Ruth 1:6-7




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Ruth 1:6-7 And she arose with her two daughters-in-law, and they returned from the land of Moab, for she heard in the land of Moab, that HaShem has visited His people to give them loaves of bread. 7 And she came out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went forth on the road to return to the land of Juda.









And she arose

kai; ajnevsth

and she arose






and her daughters-in-law

kai; aiJ duvo nuvmfai


and her two daughters-in-law


and returned

kai; ajpevstreyan

and returned


from fields of

ejx ajgrou'

from the fields of










she had heard


she had heard


in the fields

ejn ajgrw'/

in the fields






that had visited

o{ti ejpevskeptai

that had visited




the sovereign


his people

to;n lao;n

his people


to provide


to give


for them








and she went out

kai; ejxh'lqen

and she went forth






the place

tou' tovpou

the place






she had been


she had been


at there




and two (of)

kai; aiJ duvo

and the two


her daughters-in-law

nuvmfai aujth'"

her daughters-in-law


with her

met! aujth'"

with her


and they set out

kai; ejporeuvonto

and they set out


in the way

ejn th'/ oJdw'/

in the way


to return

tou' ejpistrevyai

to return






land of

th;n gh'n

this true








1:6 Then she started with her daughters-in-law to return from the land of Moab; for she had heard in the land of Moab that the Lord had visited his people in giving them food.


1:7 So she went forth out of the place where they sojourned, along with her two daughters-in-law, to return and go to the land of Judah.


Stones Translation


1:6 She then arose along with her daughters-in-law to return from the fields of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that HASHEM had remembered His people by giving them food.


1:7 She left the place where she had been, her two daughters-in-law with her, and they set out on the road to return to the land of Judah.




1:6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.


1:7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.



Peshat Level:




1:6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law and returned from the field of Moav, for she was informed by an angel, in the field of Moav, that the Lord had remembered his people, the Torah teacher, giving them bread, through the merit of the Judge Ivtzan by virtue of the prayer which he prayed before the Lord; he is Boaz the Pious.


1:7 She went forth out of the place where she had been, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they were walking on the way to return to the land of Judah.




1:7 So she departed from the place Why was (this) stated? Indeed, it was already stated (verse 6), and she returned from the fields of Moab, and how could she return if she would not (first) depart from the place where she had been? Rather, (the phrase) tells (us) that the departure of a righteous person from a place is noticeable and makes an impression its radiance departs, (and) the praiseworthiness of the city departs. And similarly (Genesis 28:10) and Jacob went forth from Beer-sheva (i.e., his departure made an impression on the city).




Gemarah Level:



Midrash Level:




Midrash Rabbah Ruth II:12 AND SHE WENT FORTH OUT OF THE PLACE WHERE SHE WAS (I, 7). AND SHE WENT FORTH. Was she then the only one that went forth from the place? Did not many camel-drivers and how many ass-drivers also go forth? And yet it says only AND SHE WENT FORTH? R. Azariah in the name of R. Judah b. R. Simon explained: The great man of a city is its shining light, its distinction, its glory, and its praise. When he departs, its brilliance, its distinction, its glory, and its praise depart with him. AND THEY WENT ON THE WAY TO RETURN UNTO THE LAND OF JUDAH (1, 7). Rab Judah said in the name of R. Johanan: They transgressed the letter of the Law and journeyed on the Festival. Another interpretation of AND THEY WENT ON THE WAY is that the way was hard for them because they went unshod. AND THEY WENT, discussing the laws of proselytes.



Zohar Level:



Other Commentaries:


Meam Loez



She rose, with her daughters-in-law, and returned from the Fields of Moab. For she heard in the Fields of Moab that God remembered His people to give them bread.


It is made clear that not the women but the men had prevented the family from returning to the land of Israel. No sooner had Machlon and Kilyon died, then their womenfolk rose to go back.


There is a significant contrast between the present singular form: she rose. . .returned...heard (vgna.. . ca,u . . . oe,u) and the plural form of the following verse: .. . and her two daughters-in-law ... went (pl. vbfk,u). At first she and her daughters-in-law went as one, but then it became apparent that the daughters-in-law were headed in two different directions.


