Ruth 1:9-13 Commentary

Ruth 1:9 "May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband." Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. (NASB: Lockman)

GWT: May the LORD repay each of you so that you may find security in a home with a husband." When she kissed them goodbye, they began to cry loudly

KJV: The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

NLT: May the LORD bless you with the security of another marriage." Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Young's Literal: Jehovah doth grant to you, and find ye rest each in the house of her husband;' and she kisseth them, and they lift up their voice and weep.

Septuagint (LXX): doe (3SAAO) kurios humin kai heuroite (2PAAO) anapausin hekaste en oiko andros autes kai katephilesen (3SAAI) autas kai eperan ten phonen auton kai eklausan (3PAAI)

English of Septuagint: The Lord grant you that ye may find rest each of you in the house of her husband: and she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept


"May the Lord give each of you security in the home of a new husband!" (NET)

"And may he bless you with another happy marriage" (TLB - Ed note: one wonders how we know the first was "happy"?),

"Yahweh grant that you may each find happiness with a husband!" (NJB)

"The Lord grant that you may find a home and rest, each in the house of her husband!" (Amplified Bible)

"May the LORD grant each of you a husband and a home in which you will find rest" (NAB)

"May the Lord repay each of you so that you may find security in a home with a husband." (GWT)

"And may the LORD make it possible for each of you to marry again and have a home" (TEV)

Again Naomi offers a prayer of blessing or benediction. "Jehovah grant you that ye may find a resting-place, each one in the house of her husband," i.e., that they may both be happily married again. Naomi describes marriage as a place of "rest" which summarizes all the qualities of an ideal marriage in which a godly woman can find strength, security, material well-being and love.

Rest (04496) (menuchah) means resting place (where repose and rest from tiredness, with a focus on the space occupied) or quiet and is used in several ways to denote places where peace, quiet, and trust are present. The Hebrew root signifies not only absence of movement but being settled in a particular place. It often refers to security (as would be provided in marriage). The related Hebrew word manoah is used in Ru 3:1-note (Ge 8:9)

Menuchah invariably conveys the idea of relief, for example David's thirst (He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. Ps. 23:2-note), fatigue (He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the weary," And, "Here is repose," but they would not listen. Isa. 28:12), hostile nations ("Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. 1Ki 8:56), and sorrow ('You said, "Ah, woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning and have found no rest."' Jer. 45:3). In the present context note that the rest is in the sphere of marriage, "in the home of another husband".

TWOT - Basically the root nûah relates to absence of spatial activity and presence of security, as seen, e.g. in the ark which "rested" on Mount Ararat (Ge 8:4), and the locusts "resting" on Egypt (Ex 10:14).

Menuchah - 21x in OT - NAS renders it comforting(1), permanent(1), place(1), place of rest(1), quartermaster*(1), quiet(1), rest(8), resting(1), resting place(7), resting places(1).

Genesis 49:15 "When he saw that a resting place (Lxx = anapausis = ceasing from activity) was good And that the land was pleasant, He bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, And became a slave at forced labor.

Numbers 10:33 Thus they set out from the mount of the LORD three days' journey, with the ark of the covenant of the LORD journeying in front of them for the three days, to seek out a resting place (Lxx = anapausis = ceasing from activity) for them.

Deuteronomy 12:9 for you have not as yet come to the resting place (Lxx - katapausis - related to katapauo) and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 28:65 "Among those nations you shall find no rest (Lxx - anapauo), and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.

Judges 20:43 They surrounded Benjamin, pursued them without rest and trod them down opposite Gibeah toward the east.

Ruth 1:9 "May the LORD grant that you may find rest (Lxx = anapausis), each in the house of her husband." Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

2 Samuel 14:17 "Then your maidservant said, 'Please let the word of my lord the king be comforting, for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and evil. And may the LORD your God be with you.'"

1 Kings 8:56 "Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest (Lxx - katapausis - related to katapauo) to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.

1 Chronicles 22:9 'Behold, a son will be born to you, who shall be a man of rest (Lxx - anapauo); and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days.

1 Chronicles 28:2 Then King David rose to his feet and said, "Listen to me, my brethren and my people; I had intended to build a permanent (Lxx = anapausis) home for the ark of the covenant of the LORD and for the footstool of our God. So I had made preparations to build it.

