Ruth 1:12
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;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1:6-14 Naomi began to think of returning, after the death of her two sons. When death comes into a family, it ought to reform what is amiss there. Earth is made bitter to us, that heaven may be made dear. Naomi seems to have been a person of faith and piety. She dismissed her daughters-in-law with prayer. It is very proper for friends, when they part, to part with them thus part in love. Did Naomi do well, to discourage her daughters from going with her, when she might save them from the idolatry of Moab, and bring them to the faith and worship of the God of Israel? Naomi, no doubt, desired to do that; but if they went with her, she would not have them to go upon her account. Those that take upon them a profession of religion only to oblige their friends, or for the sake of company, will be converts of small value. If they did come with her, she would have them make it their deliberate choice, and sit down first and count the cost, as it concerns those to do who make a profession of religion. And more desire rest in the house of a husband, or some wordly settlement or earthly satisfaction, than the rest to which Christ invites our souls; therefore when tried they will depart from Christ, though perhaps with some sorrow.See marginal references and notes. The Levirate law probably existed among the Moabites, and in Israel extended beyond the brother in the strict sense, and applied to the nearest relations, since Boaz was only the kinsman of Elimelech Ruth 3:12. 12, 13. Turn again, my daughters, go your way—That Naomi should dissuade her daughters-in-law so strongly from accompanying her to the land of Israel may appear strange. But it was the wisest and most prudent course for her to adopt: first, because they might be influenced by hopes which could not be realized; second, because they might be led, under temporary excitement, to take a step they might afterwards regret; and, third, because the sincerity and strength of their conversion to the true religion, which she had taught them, would be thoroughly tested. Go your way.

Quest. Why doth she dissuade them from this journey, and not rather persuade them to go with her, and to embrace the Jewish religion?

Answ. 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. Turn again, my daughters, go your way,.... This she repeated still to try their affections to her, and especially whether there was any real love to the God of Israel, his people, and worship, but still proceeds upon the same topic:

for I am too old to have an husband; and can never think of marrying again on account of age, nor can you surely ever think I should, at these years I am now arrived to:

if I should say I have hope; of marrying, and bearing children; suppose that:

if I should have a husband also tonight; be married to a man directly, suppose that:

and should also bear sons; conceive and bear, not female but male children, allow that; all which are mere suppositions, and, could they be admitted, would not furnish out any reason why you should be desirous of going with me.

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;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. I am too old to have an husband] Naomi does not seriously contemplate any application of the custom alluded to: not only has she no surviving sons, but she never can have any.

If I should say etc.] Strictly, ‘that I should have said, I have hope’ (scil. of children). For the grammar cf. Genesis 40:15 (‘that they should have put me’), 1 Samuel 17:26 b.Verse 12. - Turn back, my daughters, go; for I am too old to have a husband. But even if I could say, I have hope; yea, even if I had a husband this very night; yea, even if I had already given birth to sons; (ver. 13) would ye therefore wait till they grew up? would ye therefore shut yourselves up so as not to have husbands? nay, my daughters; for my lot is exceedingly bitter, more than even yours, for the hand of Yahveh has gone out against me. Most pathetic pleading, and not easily reproduced on lines of literal rendering. "Go, for I am too old to have a husband." A euphemistic rendering; but the original is euphemistic too, though under another phraseological phase. "But even if I could say, I have hope." The poverty of the Hebrew verb, in respect of provision to express "moods, ' is conspicuous: "that," i.e. "suppose that I said, I have hope." Mark the climactic representation. Firstly, Naomi makes, for argument's sake, the supposition that she might yet have sons; then, secondly, she carries her supposition much higher, namely, that she might that very night have a husband; and then, thirdly, she carries the supposition a great deal higher still, namely, that even already her sons were brought forth: "Would you therefore wait?" Note the therefore. Ibn Ezra, the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and King James's version assume that לָהֵן means for them. The feminine pronoun, however, as applied to Naomi's sons, is, on that supposition, all but inexplicable. It is much better to assume, with the majority of modern critics, that it is equivalent to לָכֵן, whether we call it a Chaldaism or not. Certainly it was current in Chaldee (see Daniel 2:6, 9). But it may have floated in circles of Semitic society that were never included within Chaldaea proper. Indeed, there were no precise limits bounding off the Chaldee language from the kindred dialects, just as there are no such limits in English or in German, or in any member of a linguistic group. Idioms often overlap. In the two interrogative clauses, "Would ye for that purpose wait till they grew up. Would ye for that purpose seclude, yourselves, so as not to have husbands? there is a parallelism; only, in the second clause, the representation rises. "For my lot is exceedingly bitter, more than even yours;" literally, "for it is bitter to me exceedingly, beyond you." The verb is used impersonally. Naomi means that her case was even more lamentable than theirs, so that she could not encourage them to hang their dependence on her help, or to hope for a retrieval of their circumstances in becoming partakers of her fortunes. The translation of King James's version, "for your sakes," though decidedly supported by the Septuagint, is unnatural. Pagnin and Drusius both give the correct rendering, "more than you." So do Michaelis and Wright, But Bertheau and Gesenius agree with King James s version. The Syriac Peshito, strange to say, gives both translations, "I feel very bitterly for you, and to me it is more bitter than to you." After the loss of her husband and her two sons, Naomi rose up out of the fields of Moab to return into the land of Judah, as she had heard that Jehovah had visited His people, i.e., had turned His favour towards them again to give them bread. From the place where she had lived Naomi went forth, along with her two daughters-in-law. These three went on the way to return to the land of Judah. The expression "to return," if taken strictly, only applies to Naomi, who really returned to Judah, whilst her daughters-in-law simply wished to accompany her thither.
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