32] = His "loyalty to covenant"). God's hesed His denotes persistent and unconditional tenderness, kindness, and mercy, a relationship in which He seeks after man with love and mercy (cp God immediately seeking man Ge 3:9, who was immediately hiding Ge 3:8 trying to cover their shame Ge 3:7 - contrast God's lovingkindness manifest by spilling blood to provide skins to cover their shame! Ge 3:21). Hesed expresses both God’s loyalty to His covenant and His love for His people along with a faithfulness to keep His promises.
Hesed expresses both God’s loyalty to His covenant and His love for His people along with a faithfulness to keep His promises. The basic idea of hesed conveys the performance of acts of kindness, love or mercy to someone.
Alec Motyer has described God's hesed or covenant love as
“combining the warmth of God’s fellowship with the security of God’s faithfulness.”
Huey adds that
"hesed encompasses deeds of mercy performed by a more powerful party for the benefit of the weaker one."
An act of hesed presupposes the existence of a relationship between the parties involved. Where no formal relationship has previously been recognized, the person exercising hesed has chosen to treat the recipient as if such a relationship did exist. Naomi thus expressed the prayerful wish that Jehovah’s lovingkindness would cover her daughters-in-law, who as Moabites were outside of His covenant with Israel.
As the story unfolds we see that the foreigner Ruth displayed this godly loyal love (hesed) to Naomi and Boaz in turn showed the same noble quality toward Ruth.