Ruth 1:10-13: Naomi's Dismissal of Her Daughters-in-Law, Part 2

Verse 10:[1] And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.



[And they said, With thee we will proceed, וַתֹּאמַ֖רְנָה־לָּ֑הּ כִּי־אִתָּ֥ךְ נָשׁ֖וּב] Verbatim: And they said to her, Because with thee we will return (Montanus). They said to her, With thee we return (Septuagint, Munster), or, we will return (Tigurinus). [They disregard the כִּי in translation. Others make additions to complete the sense:] And they said, We will not go back, but will go, etc. (Arabic). We will not return to our people, but with thee we will return (Jonathan). We will not depart, for with thee we will return (Junius and Tremellius). But this supplement appears too bold, neither is it necessary (Piscator). Others translate it, They said to her, Certainly (indeed [Piscator]) with thee we will return (Pagnine, Piscator, English, Dutch). כִּי sometimes means certainly, by ellipsis; which is to say, It is certain that with thee we will return; for כִּי properly means that (Piscator). Moreover, they say, we will return, instead of, we will go. It is Catachresis,[2] as in verse 7; that is to say, We will accompany thee in thy return: for they were not able to return to a place they had never been (Drusius, Piscator on verse 7). That is to say, Our life with thee, and with thy sons was so agreeable that we are aroused to love thy people (Malvenda out of Junius).


Verse 11:[3] And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, (Gen. 38:11; Deut. 25:5) that they may be your husbands?


[Return ye] Question: Did Naomi sin in urging her daughters-in-law to return? Response: Not at all. For it is probable that Naomi did not neglect her duty for those ten years in which she had lived with them, but had urged them to the true worship of God. Now, with this posited, that they were unwilling to leave their idolatry, it was not fitting to conduct these infidels into Judea (Bonfrerius on verse 6). She does not command, but out of courtesy she want it to be free to them. That is to say, I do not want you desert your ancestral land, or to embrace the Jewish Religion, for my sake; lest perchance ye, being ignorant of the evils that are wont to happen to those embracing the Jewish faith, but being less resolute in it, occasion a scandal to others, ruin for yourselves, and shame to me (Tirinus). What she at other times often done openly, she here commends to them tacitly, that they should convert to the faith and Religion of the Israelites. That is to say, If ye do desire to proceed with me into Israel, ye must live in the faith of the true God: but if ye are unwilling to do that, return to the unbelieving Moabites (Lapide on verse 8).


[My daughters] That is, Daughters-in-law: that is to say, ye are as dear to me as if ye were my daughters (Piscator).


[Do I yet have sons in my womb, that ye might be able to hope for husbands from me? וְהָי֥וּ לָכֶ֖ם לַאֲנָשִֽׁים׃] That to thee might be men? (Drusius, Junius and Tremellius), that is, husbands (Piscator). Hebrew: for men. Thus, I will be for a father;[4] and, her enemies were for a head[5] (Drusius). Now, this reasoning is taken, 1. from the law, Deuteronomy 25:5 (Menochius, Tirinus, Bonfrerius, Piscator, Malvenda). Now, from these words Cajetan and Serarius gather that this law bound uterine brothers no less than full brothers, or those born of the same father: which Ibn Ezra nevertheless denies, and that more correctly, if the speech concern uterine brothers that were not also of the same tribe and family as the deceased brother (Bonfrerius, Lapide). 2. From that law that was before Moses, Genesis 38, in which Tamar raised up seed to the sons of Judah (Lapide, Montanus). And that custom God afterwards confirmed by Law (Bonfrerius). Others otherwise: Not that by that law, Deuteronomy 25, those not yet born were obligated, but that they appeared deserving of this also (Grotius out of the Hebrews).


Are there yet any more sons in my womb? etc.: According to the ancient custom, Genesis 38, and the express law of God, Deuteronomy 25:5, which doubtless she had acquainted them with before, among other branches of the Jewish religion, wherein she did instruct them.


