View of Al Kerak, Jordan. Fields of Moab
English Standard Version, David Cochran Audio Bible
In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, 5 and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.
6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “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. 9 The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”
14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “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. 17 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.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi [pleasant] ; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Pleasant. We all want pleasant: Nation, lives, income, housing, neighborhoods, schools, work, friends and family.
Part of me always wonders if Ruth was from an abusive or needy family. So, would you go off to Israel - the Jews had dispelled the goys. Ruth was moving in as a goy. Hungry, poor, woman foreigner and with another woman. Today, we move for better jobs and a chance at improvement.
Judges (v.1) was time political scientists and Anarchy enthusiasts should love. Live, let live and self-govern. A product of the Exodus and the Covenant of God. This is a time when God was trying to let each person self-govern. Most of Judges is tragic.
But perhaps I am cynical. Maybe Naomi had demonstrated such love Ruth couldn't bear to see this woman trudge, by herself, through some very rough terrain to go back to Bethlehem where a lot of people had small farms with homes and stables carved into the hills of Bethlehem. Boaz had purchased Elimelech's land.
100 years ago, in this photo, this was how Bethlehem looked for millenniums. Naomi's choices were rather limited to being on the east or west side of the Dead Sea.
Naomi was in the same situation, roughly, as Job.
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Naomi thought she would walk alone. And in higher regard for her daughter-in-laws' future lives, she was sending them on to a better life. I love the Scriptures for Naomi's honesty - this set of situations causes her to call herself bitter. Bethlehem, the town, greets her! She doesn't say with enthusiasm that she is back for more opportunities to help raise someone else's sheep. Or to help milk or sheer the animals. She says, I am bitter and God has laid this circumstance on me.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
I'm sure at Naomi's announcement of being bitter and forlorn, everyone wanted to have her as their house guest or house help. Remember, this is the (generations forward) crowd where they had no room in their homes or inn for a pregnant woman with her husband.
Naomi is worn out physically and emotionally. She is old. Is there hope?
God doesn't blast Naomi for her bitterness. He helps & sent someone to help them, with food, work and lodgings. Naomi is an adopted Grandmother. Boaz does such a Messiah type job of providing for this family, Solomon would name one of the two pillars in the front of the Temple - Boaz.
Naomi's family becomes the pillar of God's demonstration there is hope for us ahead in this life. Naomi's grandson was Obed, great-grandson is Jesse, and great-great-grandson is David.
David in the Holy Spirit would write:
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
And Jesus would say about Solomon & trusting the Lord:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.