What does Ruth 1:17 mean?
ESV: Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you."
NIV: Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me."
NASB: Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me, and worse, if anything but death separates me from you.'
CSB: Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.
NLT: Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!'
KJV: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.
NKJV: Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”
Verse Commentary:
Ruth finishes her vow to Naomi (Ruth 1:15–16). The young Moabite widow will not leave her widowed Israelite mother-in-law (Ruth 1:1–5) no matter what. If Naomi is going to go home to Bethlehem, Ruth will too. If Naomi lives in an inn or a relative's house, or the street, Ruth will too. Ruth formally, passionately disowns her people and her gods and claims Israel as her people and Yahweh as her God.

Even more so, if Naomi dies in Bethlehem, Ruth will not leave her. She will live out her years near Naomi's grave and be buried with her so that, in the understanding of the culture of the time, they can remain family in the afterlife. She swears this in the name of Yahweh. She understands the cost, and she is willing to pay it (Luke 9:57–62; 14:25–33).

The Bible mentions only one other woman who took the initiative to identify with the Israelites and their God: Rahab. Both women are from nations seen as enemies of the Israelites. Yet both are in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). But Rahab was given a promise of protection (Joshua 2:12–14). Ruth must place a deeper trust in her new God—the same God Naomi believes has intentionally sought her out for harm (Ruth 1:13).

The wording of Ruth's oath is common in Scripture (1 Samuel 3:17; 25:22; 2 Samuel 19:13; 1 Kings 2:23). The consequence to be "done" isn't always mentioned. Scholars suggest the oath-speaker would make a physical gesture evoking animal slaughter, inferring that if the oath weren't fulfilled, the consequence was death.
Verse Context:
Ruth 1:15–18 records Ruth's vow to Naomi. Naomi had insisted Ruth return to her parents and start a new family. Ruth explains that Naomi is her family. No matter where Naomi lives or dies, or who she worships, Ruth will be with her. Naomi is suffering under the belief that God intentionally singled her out for tragedy (Ruth 1:13). She doesn't quite realize that God can show up in the heart of a Moabite widow.
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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