Verse 12:[6] 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 (or, if I were with an husband[7]) also to night, and should also bear sons…



[I am spent through old age, etc., כִּ֥י זָקַ֖נְתִּי מִהְי֣וֹת לְאִ֑ישׁ] Because I have grown from to be (or, from to become [Piscator]) for a husband[8] (Montanus). That is, I am so old that I might not become for a husband, that is, might not be married to a husband (Piscator). Than that I might be for a husband; that is, that I might be able to marry, or to have intercourse with a man (Drusius). It is to be interpreted humanely: that is to say, If I should have sons, such is my goodwill toward you, I would give them to you in matrimony (Drusius’ Of Hebraic Inquiries[9]).


[Even if I were able, etc., כִּ֤י אָמַ֙רְתִּי֙ יֶשׁ־לִ֣י תִקְוָ֔ה[10]] Because I said, There is hope for me (Montanus), namely, hope for offspring (Drusius). Moreover, if I should say, etc. (Pagnine, Vatablus). That is, If I should consider this within myself, that is, what follows (Vatablus).


[If I were able to conceive this night[11]] Hebrew: I should be, or become, for a husband. In a different sense than a little before: that is, I should lie with a man, and conceive. A modest Synecedoche of genus (Piscator). Here, this does not so much signify to marry as to have dealings with a man. Thus Plautus, that night she was with me by order of my host[12] (Drusius).


Go your way, etc. Question: Why doth she dissuade them from this journey, and not rather persuade them to go with her, and to embrace the Jewish religion? Answer 1. Possibly she thought such dissuasion might be the best way to persuade them, as it oft happens; especially in that sex. 2. She would not have them rashly and inconsiderately to embrace the Jewish religion, in hopes of some advantage from it, which she justly thought they would be disappointed of; and withal, exposed to many straits and troubles, and on that occasion revolt from the true religion, which would be far worse than never to have embraced it. And therefore she doth justly, and wisely, and piously in representing to them the truth of the business, and the outward inconveniences which would accompany the change of their place and religion; as also our blessed Lord Christ did, Matthew 8:20.


Verse 13:[13] Would ye tarry (Heb. hope[14]) for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much (Heb. I have much bitterness[15]) for your sakes that (Judg. 2:15; Job 19:21; Ps. 32:4; 38:2; 39:9, 10) the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.


[If ye should wish to await them, etc., הֲלָהֵ֣ן׀ תְּשַׂבֵּ֗רְנָה עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִגְדָּ֔לוּ] Surely ye shall not await them until they be grown, or reach adulthood? (Montanus, Pagnine, Septuagint, similarly the Syriac, Arabic). Will ye wait on account of them? (Drusius). לָהֵן, for them, has the feminine form, put in the place of לָהֶם, for them[16] (Malvenda, Drusius). Often in these pronouns the genders are exchanged; and it appears that this was done here on account of the tenderness of their infantile and puerile age (Bonfrerius). Others: Will ye wait on account of these things? (Junius and Tremellius, Drusius). On account of these matters. The feminine is taken absolutely or neutrally, as in Psalm 27:4, one thing have I desired, etc., which in the Hebrew is אַחַת/one[17] (Piscator).