Additionally, the verse conveys that the decision to return to the land of Israel was made as soon as they rose, that is, as soon as they had literally risen from sitting on the ground during the seven days of mourning for the deceased. Thus we find, similarly, that at the episode of the golden calf, the Israelites demanded of Aaron, Arise and make for us gods, upon which our sages elaborate: Aaron was sitting in mourning over the slaying of Chur and the seventy elders.


Another interpretation is that Naomi rose from the illness that grief had brought on.


Her decision made, Naomi rose earlier than is customary. She did not want to be detained by well-meaning neighbors who would insist on a proper send-off, as befits a great woman. Having heard that the famine was over, she did not want to lose a minute.


Naomi wisely realized that if she discussed her plans with her daughters-in-law, they would plead with her to remain. So she kept silent until the actual time to leave had arrived, and then simply rose to go. Her daughters-in-law then hurriedly joined her.


Although the present verse says that she . . . returned, does not mean that she actually returned, for the next verse states that she left the place. At this point she had only resolved to return. God, however, rewards good intentions as if they were accomplished deeds, and the verse says she returned.


These words (she returned) accent, moreover, that Naomi went back empty-handed. Of all Elimelechs tents and servants and herds and camels and great wealth, including the ten fields that he had acquired in Moab (Talmud), nothing was left. Thus she was to say later, I went out full, and empty has the Lord returned me (v. 1:21).


What prompted her return was the news that the famine had come to an end. We are informed that she was told, God has remembered His people, which means that she heard the glad tidings from itinerant peddlers from Eretz Yisrael. Alternately, she reasoned that if people were once again buying the peddlers luxury wares, they must already have bread in the house.


According to Targum Yonathan, an angel appeared to Naomi in the field to inform her that the famine was over.


Although Naomi had just risen from her sickbed and was penniless, she left at once. She did not wait for her neighbors to provide her with food for the journey, but placed her trust in God to bring her home safely. Thus she repented for having despaired of God saving Israel from the famine.


Another opinion is that Naomi did not actually hear any news, but on her own understood that the famine had ended. Moab, too, had to some extent been affected by the famine, and when she now saw the fields of Moab newly covered with lush grass and flowers, she knew that the land of Israel must be blooming once more.


Naomi realized, moreover, that only through the land of Israel does God bless the other nations with abundance. For she heard . .. that God remembered His peoplei.e., in the land of Israelto give themthe Moabitesbread.


It is implied that God remembered His people with rain, since the resulting crops would then give them bread. So it was that by the time Naomi actually returned, the barley was being harvested.


This also indicates that this turn of events was sudden. The famine was to have lasted longer, but in the merit of the righteous Boaz, it ended at this time.


Naomi had been informed that the people had not yet repented of the injustice and strife that had precipitated the famine. So the rain came not because Israel deserved it, but because God in His mercy remembered His people. Armed with this knowledge, she dared to return to the Holy Land despite the fact that God was still dealing with her in strict justice rather than mercy. She trusted that among her own people she, too, would be affected by the divine mercy that was extended to them for having remained in the Holy Land during the famine.


Naomi was like that poor guest at the inn who would not join the crowds that came there to eat and drink, because he could not afford the lavish food. But one day the innkeeper made a feast for all his guests for which no payment was required, whereupon the poor guest, too, ate and drank along with the rest.


If Naomi had heard that God ended the famine because the people were worthy of it, she would not have dared to return. But as He was providing them with bread out of mercy rather than justice, she came.


At another time in the future, in the days of the prophet Joel, Israel was also stricken with famine. But then the famine ended because God was zealous for His land, and pitied His people (Joel 2:18). In the days of the judges, God remembered His people. Although they were not entirely repentant, He gave them bread because they had remained in the Holy Land during the famine and relied on God to save them from starvation.




She left the place where she had been, and her two daughters-in-law were with her. They went on the road back to the land of Judah.


The previous verse recounted that Naomi rose, with her daughters-in-law, and returned from the Fields of Moab. After interjecting, however, that the famine had ended, the narrative resumes by repeating that she left the place where she had been.


