6וַתָּ֤קָם הִיא֙ וְכַלֹּתֶ֔יהָ וַתָּ֖שָׁב מִשְּׂדֵ֣י מֹואָ֑ב כִּ֤י שָֽׁמְעָה֙ בִּשְׂדֵ֣ה מֹואָ֔ב כִּֽי־פָקַ֤ד יְהוָה֙ אֶת־עַמֹּ֔ו לָתֵ֥תלָהֶ֖ם לָֽחֶם׃
7וַתֵּצֵ֗א מִן־הַמָּקֹום֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הָיְתָה־שָׁ֔מָּה וּשְׁתֵּ֥י כַלֹּתֶ֖יהָ עִמָּ֑הּ וַתֵּלַ֣כְנָה בַדֶּ֔רֶךְ לָשׁ֖וּב אֶל־אֶ֥רֶץיְהוּדָֽה׃
Ruth 1:6-7 (NASB)
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might 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. 7 So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
I thought I would begin today’s post with a quotation from the Bible Knowledge Commentary on the particular verses above: “Naomi learned that rain had come to her homeland. The famine was ended and God provided food (crops from the field and fruit from the trees). It was the LORD who had stopped the famine and given rain; it was not Baal, who the Canaanites believed was the god who sent rain. Return is a key word in Ruth. Hebrew forms of this word are used several times in this first chapter. Here is an apt illustration of repentance. Naomi reversed the direction she and her husband had taken. She turned away from Moab and the errors of the past. She turned her back on the tragic graves of her loved ones and headed back to Judah, her homeland.”
These last few posts have featured studies in the Book of Ruth. The aim has been three-fold: to introduce readers to a taste of the Hebrew text of Ruth; to immerse the reader in a deeper study of the English text as illumined by the Hebrew text and to supply life-practical applications as a result of the first two aims. Today’s post will utilize color-coding to enable readers to better follow the remarks we make about the Hebrew and English texts of Ruth 1:6-7
1. The flexibility of Hebrew letter “waw” (וַ) in carrying on the forward movement of the Biblical text, indicating additional detail and connecting thoughts or words.
So how did the author of Ruth move forward the story line of the now three mourning women (Naomi, Ruth and Orphah) in Moab? Certain clues in the Hebrew text tell us that God is at work behind the scenes in getting these women from a place of desolation to His intended destination. The little Hebrew letter “waw” (וַ) is the work-horse of Hebrew. For one thing, it signals to the reader that the narrative is moving onward. No time to pause. The letter “waw” prefixes the opening verb in verse 6 (וַתָּ֤קָם = “then she arose” (NASB), indicating a continuation of the narrative. This use of the “waw” with a verb in the imperfect is called a “waw consecutive”, which means the author is moving onto the next consecutive scene. This form in the Hebrew is common in the Old Testament and is a dead-ringer for narrative portions that are dealing with changes or forward-movement from one scene to the next.
To see another example of this, the author is hastily switching us to Naomi and her daugher-in-laws moving from Moab to Judah in verse 6, which the Hebrew states with the phrase: וַתָּ֖שָׁב מִשְּׂדֵ֣י מֹואָ֑ב (NASB has
“that she might return from the land of Moab”). The “waw” in this case is in front of the Hebrew verb “shoove”, which is used to refer to return.
Often-times we will find the “waw” used in other ways: such as to indicate additional information to familiarize readers with the characters or in its most common use, to connect two words or sentences together (much like our English word “and”). For example, we find in verse 7 Naomi and her daughters making the journey. The NASB reads: “So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her….”. The Hebrew text uses “waw” to connect the blue and green sentences: וַתֵּצֵ֗א מִן־הַמָּקֹום֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הָיְתָה־שָׁ֔מָּה וּשְׁתֵּ֥י כַלֹּתֶ֖יהָ עִמָּ֑הּ.
2. Life practical applications from our study of Ruth 1:6-7 – God’s way of bring you where you’re at to where He intends you to be
The book of Ruth begins with a famine in the land of Moab. Naomi and her family had grown quite adept to life in Moab. However God had a destiny and a place for them. Famine, death and grief were permitted by Him in His Sovereign plan to loosen the soil around their roots. Naomi heard that God had provided for His people back in the homeland. Whether this report is of a recent event or perhaps echoes back to when God provided manna for His people during their sojourns through the Desert on their journey to Canaanland from Egypt (Exodus 16:4; Nehemiah 9:15), the point is there was nothing left for Naomi and her daughters-in-law to find in Moab. What was now desolation would be used by God to move them onto their destination.
Choices would have to be made along the way by Ruth and Orphah – would they follow Naomi or remain in Moab, the land of their own birth? Ruth’s story-line brings us to points where tensions and decisions arise – just like real life.
Following the Lord is not easy. The road of following the Lord is often paved with tears, however the Word of God, promising His people that He has provided a way for them, drives on the pilgrim of faith in their journey through this world. As I said earlier, God has a way of bringing you from desolation to His intended destination. As I write this post today, I can testify in my own life how God is doing this and has done this very process for our family in the last few years. I will close with the following words from Galatians 6:9-10 “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”