Ruth 1:1-18

Ruth 1:1-18
Ordinary B49


IIn the daysII when the judgesIII ruled,IV there wasV a famineVI in the land,VII

Notes on verse 1a

I {untranslated} = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
II “days” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
III “judges” = shaphat. Same as “ruled” in v1. See note IV below.
IV “ruled” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.
V “was” = hayah. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note I above.
VI “famine” = raab. From raeb (to be hungry). This is hunger, death, or hunger from famine.
VII “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

and a certain manVIII of BethlehemIX in JudahX

Notes on verse 1b

VIII “certain man” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
IX “Bethlehem” = Beth lechem. From bayit (house, court, family, palace, temple); {probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively)} + lechem (bread, food, loaf; food for people or for animals); {from lacham (to eat, feed on; figuratively, to battle as a kind of consumption/destruction)}. This is Bethlehem, meaning “house of bread.”
X “Judah” = Yehudah. Probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Judah, meaning “praised.”

wentXI to liveXII in the countryXIII of Moab,XIV

Notes on verse 1c

XI “went” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
XII “live” = gur. Properly, this is the act of turning off the road for any reason. So, it means sojourning, becoming a guest. It can mean being fearful since one is outside of home territory. It can also mean dwelling, living, or inhabiting if one has turned off the root to encamp for a longer duration. This word is where the Hebrew “ger” comes from, which is the word translated “stranger” or “resident alien.”
XIII “country” = sadeh. This is literally field, ground, soil, or land. It can be used to mean wild like a wild animal.
XIV “Moab” = Moab. May be from ab (father, ancestor, grandfather; father in a literal or figurative sense). This is Moab or Moabite. Name could mean “from her father” in reference to the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters. The name could also mean, more pleasantly, “seed of a father” or “desirable land.” See

he and his wifeXV and twoXVI sons.XVII 

Notes on verse 1d

XV “wife” = ishshah. Related to “certain man” in v1. From ish (see note VIII above). This is woman, wife, or female.
XVI “two” = shenayim. From sheni (double, again, another, second); from shanah (to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise). This is two, both, second, couple.
XVII “sons” = ben. Related to “Bethlehem” in v1. Perhaps from banah (see note IX above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.

2 The nameXVIII of the man was ElimelechXIX and the name of his wife Naomi,XX

Notes on verse 2a

XVIII “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
XIX “Elimelech” = Elimelek. 6x in OT – all in Ruth. From el (God, a god) + melek (king, royal). This is Elimelech, a name meaning “God is king” or “God of the king.”
XX “Naomi” = Noomi. From no’am (pleasantness, favor, delight, suitableness, grace); from naem (to be pleasant, beautiful, sweet, or agreeable in a literal or figurative sense). This is Naomi or Noomi, whose name means “pleasant” or “my delight” or “sweet.” See

and the names of his two sons were MahlonXXI and Chilion;XXII they were EphrathitesXXIII from Bethlehem in Judah. They wentXXIV into the country of Moab and remainedXXV there. 

Notes on verse 2b

XXI “Mahlon” = Machlon. 4x in OT – all in Ruth. Perhaps from chalah (properly, this is to be worn; hence, being weak, sick, or afflicted; it can also mean to grieve or, positively, to flatter or entreat). This is Mahlon or Machlon, a name meaning “sick” or “sickly” or “man of sickness” or “man of entreaty.” See
XXII “Chilion” = Kilyon. 3x in OT – all in Ruth. From killayon (failing, destruction); from kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is Chilion or Kilyon, a name meaning “coming to an end” or “man of finality” or “wasting away” or “pining” or “consuming.” See
XXIII “Ephrathites” = Ephrathi. 5x in OT. From the same as apher (covering, ashes, bandage); {from the same as epher (ashes or dust – properly something strewn)} OR from ephrath (Ephrath or Ephrathah; a female name and the name of several places, including Bethlehem; may mean “fruitfulness,” “exhausted,” “worthless,” or “fruitful”); {from parah (to bear fruit, grow, be fruitful, increase; bearing fruit in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is Ephraimite or Ephrathite, someone in the lineage of Ephraim. See
XXIV “went” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
XXV “remained” = hayah. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note I above.

