Ruth 1:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 1:6, NIV: When Naomi heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there.

Ruth 1:6, ESV: Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food.

Ruth 1:6, KJV: Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.

Ruth 1:6, NASB: Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the land of Moab, because she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people by giving them food.

Ruth 1:6, NLT: Then Naomi heard in Moab that the LORD had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland.

Ruth 1:6, CSB: She and her daughters-in-law set out to return from the territory of Moab, because she had heard in Moab that the Lord had paid attention to his people's need by providing them food.

What does Ruth 1:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Naomi has spent ten years trying to survive. First, she fled with her husband and two sons to Moab when their home region of Bethlehem was struck with famine. When her husband died, she tried to keep the family line going by finding wives for her sons. Now, her sons have died without children, and Naomi's scrambling again (Ruth 1:1–5). In that culture and era, widowed, childless women were especially vulnerable; they were effectively without any means of support.

Fortunately, while working the fields of Moab, she hears that the famine in Israel is over. She can go home. It will be humiliating to return to her hometown only to ask for charity, but the despair and bitterness she feels with the loss of her family is even worse.

It's natural that, at first, her daughters-in-law would be expected to go with her. It seems that it isn't until they've begun the journey that Naomi has second thoughts. The implications of returning to Israel are different for the younger women than they are for her. It will be hard enough for an older Israelite widow to return to Israel. Two young Moabite widows will be vulnerable to much more than starvation.

"Return" marks one end of an inclusio with Ruth 1:22. An "inclusio" is a repeated word or phrase identifying the beginning and end of a related section of text. In fact, the word "return" is used eight times between this verse and the end of the chapter. As Ruth 1:6 is the summary introduction of Naomi's return to Bethlehem, Ruth 1:22 is the summary epilogue.

In the book of Ruth, the characters often call on God to bless another (Ruth 1:9; 2:4, 12, 20; 3:10) or accuse God of bringing them hardships (Ruth 1:20), but the narrator rarely mentions Him. Here is one of the few times God is described as working directly in the story. The other is 4:13: "…and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son." God giving the Israelites food led to God giving Ruth a son which led to God giving Israel a king which led to God giving the world a Savior (Matthew 1:5–16).

"Visited" is from the Hebrew word pāqaḏ'. It means "to stop, see, and do something about." The word is also used to describe God's concern over Israelite slavery (Exodus 4:31). The basis of God's visitation to Bethlehem is the fulfillment of His covenant with Moses. He had promised that if Israel disobeyed, He would send famine (Leviticus 26:18–20). Apparently, the Israelites repented of their sins, and God is blessing them again (Leviticus 26:40–42).