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2 July 2020 – Ruth 1:8-14

But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 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? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.” Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. – Ruth 1:8–14

John Wilch writes:

Although the pledge of Orpah and Ruth to Naomi, “No, with you we shall return to your people!”, could sacrifice their future in order to serve her, they did not at that point mention accepting her God. That was evidently more than Orpah was prepared to do.

Naomi commended her second argument with a firm but tender address, “my daughters”, which she will use twice more in 1:12-13. This does not imply that she is here recognizing them as her own daughters instead of just daughters-in-law; rather, she addresses them endearingly as an older relative. Naomi’s repetition of questions and statements in 1:11-13 amounts to intensification, stressing repeatedly her inability to provide husbands, which is an important concern in the story. This address is replete with familial terms: “husband(s)” four times, “daughters” three times, and “sons” twice.

Naomi’s first argument (1:8-9) was restrained. Since she did not understand why her way must be their way, she now launches into a strong, impassioned appeal, strengthened with rhetorical questions and a hypothetical case. Naomi’s argument is couched in imperatives and questions. Questions are fully exploited throughout the short story of Ruth – sixteen in all, which engage the readers by eliciting internal responses from them. The first question, “Why should you go with me?” appears superficially to ask for information. However, it is really a corrective statement that makes a negative declaration in keeping with the preceding imperatives. Hence it conveys the sense “Do not go with me!” Thus it does not expect a direct answer.

The result of Naomi’s speech is that it gives Orpah and Ruth every reason to turn back. This makes Ruth’s expression of devotion and covenant love, in the following section, all the more surprising.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 94
Q. 94. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.