These two verses are similar but not identical. As previously noted, the first verse indicates that the three women had initially risen as one to return; the second, that en route her two daughters-in-law turned out to be of two minds. Orpah accompanied Naomi out of politeness, but Ruth longed to cleave to her.


Others say that when Naomi rose to return, she assumed that her daughters-in-law were merely seeing her off. Now that they had crossed the border and still her . . two daughters-in-law were with her, she realized that they intended to go to the land of Judah, there to join the Jewish people.


The reason for the journey was as much to escape the place of their suffering (she left the place where she had been) as to see the longed-for Holy Land (They went .. . back to the land of Judah).


The Talmud teaches: The tzaddik (righteous man) of a city is its radiance and light, its glory and praise. When he departs, the citys radiance and light, glory and praise, depart with him. For the tzaddik influences the people about him to become righteous.


Thus the scripture records that Jacob went out of Beersheba (Genesis 28:10), even as it says here that Naomi left the place where she had been, to indicate that their departures noticeably affected the places they left behind.


While Naomi was living in Moab the decadent Moabites curbed their immorality. Now that she left, the Moabites fell back to their previous practices, as evidenced by what later happened to Orpah. The glory of Moab departed with Naomi.


Of all places in the land of Israel, Naomi returned to the land of Judah Although a person who has suffered bad fortune is ashamed to return to his hometown, Naomi accepted her suffering with love and willingly returned to Bethlehem in order to atone for leaving the Holy Land.


Some say that Naomi, ashamed to face the people she had deserted during the famine, would have preferred to go where she was unknown. Nevertheless, she returned to her hometown because it afforded the best chances of supporting her daughters-in-law.


The three women, anxious to get to the Holy Land, immediately went on the road. That is, they set out alone on the road, without waiting to travel in the safety of a caravan.


To minimize the danger, they took the road, the main thoroughfare, avoiding deserted side roads. Moreover, it is indicated that they clung together to avoid seclusion with men, for they were on their way to the holy land of Judah.


In their eagerness to get there, they wentthey walked without stopping to rest.


Our sages observe that they literally walked on the road. Too poor to buy riding animal~ or even shoes to protect their feet, they walked barefoot, hurting their feet on the road. According to one interpretation, they went on foot because in their eager haste they also traveled on the festival, when riding is prohibited.


Every step they took was with the specific intention of going to the land of Judah. God therefore rewarded them for every step (Talmud).


As they walked, they studied the laws of conversion. For Ruth and Orpah were on their way to.. Judah also in another sense, that is, to embrace the faith that derives its name from Judah.


When a gentile wishes to convert, teaches the Talmud, he is to be turned away with the left hand and drawn closer with the right. Naomi thus drew her daughters-in-law close by teaching them that so precious were converts in Gods eyes that His Torah warns no less than forty-eight times against distressing a convert. [On the other hand, she attempted to turn them away, as the following verses recount.]



Abraham Ibn Ezra


1:6 AND SHE RETURNED FROM THE FIELD OF MOAB: The verb expresses intention, as in And Israel began to fight with Balaq.




6-7. Question: Why does the text appear to repeat itself, saying: she...arose...[to] return, she left the place, and they went on the road to return?


6. She then arose, with her daughters-in-law. All three of them resolved to leave because they thought that their misfortune was the result of residing in that place. As such, in terms of their decision to leave Moab, they were in total agreement. However, regarding their destination, only Naomi had made up her mind [to] return from the fields of Moab (because "returning" applies only to someone who returns to the place where he or she had already been). At the outset, only Naomi had this intention, as is stated, [to] return from the fields of Moab. Orpah and Ruth did not agree to this while they were still in the fields of Moab but only later, as will be explained.