3 But Elimelech, the husbandXXVI of Naomi, died,XXVII and she was leftXXVIII with her two sons.  These tookXXIX MoabiteXXX wives;

Notes on verses 3-4a

XXVI “husband” = ish. Same as “certain man” in v1. See note VIII above.
XXVII “died” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.
XXVIII “was left” = shaar. Properly, this is swelling up i.e. being left over, a remnant, remaining, being redundant.
XXIX “took” = nasa. This is to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
XXX “Moabites” = Moabi. Related to “Moab” in v1. 16x in OT. From Moab (see note XIV above). This is Moabite or Moab.

the name of the oneXXXI was OrpahXXXII and the name of the otherXXXIII Ruth.XXXIV

Notes on verse 4b

XXXI “one” = echad. Perhaps from achad (to unify, continue on a path; figuratively, to gather one’s thoughts). This is the number one, first, united. It can also be alone, altogether, a certain, a few.
XXXII “Orpah” = Orpah. 2x in OT – both in Ruth. From the same as oreph (back of the neck – also used for stiff-necked; the back more generally in a literal or figurative sense); from araph (to behead, tilt down, break a neck; figuratively, to destroy). This is Orpah, a name that may mean “mane” or “drip” or “cloud” or “neck” or “submitted.” See
XXXIII “other” = sheni. Related to “two” in v1. See note XVI above.
XXXIV “Ruth” = Ruth. 12x in OT. From raah (to associate with someone, cultivate) OR from reuth (a female neighbor, a mate, friend, another); {from ra’ah (to tend a flock, pasture, or graze; to rule or to associate with someone; figuratively, ruler or teacher)} OR from raah (to see, show, stare, think, view; to see in a literal or figurative sense). This is Ruth, a name meaning “friendship” or “friend” or “associate” or “vision” or “view” or “beauty.” See

When they had livedXXXV there about tenXXXVI years,XXXVII 5 bothXXXVIII Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the womanXXXIX was left without her two sonsXL and her husband.

Notes on verses 4c-5

XXXV “lived” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
XXXVI “ten” = eser. Perhaps from asar (to tithe, render a tenth of). This is ten or -teen. While 7 is symbolically the number of perfection, ten is also symbolically a number of perfection (but to a lesser degree than 7 is).
XXXVII “years” = shanah. From shana (to change, alter). This is a year, age, old. It can also mean yearly.
XXXVIII “both” = shenayim. Same as “two” in v1. See note XVI above.
XXXIX “woman” = ishshah. Same as “wife” in v1. See note XV above.
XL “sons” = yeled. From yalad (to bear, bring forth; can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage). This is something born – so, offspring, youth, fruit. It is the same word used in Isaiah 9:6 “for a child will be born to us.”

Then she startedXLI to returnXLII with her daughters-in-lawXLIII from the country of Moab,

Notes on verse 6a

XLI “started” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
XLII “return” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
XLIII “daughters-in-law” = kallah. Perhaps related to kalal (to complete, perfect). This is bride or daughter-in-law and the term is used before and after marriage.

for she had heardXLIV in the country of Moab that the LordXLV had consideredXLVI his peopleXLVII and givenXLVIII them food.XLIX 

Notes on verse 6b

XLIV “heard” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
XLV “Lord” = YHVH. Related to {untranslated} in v1. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note I above). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
XLVI “considered” = paqad. This is to attend to or visit – can be used for a friendly or violent encounter. So, it can be to oversee, care for, avenge, or charge.
XLVII “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
XLVIII “given” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
XLIX “food” = lechem. Related to “Bethlehem” in v1. See note IX above.

7 So she set outL from the placeLI where she had been living,LII she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their wayLIII to go backLIV to the land of Judah. 

Notes on verse 7

L “set out” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
LI “place” = maqom. Related to “started” in v6. From qum (see note XLI above). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.
LII “living” = hayah. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note I above.
LIII “way” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
LIV “go back” = shub. Same as “return” in v6. See note XLII above.

