Widowed (Ruth 1:6-8)

 

Verse 6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food. After the death of her two sons, and having heard of the ceasing of the famine in Israel, she had a desire to go into her own country, where she would have better opportunities of serving the Lord; and having no heart to stay in Moab, an idolatrous country, where she had lost her husband, and her two sons; and therefore prepared for her journey, and set forward, and her two daughters-in-law with her, to accompany her some part of the way; for it does not appear to be their intention, at least at first setting out, to go with her into the land of Canaan; and therefore it is only said, that they arose that she might return, for she had heard in the country of Moab: which was near the land of Israel, the borders of it reaching to the salt sea; the Targum says she heard it by the mouth of an angel, but it is highly probable it was by common fame: that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread; that he had been kind and gracious to the people of Israel, by granting them plenty of provisions; which might be their happy case after Gideon had vanquished the Midianites, who came yearly, and destroyed and carried off the fruits of the earth, which had caused a famine; Judges 6:3. It seems as if the famine had continued ten years, Ruth 1:4 nor need this be thought incredible, since there was a famine in Lydia, which lasted eighteen years.

Verse 7 So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. From this verse, and the preceding, it appears plain, that not only Naomi, but also both her daughters-in-law, set out with the intention of going to Judah. It may be true that Naomi, determined from the start that they must not carry out this intention, looked upon them as only bearing her company for a while before parting; but it seems at least as likely that in the struggle between duty and inclination, she did not finally reach this conclusion until the moment that she attempted to give it effect. What part of Moab she had dwelt in, and now removed from, is not said; it is called the country or field of Moab, she returned from; hence some have thought, that she and her husband, and her sons, did not live in any of the cities of Moab, but in a field; either because the Moabites would not suffer them to dwell in their cities, only allowed them to pitch their tents in their fields; or they chose to dwell there, that they might as much as possible avoid conversation with them, and be preserved from their idolatry, and other corruptions: and her two daughters in law with her; who, out of respect to her, accompanied her some part of the way, as relations and friends usually did: and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah; they went along with her to the border of the land of Judah, in her return; for returning can only be said of her with any propriety, because her two daughters had never been there.

Verse 8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. Accompanying their mother-in-law to the borders of their own land would probably be an act of courtesy. Naomi with no less courtesy presses them to return. The mention of the mother's house, which the separation of the women's house or tent from that of the men facilitates, is natural in her mouth, and has more tenderness in it than father's house would have had; it does not imply the death of their fathers. When they were come, as it is very probable, to the utmost limits of the land of Moab, and to the borders of the land of Israel: go, return each unto her mother's house: the mother's house is mentioned, and not the father's, not because they had no father living; for it is certain Ruth had a father as well as a mother, Ruth 2:11 but because mothers are most affectionate to their daughters, and they most conversant together; and because women in those times had apartments to themselves, and who used to take their daughters to them when become widows; though such was the strong love of those young widows to their mother-in-law, that they chose rather to dwell with her, while she lived in Moab, than with their own mothers: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me; that is, with their husbands, who were dead; that they refused to marry men after their death.

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