What does Ruth 1:11 mean?
ESV: But Naomi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands?
NIV: But Naomi said, "Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?
NASB: But Naomi said, 'Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
CSB: But Naomi replied, "Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons who could become your husbands?
NLT: But Naomi replied, 'Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands?
KJV: And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
NKJV: But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
Verse Commentary:
Naomi is heartbroken. Her husband and sons have died. Now she feels convicted to send away her two loving daughters-in-law. They are from Moab. Naomi is headed home to Bethlehem in Israel. There is little left for Naomi in Israel, but even less for Orpah and Ruth. Naomi understands that the only chance the women have for rest—from hunger, danger, loneliness, and destitution—is for them to remarry. Because of the sordid history of Moabite women and Israelite men (Numbers 25:1–9), their best chance is to return to their families and find Moabite husbands.

Orpah and Ruth refuse. They love Naomi and want to stay with her. She fights them with logic. The only way, she thinks, they can have rest but stay in Naomi's life is if Naomi has more sons for them to marry. Sadly, Naomi has passed the age of childbearing. In that era, the likelihood that anyone would want to marry a woman too old for childbearing is very slim. If Orpah and Ruth stay with Naomi, they will not have rest; if they remarry, they will not be family.

Naomi is not thinking of a Levirate marriage, here (Deuteronomy 25:5–6). A Levirate marriage occurs when a man marries but dies before having an heir. The man's brother is to marry the widow and give her a son who will inherit the first man's property and position in the clan. Naomi's husband, Elimelech, has property in Bethlehem, but it's evident he has no brother—and since Naomi is no longer fertile, she wouldn't marry, anyway. The only recorded time in Israel that a man's property went to female heirs was with the daughters of Zelophehad who were allowed to keep the inheritance if they married within their tribe (Numbers 27:1–11). In that instance, however, Moses did say that if ever a man died without sons, then the inheritance should go to his daughters (Numbers 27:9), and he made contingencies for a man who died without children (Numbers 27:10–11). But Orpah and Ruth are not Elimelech's daughters. The best Naomi can hope for is to find a kinsman of Elimelech who will buy his land so she can have money to live on.

The situation is tragic, no matter what happens. Families separated by marrying into different regions had no reason to expect they'd ever meet again. Orpah eventually leaves, but Ruth stays (Ruth 1:14). Levirate marriages pre-date the Mosaic law (Genesis 38), and Ruth may have already known of them. When Naomi points out Elimelech's kinsman, and notes that if Ruth married him, he would take diligent care of her, Ruth challenges him to a Levirate marriage, as well. Fortunately, that man is Boaz, and he is more than willing (Ruth 3:11–13).
Verse Context:
Ruth 1:6–14 records Naomi receiving good news: the famine in Bethlehem is over. She and her family fled to Moab ten years prior. Now, her husband and sons are gone, but she has two loving daughters-in-law. At first, they accompany her. Yet Naomi becomes convinced their arrangement cannot work. Orpah and Ruth can live with her in poverty, or they can find rest in a new family. After a persuasive argument, Orpah tearfully agrees to leave, but Ruth stays. Naomi is bitter now, but Ruth will prove to be everything the mourning widow needs.
Chapter Summary:
Ruth 1 depicts how a person can feel "starved" for things other than food. Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, flee a famine in Bethlehem and settle in Moab where there is plenty of food and their sons find devoted wives. Within ten years, however, Naomi's husband and sons are dead. When she hears Judah has food again, she prepares to return as an old, bitter widow. One daughter-in-law, Ruth, insists on accompanying her. On the surface, a young Moabite widow in Israel would be the last person who could help, but God honors Ruth's lovingkindness and eventually uses her to restore Naomi's hope and future.
Chapter Context:
Ruth chapter 1 introduces the tumultuous life of a Jewish woman in the era of the judges (Judges 2:16–19). The Israelites have entered the Promised Land but have only half-heartedly pursued God's command to drive out the depraved Canaanites. Too often, they rejected God for foreign idols. God responds with war and famine. In the face of one such famine in Judah, Elimelech and Naomi take their two sons and flee to Moab. After ten years, when the famine is lifted, Naomi returns to Bethlehem with all that is left of her family: one daughter-in-law. They encounter Boaz, whose character is explained more in chapter 2.
Book Summary:
Though set in a time of violence and tragedy, the book of Ruth tells one of Scripture’s most uplifting stories. Naomi, an Israelite, leaves her home during a famine. While away, in Moab, her husband and sons die. Naomi convinces one of her Moabite daughters-in-law to leave her and seek a new life. The other, Ruth, refuses, declaring her love and loyalty to Naomi. When the pair return to Israel, they encounter Boaz. This man is both kind and moral; his treatment of Ruth secures Naomi’s future and becomes part of king David’s ancestry.
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