For she heard in the field of Moab. The verse emphasizes that Naomi did not go back because of the "local" misfortunes or fear of her own death. If these had been her motives, she had merely to migrate to another location in Moab. Rather, she left because the ETERNAL had taken account of His people to provide them with food. She had only left the Land of Israel because of the famine, and only intended to sojourn in Moab until it would pass. Therefore, when she heard that they would no longer bear the shame of hunger, she set out to return. The Midrash Ruth Rabbah (2:11) asks, "From whom did she hear? From itinerant salesmen. What did she hear? That HaShem had remembered His people. The Midrash then poses the following Scriptural difficulty: One verse says, For HaShem will not forsake His people nor will He abandon His inheritance (Tehillim 94:14); another verse says, HaShem will not forsake His people for the sake of His great name (Shemuel I, 12:22). How can this be reconciled? When the Jewish people are meritorious in their own right, then HaShem acts for His nation's sake. However, when they are not meritorious, HaShem acts for the sake of His great name." The question of the Midrash is: Who would say, The ETERNAL had taken account of His people? Surely not the Moabites. Even though they lived next to the Land of Israel and were aware of what went on there, it would be completely out of character for them to say that The ETERNAL had taken account of His people! They did not believe in HaShem and certainly not in the special relationship He had with the Jewish nation! Therefore the Midrash asserts that Naomi heard from the traveling Jewish merchants who brought goods to sell in Moab. This itself was an indication that the famine had ended. Furthermore, the Midrash explains that the end of the famine itself would not have been sufficient reason for Naomi to return. Naomi knew that the cause of the famine was the failure of the Jewish people to live up to HaShem's expectations; as it says: It was in the days when the judges governed...and there was a famine. On this the Midrash comments that the famine resulted from a lack of justice, the people's "judging" their judges, and the mere fact that the judges needed to be judged. As such, as long as the nation had not improved its ways, Naomi was unsure whether another famine might still occur. Only, when she heard that The ETERNAL had taken account of His people, meaning that He acted not for the sake of His own name, but that the people had improved their ways and were worthy of HaShem's remembrance and constant bestowal of sustenance, did she resolve to undertake the journey.


7. She left the place where she was [living], with her two daughters-in-law. The Prophet now elucidates the previous verse in that, relevant to their leaving, all three of them were in agreement about departing immediately from their ill-fated location. However, regarding Naomi's decision to return to the land of Judah, they didn't initially concur. Orpah and Ruth intended to resettle elsewhere in the land of Moab.


They went on the road. Only after making the journey to a border of the land of Moab, which led exclusively to the land of Judah, did they agree to cross into the Land of Israel.




(i) Looking first at the beginning of verse 6, why is it necessary to write that she arose? Isnt it enough to say that she and her daughters-in-law returned? What did she rise from?

(ii)The singular form oe,u, she arose, is employed in place of the more correct unue,u, and they arose, the subjects being Naomi and her daughters-in-law. Similarly, ca,u she returned, should be ucua,u and they returned, as all three came to the Land of Judah from Moab. It can be argued that only Naomi returned to Judah, as Ruth had never been there before. The next verse, however, refutes this: And they set out on the road to return. Here we see that the plural vbfk,u is employed, even though the return to Judah applies only to Naomi.


For the same reason we find in Genesis 24:8: Take care not to bring my son back there. The reference is to Isaac, who had never been to Judah. Yet the verb ca, return, is employed. As Ibn Ezra explains, since Abraham would have to follow Isaac to Haran, the word ca,u essentially refers to him as he originated from Haran and not to Isaac.

(iii)ln verse 6 the word ca,u, she returned, is in the past tense. The next verse seems to go back in time: She left the place... and set out on the road!

(iv) In verse 6 there are two apparently contradictory phrases: the fields of Moob (ctun hsa) in the plural and the field of Moab (ctun vsa) in the singular.

(v)The prophet seems to speak derisively of Naomi by indicating that the only reason for her return was that she heard that there was now food to be had in Judah. The implication is that she did not return out of love for the Holy Land, which should have been dear to her even if it did lack the means for providing sustenance.

(vi) In verse 7, we read: She left the place... In order to arrive in Judah she had to leave Moab. What is the prophet trying to convey?

(vii) They set out on the road... To reach any destination, one has to set out on the road! Furthermore, why does the prophet wait until now to inform us that they were returning to Judah?