2 Chronicles 6:41 "Now therefore arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place (Lxx - katapausis - related to katapauo), You and the ark of Your might; let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation and let Your godly ones rejoice in what is good.

Psalm 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet (Lxx = anapausis) waters.

Psalm 95:11 "Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest (Lxx = anapausis)."

Psalm 132:8 Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place (Lxx = anapausis), You and the ark of Your strength.

14 "This is My resting place (Lxx - katapausis - related to katapauo) forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.

Isaiah 11:10 Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place (Lxx = anapausis) will be glorious.

Isaiah 28:12 He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the weary," And, "Here is repose," but they would not listen.

Isaiah 32:18 Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places (Lxx - anapauo);

Isaiah 66:1 Thus says the LORD, "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest (Lxx - katapausis - related to katapauo)?

Jeremiah 45:3 'You said, "Ah, woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning and have found no rest (Lxx = anapausis)."'

Jeremiah 51:59 The message which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the grandson of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. (Now Seraiah was quartermaster.)

Micah 2:10 "Arise and go, For this is no place of rest (Lxx = anapausis) Because of the uncleanness that brings on destruction, A painful destruction.

Zechariah 9:1 The burden of the word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrach, with Damascus as its resting place (Lxx = thusia = sacrifice) (for the eyes of men, especially of all the tribes of Israel, are toward the LORD),

The Septuagint (LXX) translates menuchah with the Greek noun anapausis which conveys the idea of refreshing or of giving rest and permitting one to cease from labour in order to recover and collect strength. Anapausis is the most frequent Greek word used to translate Sabbath rest.

The most famous use of anapausis is by Jesus in his invitation to…

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest (anapauo = related verb). Take (aorist imperative) My yoke upon you, and learn (aorist imperative) from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST (anapausis) FOR YOUR SOULS." (Matthew 11:28-29-note)

The word "rest" in the present context ("in the house of her husband") pictures the godly marriage as if it were a

"port or haven of young people, whose affections while unmarried are continually floating and tossed to and fro like a ship upon the waters, till they come into this happy harbour. There is a natural propensity in most persons towards nuptial communion, as all created beings have a natural tendency to their proper centre, and are restless out of it." (Ness)

God has intended that your marriage be a source of rest. Is yours? Dear reader may the LORD grant that it be so!

The concept of rest also conveys the idea of security found in a godly marriage. See the later discussion of "rest" (where we see related Hebrew word - manowach - Ru 3:1-note) where we find that Naomi becomes part of the answer to her own prayer!

Nelson's Illustrated Manners and Customs notes that…

When a young woman went to live with her husband’s family, she did not give up all rights in her own family. If her husband died and there were no more brothers-in-law for her to marry, she might return to her father’s house. That is exactly what Naomi encouraged her daughters-in-law to do, and Orpah followed her suggestion (Ruth 1:8-18)… The death of a husband always has far-reaching consequences for his family. For people of biblical times this was true as well. After a period of mourning, the widowed wife might follow one of several courses of action. If she was childless, she was, according to the levirate law (note), expected to continue living with her husband’s family (Deut. 25:5, 6, 7, 8,9, 10-Keil and Delitzsch). She was to marry one of her husband’s brothers or a near kinsman. If these men were not available, she was free to marry outside the clan (Ruth 1:9). (Packer, J., Tenney, M. C., & White, W. Nelson's Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Lawson comments on "rest in marriage" --

"If it is to be wished that wives may find rest in the houses of their husbands, it must be the duty of husbands to do what they can to procure them rest, not only by endeavoring to provide for them what is necessary for their subsistence and comfortable accommodation, but by such a kind behaviour as will promote their satisfaction and comfort. Men and women may have affluence without rest, and rest without affluence. But let women also contribute to procure rest for themselves by frugality, by industry, by such behaviour to their husbands as will merit constant returns of kindness."


  • Ge 27:27; 29:11; 45:15; Acts 20:37
  • Ruth 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

The emotion shown is evidence of the real relationship of love between Naomi and her daughters-in-law.

I think Naomi often gets what we would refer to today as a "bad rap" but careful observation shows that she exhibits several traits of a woman of "moral excellence" (2Pe 1:5-note):

First, we see that she held fast her allegiance to the one true and living God in the midst of surrounding gross idolatry (for example Moabite idol worship sometimes included child sacrifice - see Chemosh), even holding fast in the face of her bitterness! She believed in the One God, YHWH (Jehovah) and recognized His sovereignty over all the tragedies she had experienced.