But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go backLV eachLVI of you to your mother’sLVII house.LVIII

Notes on verse 8a

LV “go back” = halak + shub. Halak is the same as “went” in v1. See note XI above. Shub is the same as “return” in v6. See note XLII above.
LVI “each” = ishshah. Same as “wife” in v1. See note XV above.
LVII “mother’s” = em. This is a mother as binding a family together or a breeding female animal. It could be mother in a literal or figurative sense.
LVIII “house” = bayit. Related to “Bethlehem” and “sons” in v1. Probably from banah (see note IX above). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.

May the LordLIX dealLX kindlyLXI with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 

Notes on verse 8b

LIX “Lord” = YHVH. Related to {untranslated} in v1 & “Lord” in v6. Same meaning as “Lord” in v6 with a different vowel pointing. See note XLV above.
LX “deal” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
LXI “kindly” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.

The LordLXII grantLXIII that you may findLXIV security,LXV eachLXVI of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissedLXVII them, and they wept aloud.LXVIII 

Notes on verse 9

LXII “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v8. See note LIX above.
LXIII “grant” = natan. Same as “given” in v6. See note XLVIII above.
LXIV “find” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
LXV “security” = menuchah. From manoach (resting place, quiet, home); from nuach (to rest, calm, camp, free, place, remain, satisfy, settle, station, or wait; implies settling down in a literal or figurative sense). This is resting place, consolation, ease, quiet. It is the same word in Psalm 23:2, “he leads me beside the still waters.”
LXVI “each” = ishshah. Same as “wife” in v1. See note XV above.
LXVII “kissed” = nashaq. This is to kiss in a literal or figurative sense. It can mean to touch, rule, or equip with weapons.
LXVIII “wept aloud” = nasa + qol + bakah. Literally, “lifted up their voiced and wept.” Nasa is the same as “took” in v4. See note XXIX above. Qol is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on. Bakah is to weep, complain, or lament.

10 They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 

11 But Naomi said, “Turn back,LXIX my daughters,LXX why will you go with me? Do I still have sonsLXXI in my wombLXXII that they may becomeLXXIII your husbands? 

Notes on verses 10-11

LXIX “turn back” = shub. Same as “return” in v6. See note XLII above.
LXX “daughters” = bat. Related to “Bethlehem” and “sons” in v1 & “house” in v8. From ben (see note XVII above). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXI “sons” = ben. Same as “sons” in v1. See note XVII above.
LXXII “womb” = meeh. This is inward parts, belly, heart, womb, intestines, vastness. It can also be figurative for sympathy.
LXXIII “become” = hayah. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note I above.

12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too oldLXXIV to haveLXXV a husband. Even if I thought there was hopeLXXVI for me, even if I should have a husband tonightLXXVII and bearLXXVIII sons,LXXIX 

Notes on verse 12

LXXIV “am too old” = zaqen. From the same as zaqan (beard or chin – the beard represents old age). This is to be old or grow old.
LXXV “have” = hayah. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note I above.
LXXVI “hope” = tiqvah. From qavah (to wait, look, gather together, bind together, collect; figuratively, to expect). This is literally a cord used to attach things. Figuratively, it’s expectation, hope, what you long for.
LXXVII “tonight” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.
LXXVIII “bear” = yalad. Related to “sons” in v5. See note XL above.
LXXIX “sons” = ben. Same as “sons” in v1. See note XVII above.

13 would you then waitLXXX until they were grown?LXXXI Would you then refrainLXXXII fromLXXXIII marrying?LXXXIV

Notes on verse 13a

LXXX “wait” = sabar. 8x in OT. This is to look, inspect, wait. It can imply watching for in a hopeful and patient manner.
LXXXI “were grown” = gadal. This is to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing.
LXXXII “refrain” = agan. 1x in OT. This is to shut in, stay, refrain, keep from marrying.
LXXXIII “from” = bilti. From balah (to grow old, wear out, consume, waste, enjoy, fail, decay). This is nothing, not, lest, or except. From its root, it means “a failure of” – used for negative particles.
LXXXIV “marrying” = hayah + ish. Literally “having husbands.” Hayah is the same as {untranslated} in v1. See note I above. Ish is the same as “certain man” in v1. See note VIII above.

No, my daughters, it has been far moreLXXXV bitterLXXXVI for me than for you, because the handLXXXVII of the LordLXXXVIII has turnedLXXXIX against me.” 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law,XC but Ruth clungXCI to her.

