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." Ruth 1:12Naomi 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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