for more information about Ruti’s booksIn my previous post I promised to tell you about Ruth’ sister in-law who also lost her husband. When Naomi begged her daughters in-law to return to the houses of their fathers to find new husbands, Ruth the Moabite clung to her and eventually followed her back to Beth Le-khem in Judea. The other daughter in-law, Orpah עֹרְפָּה turned her back to her (as you can see in this photo) and walked away. Oh-rehf עֹרֶף in Hebrew means: nape – the back of the neck; hence the name Or-pah עֹרְפָּה. She turned the other way and ceased to support Naomi. I sometimes wonder if the name Orpah was given to her by those who told us the story of Ruth AFTER Orpah’s decision to leave? Or… was she given that name at birth but identified with it so much that it ruled her behavior? Hmm… I tend to believe that the first possibility is more accurate. One demonstrates certain characteristics and is being named accordingly, as in the name Ruth. There is an expression in Hebrew: Heef-nah loh oh-ref. הִפְנָה לוֹ עֹרֶף which means: someone who went the other way; he ceased to be with someone and stopped supporting him. How does this connect with our famous Oprah Winfrey? Did you know that Oprah’s actual name is Orpah? But, people had a hard time pronouncing it and kept calling her Oprah instead and the name stuck with her. I have no idea what Oprah means in Hebrew as there’s no such word or name, but I am happy that she did not wear and adopt the characteristics of the name Orpah.
Hebrew names have meanings. It always fascinates me to learn the meanings or the story behind people’s names. I’ll start with my name: Ruth = רוּת
Ruth means: Compassionate; friendly. If you open an unabridged English dictionary you would find that the entry for ruth is: “feeling of pity and compassion”. I bet you know the word ‘ruthless’ right? having or showing no pity or compassion for others: a ruthless manipulator: ruth + less.
what’s the story behind the name? Ruth was a Moabite רות המואביה = Root ha-moh-ah-vee-yah who married her deceased husband’s kinsman Boaz = בועז and bore a son, Obed עובד, who became grandfather to King David דוד המלך = David ha-meh-lekh. (this is the story in a nutshell.)
In Hebrew, and this is my own interpretation, רוּת comes from the word: רֵעוּת – reh-oot which means: ‘ strong friendship’; ‘deep friendship’; ‘affection’; ‘fondness’.
The word רֵעַ – reh-ah comes from the same root means: friend, comrade.
The word: רַעְיָה means wife.
Ruti is a pet name for Ruth. It’s like “Ruthie”. Since there’s no ‘th’ sound in Hebrew, we are left with the ‘t’ alone. Thus: Ruti רוּתִי. RUTH is read = ROOT = רות.
This is just a side joke: When people ask me: “Is Ruti short for something?” I answer: No! It is long for something…” Ruth has only one syllable. Ruthie = Ruti has two.
MORE ABOUT THE STORY OF RUTH
Naomi נעמי and her family left Judea יהודה because of the famine and moved to live in Moab מואב (currently where Jordan is). Ruth the Moabite princess and Orpah עורפה (and not ‘Oprah’) married the sons of Naomi. Shortly after Naomi’s husband and sons died.
Naomi decided to return to her homeland, Judea. She asked her daughters-in-law to return to their fathers’ homes and remarry. Orpah agreed but Ruth insisted to go with Naomi. Her response was: כִּי אֶל-אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכִי אֵלֵךְ, וּבַאֲשֶׁר תָּלִינִי אָלִין–עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי, וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי. “Because wither you go I go and whiter you live I live, your people are my people, your God is my God”. Ruth obviously showed COMPASSION and PITY to the woman who lost her husband and two sons. Once back in Judea (and this is a very romantic story that I recommend you to read), she ended up marrying Boaz.
Ruth has converted to Judaism and is considered the first convert. That is why we find many converts that change their names to Ruth.
If you’re curious to know the meaning of your Hebrew name, please send me an e-mail and I’ll write about it. http://www.hebrewbarmitzvah.com