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Ruth 1:20-21

Context
1:20 But she replied 1  to them, 2  “Don’t call me ‘Naomi’! 3  Call me ‘Mara’ 4  because the Sovereign One 5  has treated me very harshly. 6  1:21 I left here full, 7  but the Lord has caused me to return empty-handed. 8  Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that 9  the Lord has opposed me, 10  and the Sovereign One 11  has caused me to suffer?” 12 

1 tn Heb “said.” For stylistic reasons the present translation employs “replied” here.

2 tn The third person feminine plural form of the pronominal suffix indicates the women of the village (see v. 19) are the addressees.

3 sn The name Naomi means “pleasant.”

4 sn The name Mara means “bitter.”

5 tn Heb “Shaddai”; traditionally “the Almighty.” The etymology and meaning of this divine name is uncertain. It may be derived from: (1) שָׁדַד (shadad, “to be strong”), cognate to Arabic sdd, meaning “The Strong One” or “Almighty”; (2) שָׁדָה (shadah, “mountain”), cognate to Akkadian shadu, meaning “The Mountain Dweller” or “God of the Mountains”; (3) שָׁדַד (shadad, “to devastate”) and שַׁד (shad, “destroyer”), Akkadian Shedum, meaning “The Destroyer” or “The Malevolent One”; or (4) שֶׁ (she, “who”) plus דִּי (diy, “sufficient”), meaning “The One Who is Sufficient” or “All-Sufficient One” (HALOT 1420-22 s.v. שַׁדַּי, שַׁדָּי). In terms of use, Shaddai (or El Shaddai) is presented as the sovereign king/judge of the world who grants life/blesses and kills/judges. In Genesis he blesses the patriarchs with fertility and promises numerous descendants. Outside Genesis he blesses/protects and also takes away life/happiness. In light of Naomi’s emphasis on God’s sovereign, malevolent deprivation of her family, one can understand her use of this name for God. For discussion of this divine name, see T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 69-72.

6 tn Or “caused me to be very bitter”; NAB “has made it very bitter for me.”

7 sn I left here full. That is, with a husband and two sons.

8 tn Heb “but empty the Lord has brought me back.” The disjunctive clause structure (vav + adverb + verb + subject) highlights the contrast between her former condition and present situation. Cf. TEV “has brought me back without a thing.”

sn Empty-handed. This statement is highly ironic, for ever-loyal Ruth stands by her side even as she speaks these words. These words reflect Naomi’s perspective, not the narrator’s, for Ruth will eventually prove to be the one who reverses Naomi’s plight and “fills” her “emptiness.” Naomi’s perspective will prove to be inaccurate and the women will later correct Naomi’s faulty view of Ruth’s value (see 4:15).

9 tn The disjunctive clause structure (vav [ו] + subject + verb) here introduces either an attendant circumstance (“when the Lord has opposed me”) or an explanation (“seeing that the Lord has opposed me”).

10 tc The LXX reads “humbled me” here, apparently understanding the verb as a Piel (עָנָה, ’anah) from a homonymic root meaning “afflict.” However, עָנָה (“afflict”) never introduces its object with בְּ (bet); when the preposition בְּ is used with this verb, it is always adverbial (“in, with, through”). To defend the LXX reading one would have to eliminate the preposition.

tn Heb “has testified against me” (KJV, ASV both similar); NAB “has pronounced against me.” The idiom עָנַה בִי (’anah viy, “testify against”) is well attested elsewhere in legal settings (see BDB 773 s.v. עָנָה Qal.3.a; HALOT 852 s.v. I ענה qal.2). Naomi uses a legal metaphor and depicts the Lord as testifying against her in court.

11 sn The divine name translated Sovereign One is שַׁדַּי (shadday, “Shaddai”). See further the note on this term in Ruth 1:20.

12 tn Or “brought disaster upon me”; NIV “brought misfortune (calamity NRSV) upon me”; NLT “has sent such tragedy.”



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