Why Was Naomi in a Rush to Leave?

In these verses, Sripture highlights the wisdom of Naomi. She did not take the time to bid a tearful farewell to her daughters-in-law as other women would do. It would have been quite normal to have consoled them about her imminent departure by saying: I must return to my country and my people. It is very difficult for me to do this, for you both know how much I love you. But now the time has come to go our separate ways; you must return to your mothers house.


The prophet takes pains to tell us: She then arose. Immediately after the death of her two sons she made preparations for the trip. Wisely, she realized that if she were to tarry and make a grand farewell party, they would no doubt persuade her to remain by claiming that they needed her guidance, and that they would be better to her than even ten sons. They would most likely have told her: We do not dare leave the confines of your protective influence. Just as an eagle stirs up her nest, so will you hover over us (cf. Deuteronomy 32:11). Is it worth it for you to be treated with contempt by the distinguished members of your people when you were once esteemed as one of the nobles and leaders of the land? How will it be when they see you again those who had once extolled your honor and the honor of your husband? They will surely exclaim: Is this really that woman? They will whistle in disbelief and spit at you with contempt!


Such strong words would no doubt have left their mark on Naomi, and in this way her daughters-in-law might have persuaded her to stay in Moab. It comes as no surprise, then, to learn that she did not wish to face her daughters-in-law and made haste to leave without too much fanfare. She hoped to be well on her way by the time they realized what was happening. Once they noticed she was leaving them, however, they accompanied her as a matter of course, even though they did not know her destination.


With this we can understand why the verse speaks only of Naomi arising to leave. Only once she had left did her daughters-in-law follow suit. Similarly, ca,u, And (she) returned, is in the singular, for at that time only Naomi was intending to return. The others did not know where she was going.


This also explains why the past tense is employed. The Divine Spirit is reminding us of one of Gods greatest kindnesses to His people, Israel. He considers a good intention to be an actual deed (Talmud Kiddushin 39b). And (she) returned teaches us that as soon as she arose with the intention of returning, it was considered by God as if she had actually returned.[1]


The above-mentioned Talmudic dictum applies only to a Jew. Hence, in the following verse we read: And they set out on the road to return. They includes Ruth and Orpah, who were gentiles, and their intention to return was not combined with an action (Jerusalem Talmud Peah 1:5). This explains why the future tense of to return is employed. (Though the reference is to Naomi as well, she is in the minority.)


Were Her Motives Pure?

One may be inclined to judge Naomi unfavorably on two accounts: (1) She realized that she was not succeeding in her present surroundings and therefore wished to move to a new locality where her luck might change, following the advice of our Sages (Talmud Bava Metzia 75b): One who is badly off in one place should seek his fortune elsewhere. (2) She feared that she would die like her husband and sons for settling in a foreign land.


One could argue that these realizations prompted her to return to Judah. She was driven by ulterior motives and not by love for the land itself. We can even supply proof for the second reason by pointing out that she did not leave until her family had died. Then we are told that she immediately prepared to return. Obviously, she was afraid that the same would happen to her.


To Leave and Never to Return

To refute these arguments and to show that her intentions were pure and holy, Scripture informs us that she returned from the fields of Moab, in the plural. This indicates that she left all the fields of Moab behind, never to return. Had her intention been merely to seek her fortune elsewhere, she would not have been in such a hurry to leave Moab completely. She would have moved from one area to another or even from one town to another inside Moab.


For she had heard, while in Moab... This shows that the fact that her husband and children had recently died had no bearing on her decision to return. She did not fear retribution. Scripture emphasizes that the reason for her return was because she had heard. But why did she wait until there was bread to be had in Judah?


Why Did SheWait Until the Famine Was Over?

Naomi understood that if she were to return during a famine, while she herself was poor and suffering from hunger and thirst, the people there would find reason to rebuke her: When you had plenty of food and lived comfortably, then you were worried that you might have to share your wealth with the poor and you would have too many mouths to feed. Thus, you fled to avoid helping the hungry (cf. Midrash Ruth Rabbah 1:4). What right have you to come begging to us when you find yourself in distress so that we should sustain you?


