Ruth 1:8-11 – Naomi’s First Words


Ruth 1:8-11


Naomi urges her two daughters-in-law to return to their families.


Naomi’s initial speeches illuminate both the family complications, and her own reaction to her shattered life.  First, she compassionately tells her daughters-in-law to go back to the houses of their own mothers as the surest way for them to find husbands and security.  She clearly loves and respects them. She prays that the Lord “deal kindly” with them, that is, grant them ḥesed, divine faithfulness and love. But in her mind, she can do them no good.  She is not their family, cannot be their surrogate mother, or provide for them the husbands they need. So Naomi, which in Hebrew means “pleasantness” declares herself to be Mara, which in Hebrew meansbitter,” claiming the hand of the Lord is against her.

(See Marc Chagall and William Blake, 1785