What does Ruth 1:14 mean?
ESV: Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
NIV: At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
NASB: And they raised their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
CSB: Again they wept loudly, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
NLT: And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi.
KJV: And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth cleaved unto her.
NKJV: Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
Verse Commentary:
Naomi's argument hits home. She sees no way her daughters-in-law can stay with her and yet be free from hunger and poverty. Ten years before, Naomi and her husband and sons fled the famine in Bethlehem—she knows what it feels like to be in need, and she doesn't want that for Orpah and Ruth (Ruth 1:1–5). The first time the women wept was when Naomi seemed to formally dissociate herself from Orpah and Ruth, leaving them to the hand of God (Ruth 1:8–9). She did this out of love, freeing them from any responsibility to her.

Since then, Naomi has presented a logical argument as to why the younger women should return to their birth families. They cannot remain her daughters-in-law. She is too old to conceive more sons, and even if by some miracle she did, it would be absurd for the women to wait fifteen or so years until the boys are—barely—old enough to marry (Ruth 1:8–13).

Orpah is convinced. She loves Naomi and doesn't want to leave, but she agrees there is nothing a Moabite widow can do for an Israelite widow living in Israel. She returns Naomi's kiss and returns home. In this era of history, such goodbyes were assumed to be permanent; neither would have expected to see the other again.

For some reason, Ruth is more resolved. "Clung" is translated from the same root word as "hold fast" in Genesis 2:24—the attitude a husband should have toward his new wife as he leaves his parents. The term serves as a preview for Ruth's vow.

As Orpah fades into the distance, Ruth explains to Naomi exactly what she intends. Ruth is exchanging her country, her home, her family, and her gods. If Naomi lives in the streets of Bethlehem, begging from the women who were once her peers, that's where Ruth is going to be, as well. As Ruth sees it, there is nothing to discuss: she is staying with Naomi (Ruth 1:16–18).
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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