Second, Naomi exercised a godly influence on others who knew her most intimately, those of her own household which is where godliness is most often shown to be the sure thing or a sham (cp 1Ti 3:4, 12, Titus 1:6). The two daughter-in-laws had seen her godly character long enough to know it was genuine.

Third, she denied herself for the good of others. Some (like Warren Wiersbe see his comment below in Ru 1:11) say Naomi's encouragement to the daughter-in-laws to return to their idolatrous gods was an ungodly action. Although that is possible, I think self denial and putting others before oneself is more in view - It would have been an advantage to Naomi to have these two strong, active young women with her to work for her in her old age. But a settlement would be easier for them (being alien Moabites) in their own land than in Judah. So she begged them return, and was willing to go home alone. Read the text for yourself and decide which attitude you think Naomi exhibited. Also remember to keep the entire context of the book in mind as you evaluate Naomi's motives.

Ruth 1:10 And they said to her, "No, but we will surely return with you to your people." (NASB: Lockman)

GWT: They said to her, "We are going back with you to your people" (GWT)

KJV: And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.

Young's Literal: And they say to her, 'Surely with thee we go back to thy people.'

Septuagint (LXX): kai eipan aute meta sou epistrephomen eis ton laon sou kai eipan (3PAAI) aute meta sou epistrephomen (1PPAI) eis ton laon sou

English of Septuagint: And they said to her, We will return with thee to thy people


"No" (kiy) means indeed, surely, truly and is marker of emphasis which strengthens what follows and is thus almost equivalent to a positive assurance. Their declaration reminds one of a time to come in the future when God's hand of blessing is again clearly on the Jews. Zechariah describes this time specifically stating that

in those days ten men from all the nations (gentiles) will grasp the garment of a Jew saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. (Zech 8:23)

Ness commenting on Orpah's promise says that

Purposes and promises that proceed from passion, and not from principle, do soon dwindle away into nothing. Thus did Orpah’s, who said with that son in the parable, “I will, sir'; and he did not go." (Mt 21:28, 29 30) So here, it is certain we will return with thee, was enough uncertain. It is a maxim (a general truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct), second thoughts are better than first, but Orpah’s first were better than her second; her purposes and promises do dwindle away and vanish into smoke.

Cumming adds

The bright morning does not always shine into the perfect day; the sweetest spring-bud of promise does not always ripen into precious fruit. The seed that was cast on stony ground grew rapidly up, but withered in a moment. Orpah’s decision was the decision of impulsive feeling, of filial affection; it was strong suddenly, it grew up in an instant, and in an instant it perished; and she resolved to forsake Ruth and Naomi, and return to her gods, her people, and her country. (Biblical Illustrator)

Are they being too hard on Orpah? Or was Orpah simply obeying the wishes of her mother-in-law? Someone has well said we will all be surprised some day when we see who is and who is not in heaven!

What does this say about Ruth who proved her promise? Ruth sought to go with Naomi because of loyalty to her and her God. She counted the cost of possibly never having a husband. She put other's interest before her own (Php 2:3, 4, 5 -see notes Ph 2:3-4, 5). She had the attitude of Christ!

Return (07725)(shub/shuv) is the 12th most frequent verb in the OT with over 1000 uses and 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 refers to a reversal or change of direction, an “about face.” Shub describes movement back to the point of departure or reversal of direction.

Ruth 1:11 But Naomi said, "Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands ? (NASB: Lockman)

GWT: But Naomi said, "Go back, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Do I have any more sons in my womb who could be your husbands? (GWT)

ICB: But Naomi said, "My daughters, go back to your own homes. Why do you want to go with me? I cannot give birth to more sons to give you new husbands. (ICB: Nelson)

KJV: And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?

NLT: But Naomi replied, "Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? (NLT - Tyndale House)

Young's Literal: And Naomi saith, 'Turn back, my daughters; why do ye go with me? are there yet to me sons in my bowels that they have been to you for husbands?

