1:2 (Now the man’s name was Elimelech,6 his wife was Naomi,7 and his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion.8 They were of the clan of Ephrath9 from Bethlehem in Judah.) They entered the region of Moab and settled there.10
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.
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.
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.
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).