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Famine in Judah

Long ago, during the time the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a man named Elimelech left the town of Bethlehem in Judah. He, his wife, and his two sons moved to the country of Moab. The man’s wife was named Naomi, and his two sons were named Mahlon and Kilion. They were from the Ephrathah family of Bethlehem in Judah. The family traveled to the hill country of Moab and stayed there.

Later, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, died, so only Naomi and her two sons were left. Her sons married women from the country of Moab. One wife’s name was Orpah, and the other wife’s name was Ruth. They lived in Moab about ten years; then Mahlon and Kilion also died. So Naomi was left alone without her husband or her two sons.

Naomi Goes Home

While Naomi was in the country of Moab, she heard that the Lord had helped his people. He had given food to his people in Judah. So Naomi decided to leave the hill country of Moab and go back home. Her daughters-in-law also decided to go with her. They left the place where they had been living and started walking back to the land of Judah.

Then Naomi told her daughters-in-law, “Each of you should go back home to your mother. You have been very kind to me and my sons who are now dead. So I pray that the Lord will be just as kind to you. I pray that the Lord will help each of you find a husband and a good home.” Naomi kissed her daughters-in-law, and they all started crying.

10 Then the daughters said, “But we want to come with you and go to your family.”

11 But Naomi said, “No, daughters, go back to your own homes. Why should you go with me? I can’t have any more sons to be your husbands. 12 Go back home. I am too old to have a new husband. Even if I thought I could be married again, I could not help you. If I became pregnant tonight and had two sons, 13 you would have to wait until they grew to become men before you could marry them. I cannot make you wait that long for husbands. That would make me very sad. And I am already sad enough—the Lord has done many things to me!”

14 So again they cried very much. Then Orpah kissed Naomi goodbye, but Ruth hugged her and stayed.

15 Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her own people and her own gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you! Don’t force me to go back to my own people. Let me go with you. Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and that is where I will be buried. I ask the Lord to punish me if I don’t keep this promise: Only death will separate us.”[a]

The Homecoming

18 Naomi saw that Ruth wanted very much to go with her. So Naomi stopped arguing with her. 19 Naomi and Ruth traveled until they came to the town of Bethlehem. When the two women entered Bethlehem, all the people were very excited. They said, “Is this Naomi?”

20 But Naomi told the people, “Don’t call me Naomi[b]; call me Marah.[c] Use this name because God All-Powerful has made my life very sad. 21 I had everything I wanted when I left, but now, the Lord brings me home with nothing. The Lord has made me sad, so why should you call me ‘Happy’[d]? God All-Powerful has given much trouble to me.”

22 So Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth, the Moabite, came back from the hill country of Moab. These two women came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Footnotes

  1. Ruth 1:17 I ask … separate us Literally, “May the Lord do this to me, and even more, unless death separates us!”
  2. Ruth 1:20 Naomi This name means “Happy” or “Pleasant.”
  3. Ruth 1:20 Marah This name means “Bitter” or “Sad.”
  4. Ruth 1:21 Happy This is the meaning of the name Naomi.

Naomi Loses Her Husband and Sons

In the days when the judges ruled,[a](A) there was a famine in the land.(B) So a man from Bethlehem in Judah,(C) together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while(D) in the country of Moab.(E) The man’s name was Elimelek,(F) his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion.(G) They were Ephrathites(H) from Bethlehem,(I) Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women,(J) one named Orpah and the other Ruth.(K) After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion(L) also died,(M) and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem

When Naomi heard in Moab(N) that the Lord had come to the aid of his people(O) by providing food(P) for them, she and her daughters-in-law(Q) prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home.(R) May the Lord show you kindness,(S) as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands(T) and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest(U) in the home of another husband.”

Then she kissed(V) them goodbye and they wept aloud(W) 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?(X) 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up?(Y) Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter(Z) for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!(AA)

14 At this they wept(AB) aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law(AC) goodbye,(AD) but Ruth clung to her.(AE)

15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law(AF) is going back to her people and her gods.(AG) Go back with her.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you(AH) or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go,(AI) and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people(AJ) and your God my God.(AK) 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely,(AL) if even death separates you and me.”(AM) 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.(AN)

19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem.(AO) When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred(AP) because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[b]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[c] because the Almighty[d](AQ) has made my life very bitter.(AR) 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.(AS) Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[e] me;(AT) the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite,(AU) her daughter-in-law,(AV) arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest(AW) was beginning.(AX)

Footnotes

  1. Ruth 1:1 Traditionally judged
  2. Ruth 1:20 Naomi means pleasant.
  3. Ruth 1:20 Mara means bitter.
  4. Ruth 1:20 Hebrew Shaddai; also in verse 21
  5. Ruth 1:21 Or has testified against

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