Septuagint (LXX): kai eipen (3SAAI) Noemin epistraphete (2PAPM) de thugateres mou kai hina ti poreuesthe (2PPMI) met' emou me eti moi huioi en te koilia mou kai esontai (3PFMI) humin eis andras

English of Septuagint: And Noemin said, Return now, my daughters; and why do ye go with me? have I yet sons in my womb to be your husbands


Return (07725)(shub/shuv) is a command from Naomi for a reversal or change of direction, an “about face” calling for movement back to the point of departure (Moab). The Septuagint (Lxx) translates shub with the verb epistrepho in the form of an aorist imperative (a command calling for immediate obedience!)

Warren Wiersbe in my opinion is a bit hard on Naomi (see note Ruth 1:9) commenting that "If it was right for Naomi to go to Bethlehem, where the true and living God was worshiped, then it was right for Orpah and Ruth to accompany her. Naomi should have said to them what Moses said to his father-in-law, “Come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord has spoken good concerning Israel” (Nu 10:29). Instead, Naomi tried to influence the two women to go back to their families and their false gods."


Naomi is alluding to the law of levirate marriage discussed in more detail below (click here).

Expositors Bible Commentary adds that this law "provides for the marriage of a childless widow to a brother-in-law. If the daughters-in-law went with Naomi, as foreigners there would be little or no hope for them of remarriage and homes of their own. Naomi reminded them that she was not pregnant with sons who, as the younger brothers of Mahlon and Kilion, would be obligated to marry their widowed sisters-in-law according to the levirate law. Naomi's rebuke of their offer was not harsh but considerate. Observe her tender address: "my daughters." Her unselfish placing of her daughters-in-law's welfare above her own shows her noble character." (Gaebelein, F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary OT 7 Volume Set: Books: Zondervan Publishing)

Ruth 1:12 "Return, my daughters ! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons (NASB: Lockman)

GWT: Go back, my daughters. Go, because I am too old to get married again. If I said that I still have hope… And if I had a husband tonight… And even if I gave birth to sons (GWT)

KJV: Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons

NET: Go back, my daughters! Go! For I am too old to get married again. Suppose I were to say, ‘I have hope!’ Suppose I got married this very night and had sons (NET Bible)

NLT: No, my daughters, return to your parents' homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? (NLT - Tyndale House)

Young's Literal: Turn back, my daughters, go, for I am too aged to be to a husband; though I had said, There is for me hope, also, I have been to-night to a husband, and also I have borne sons:

Septuagint (LXX): epistraphete (2PAPM) de thugateres mou dioti gegeraka (1SRAI) tou me einai (PAI) andri hoti eipa hoti estin (3SPAI) moi hupostasis tou genethenai (APN) me andri kai techomai (1SFAI) huious

English of Septuagint: Turn now, my daughters, for I am too old to be married: for I said, Suppose I were married, and should bear sons


"Go back, my daughters! Go! For I am too old to get married again." (NET)

Return (07725)(shub/shuv) is a command from Naomi for a reversal or change of direction, an “about face” calling for movement back to the point of departure (Moab). The Septuagint (Lxx) translates shub with the verb epistrepho in the form of an aorist imperative (a command calling for immediate obedience!)

Naomi continues to explain why Ruth and Orpah should depart to their people - she is too old to have a son or sons that they could marry and perpetuate the line of Elimelech. Even if she could find a husband and if she were still able to bear sons (there are a lot of "ifs" in her declaration), the daughters in law would have to wait too long to marry them.


"And even if I could offer any hopes" (NAB)

"Even if I thought there was still hope" (TEV)

"And even if it were possible" (NLT)

"Suppose I were to say, ‘I have hope!" (NET)

Trapp comments that "Without having a husband, she doth not once think of having children, as many wantons and light-skirts do; making themselves whores, and their children bastards, and all for satisfying the rage of present lust, though after they repent with grief and shame."

Hope (8615) (Click study of Blessed Hope) (tiqvah) first translated "cord" referring to the ''cord of this SCARLET THREAD" (Jos 2:18,21) that Rahab was to hang out of her window so that she and her household would be spared death when Jericho fell. The root means to wait or to look for with eager expectation.


"But even if I had another husband tonight and if I had more sons, it wouldn't help!" (ICB)

"I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what?" (NLT)

Ruth 1:13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me." (NASB: Lockman)

BBE: Would you keep yourselves till they were old enough? would you keep from having husbands for them? No, my daughters; but I am very sad for you that the hand of the Lord is against me.

