Ruth 4:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 4:16, NIV: Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him.

Ruth 4:16, ESV: Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.

Ruth 4:16, KJV: And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.

Ruth 4:16, NASB: Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse.

Ruth 4:16, NLT: Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.

Ruth 4:16, CSB: Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and became a mother to him.

What does Ruth 4:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Naomi left Bethlehem with a husband and two sons. She returned with a Moabite daughter-in-law. She told her old friends, "I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?" (Ruth 1:21).

That grief will stay with her forever. No one can suffer that much loss and simply get over it. What she no longer must carry is the shame of not providing a male heir for her husband and the fear that no one will care for her as she grows old. She can also let go of the belief that the God of Israel has abandoned her. It was Yahweh who lifted the famine in Israel and drew Ruth to follow her to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:6, 16–17). And Yahweh allowed Ruth to get pregnant with a son on Naomi's behalf (Ruth 4:13).

"Nurse" in Hebrew is 'aman and can also mean foster-parent. The same term describes Mordecai with respect to Esther (Esther 2:7). This has led scholars to suggest Naomi kept Obed at her home and raised him, herself, while Ruth lived with Boaz. That's possible, but the text doesn't say so directly.