Ruth 1:19
So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
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(19) They went.—The journey for two women apparently alone was long and toilsome, and not free from danger. Two rivers, Arnon and Jordan, had to be forded or otherwise crossed; and the distance of actual journeying cannot have been less than fifty miles. Thus, weary and travel-stained, they reach Bethlehem, and neighbours, doubtless never looking to see Naomi again, are all astir with excitement. It would seem that though the news of the end of the famine had reached Naomi in Moab, news of her had not reached Bethlehem.

They said . . .—The Bethlehemite women, that is, for the verb is feminine. Grief and toil had doubtless made her look aged and worn.

Ruth 1:19-21. Is this Naomi? — Is this she that formerly lived in so much plenty and honour? How marvellously is her condition changed! Call me not Naomi — Which signifies pleasant, and cheerful. Call me Mara — Which signifies bitter, or sorrowful. I went out full — With my husband and sons, and a plentiful estate for our support. Testified — That is, hath borne witness, as it were, in judgment, and given sentence against me. Thus she acknowledges that the affliction came from God, and that God was contending with and correcting her; and she is willing to accommodate herself to the afflictive and bitter dispensation; and as a token thereof to have her name changed from Naomi to Mara. “It well becomes us,” says Henry, “to have our hearts humbled under humbling providences. When our condition is brought down, our spirits should be brought down with it. And then our troubles are sanctified to us, when we thus comport with them: for it is not an affliction in itself, but an affliction rightly borne, that doth us good.” 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.And they said - i. e. the women of Bethlehem said. "They" in the Hebrew is feminine. Ru 1:19-22. They Come to Beth-lehem.

19-22. all the city was moved about them—The present condition of Naomi, a forlorn and desolate widow, presented so painful a contrast to the flourishing state of prosperity and domestic bliss in which she had been at her departure.

Is this she that formerly lived in so much plenty and honour? Oh how marvellously is her condition changed, that she is returned in this forlorn and desolate condition! So they two went until they came to Bethlehem,.... Went on their way directly till they came to it, without lingering or staying by the way, at least not unnecessarily, and not for any time; and they kept together, though Ruth was a younger woman, and could have gone faster, yet she kept company with her ancient mother, and was no doubt very much edified and instructed by her pious conversation; and it seems that they were alone, only they two; for as they had no camels nor asses to ride on, but were obliged to travel on foot, so they had no servants to wait upon them, and assist them in their journey, such were their mean circumstances:

and it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem; had entered the city, and were seen by some that formerly had known Naomi, or at least to whom she made herself known:

that all the city was moved about them; the news of their arrival was soon spread throughout the place, and the whole city rang of it; so the Septuagint version, "all the city sounded"; it was all the talk every where, it was in everybody's mouth, that Naomi, who had been so long out of the land, and thought to be dead, and it was not expected she would never return again, was now come; and this drew a great concourse of people in a tumultuous manner, as the word signifies, to see her; and as it may denote a corporeal motion of them, so the inward moving and working of their passions about her; some having pity and compassion on her to see such a change in her person and circumstances; others treating her with scorn and contempt, and upbraiding her for leaving her native place, and not content to share the common affliction of her people, intimating that she was rightly treated for going out of the land at such a time into a strange country; and others were glad to see their old neighbour again, who had always behaved well among them; so the Syriac and Arabic versions, "all the city rejoiced"; many no doubt knew her not, and would be asking questions about her, and others answering them, which is commonly the case of a crowd of people on such an occasion:

and they said, is this Naomi? that is, the women of the place said so, for the word is feminine; and perhaps they were chiefly women that gathered about her, and put this question in a way of admiration; is this Naomi that was so beautiful, and used to look so pleasant and comely, and now so wrinkled and sorrowful, who used to dress so well, and now in so mean an habit! that used to be attended with maidens to wait on her, and now alone! for, as Aben Ezra observes, this shows that Elimelech and Naomi were great personages in Bethlehem formerly, people of rank and figure, or otherwise there would not have been such a concourse of people upon her coming, and such inquiries made and questions put, had she been formerly a poor woman.

So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was {h} moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?

(h) By which it appears that she was of a great family of good reputation.

