Dec 31, 2009

Faith and Friendship in Ruth 1:17

Ruth 1:16–17 is one of the most powerful statements of faith and friendship in the entire Bible. Both faith and friendship come together in Ruth’s vow in v. 17 (
%nE)ybeW ynIïyBe dyrIßp.y: tw ‘yli hw"ïhy> hf,’[]y: hKo) which asserts that only death would be able to separate her from Naomi. Ruth’s wording is in keeping with standard imprecatory formulas (1 Sam 14:44; 20:13; 2 Sam 3:9; 1 Kgs 2:23; 19:2) in which, “a positive statement is introduced by the assertive use of the particle yKi” (Ibid.). Furthermore, “in each of the five occurrences in Samuel 1 – Kings the oath introduced by yKi expresses what the speaker was determined will happen” (Bush, Ruth/Esther, WBS [Dallas: word, 1996], 83). The NET does a nice job of communicating the certainty of the statement (“Nothing but death”) required by an oath introduced by yKi. A close second would be the REB and its “I solemnly declare” (making explicit the oath formula).

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