Ruth 1:20-21

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[a] ” she told them. “Call me Mara,[b] because the Almighty[c] has made my life very bitter.
21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted[d] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

Ruth 1:20-21 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF RUTH

This book is called Ruth, not because she was the author of it, but because she is the principal subject of it. In the Syriac and Arabic versions, it is called the Book of Ruth the Moabitess, which describes her by the country of which she was. Her name, according to Hillerus {l}, signifies beautiful, of a good aspect, the same with Calliope in Greek. As to the author of this book, some attribute it to Eli the priest, who seems to have been too soon to give an account of the birth of David; others to Gad or Nathan; some to Hezekiah, and others to Ezra; but what the Talmudists assert, which is most generally received, and most probable, is, that it was written by Samuel; so they say Samuel {m} wrote his own book, Judges, and Ruth; and it is commonly said that this book is an appendix to that of the Judges, and the introduction to Samuel, and is fitly placed between them both. According to Eusebius {n}, with the Hebrews, Judges and Ruth make one book they call Shophetim, or Judges; the principal design of it is to give the genealogy of David, whom Samuel had anointed to be king of Israel, and from whom the Messiah was to come, and who therefore may be said to be the aim and scope of it, as he is of all Scripture; and whereby it appears that he sprung both from Jews and Gentiles, and is the Saviour of both, and there is a good foundation for both to hope in him; and the call and conversion of Ruth the Moabitess may be considered as a shadow, emblem, and pledge of the conversion of the Gentiles. Manythings besides may be learnt from this little book, as the different circumstances of good people in this life, and the particular providence of God respecting them. It furnishes out examples of bearing afflictions patiently, of industry, courteousness, kindness to strangers, and young converts; and none can doubt of the divine authority of this book, that considers the use made of it in the genealogies of Christ by the Evangelists Matthew and Luke.

{l} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 211. {m} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 13. 2. {n} Eccl. Hist. 1. 6. c. 25.

\\INTRODUCTION TO RUTH 1\\

This chapter treats of a family that removed from the land of Canaan to the land of Moab on account of a famine, where the father of it and his two sons died, and each of them left a widow, Ru 1:1-5 the mother-in-law proposed to return to her own country, and set forward with her two daughters-in-law, whom, when they had gone a little way with her, she entreated to go back, and expostulated with them about it, Ru 1:6-13, upon which one of them did, but the other, Ruth, the subject of this book, resolved to go the journey with her, Ru 1:14-18 and they both came to Bethlehem, the former residence of her mother-in-law Naomi, who was greatly taken notice of by her old friends and acquaintance, to whom she related her present circumstances, Ru 1:19-22.

Ruth 1:20-21 In-Context

18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
20 “Don’t call me Naomi, ” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.
21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

Cross References 4

  • 1. S Genesis 15:1; S Genesis 17:1; Psalms 91:1; Exodus 6:3
  • 2. S ver 13; Job 6:4
  • 3. Job 1:21
  • 4. Job 30:11; Psalms 88:7; Isaiah 53:4

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. "Naomi" means "pleasant."
  • [b]. "Mara" means "bitter."
  • [c]. Hebrew "Shaddai" ; also in verse 21
  • [d]. Or "has testified against"