1:2 (Now the man’s name was Elimelech, 1 his wife was Naomi, 2 and his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. 3 They were of the clan of Ephrath 4 from Bethlehem in Judah.) They entered the region of Moab and settled there. 5
1:6 So she decided to return home from the region of Moab, accompanied by her daughters-in-law, 6 because while she was living in Moab 7 she had heard that the Lord had shown concern 8 for his people, reversing the famine by providing abundant crops. 9
2:6 The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab.
1 sn The name “Elimelech” literally means “My God [is] king.” The narrator’s explicit identification of his name seems to cast him in a positive light.
2 tn Heb “and the name of his wife [was] Naomi.” This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.
sn The name Naomi (נָעֳמִי, na’omi) is from the adjective נֹעַם (noam, “pleasant, lovely”) and literally means “my pleasant one” or “my lovely one.” Her name will become the subject of a wordplay in 1:20-21 when she laments that she is no longer “pleasant” but “bitter” because of the loss of her husband and two sons.
3 tn Heb “and the name[s] of his two sons [were] Mahlon and Kilion.”
sn The name Mahlon (מַחְלוֹן, makhlon) is from מָלָה (malah, “to be weak, sick”) and Kilion (כִליוֹן, khilyon) is from כָלָה (khalah, “to be frail”). The rate of infant mortality was so high during the Iron Age that parents typically did not name children until they survived infancy and were weaned. Naomi and Elimelech might have named their two sons Mahlon and Kilion to reflect their weak condition in infancy due to famine – which eventually prompted the move to Moab where food was abundant.
4 tn Heb “[They were] Ephrathites.” Ephrathah is a small village (Ps 132:6) in the vicinity of Bethlehem (Gen 35:16), so close in proximity that it is often identified with the larger town of Bethlehem (Gen 35:19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11; Mic 5:2 [MT 5:1]; HALOT 81 s.v. אֶפְרָתָה); see F. W. Bush, Ruth, Esther (WBC), 64. The designation “Ephrathites” might indicate that they were residents of Ephrathah. However, the adjectival form אֶפְרָתִים (ephratim, “Ephrathites”) used here elsewhere refers to someone from the clan of Ephrath (cf. 1 Chr 4:4) which lived in the region of Bethlehem: “Now David was the son of an Ephrathite from Bethlehem in Judah whose name was Jesse” (1 Sam 17:12; cf. Mic 5:2 [MT 5:1]). So it is more likely that the virtually identical expression here – “Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah” – refers to the clan of Ephrath in Bethlehem (see R. L. Hubbard, Jr., Ruth [NICOT], 91).
5 tn Heb “and were there”; KJV “continued there”; NRSV “remained there”; TEV “were living there.”
6 tn Heb “and she arose, along with her daughters-in-law, and she returned from the region of Moab.”
7 tn Heb “in the region of Moab”; KJV, NRSV “in the country of Moab.” Since this is a repetition of the phrase found earlier in the verse, it has been shortened to “in Moab” in the present translation for stylistic reasons.
8 tn Heb “had visited” or “taken note of.” The basic meaning of פָּקַד (paqad) is “observe, examine, take note of” (T. F. Williams, NIDOTTE 3:658), so it sometimes appears with זָכַר (zakhar, “to remember”; Pss 8:4 [MT 5]; 106:4; Jer 14:10; 15:15; Hos 8:13; 9:9) and רָאָה (ra’ah, “to see”; Exod 4:31; Ps 80:14 [MT 15]; NIDOTTE 3:659). It often emphasizes the cause/effect response to what is seen (NIDOTTE 3:659). When God observes people in need, it is glossed “be concerned about, care for, attend to, help” (Gen 21:1; 50:24, 25; Exod 4:31; Ruth 1:6; 1 Sam 2:21; Jer 15:15; Zeph 2:7; Zech 10:3b; NIDOTTE 3:661). When humans are the subject, it sometimes means “to visit” needy people to bestow a gift (Judg 15:1; 1 Sam 17:18). Because it has such a broad range of meanings, its use here has been translated variously: (1) “had visited” (KJV, ASV, NASV, RSV; so BDB 823-24 s.v. פָּקַד); (2) “had considered” (NRSV) and “had taken note of” (TNK; so HALOT 955-57 s.v. פקד); and (3) “had come to the aid of” (NIV), “had blessed” (TEV), and “had given” (CEV; so NIDOTTE 3:657). When God observed the plight of his people, he demonstrated his concern by benevolently giving them food.
9 tn Heb “by giving to them food.” The translation “reversing the famine and providing abundant crops” attempts to clarify the referent of לֶחֶם (lekhem, “food”) as “crops” and highlights the reversal of the famine that began in v. 1. The infinitive construct לָתֵת לָהֶם לָחֶם (latet lahem lakhem) may denote (1) purpose: “[he visited his people] to give them food” or (2) complementary sense explaining the action of the main verb: “[he visited his people] by giving them food.” The term לֶחֶם (lakhem) here refers to agricultural fertility, the reversal of the famine in v. 1.