Ruth 1:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 1:20, NIV: Don't call me Naomi,' she told them. 'Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.

Ruth 1:20, ESV: She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

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

Ruth 1:20, NASB: But she said to them, 'Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.

Ruth 1:20, NLT: 'Don't call me Naomi,' she responded. 'Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.

Ruth 1:20, CSB: "Don't call me Naomi. Call me Mara," she answered, "for the Almighty has made me very bitter.

What does Ruth 1:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The women of Bethlehem are excited and likely delighted to see Naomi. She has been gone for ten years. In that time, however, Naomi's husband and two sons have died (Ruth 1:1–5). When she left Bethlehem, the famine emptied her stomach; as she returns, the loss of her family has emptied her hands of every blessing God had given her (Ruth 1:21).

In a somewhat melodramatic display, Naomi demands people refer to her with a new name. Nō'omi literally means "pleasant and lovely." Mārā means "bitter" (Genesis 27:34; Proverbs 5:4; Isaiah 38:17). She is still referred to as "Naomi" throughout the story, but she believes God has given her nothing but bitterness, and so that is how she identifies herself.

"The Almighty" is El Shaddai. Naomi does not use "Yahweh," the personal name of God given to the Jews as part of His covenant with them. "Almighty" reflects God's power, sovereignty, and mystery. It is used throughout Scripture, but particularly in the account of Job, who also felt cursed by God despite his innocence and was surrounded by friends who could not help. By referring to God as "The Almighty" instead of "Yahweh," Naomi is looking at her loss through the culture's eyes. God has failed—or so she believes—to keep His covenant with her. He has taken everything, and she is too old to hope for restoration. There is nothing she can do.

Fortunately, through Ruth, Naomi will eventually remember Yahweh who promises to reward the faithful (Leviticus 26:3–13) and champion the widow (Exodus 22:22–24).