19. all the city was moved] was in a stir; so 1 Samuel 4:5, 1 Kings 1:45 (‘rang again’). Beth-lehem was a small place; Naomi’s return without her husband and sons could not escape notice; it aroused keen excitement, especially among the women—a graphic touch, true to life.Verse 19. - And they two went - they trudged along, the two of them - until they came to Bethlehem. In the expression "the two of them" the masculine pronoun (הֶם for הֶן) occurs, as in verses 8 and 9. It mirrors in language the actual facts of relationship in life. The masculine is some- times assumptively representative of both itself and the feminine. And sometimes, even apart from the representative element, it is the overlapping and overbearing gender. And it came to pass, as they entered Bethlehem, that the whole city got into commotion concerning them, and they said, Is this Naomi? Naomi, though greatly altered in appearance, besides being travel-worn and weary, was recognized. But who was that pensive and beautiful companion by her side? Where was Elimelech? Where was Machne and Chillon? Why are they not with ir mother? Such would be some of the questions started, and keenly talked about and discussed. Then on both the wayfarers the finger-marks of poverty, involuntary signals of distress, would be unconcealable. Interest, sympathy, gossip would be alive throughout the little town, especially among the female portion of the population, and loud would be their exclamations of surprise. The verb they said is feminine in Hebrew, וַתּלֺאמַרְנָה a nicety which cannot be reproduced in English without obtruding too prominently the sex referred to, as m Michaelis's version - "and all the women said." So the Vulgate. The verb which we have rendered got into commotion is found in 1 Samuel 4:5 - "the earth rail again;" and in 1 Kings 1:45 - "the city rang again." Naomi endeavoured to dissuade them from this resolution, by setting before them the fact, that if they went with her, there would be no hope of their being married again, and enjoying the pleasures of life once more. "Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?" Her meaning is: I am not pregnant with sons, upon whom, as the younger brothers of Mahlon and Chilion, there would rest the obligation of marrying you, according to the Levitate law (Deuteronomy 25:5; Genesis 38:8). And not only have I no such hope as this, but, continues Naomi, in Ruth 1:12, Ruth 1:13, I have no prospect of having a husband and being blessed with children: "for I am too old to have a husband;" year, even if I could think of this altogether improbable thing as taking place, and assume the impossible as possible; "If I should say, I have hope (of having a husband), yea, if I should have a husband to-night, and should even bear sons, would ye then wait till they were grown, would ye then abstain from having husbands?" The כּי (if) before אמרתּי refers to both the perfects which follow. להן is the third pers. plur. neuter suffix הן with the prefix ל, as in Job 30:24, where הן is pointed with seghol, on account of the toned syllable which follows, as here in pause in Ruth 1:9 : lit. in these things, in that case, and hence in the sense of therefore equals לכן, as in Chaldee (e.g., Daniel 2:6, Daniel 2:9,Daniel 2:24, etc.). תּעגנה (vid., Isaiah 60:4, and Ewald, 195, a.), from עגן ἁπ. λεγ. in Hebrew, which signifies in Aramaean to hold back, shut in; hence in the Talmud עגוּנה, a woman who lived retired in her own house without a husband. Naomi supposes three cases in Ruth 1:12, of which each is more improbable, or rather more impossible, than the one before; and even if the impossible circumstance should be possible, that she should bear sons that very night, she could not in that case expect or advise her daughters-in-law to wait till these sons were grown up and could marry them, according to the Levirate law. In this there was involved the strongest persuasion to her daughters-in-law to give up their intention of going with her into the land of Judah, and a most urgent appeal to return to their mothers' houses, where, as young widows without children, they would not be altogether without the prospect of marrying again. One possible case Naomi left without notice, namely, that her daughters-in-law might be able to obtain other husbands in Judah itself. She did not hint at this, in the first place, and perhaps chiefly, from delicacy on account of the Moabitish descent of her daughters-in-law, in which she saw that there would be an obstacle to their being married in the land of Judah; and secondly, because Naomi could not do anything herself to bring about such a connection, and wished to confine herself therefore to the one point of making it clear to her daughters that in her present state it was altogether out of her power to provide connubial and domestic happiness for them in the land of Judah. She therefore merely fixed her mind upon the different possibilities of a Levirate marriage.

(Note: The objections raised by J. B. Carpzov against explaining Ruth 1:12 and Ruth 1:13 as referring to a Levirate marriage, - namely, that this is not to be thought of, because a Levirate marriage was simply binding upon brothers of the deceased by the same father and mother, and upon brothers who were living when he died, and not upon those born afterwards-have been overthrown by Bertheau as being partly without foundation, and partly beside the mark. In the first place, the law relating to the Levirate marriage speaks only of brothers of the deceased, by which, according to the design of this institution, we must certainly think of sons by one father, but not necessarily the sons by the same mother. Secondly, the law does indeed expressly require marriage with the sister-in-law only of a brother who should be in existence when her husband died, but it does not distinctly exclude a brother born afterwards; and this is the more evident from the fact that, according to the account in Genesis 38:11, this duty was binding upon brothers who were not grown up at the time, as soon as they should be old enough to marry. Lastly, Naomi merely says, in Ruth 1:12, that she was not with child by her deceased husband; and when she does take into consideration, in Ruth 1:12 and Ruth 1:13, the possibility of a future pregnancy, she might even then be simply thinking of an alliance with some brother of her deceased husband, and therefore of sons who would legally be regarded as sons of Elimelech. When Carpzov therefore defines the meaning of her words in this manner, "I have indeed no more children to hope for, to whom I could marry you in time, and I have no command over others," the first thought does not exhaust the meaning of the words, and the last is altogether foreign to the text.)

בּנתי אל, "not my daughters," i.e., do not go with me; "for it has gone much more bitterly with me than with you." מרר relates to her mournful lot. מכּם is comparative, "before you;" not "it grieveth me much on your account," for which עליכם would be used, as in 2 Samuel 1:26. Moreover, this thought would not be in harmony with the following clause: "for the hand of the Lord has gone out against me," i.e., the Lord has sorely smitten me, namely by taking away not only my husband, but also my two sons.

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