|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:19-22 Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem. Afflictions will make great and surprising changes in a little time. May God, by his grace, fit us for all such changes, especially the great change!, Naomi signifies pleasant, or amiable; Mara, bitter, or bitterness. She was now a woman of a sorrowful spirit. She had come home empty, poor, a widow and childless. But there is a fulness for believers of which they never can be emptied; a good part which shall not be taken from those who have it. The cup of affliction is a bitter cup, but she owns that the affliction came from God. It well becomes us to have our hearts humbled under humbling providences. It is not affliction itself, but affliction rightly borne, that does us good.
Verse 20. - And she said to them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. Salutations were respectfully addressed to her as she walked along in quest of some humble abode. And when thus spoken to by the sympathetic townspeople, she was called, of course, by her old sweet name. But as it fell in its own rich music on her ears, its original import flashed vividly upon her mind. Her heart "filled" at the contrast which her circumstances represented, and she said, "Address me not as Naomi, call not to me (לֵי) Naomi: address me as Mara," - that is, bitter, - "for the Almighty has caused bitterness to me exceedingly" (see on ver. 2). The Almighty, or שַׁדַּי, an ancient polytheistic name that had at length - like ךליהִים and אֲדֹנָי ? been reclaimed in all its fullness for the one living and true God. It had become a thorough proper name, and hence it is used without the article. In the Septuagint it is sometimes rendered, as here, ὁ ἱκανός, the Sufficient; in Job, where it frequently occurs, ὁ παντοκράτωρ, the Omnipotent. But it is one of those peculiar nouns that never can be fully reproduced in any Aryan language, Naomi's theology as indicated in the expression, "the Almighty hath caused bitterness to me exceedingly," need not be to its minutest jot endorsed. God was not the only agent with whom she had had to do. Much of the bitterness of her lot may have been attributable to her husband or to herself, and perhaps to forefathers and foremothers. It is not fair to ascribe all the embittering element of things to God. Much rather might the sweetness, which had so often relieved the bitterness, be traced to the band of him who is "the Lord God, merciful and gracious, abundant in goodness."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And she said, call me not Naomi, call me Mara,.... The one signifying "prosperity", according to Josephus (m), and the other "grief"; but he is not always correct in his interpretation of Hebrew words, or to be depended on; by this indeed her different states are well enough expressed, and he rightly observes, that she might more justly be called the one than the other; but the words signify, the one "sweet" and pleasant, and the other "bitter", see Exodus 15:23, and the reason she gives confirms it:
for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me; had wrote bitter things against her, brought bitter afflictions on her, which were very disagreeable to the flesh, as the loss of her husband, her children, and her substance; see Lamentations 3:15.
(m) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 9. sect. 2.
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