GWT: would you wait until they grew up and stay single just for them? No, my daughters. My bitterness is much worse than yours because the LORD has sent me so much trouble." (GWT)

ICB: Would you wait until the babies were grown into men? Would you live for so many years without husbands? Don't do this thing. My life is much too sad for you to share. This is because the Lord is against me!" (ICB: Nelson)

KJV: Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.

NET: Would you wait until they were grown? Would you remain unmarried all that time? No, my daughters, you must not come with me. For you should not have to experience my intense suffering. After all, the Lord has attacked me (NET Bible)

NJB: would you be prepared to wait for them until they were grown up? Would you refuse to marry for their sake? No, daughters, I am bitterly sorry for your sakes that the hand of Yahweh should have been raised against me

NLT: Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD himself has caused me to suffer." (NLT - Tyndale House)

TEV: would you wait until they had grown up? Would this keep you from marrying someone else? No, my daughters, you know that's impossible. The LORD has turned against me, and I feel very sorry for you."

Young's Lit: for them do ye wait till that they grow up? for them do ye shut yourselves up, not to be to a husband? nay, my daughters, for more bitter to me than to you, for the hand of Jehovah hath gone out against me.'

Septuagint (LXX): me autous prosdechesthe (2PFMI) eos ou adrunthosin (3PAPS) e autois kataschethesesthe (2PFPI) tou me genesthai (AMN) andri me de thugateres mou hoti epikranthe (3SAPI) moi huper humas hoti exelthen (3SAAI) en emoi cheir kuriou

English of Septuagint: would ye wait for them till they should be grown? or would ye refrain from being married for their sakes? Not so, my daughters; for I am grieved for you, that the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me.


"Would you wait until the babies were grown into men?" (ICB)

"would you then wait and deprive yourselves of husbands until those sons grew up?" (NAB)

"Would you keep yourselves till they were old enough?" (BBE)

"it would be weary waiting" (Knox)

Wait (7663) (sabar) signifies to wait or to hope and expresses confidence that a beneficial event will occur.

Sabar - 6x in OT - Ruth 1:13; Esther 9:1; Ps. 104:27; 119:166; 145:15; Isa. 38:18. NAS renders it hope(2), hoped(1), look to (1), wait(2).

Sabar also implies a dependent trust and relationship in the object of the hope. For example, the psalmist expresses that dependent trust writing "I hope for Thy salvation O LORD" (Ps 119:166-note) a phrase which clearly points to and will be fulfilled in the Messiah.

In the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek verb (prosdechomai - see word study) used to translated sabar pictures one having an earnestly expectant attitude of looking forward to something. For example…

looking for [prosdechomai] the blessed Hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:13-note).

Naomi's point is that there is no hope for a male offspring from her womb to fulfill the role of kinsman redeemer for Ruth and Orpah. Naomi's statement would appear to be sufficiently negative to discourage any normal red blooded female of child bearing age.


"Would you keep from having husbands for them? No, my daughters" (BBE)

"Would you live for so many years without husbands? Don't do this thing." (ICB)


  • Dt 2:15; Judges 2:15; 1Sa 5:11; Job 19:21; Ps 32:4; 38:2; 39:9 10
  • Ruth 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

"My life is much too sad for you to share. This is because the Lord is against me!" (ICB)

"I am bitterly sorry for your sakes that the hand of Yahweh should have been raised against me" (NJB)

"but I am very sad for you that the hand of the Lord is against me." (BBE)

"My bitterness is much worse than yours because the LORD has sent me so much trouble" (GWT)

"for I am in much more bitterness than you; for the hand of Jehovah is gone out against me." (Darby)

"for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me." (Geneva)

"Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has caused me to suffer" (NLT)

"The Lord's hand is stretched out against me" (Berkley)

"the Lord has attacked me" (NET)

Naomi explains that her situation is more bitter than that of her daughter in laws for they were young enough to remarry and find security and happiness in Moab. Ultimately Naomi believed that her bitter state was a direct result of chastisement by Jehovah. Naomi knows that the tragic events that had transpired were not by chance but that in control of a sovereign God Who does as He pleases and knows is best.

Harder - Young's Literal is indeed more literal in this case as it translates the two Hebrew words as "more bitter", where the Hebrew word meod speaks of abundance or that which is great. Indeed her losses and subsequent suffering were great.

