Ruth 1

Ruth 1 turns the focus to Elimelech and his sons – Mahlon and Chilion – who were living in the land of Judah and were in the midst of a famine.  So they loaded up their families and headed “into the country of Moab” where they hoped to find food.  After arriving, Elimelech died, so his wife Naomi and her two sons were in Moab and they take two Moabite wives – Orpah and Ruth.  They lived in Moab about 10 years and both of her sons died as well, leaving only Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws.

Naomi decides to “return to the land of Judah” and tells her daughter-in-laws to “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me”.  Naomi knows she cannot provide husbands to these ladies as her sons are all dead and she is “too old to have a husband”.  So she encourages the women tot return to their homeland and go back to their people.  But both of them say no initially.  They want to stay with her.  After some strong coaching, Orpah decides to go home, but Ruth clung to her.

Then we hear some of the most famous words in scripture as Ruth responds to Naomi’s requests to leave.  “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you”.  There is no stronger picture of commitment in all of scripture than that of Ruth to Naomi here.  She is not going anywhere.

So Naomi agrees after seeing that Ruth is determined to go with her, and they head off toward Bethlehem, the town they had left some ten years earlier.  She stirs up the town as she returns home and changes her name from Naomi to Mara because “the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me”.  Naomi had left years earlier full and the Lord brought her back empty as her husband and both sons had died in Moab.  But she has Ruth with her, and they come back at the beginning of barley harvest.

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