To avoid such a confrontation, Naomi did not return until she had heard that the famine was over. Then she would have been able to survive by the work of her own hands or from alms that were given generously to the poor once the famine was over.


That God had remembered His people. The point being made here is that God remembered His people and not His land. This is in contrast to the times of Joel about which it was written: And God was jealous for His land and had pity on His people (Joel 2:18).


Though Naomi would not have remained outside Judah in any case, she hurried to leave now, for she had heard that God had found merit in His people. As far as the land was concerned, she felt she had little or no right to take food from it, since she had sinned by leaving Judah to settle in Moab. Now that the people merited deliverance, she who considered herself part of the nation felt that she would be blessed along with them, in the same way as the righteous woman told the prophet Elisha, I dwell among my people (II Kings 4:13). And given them bread. Naomi meant to say: Though God has provided them with bread and not me, that does not mean that I am excluded from eating it. Their prosperity will bring me peace, and I will be blessed along with them.


It can be implied further that she did not wait until they were actually provided with bread. As soon as she heard that God had remembered them with the intention of relieving the suffering there, she immediately made plans to leave. This in fact is quite a common occurrence. After a famine has lasted for a few years, God blesses the land so that the seeds germinate quickly and the crops grow. The people can see that God has remembered them even though the produce is not ripe for reaping. They see the blessing before they actually have food. Naomi heard that they had been blessed and that a bountiful crop was in the offing, so she immediately set out on her way. Proof of this is shown later when we read that they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of the barley harvest (verse 22). This period of time marks the onset of the harvesting season. We deduce from there that when she set out on her way, the crop was still growing in the fields. Thus, the people were still waiting for their first yield of food. Furthermore, the text indicates that she was not expecting to live in luxury or eat delicacies, for she had heard that God had given them only bread and not the many fruits and vegetables with which Judah is associated. For all this, she left the fertile fields of Moab, as she preferred to survive on bread alone as long as she was in the Land of Life.


We will now discuss verse 7 in more detail:


Naomi Was Hesitant to Return to Bethlehem


Naomis original intention was not to return to Bethlehem, where she would most likely feel the shame and disgrace of her poverty by having to face all those who knew her and who would recall the days of her former glory. Consequently, she did not make plans to return to her hometown but just to the Land of Judah and to Gods people.


She returnedfor she had heard. Her intention was imply to return to Judah. However, once she was well on the way and she saw that her two daughters-in-law were still with her, she realized that their intention was not solely to escort her and then return home but to follow her all the way, as they were some distance from the town by now.


Hence, the meaning of the verse is this: She had left the town where she had resided, but her daughters-in-law were still following along with her. She then understood that they intended to accompany her all the way to Judah where they would have to rely on her for guidance and protection, as it was a strange land for them. So, for their sakes, she had to choose a place which was familiar to her and where she could enlist the help of kinsmen and acquaintances in caring for them. It did not matter to her that she herself was in a desperate situation.[2]


As a result of this, Naomi changed her mind and decided to go to Bethlehem. Thus, we are informed: They set out on the road to return to the Land of Judah.


Alternatively, she did not reveal her destination to them. She left suddenly, and they accompanied her, unaware of her intentions. There is no doubt that originally they had planned only to escort her, for they had an attachment to her. But it was Naomi alone who elected to leave Moab behind and return to her people.


Once they had left the city behind and were well on their way, Naomi revealed her plan to them, and it is then that the daughters-in-law decided to accompany her all the way, especially after she had explained her reasons for leaving. Thus, the prophet now adds, They set out on the road to return to the land of Judah. Only after they had gone some way from the town did they decide to go to Judah.



[1] See lbn Ezra on these words. His commentary seems to concur with the Aishichs explanation. See also Iggereth Shmuel.

[2] lndeed, we see later that this is exactly what happened. Naomi made sure that Boaz, the son of her fathers brother Salmon (see 4:21 and Talmud Bava Bathra 91a: Elimelech, Salmon, Ploni Almoni and the father of Naomi were all the sons of Nachshon, the son of Aminadav), would become acquainted with Ruth.