Harder (04843)(marar) which is related to the name Naomi wants the other Bethlehemites to call her (Ru 1:20-note). Marar is a verb meaning to be bitter, to make bitter, to grieve. Marar has the predominant sense of experiencing and causing bitterness in the sense of anguish and great distress. Marar conveys a sense of harshness, embitterment, offensiveness, affliction. Marar speaks of a physical attack in some contexts (Ge 49:23; Da 8:7; 11:11); of difficult work (Ex 1:14; 23:21); of the effect of calamities in life (Ruth 1:13, 20; 1Sa. 30:6; 2Ki 4:27; Job 27:2; Isa 38:17; Lam 1:4). Marar speaks especially of the bitterness engendered by God’s judgments on His people (Isa. 22:4; 24:9). Zechariah 12:10 describes the reaction of the believing remnant of Jews in the future when Messiah returns and their eyes are opened to see His true identity.

Swanson writes that marar can mean to "suffer anguish, formally, be bitter, i.e., have a feeling or attitude of great suffering and anguish as an extension of the recoiling of tasting bitter food or drink, in some contexts there is an implication of a despising or even hating one’s circumstance or opponent (Ru 1:13; 1Sa 30:6; 2Ki 4:27; Jer 4:18; La 1:4+); (piel) be quite bitter (Ex 1:14; Isa 22:4+); (hif) grieve bitterly (Ru 1:20; Job 27:2; Zec 12:10+) (Swanson, J.. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew Old Testament).

TWOT adds that "It is interesting to note that the Hebrews expressed tragic, unpleasant experiences in terms of the sense of taste, the bitter. Actually, we employ the same figure of speech in our English language; It was a galling experience; his actions were not in very good taste, I thought; your wife is always so tastefully dressed." (Harris, R L, Archer, G L & Waltke, B K Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Moody Press)

Marar - 15x in NAS Usage - bitter(2), bitter weeping(1), bitterly(2), dealt… bitterly(1), embittered(2), enraged(2), had(1), harder*(1), made bitter(1), troubled(1), weep bitterly(1) rebellious (1)

Genesis 49:23 "The archers bitterly attacked him, And shot at him and harassed him;

Exodus 1:14+ and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.

Exodus 23:21 "Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.

Ruth 1:13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder (Lxx = pikraino = to make bitter literally or figuratively = resentful) for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me."

Ruth 1:20 She said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly (Lxx = pikraino = to make bitter literally or figuratively = resentful) with me.

1 Samuel 30:6 Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

2 Kings 4:27 When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came near to push her away; but the man of God said, "Let her alone, for her soul is troubled within her; and the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me."

Job 27:2 "As God lives, who has taken away my right, And the Almighty, who has embittered my soul,

Isaiah 22:4 Therefore I say, "Turn your eyes away from me, Let me weep bitterly, Do not try to comfort me concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people."

Isaiah 24:9 They do not drink wine with song; Strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.

Isaiah 38:17 "Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

Lamentations 1:4 The roads of Zion are in mourning Because no one comes to the appointed feasts. All her gates are desolate; Her priests are groaning, Her virgins are afflicted, And she herself is bitter. Lxx = pikraino)

Daniel 8:7 I saw him come beside the ram, and he was enraged at him; and he struck the ram and shattered his two horns, and the ram had no strength to withstand him. So he hurled him to the ground and trampled on him, and there was none to rescue the ram from his power.

Daniel 11:11 "The king of the South will be enraged and go forth and fight with the king of the North. Then the latter will raise a great multitude, but that multitude will be given into the hand of the former.

Zechariah 12:10 "I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

The NIV picks up this meaning with the rendering

"It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord's hand has gone out against me!".

Marar is always with man as subject, never God. This root plus its various derivatives appear not surprisingly more frequently in Job than in any other OT book [10x]. Marar is used to describe the bitter weeping (2x) in (Zech 12:10) when the Lord pours out on the remnant of Israel a spirit of grace and supplication when He returns!