Notes on verses 13b-14

LXXXV “far more” = meod. Perhaps from the same as uwd (firebrand, a poker). This is very, greatly, exceedingly. It can also mean vehemence, force, abundance.
LXXXVI “been…bitter” = marar. 13x in OT. This is to be bitter, embittered, weep, troubled.
LXXXVII “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
LXXXVIII “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v8. See note LIX above.
LXXXIX “turned” = yatsa. Same as “set out” in v7. See note L above.
XC “mother-in-law” = chamoth. 11x in OT. From cham (father-in-law – one’s husband’s father; perhaps from a root meaning to join). This is mother of one’s husband.
XCI “clung” = dabaq. This is to follow closely or abide fast, to cling or be joined together. Figuratively, it can mean to catch something by chasing after it, to overtake, or to stick. A man clings to his wife in Genesis 2:24, Shechem was deeply attracted to Dinah in Genesis 34:3, Ruth clung to Naomi in Ruth 1:14, Solomon clung to his foreign wives and concubines in 1 Kings 11:2. It is also used of a tongue sticking to the mouth, pursuing or overtaking as in battle, and also clinging to God.

15 So she said, “See,XCII your sister-in-lawXCIII has gone backXCIV to her people and to her gods;XCV return afterXCVI your sister-in-law.” 

Notes on verse 15

XCII “see” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
XCIII “sister-in-law” = yebemeth. 5x in OT. From the same as yabam (brother-in-law); from yabam (to do what was expected of a man whose brother dies – to marry her widow). This is brother’s wife or sister-in-law.
XCIV “gone back” = shub. Same as “return” in v6. See note XLII above.
XCV “gods” = elohim. Related to “Elimelech” in v2. See note XIX above.
XCVI “after” = achar. From achar (to remain behind, linger, continue, be behind, or delay; can also imply procrastination). This is after or the last part, following.

16 But Ruth said,

“Do not pressXCVII me to leaveXCVIII you
    or to turn back from followingXCIX you!
Where you go, I will go;
    where you lodge,C I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
    and your God my God.

Notes on verse 16

XCVII “press” = paga. This is to meet or happen, whether unintentionally or of violence. It can also be plead, spare, reach, or intercede.
XCVIII “leave” = azab. To loosen, relinquish, permit, forsake, fail, leave destitute.
XCIX “following” = achar. Same as “after” in v15. See note XCVI above.
C “lodge” = luwn. This is to stay somewhere, usually for the night. It can mean abide, dwell, or endure. By implication, it can mean staying somewhere permanently. Taken in a negative sense, this would mean obstinance, particularly verbal. So, it can also mean murmur, grudge, or complaining.

17 Where you die, I will die—
    there will I be buried.CI
May the LordCII doCIII thus and so to me,
    and moreCIV as well,
if even deathCV partsCVI me from you!”

Notes on verse 17

CI “buried” = qabar. This is to bury or inter. It could also refer to the person who does the burying.
CII “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v8. See note LIX above.
CIII “do” = asah. Same as “deal” in v8. See note LX above.
CIV “more” = yasaph. This is to add, increase, continue, exceed.
CV “death” = mavet. Related to “died” in v3. From mut (see note XXVII above). This can be death, deadliness, the dead, or the place where the dead go. It can be used figuratively for pestilence or ruin.
CVI “parts” = parad. This is to divide, break through, scatter, sever, stretch, to spread oneself, or to be out of joint.

18 When Naomi sawCVII that she was determinedCVIII to go with her, she saidCIX no moreCX to her.

Notes on verse 18

CVII “saw” = raah. Perhaps related to “Ruth” in v4. See note XXXIV above.
CVIII “determined” = amets. This is to be strong, stout, alert, or bold, It can also mean harden, make firm, be courageous or mighty, fortify, or establish. It can refer to physical alertness or mental courage or steadfastness.
CIX “said” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.
CX “no more” = chadal. This is properly to be flabby – it implies, to stop, fall, end, rest, leave alone, forsake, or desist. Figuratively this can be lacking or idle.

Image credit: “Whither Thou Goest: Naomi and Ruth” by Rupert Bunny, 20th century.

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