Naomi and Ruth
1-2 There was a time when judges ruled Israel. During that time there was a famine in Judah. A man who lived in Bethlehem, in Judah, had a wife and two sons. His name was Elimelech. Elimelech's wife was called Naomi, and his sons were called Mahlon and Kilion. They were from Ephrathah's clan. Because there was not enough food in Judah, Elimelech and his family left Bethlehem. They went to live as strangers in Moab.
1:1-2Moab was a good place to grow food. Wheat grew well in one part of Moab. Grass grew well in another part of the country. So the cows could become fat.
3 Elimelech died while they were living in Moab. Naomi and her two sons remained there alone. 4 Then Naomi's sons married women from Moab. Mahlon married a woman called Ruth. Kilion married a woman called Orpah. 5 After they had all lived in Moab for about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion died. Now Naomi was completely alone, without her husband or her sons.
1:5When the women had no husbands, they could no longer work on their land. They needed help from the men in their families.
6 Naomi received news from Judah that the Lord had helped his people. There was now enough food in Judah again. So Naomi decided to leave Moab and return to Judah with Ruth and Orpah.
1:6When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.
7 Naomi and her sons' wives left their home in Moab. They began to travel together on the way back to Judah. 8 On the way, Naomi said to Ruth and Orpah, ‘Listen! You should return to your mothers' homes in Moab and stay there. Your husbands are dead now. You have been kind to them and to me. I pray that the Lord will be as kind to you. 9 I also pray that God will give to each of you another husband and a new home.’ Naomi kissed them and said ‘goodbye’. Ruth and Orpah began to weep loudly. 10 They said to Naomi, ‘No! We will go with you to live with your people.’
11 But Naomi said, ‘My daughters, you should return to your own country. You should not choose to come back to Judah with me. I will not give birth to any more sons for you to marry them. 12 Return to your own country, my daughters. I am too old to marry another husband. Even if I did marry a man immediately, when might I give birth to sons? 13 I am sure that you do not want to wait until they are old enough for you to marry them! Would you wait all that time and not marry anyone else? So, my daughters, you must not return to Judah with me. You should not have to share my pain. The Lord has turned against me.’
14 Ruth and Orpah wept loudly again. Orpah kissed Naomi and she said ‘goodbye’. But Ruth would not leave Naomi. She held on to her. 15 Naomi said to Ruth, ‘Look! Orpah has returned to her family. She has returned to serve the gods of Moab. Go back home with her.’
16 Ruth said to Naomi, ‘Do not say that I must leave you. I will go with you, wherever you go. I will live wherever you live. You belong to Israel's people. I will belong to them too. Your God will be my God. 17 I will die in the same place that you die. That is where people will bury me. I will stay beside you until death makes us separate. If I ever leave you, the Lord should punish me.’
18 Then Naomi understood that Ruth would not agree to return to her own country. So she stopped saying that Ruth should leave her.
Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem
19 Naomi and Ruth travelled together to Bethlehem. When they arrived there, the people were very surprised. The women from the town said, ‘Is this really Naomi?’
20 Naomi said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi. Call me Mara, instead. The Almighty God has made my life very sad. 21 I left here with everything that I needed. Now the Lord has brought me back here with nothing. The Almighty Lord has turned against me, so that I have suffered. It is not right for you to call me Naomi.’
1:20The name Naomi means ‘happy’. The name Mara means ‘sad’.
22 That is how Naomi returned from Moab with Ruth. Ruth was from Moab. She was the wife of Naomi's son Mahlon. Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem when the harvest of barley was beginning.