Ruth 1:20
And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
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(20) Call me not Naomi, call me Mara.—Here we have one of the constant plays on words and names found in the Hebrew Bible. Naomi, we have already said, means pleasant, or, perhaps, strictly, my pleasantness. Mara is bitter, as in Exodus 15:23. The latter word has no connection with Miriam or Mary, which is from a different root.

The Almighty.—Heb., Shaddai. According to one derivation of the word, “He who is All Sufficient,” all sufficing; the God who gives all things in abundance is He who takes back (see Note on Genesis 17:1).

Hath dealt very bitterly.—Heb., hemar, referring to the preceding Mara. The pleasantness and joys of life are at an end for me, my dear ones passed away, bitterness and sadness are now my lot.

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.See the margin. Similar allusions to the meaning of names are seen in Genesis 27:36; Jeremiah 20:3.

The Almighty - שׁדי shadday (see the Genesis 17:1 note). The name "Almighty" is almost unique to the Pentateuch and to the Book of Job. It occurs twice in the Psalms, and four times in the Prophets.

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.

Naomi signifies pleasant or cheerful, or amiable.

Mara signifies bitter or sorrowful.

And she said, call me not Naomi, call me Mara,.... The one signifying "prosperity", according to Josephus (m), and the other "grief"; but he is not always correct in his interpretation of Hebrew words, or to be depended on; by this indeed her different states are well enough expressed, and he rightly observes, that she might more justly be called the one than the other; but the words signify, the one "sweet" and pleasant, and the other "bitter", see Exodus 15:23, and the reason she gives confirms it:

for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me; had wrote bitter things against her, brought bitter afflictions on her, which were very disagreeable to the flesh, as the loss of her husband, her children, and her substance; see Lamentations 3:15.

(m) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 9. sect. 2.

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
20. Mara] The word has the Aramaic, not the Hebr. fem. ending.

the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me] Almost the same words as in Job 27:2. For Almighty the Heb. has Shaddai, perhaps an intentional archaism, see Genesis 49:25. Shaddaialone (not El Shaddai) occurs elsewhere only in poetry, e.g. Numbers 24:4; Numbers 24:16 and in Job; Naomi’s words in Ruth 1:21 fall into poetic rhythm, as the language of emotion usually does in the O. T.

Verse 20. - And she said to them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. Salutations were respectfully addressed to her as she walked along in quest of some humble abode. And when thus spoken to by the sympathetic townspeople, she was called, of course, by her old sweet name. But as it fell in its own rich music on her ears, its original import flashed vividly upon her mind. Her heart "filled" at the contrast which her circumstances represented, and she said, "Address me not as Naomi, call not to me (לֵי) Naomi: address me as Mara," - that is, bitter, - "for the Almighty has caused bitterness to me exceedingly" (see on ver. 2). The Almighty, or שַׁדַּי, an ancient polytheistic name that had at length - like ךליהִים and אֲדֹנָי ? been reclaimed in all its fullness for the one living and true God. It had become a thorough proper name, and hence it is used without the article. In the Septuagint it is sometimes rendered, as here, ὁ ἱκανός, the Sufficient; in Job, where it frequently occurs, ὁ παντοκράτωρ, the Omnipotent. But it is one of those peculiar nouns that never can be fully reproduced in any Aryan language, Naomi's theology as indicated in the expression, "the Almighty hath caused bitterness to me exceedingly," need not be to its minutest jot endorsed. God was not the only agent with whom she had had to do. Much of the bitterness of her lot may have been attributable to her husband or to herself, and perhaps to forefathers and foremothers. It is not fair to ascribe all the embittering element of things to God. Much rather might the sweetness, which had so often relieved the bitterness, be traced to the band of him who is "the Lord God, merciful and gracious, abundant in goodness." Ruth 1:20So 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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