Ruth 1:21
I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.The Lord hath testified against me - The phrase is very commonly applied to a man who gives witness concerning (usually against) another in a court of justice Exodus 20:16; 2 Samuel 1:16; Isaiah 3:9. Naomi in the bitterness of her spirit complains that the Lord Himself turned against her, and was bringing her sins up for judgment. 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.

Full; with my husband and sons, and a plentiful estate for our support.

Hath testified against me, i.e. hath borne witness, as it were, in judgment, and given sentence against me, and declared my sin by my punishment.

I went out full,.... Of my husband and children, as the Targum; of children and riches, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi; wherefore some Jewish writers blame her and her husband for going abroad at such a time, and ascribe it to a covetous disposition, and an unwillingness to relieve the poor that came to them in their distress, and therefore got out of the way of them, on account of which they were punished, so Jarchi on Ruth 1:1, see Judges 2:15 but this is said without any just cause or reason that appears:

and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: deprived of her husband, children, and substance; she acknowledges the hand of God in it, and seems not to murmur at it, but to submit to it quietly, and bear it patiently:

why then call ye me Naomi; when there is nothing pleasant and agreeable in me, nor in my circumstances:

seeing the Almighty hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? had bore witness that that was not a name suitable for her; or that she had sinned, and had not done what was well pleasing in his sight, as appeared by his afflicting her; she seemed therefore to be humbled under a sense of sin, and to consider afflictions as coming from the Lord on account of it, and submitted to his sovereign will; the affliction she means was the loss of her husband, children, and substance; see Job 10:17.

I went out full and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. hath testified against me] i. e. hath marked His displeasure by the misfortunes which have overtaken me; for the idiom cf. Numbers 35:30, 1 Samuel 12:3. The Targ. characteristically moralizes: it was on account of Naomi’s sin (in migrating to a heathen country). The LXX. and Vulg., pronouncing the verb differently, render hath humbled me, but against the Hebr. construction. Underlying the words is the conviction, so deeply rooted in the Hebrew mind, that all must go well with the righteous and that misfortune was a sign of Jehovah’s wrath.

Verse 21. - I went forth full, and Yahveh has caused me to return in emptiness. Why should you call me Naomi, and Yahveh has testified against me, and the Almighty has brought evil upon me? She went forth "full," with husband and sons, not to speak of goods. She was under the necessity of returning in emptiness, or with empty hands. The Hebrew word רֵיקָם does not exactly mean empty, as it is rendered in the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and King James's version. It is not an adjective, but an adverb, emptily. This lamentable change of circumstances she attributed to the action of Yahveh. He had, she believed, been testifying against her by means of the trials through which she had passed. She was right in a certain conditional acceptation of her language; but only on condition of that condition. And, let us condition her declarations as we may, she was probably in danger of making the same mistake concerning herself and her trials which was made by Job's comforters in reference to the calamities by which he was overwhelmed. In so far as penal evil is concerned, it may be traced directly or circuitously to the will and government of God. "Shall there be evil - that is, penal evil - in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6). But there are many sufferings that are not penal. The evil that is penal is only one segment of physical evil; and then there is besides, metaphysical evil, or the evil that consists in the inevitable imperfection of finite being. It is noteworthy that the participle of the Hiphilic verb הֵרַע employed by Naomi is always translated in King James s version evil doer, or wicked doer, or evil, or wicked, Naomi, in using such a term, and applying it to Yahveh, was walking on a theological precipice, where it is not needful that we should accompany her. Instead of the literal expression, 'and Yahveh, we may, with our English wealth of conjunctions freely say, 'when Yahveh. There is a charm in the original simplicity. There is likewise a charm in the more complex structure of the free translation. Ruth 1:21So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived, the whole town was in commotion on their account (תּהם, imperf. Niph. of הוּם, as in 1 Samuel 4:5; 1 Kings 1:45). They said, "Is this Naomi?" The subject to תּאמרנה is the inhabitants of the town, but chiefly the female portion of the inhabitants, who were the most excited at Naomi's return. This is the simplest way of explaining the use of the feminine in the verbs תּאמרנה and תּקראנה. In these words there was an expression of amazement, not so much at the fact that Naomi was still alive, and had come back again, as at her returning in so mournful a condition, as a solitary widow, without either husband or sons; for she replied (Ruth 1:20), "Call me not Naomi (i.e., gracious), but Marah" (the bitter one), i.e., one who has experienced bitterness, "for the Almighty has made it very bitter to me. I, I went away full, and Jehovah has made me come back again empty. Why do ye call me Naomi, since Jehovah testifies against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me? "Full," i.e., rich, not in money and property, but in the possession of a husband and two sons; a rich mother, but now deprived of all that makes a mother's heart rich, bereft of both husband and sons. "Testified against me," by word and deed (as in Exodus 20:16; 2 Samuel 1:16). The rendering "He hath humbled me" (lxx, Vulg., Bertheau, etc.) is incorrect, as ענה with בּ and the construct state simply means to trouble one's self with anything (Ecclesiastes 1:13), which is altogether unsuitable here. - With Ruth 1:22 the account of the return of Naomi and her daughter-in-law is brought to a close, and the statement that "they came to Bethlehem in the time of the barley harvest" opens at the same time the way for the further course of the history. השּׁבה is pointed as a third pers. perf. with the article in a relative sense, as in Ruth 2:6 and Ruth 4:3. Here and at Ruth 2:6 it applies to Ruth; but in Ruth 4:3 to Naomi. המּה, the masculine, is used here, as it frequently is, for the feminine הנּה, as being the more common gender. The harvest, as a whole, commenced with the barley harvest (see at Leviticus 23:10-11).
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