Ruth 1:3-21

3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons.
4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years,
5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem

6 When Naomi heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.
7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.
9 May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud
10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?
12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons—
13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’s hand has turned against me!”
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
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,[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.”

Images for Ruth 1:3-21

Ruth 1:3-21 Meaning and Commentary


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.


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.

Cross References 37

  • 1. 1 Kings 11:1; 2 Chronicles 24:26; Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 13:23
  • 2. ver 14; Ruth 4:13; Matthew 1:5
  • 3. S ver 2
  • 4. ver 8; Ruth 2:11
  • 5. S Genesis 36:35
  • 6. S Genesis 50:24; Exodus 4:31; Jeremiah 29:10; Zephaniah 2:7
  • 7. Psalms 132:15; Matthew 6:11
  • 8. S Genesis 11:31; S Genesis 38:16
  • 9. Genesis 38:11
  • 10. S Genesis 19:19; Ruth 2:20; 2 Timothy 1:16
  • 11. S ver 5
  • 12. Ruth 3:1
  • 13. S Genesis 27:27; S Genesis 29:11
  • 14. S Genesis 27:38; S Numbers 25:6
  • 15. Genesis 38:11; Deuteronomy 25:5
  • 16. Genesis 38:11
  • 17. ver 20; Exodus 1:14; Exodus 15:23; 1 Samuel 30:6
  • 18. S Judges 2:15; S Job 4:5; Job 19:21; Psalms 32:4
  • 19. ver 9
  • 20. Ruth 2:11; Ruth 3:1; Micah 7:6
  • 21. S Genesis 31:28
  • 22. S Deuteronomy 10:20; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 18:24
  • 23. Deuteronomy 25:7
  • 24. S Joshua 24:14; Judges 11:24
  • 25. 2 Kings 2:2
  • 26. Genesis 24:58
  • 27. Psalms 45:10
  • 28. S Joshua 24:15; Ruth 2:11,12
  • 29. 1 Samuel 3:17; 1 Samuel 14:44; 1 Samuel 20:13; 1 Samuel 25:22; 2 Samuel 3:9,35; 2 Samuel 19:13; 1 Kings 2:23; 1 Kings 19:2; 1 Kings 20:10; 2 Kings 6:31
  • 30. 2 Samuel 15:21
  • 31. Acts 21:14
  • 32. S Judges 17:7
  • 33. Matthew 21:10
  • 34. S Genesis 15:1; S Genesis 17:1; Psalms 91:1; Exodus 6:3
  • 35. S ver 13; Job 6:4
  • 36. Job 1:21
  • 37. 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"
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