The hand of the LORD - Naomi's expression "the hand of the LORD" (phrase found 38x in Scripture in NAS -

Ex 9:3; Deut. 2:15; Jos. 4:24; 22:31; Jdg. 2:15; Ru 1:13; 1Sa 5:6, 9; 7:13; 12:15; 2Sa 24:14; 1Ki. 18:46; 2Ki. 3:15; 1Chr. 21:13; Ezra 7:6, 28; Job 12:9; Ps 75:8; 118:15, 16; Pr 21:1; Isa. 19:16; 25:10; 41:20; 62:3; 66:14; Jer. 51:7; Ezek. 1:3; 3:14, 22; 8:1; 33:22; 37:1; 40:1; Lk 1:66; Acts 11:21; 13:11)

The hand of the LORD (note the Net Bible's rather "aggressive" translation "the Lord has attacked me") speaks of Naomi's acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God (see attribute = Sovereign) for this phrase was a common figure of speech describing God's activity in human affairs (see also anthropomorphism). This description indicates that Naomi viewed her tragic experiences as a sovereign act of God’s judgment. Note however that even in her deep despair, she did not blame God or accuse God of doing something wrong. What Naomi cannot see is that the hand of the LORD will soon go out not against her but for her (cp Ezra 7:9,10-note)! You may feel that the hand of the Lord has gone out against you because of your present adverse circumstances. But if you will return to Him (cp Rev 2:4-note, Rev 2:5-note) His hand will go out for you once again! In the last book of the OT we see God's heart toward rebellious Israel, a faithless wife, declaring to her to

Return to me, and I will return to you. (Mal 3:7, cp Jas 4:8, 2Chr 15:2, Dt 4:30, 31)

Dear reader, this is the Father's heart of love and compassion.

Humble (aorist imperative = command to make this your priority now! passive voice = allow this to happen. Be willing to be humbled.) yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (see note 1Peter 5:6).

"for His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning." (Ps 30:5-note)

The hand of the Lord has gone forth against me - There is justification for Naomi's "theology" for during this same time period (the days of the Judges), Israel had forsaken Jehovah for idols and consequently

the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed. (see notes Judges 2:15)

Job in face of his unspeakable loss said "Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has struck me" (Job 19:21) which was not totally accurate for God had given permission for Satan to test him.

What the author has very skillfully and naturally introduced in this section is the subject of levirate marriage which anticipates the introduction of the nearest kinsman, the kinsman redeemer, in later chapters. In Ruth 1 Naomi's narrative makes the outlook for "levirate marriage" look virtually hopeless. Naomi's inability to provide a son who could fulfill the obligation of levirate marriage leaves no doubt that Ruth fully understood the consequences of going with Naomi which makes all the more clear the self-denial and self-sacrifice inherent in her decision described in the following verses.


(See also Keil and Delitzsch on Deut 25:5-10h) Levirate is from the Latin "levir" which means a "husband’s brother" (or "brother in law") and thus "levirate marriage" refers to the Jewish custom which dictated that when a husband died without leaving a surviving son, the dead man's brother (or nearest male relative) was allowed to receive (or purchase [cf Ru 4:5-note]) his deceased brother’s (or relative's) property and manage it for the widow, thereby keeping the family property and possessions intact (cp Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29). If the deceased brother left no male children, then the surviving brother was expected to take the deceased’s widow in order to provide a male heir (something Judah refused until Tamar tricked him - see Ge 38:1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7, 8 , 9, 10). The firstborn male would be considered the heir of the dead brother's estate and was expected to continue the dead brother's name (Dt 25:5, 25:6-notes, Ru 4:10-note). If the brother (or the nearest relative) choose not to marry the widow, she subjected him to gross insult (Dt 25:7, 8, 9, 10). The purpose was the perpetuation of the dead brother's name, because ff an Israelite died and left his widow without a son, there was the danger that his name might perish and his property pass out of the family.

To understand the Book of Ruth, you must understand the law of Levirate Marriage. Ruth’s husband Mahlon was dead and they had no children. The Levirate law says that the dead husband’s brother can marry the woman (his sister-in-law) and then the first born son would bear the name of the dead husband and would also receive that man’s inheritance (Dt. 25:6). The brother could not be forced to marry this widow and could in fact refuse to marry her (Deut. 25:7, 8, 9, 10). Ruth’s dead husband had no other living brothers who could marry her and Naomi was too old to give birth to a son who would be able to marry Ruth. But even though there were no living brothers, a close relative of Elimelech (Naomi's husband) could also perform this function and in this way the name of Ruth’s dead husband Mahlon (Ruth 4:10) would not become extinct. As noted the Levirate Law sets up the scene for this nearest relative in Ruth 2-4. As we learn, the nearest kinsman was not Boaz but a nameless man who refused to redeem Ruth and carry on the family name. The nearest relative's refusal opened the door for Boaz to carry out the function of the Kinsman-Redeemer.