[Ye will be old before ye marry, הֲלָהֵן֙ תֵּֽעָגֵ֔נָה לְבִלְתִּ֖י הֱי֣וֹת לְאִ֑ישׁ] That word, תֵּעָגֵנָה, is not found elsewhere (Bonfrerius). [Therefore, they render it variously.] Will ye be shut up for them, not to be for a husband?[18] (Montanus). Will ye be delayed (or, would ye put off [Junius and Tremellius, similarly Munster], will ye remain widows [Tigurinus], will ye wait [Drusius]) that ye might not be for a husband? (Pagnine, similarly Castalio, English). The Hebrew verb in common usage is to be hindered, from which is עִגוּן, which signifies an anchor in Hebrew Law, so called because it stops and causes to stand a ship (Drusius). Drusius learnedly observes this; for which reason I would prefer to translate תֵּעָגֵנָה here as would ye be detained, because a ship is detained by its anchor (Piscator). The Septuagint translates it, αὐτοῖς κατασχεθήσεσθε, from them will ye be detained? The Latin translators have not followed the force of this expression. For this expression appears to be proper to Lawyers; for they say, as Budæus[19] proves, κατέχεσθαί τινι, to be bound to something: for a moral obligation is a certain detention. And perhaps this is the proper signification of the Hebrew word; now, you may translate it in this way, Will ye be obligated/bound to them, that ye might be without a husband? For as long as there remained a brother, or near relative, of the deceased, who could marry his wife, if only that hope were not too remote, the wife of the deceased was obligated to wait (Bonfrerius). Others: Will ye for them, or, because of them, burn without a husband? (Malvenda out of Forster and Avenarius[20]). Paul approves of this interpretation in 1 Corinthians 7:9, it is better to marry than to be burned (Forster in Malvenda). These derive the word from עוּג, to cook, to burn. [But this translation is not approved by Mercerus, nor by Bonfrerius.] 1. The Grammar in no way bears this (Mercerus in Malvenda); for from עוּג it would be תֵּעָגֵנָה/teagenah, but תָּעוֹגְנָה/taognah. 2. Nowhere else is עוּג found in the Niphal passive conjugation (Bonfrerius). Others translate it: Will ye because of them sit down sad? (Jonathan). And will ye be forbidden to marry? (Arabic, Syriac).


Would ye stay for them from having husbands? it is unreasonable for me to expect it, or for you to perform it.


[Do not so, my daughters, אַ֣ל בְּנֹתַ֗י] No, my daughters (Montanus), that is, ye shall not do this: for אַל is a particle of prohibition (Piscator). No, that is, be not troublesome to me (Vatablus), or, do not proceed with me (Hebrews in Vatablus).


[For your difficulty presses me more, כִּֽי־מַר־לִ֤י מְאֹד֙ מִכֶּ֔ם] Because there is great bitterness to me because of you (Munster, Drusius). I grieve intensely for your sake (Castalio). It increases my grief for you to be near to me as widows and without children (Drusius). I am quite distressed, that ye would take my departure so hard (Menochius). Others otherwise: Because bitterness belongs to me very much in comparison with you, or, more than you (Montanus, Pagnine, similarly the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius). This separation of us comes upon me with far greater vexation than to you (Piscator out of Junius). My hardship is greater than yours: for ye are bereaved only of your husbands, but I of my husband and sons. מִכֶּם, than you, is spoken by way of contraction, for מִלָּכֶם, than to you: of which contraction one may find other examples. In addition, it is an enallage, for מִכֵּן, than you[21] (Drusius); as in Exodus 1:21;[22] Judges 19:24;[23] 21:22.[24] Moreover, that causal conjunction כִּי/for here serves for a prolepsis, and here coheres with an understood sentence, namely, with this separation announced, Even if it be bitter to you to be separated from me, yet acquiesce thus to be separated: then it follows, For it is more bitter to me than to you, and yet I acquiesce. It is an argument from the lesser, that is, from the less agreeable (Piscator).


[And the hand of the Lord is gone out against me[25]] Truly the hand of Jehovah has been stretch out against me (Junius and Tremellius), that is, Jehovah hath smitten me: Metonymy of the intended effect, and Metaphor. כִּי/for/that is in the place of כִּי אִם, but: that is to say, But I apply patience, because I recognize that it proceeds from Jehovah (Piscator). Not by me has it come to pass that I leave you, but by the Divine will, whereby I have been bereaved of my sons, and ye of your husbands (Junius): hence, if it is grievous to you to be separated from me, it is much more grievous to me, etc. (Drusius). To the other troubles with which God has exercised me these are also added, so that I am compelled to depart from you (Menochius).


For your sakes, etc.; that you are left without the comfort of husbands or children; that I must part with such dear and affectionate daughters; and that my circumstances are such that I cannot invite nor encourage you to go along with me. For her condition was so mean at this time, that Ruth, when she came to her mother's city, was forced to glean for a living, Ruth 2:2.

