Ruth 1:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 1:12, NIV: Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me--even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons--

Ruth 1:12, ESV: Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons,

Ruth 1:12, KJV: 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;

Ruth 1:12, NASB: Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I were even to have a husband tonight and also give birth to sons,

Ruth 1:12, NLT: No, my daughters, return to your parents' homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what?

Ruth 1:12, CSB: Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons,

What does Ruth 1:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This continues Naomi's heartbreaking logic. She has been living in Moab for ten years and is now headed back to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:1–5). Her daughters-in-law have decided to come with her, but it seems the closer she gets to home, the more she realizes that's a bad idea (Ruth 1:6–11).

She loves her daughters-in-law and does not regret that her sons' wives are Moabitesses. But there is no reason to expect a future for them if they stay with her. She will return to Bethlehem, where she is at least a native Israelite. They are from the nation of Moab (Numbers 22:1—25:9; 31:16) and would be much more likely to survive if they return to their parents who can arrange new marriages for them. That is their only reasonable chance to find rest from poverty, hunger, and hardship: the only life which Naomi can offer.

Naomi has already pointed out that she is too old to bear more sons for them to marry. In fact, she is too old to remarry to even try to have sons! Her reasoning uses a technique called a "reduction to absurdity:" taking an assumption to its conclusion and showing how ridiculous it would be. Even if she could have sons, the younger women would need to stay with her until those sons were grown enough to marry (Ruth 1:13). Would they? The expected response is, "Of course not!" Orpah and Ruth need husbands now, while they are young enough to start their own families.

In Naomi's thinking, there is no way the women can find rest and stay together. She expects to be miserable either way; she would rather not Orpah and Ruth be miserable on her account.