Reading For Monday Ruth 1:1-22
The land of Judah experienced a famine and a man by the name of Elimelech decides to move his family to the land of Moab to wait out the famine. Elimelech died and the two sons took Moabite wives. For about ten years, the Israelite men and their wives Orpah and Ruth lived in Moab. It appears that they had abandoned any thought of returning to Bethlehem, and Naomi remained with her sons as a widow. In those days, a widow was almost entirely dependent upon her sons for support, so when Naomi sons died, she was left destitute. Naomi learned that the conditions in Judah had improved, and she believed that her chances of surviving would be greater in her native homeland than in Moab.
As Naomi left, her two daughters-in-law accompanied her for some distance on the road to Judah. At some point along the journey, Naomi urged her two daughters-in-law each to return to her mother’s house, and she blessed them. She prayed that the Lord would be as kind to them as they had been to her. Naomi kissed them, and they could no longer restrain their emotions and they lifted up their voices and wept. The young women expressed a desire to accompany Naomi all the way to Bethlehem but, Naomi insisted that they go back to their country. All of the misfortune Naomi experienced, she attributed to the actions of God. Orpah yielded to Naomi’s reasoning and submitted to her wishes. She kissed her mother-in-law and departed for her home. Ruth, however, clung to Naomi and refused to leave.
After some time had passed Naomi began to urge Ruth to follow the example of her sister-in-law. Ruth could not bear the thought of returning. If Ruth had not renounced the gods of Moab before, she does so at this point. She would not hear of returning to Moab. Ruth committed herself for better or worse to Naomi, Naomi’s people, and Naomi’s God. She did not even want to return to Moab for burial. Nothing but death would separate her from Naomi. When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go on to Bethlehem with her, she ceased urging her to return.
The entire village of Bethlehem was a buzz when Naomi and Ruth arrived. The sight of two women traveling alone toward the city was unusual all by itself. As they drew near, the women of Bethlehem thought they recognized Naomi, and she instructed them to call her Mara, which means bitter. Naomi blamed her misfortune on the Lord. When she left Bethlehem, Naomi had been living a full life. She had a husband and two sons. God, however, it seemed had brought her back empty and witnessed against her. Her words, however, seem to blame all her misfortune directly on the Lord. God may have permitted her misfortune, but to say that God initiated or directly caused Naomi all the pain she had experienced is never suggested in the text. In April, the barley crop would have ripened and be ready for harvest.
Thing To Consider:
- When bad things happen, does it mean that God has abandoned his people?
- What should our response be when we encounter suffering?
- What does Ruth's promise to Naomi tell us about her faith?
- Do you think Naomi was right about God witnessing against her? Why?
- What are the implications of this taking place in Bethlehem and barley?