[1] Hebrew: וַתֹּאמַ֖רְנָה־לָּ֑הּ כִּי־אִתָּ֥ךְ נָשׁ֖וּב לְעַמֵּֽךְ׃


[2] That is, an improper use of a word.


[3] Hebrew: וַתֹּ֤אמֶר נָעֳמִי֙ שֹׁ֣בְנָה בְנֹתַ֔י לָ֥מָּה תֵלַ֖כְנָה עִמִּ֑י הַֽעֽוֹד־לִ֤י בָנִים֙ בְּֽמֵעַ֔י וְהָי֥וּ לָכֶ֖ם לַאֲנָשִֽׁים׃


[4] For example, 2 Samuel 7:14a: “I will be his father, and he shall be my sonאֲנִי֙) אֶהְיֶה־לּ֣וֹ לְאָ֔ב וְה֖וּא יִהְיֶה־לִּ֣י לְבֵ֑ן).…”


[5] Lamentations 1:5: “Her adversaries are the chief (הָי֙וּ צָרֶ֤יהָ לְרֹאשׁ֙), her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.”


[6] Hebrew: שֹׁ֤בְנָה בְנֹתַי֙ לֵ֔כְןָ כִּ֥י זָקַ֖נְתִּי מִהְי֣וֹת לְאִ֑ישׁ כִּ֤י אָמַ֙רְתִּי֙ יֶשׁ־לִ֣י תִקְוָ֔ה גַּ֣ם הָיִ֤יתִי הַלַּ֙יְלָה֙ לְאִ֔ישׁ וְגַ֖ם יָלַ֥דְתִּי בָנִֽים׃


[7] Hebrew: הָיִ֤יתִי—לְאִ֔ישׁ.


[8] A woodenly literalistic rendering.


[9] Quæstionum Ebraicarum.


[10] This Hebrew clause is omitted in the Vulgate.


[11] Hebrew: הָיִ֤יתִי הַלַּ֙יְלָה֙ לְאִ֔ישׁ.


[12] Mercator 1:1:101.


[13] Hebrew: הֲלָהֵ֣ן׀ תְּשַׂבֵּ֗רְנָה עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִגְדָּ֔לוּ הֲלָהֵן֙ תֵּֽעָגֵ֔נָה לְבִלְתִּ֖י הֱי֣וֹת לְאִ֑ישׁ אַ֣ל בְּנֹתַ֗י כִּֽי־מַר־לִ֤י מְאֹד֙ מִכֶּ֔ם כִּֽי־יָצְאָ֥ה בִ֖י יַד־יְהוָֽה׃


[14] Hebrew: תְּשַׂבֵּרְנָה.


[15] Hebrew: מַר־לִ֤י מְאֹד֙.


[16] In the masculine gender.


[17] In the feminine gender.


[18] A woodenly literalistic rendering.


[19] Guillaume Budé (1467-1540) was a French scholar. He wrote philological and historical notes upon the Pandects, which had a great impact upon the study of Roman Law.


[20] Johannes Habermann, Avenarius (1516-1590), was a learned Lutheran pastor and Hebrew scholar, Professor at Jena and Wittenberg. He composed a Hebrew lexicon.


[21] In the feminine gender.


[22] Exodus 1:21: “And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them (לָהֶם, in the masculine gender) houses.”


[23] Judges 19:24: “Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them (אוֹתָם, in the masculine gender) I will bring out now, and humble ye them (אוֹתָם, in the masculine gender), and do with them (לָהֶם, in the masculine gender) what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.”


[24] Judges 21:22: “And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren (אֲבוֹתָם֩ א֙וֹ אֲחֵיהֶ֜ם, pronouns in the masculine gender) come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them (אוֹתָם, in the masculine gender) for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty.”


[25] Hebrew: כִּֽי־יָצְאָ֥ה בִ֖י יַד־יְהוָֽה׃.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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