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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ruth 1:20

 

 

She said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Call me not Naomi - That is, beautiful or pleasant.

Call me Mara - That is, bitter; one whose life is grievous to her.

The Almighty - שדי Shaddai, He who is self-sufficient, has taken away the props and supports of my life.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ruth-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

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.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ruth-1.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Ruth 1:20

Call me not Naomi, call me Mara.

Naomi

I. Incidents in her life. This world is to all, in some measure, “a vale of tears.” The pilgrimage of the true Christian is not through verdant plains and flowery fields, but through a “waste howling wilderness,” where much toil is exercised, many troubles undergone, many perils encountered, and many severe privations endured. God is a Sovereign in the distribution of sufferings and tribulations. His own people have frequently the greatest share of troubles in this life--that their souls, which are too full of earthly attachments, may be weaned from the world. We should learn hence not to murmur nor charge God foolishly under our trials, for if we compare them with those of many of God’s people who were more gracious in their dispositions and tempers than we are they will appear “light” indeed. We find this bereaved and distressed individual returning towards her native land. She acted wisely, for she was more likely to fare well in her own country--among her relatives and acquaintance, and where the knowledge and fear of God prevailed, than among strangers and idolaters in a foreign land. It would be well if we imitated Naomi in a spiritual point of view. At length we find Naomi in Canaan. When she returned her former acquaintance were greatly astonished at her appearance. Her affluence was gone, her earthly glory had faded away, and her circumstances were mean and narrow. God, however, in mercy, calmed the evening of her day. The troubles of the Christian are not only to end, but to end blessedly--even in bliss and honour!

II. Moral excellences which stood prominently forth in the conduct of naomi under the weight of her tribulations.

1. Her benevolence. Behold it delightfully displayed towards both her daughters-in-law. See how ardently she wished their prosperity, how fervently she prayed for it. Herein she, and all who are under the governance of the same superhuman principle, resemble their Divine Master. He also felt intensely for others--even when He was Himself involved in dangers.

2. Her acknowledgment of God in her troubles. See how piously she develops this feeling (Ruth 1:13; Ruth 1:20-21). Nothing enables a man to behave as he should in the day of adversity, nothing enables him to keep down an envious and impatient spirit, but the viewing his troubles as the allotments of Heaven, the all-wise appointments of his Father and of his God.

3. Her gratitude both to God and man.

The Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

Unfinished providences not to be rashly judged

How unfit are we to judge of an unfinished providence, and how necessary it is, if we would understand aright the reasons of God’s ways, that we should wait and see the web with its many colours woven out! Three short months, during which those dark providences were suddenly to blossom into prosperity and joy, would give to that sorrowful woman another interpretation of her long exile in Moab. And one Gentile proselyte was thereby to be brought to the feet of Israel’s God, who was not only to be the ancestress of Israel’s illustrious line of kings, but of that Divine Seed in whom “all the nations of the earth were to be Blessed.” When the night seems at the darkest we are often nearest the dawn. Begin to tune thy harp, O weeping saint and weary pilgrim! “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” Learn to wait. When the great drama of our earth’s history is ended; when Christ’s glorious redemption-work is seen in all its wondrous issues and ripened fruits; when order has evolved itself out of confusion, and light has come out of the bosom of darkness, and the evil passions of wicked men and the malignant devices of evil spirits have been so overruled as to work out the sovereign will of Heaven; when all the enemies of Christ have been put in subjection under His feet, and death itself has died then shall the words spoken at the creation be repeated at the consummation of the higher work of a lost world’s redemption, and God will again pronounce all to be “very good.” (A. Thomson, D.D.)

Naomi’s error

Naomi began to err when she ceased to believe in the wisdom and benignity of all those dark events, when she looked upon them, not as expressive of paternal discipline, but of Divine indifference and desertion, when they appeared to her distressed soul as the arrows of judgment rather than the strokes of love; like those affrighted disciples on the Galilean lake who failed to recognize Jesus in Him who was walking in such calm majesty on the tossing waves. She was also wrong in this morbid concentration of her thoughts upon her trials, and in not realizing the many blessings and comforts that yet remained to her. Elimelech and her two sons had been taken, but this lovely and devoted Ruth had been raised up. She was now poor, but she had health; and God had brought her back to those altars and courts of the Lord after which “her soul had longed, yea, even fainted.” And then there were blessings which she could not lose, and which were of more value to her than a thousand worlds. Besides, how greatly did she err, as devout persons in a despondent mood are so apt to do, in measuring God’s providence, as it were, by her human line, and imagining that the cloud which had hung over her like a shadow of death could not possibly be turned into the morning; just as we may imagine the people near the pole, with their many months of unbroken night, beginning at length to doubt whether the sun will ever rise again. An eloquent writer on astronomy imagines the different aspect in which our earth would appear to us could we be projected from its surface and permitted to look on it from one of the nearest planets, or from the moon. And how different would the afflictions of God’s people often look could they only be projected a few years into the future, and permitted to regard them even in some of their earliest explanations and consequences. Lift up thy head. O thou bruised reed, thou too desponding woman, for lo, the winter of thine adversity is past! Cease to clothe everything in sackcloth. Take down thy long silent harp from the willows, and tune it anew for notes of loudest praise. Thou hast long exercised the duty of self-denial; it is time for thee now to exhibit the duty of delight. (A. Thomson, D.D.)