This practice of Levirate Marriage was alluded by the Sadducees in their question aimed at tricking Jesus…

“Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies, having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up an offspring to his brother.’ “Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother… (Mt 22:24, 25)

MacDonald notes that…

If the brother would not agree to do this, then the widow went to the elders of the city and announced this fact. He was called before the elders and given an opportunity to confirm his unwillingness. If he persisted in his refusal, the widow removed one of his sandals and spat in his face. From then on he was known by a name of reproach because of his unwillingness to perpetuate his brother’s house. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

KJV Bible Commentary adds this note regarding Levirate Marriage…

The spiritual and physical heritage was given to Abraham and his seed (Ge 12:1, 2, 3). Therefore, it was necessary to produce children to carry on the promise of God. Hence, the family would preserve its name and spiritual heritage by having a son who would perpetuate the family line. Israel sometimes applied this law to the childless couple, or at other times to the situation of a couple who had only a daughter. This law has its greatest human application in the story of Ruth, the Moabitess. After the death of her Israelite husband, Ruth married another Israelite named Boaz, her deceased husband’s closest kinsman. When he applied this law and raised up a son by Ruth, he perpetuated the line of the Messiah (Ruth 4:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22; cf. Mt 1:1, 2, 3,4, 5)… If a man refused to become the kinsman-redeemer, the widow was to bring him before the town magistrates at the city gate. She was to loose his shoe from off his foot, symbolic of the exchange of property. By tradition, a person walked over his property to assert his ownership. Therefore, exchanging shoes was symbolic of exchanging property. When the man refused to raise up his brother’s kin, she took his shoe, which was symbolic of his losing the inheritance. He was thus deprived of a position which he ought to have had via receiving the inheritance of the deceased brother. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)

Jamieson, F, B writes…

This usage existed before the age of Moses (Ge 38:8). But the Mosaic law rendered the custom obligatory (Mt 22:25) on younger brothers, or the nearest kinsman, to marry the widow (Ru 4:4), by associating the natural desire of perpetuating a brother’s name with the preservation of property in the Hebrew families and tribes. If the younger brother declined to comply with the law, the widow brought her claim before the authorities of the place at a public assembly (the gate of the city); and he having declared his refusal, she was ordered to loose the thong of his shoe—a sign of degradation—following up that act by spitting on the ground—the strongest expression of ignominy and contempt among Eastern people. The shoe was kept by the magistrate as an evidence of the transaction, and the parties separated.

Always For Us - Our Daily Bread - Naomi, her husband, and their two sons left Israel and moved to Moab because of a famine (Ru 1:1, 2-see notes Ru1:1; 1:2). One son married Ruth, the other married Orpah. Eventually Naomi's husband and sons died (Ru 1:3, 5-notes Ru 1:3; 1:5), so she decided to return to Israel. But she felt that her daughters-in-law would be better off staying in Moab (Ru 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 -see notes Ru 1:6; 7;8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 13). She tried to dissuade them from going with her by saying, "No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!" (Ru 1:13-note).

Was Naomi right in her thinking about God? Perhaps the family had displayed a lack of faith by moving to pagan Moab, but God certainly was not against her. He proved this by wonderfully providing for her and Ruth after they returned to Israel. (Read the rest of the book—it's short.)

You may be unemployed, terminally ill, have a disabled child, or care for a loved one with Alzheimer's. God hasn't promised to keep us from such problems. But He has proven that He is always "for us" as Christians by what He did through Jesus (Ro 5:8, 9 -see notes Ro 5:8; 5:9). Nothing, not even death, can separate us from His love (Ro 8:35, 36, 37, 38, 39-see notes Ro 8:35; 36; 37; 38; 39).

The Lord is never "against us," not even when He chastens us (He 12:5,6 -see notes He 12:5; 6). He is always for us! —Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Our God is always there for us—
Receiving every prayer,
Delighting in our words of praise,
Responding with His care. —Sper

The One who died to save you will never be against you.