Ruth 1

Naomi and Ruth

1-2 There was a time when judges ruled Israel. There was not enough food for the people to eat. A man, called Elimelech, lived in Bethlehem in Judah. Elimelech had a wife and two sons. Elimelech's wife was called Naomi and his sons were called Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites. Because there was not enough food, Elimelech and his family left Bethlehem. They went to live in Moab.

1:1-2The country called Moab was a good place for a farm. Wheat grew well in one part of Moab. Grass grew well in another part of the country. So farm animals had good health.

3 Elimelech died while they were living in Moab. Naomi and her two sons remained there and 4 Naomi's sons married women from Moab. Mahlon married a woman called Ruth. And Kilion married a woman called Orpah. 5 Both Mahlon and Kilion died after they had all lived in Moab for about ten years. Naomi was completely alone, without her husband or her sons.

1:5When the women were alone, they could not work on their land any longer. They needed help from the men in their families.

6 Naomi received news from Judah that God had helped his people. There was now enough food in Judah again. Naomi decided to return to Judah. 7 She and her sons' wives left their home in Moab. They began to travel together along the road towards Judah.

8 On the way to Judah, Naomi spoke to Ruth and Orpah. She said, ‘Return to your mothers' homes and stay there. Your husbands are dead now. But you were kind to them when they were alive. And you have been kind to me. I pray that God will be as kind to you. I also pray that God will give each of you another husband and a new home.’ 9 Naomi kissed them and Ruth and Orpah began to cry.

10 They said to Naomi, ‘No! We will go with you to your people.’

11 But Naomi said, ‘Return to your own country, my daughters. You should not want to come with me. I will not have other sons. You cannot marry them. 12 Return to your own country, my daughters. I am too old to have another husband. Think about this. I might even marry another husband tonight. Then I might give birth to sons. Those sons would grow up and they would become men. Then you could marry them. 13 But I am sure that you do not want to wait for so many years, my daughters. This is painful for you. It is more painful for me. God has caused bad things to happen to me.’

14 Ruth and Orpah wept again. Orpah kissed Naomi and she said goodbye. But Ruth would not leave Naomi. She held on to Naomi.

15 Naomi said to Ruth, ‘Orpah has returned to her family. She has returned to the gods of Moab. Go with her.’

16 Ruth said to Naomi, ‘Do not say that I must leave you. I want to go with you. I want to live with you. You belong to Israel's people. I will belong to them also. Your God will be my God. 17 I want to die in the place where you die. I want someone to bury me there. Even when I die, I want to be with you. I must not leave you before I die. If I do, God should be very angry with me.’ 18 Naomi understood that Ruth would not return to her own country. Then Naomi stopped saying that Ruth should leave her.

19 Naomi and Ruth travelled together to Bethlehem. The people in Bethlehem were very surprised when they saw them. The women from the town said, ‘Is this really Naomi?’

20 Naomi said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi. Call me Mara. God has made my life very sad. 21 I left here with my husband and my two sons. God has brought me back here without them. You should not call me Naomi. God has caused trouble to happen to me.’

1:21The name Naomi means happy. The name Mara means sad.

22 So Naomi returned from Moab with Ruth. Ruth was from Moab, and she was the wife of Naomi's son Mahlon. Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem when the people were cutting down barley in the fields.

1:22People plant barley for food. The plants make many seeds. People cook the seeds and they eat them.