No bitterness in God’s dealings

Naomi was not wrong in tracing all her changes in condition to God, but she erred in ascribing any bitterness to God in His treatment of her. The father loves the child as really when he administers the disagreeable medicine which is to recover him from disease as when he is dandling him upon his knees. The only difference is in the manner in which the love is shown, and that is accounted for by the differences in the circumstances of the child. In like manner adversity, how bitter soever it may be, is a manifestation of God’s love to us, designed for our ultimate and highest welfare. Now this may well reconcile us to trial. It will not make the trial less, but it will help us to bear it, just as the wounded man is braced for the amputation of a limb when he is told that it is indispensable if his life is to be preserved. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

The different effects of affliction

How different are summer storms from winter ones! In winter they rush over the earth with their violence; and if any poor remnants of foliage or flowers have lingered behind, these are swept along at one gust. Nothing is left but desolation; and long after the rain has ceased, pools of water and mud bear tokens of what has been. But when the clouds have poured out their torrents in summer, when the winds have spent their fury, and the sun breaks forth again in glory, all things seem to rise with renewed loveliness from their refreshing bath. The flowers, glistening with rainbows, smell sweeter than before; the air, too, which may previously have been oppressive, is become clear, and soft, and fresh. Such, too, is the difference, when the storms of affliction fall on hearts unrenewed by Christian faith, and on those who abide in Christ. In the former they bring out the dreariness and desolation which may before have been unapparent. But in the true Christian soul, “though weeping may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning,” and tribulation itself is turned into the chief of blessings. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Ruth 1:20". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/ruth-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And she said, call me not Naomi, call me Mara,.... The one signifying "prosperity", according to JosephusF13Antiqu. l. 5. c. 9. sect. 2. , 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.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ruth-1.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

Naomi — Which signifies pleasant, and chearful.

Mara — Which signifies bitter or sorrowful.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/ruth-1.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Ruth 1:20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

Ver. 20. And she said unto them.] She put her mouth in the dust, and spake in a low language, suitable to her present condition. God had afflicted her, and she would carry her sails accordingly. Many are humbled, but not humble; low, but not lowly. These have lost the fruit of their afflictions, saith Augustine, and are therefore most miserable. God, saith another, calls no man Benjamin, but those whom their own hearts call Benoni in their humility. He salutes them not "Naomi," beautiful, who do not humbly feel themselves Marah, bitter.

Call me not Naomi, call me Marah.] Non Amaeham sed Amaram. Sic, Da obolum Bellisario. How soon can the Almighty alter our condition, for the better, or for the worse!

Magna repente ruunt, summa cadunt subito.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ruth-1.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Naomi signifies pleasant or cheerful, or amiable.

Mara signifies bitter or sorrowful.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ruth-1.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

And she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty (Shaddai) has dealt very bitterly with me.”

But as Naomi heard her name being spoken it brought home to her the significance of her name, ‘sweetness’ or ‘delight’. And it made her feel very bitter. She called on them not to speak of her as Naomi, but as Mara (bitterness), because Shaddai had dealt very bitterly with her. Note the use of Shaddai rather than YHWH. LXX translates as ‘the Almighty’. It was not the covenant name, but more a title which indicated His world-wide rule as God of the nations (Genesis 17:1 with Genesis 17:4-5, ‘a multitude of nations’; Genesis 28:3, ‘a company of peoples’; Genesis 35:11, a company of peoples). Naomi recognised that it was God in His world-wide sovereignty who had so dealt with her as she had, as it were, ‘dwelt among the nations’. Compare how it was as ‘El Shaddai’ that God had ‘made Himself known to the patriarchs’ (Exodus 6:3), that is, brought out the fullness of what the name signified by means of His activity as Lord over all nations, as he watched over them among the nations in a land that was not theirs, whereas it was not until His deliverance of His people at the Exodus that He had demonstrated the full significance of His Name as YHWH their covenant God and thus ‘made known’ His Name to them by what He accomplished. His making known of Himself essentially as YHWH by means of His activity is a theme of Exodus. See Exodus 5:2; Exodus 6:3; Exodus 6:7; Exodus 7:5; Exodus 7:17; Exodus 8:22; Exodus 10:2; Exodus 14:4; Exodus 14:18; Exodus 16:12; Exodus 29:46; Exodus 31:13; compare Exodus 9:14; Exodus 9:29. Note also Deuteronomy 29:6; Joshua 24:31; 1 Samuel 3:7).


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Bibliography
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/ruth-1.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20. Call me not Naomi, call me Mara — Naomi means pleasant, or, more exactly, my pleasantness; Mara signifies bitter or sorrowful. The mysterious and severe dispensations of the Almighty had turned all her former pleasures into bitterness and woe.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/ruth-1.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

That is. The explanations are added by St. Jerome. (Haydock) --- Noemi had formerly a husband and two sons, with great riches, of which she was now deprived. (Worthington)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/ruth-1.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

them. Feminine. And the verb "call" is feminine, also, so that Naomi was addressing the women. the ALMIGHTY = Shaddai. See App-4.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/ruth-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

Mara - bitter, bitterness (see the note at Exodus 15:23).


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/ruth-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(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.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/ruth-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
Naomi
that is, Pleasant. Mara. that is, Bitter. the Almighty.
Genesis 17:1; 43:14; Job 5:17; 11:7; Revelation 1:8; 21:22
dealt
Job 6:4; 19:6; Psalms 73:14; 88:15; Isaiah 38:13; Lamentations 3:1-20; Hebrews 12:11

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ruth 1:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/ruth-1.html.

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