Chapter 1

Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.

We have seen that there were thirteen famines mentioned in the Bible. Why do you think that God permitted the famines? I believe it was to drive the people back to the worship of YHWH. We saw the beginning of Moab from incest, deceit, drunkenness and the failure to believe that God could take care of Lot and his daughters. We have two sons born from the incestuous relationship, Moab and Ben Ammi. We also saw that Ruth came from the people of Moab.

Ruth is considered a Gentile even though she was a kinsman of Abraham through Abraham’s nephew Lot. We have prepared a chart that should explain why only the line of Abraham were considered Hebrews, and the children of promise.

God made a promise with Abram concerning the land and we find this in the book of Genesis.

Genesis 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

God also promised that Abram would be the father of many nations.

Genesis 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

Genesis 17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

Genesis 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

Genesis 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

Genesis 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

Genesis 17:8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Genesis 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

Genesis 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

Genesis 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

God promised Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son and God’s promises would pass to him.

Genesis 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

We also see that Israel, Abraham and Sarah’s seed through Isaac, is very special to God.

Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Exodus 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Let’s review the outline of Ruth chapter 1 again.

  1. Ruth’s Resolve                                1:1-22
    1. Her background                       1:1-5
    2. Her choice                                 1:6-18
    3. Her arrival in Bethlehem       1:19-22

We see that there is a famine, times are hard, there is a lack of food and the scene is set in the time of the Judges. The time of the Judges is a time that the Israelite’s turned their back on YHWH and went into the worship of idols. God would raise up a new judge and get Israel turned back to the worship of God. Soon the cycle would start all over again.

Ruth 1:2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-Judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

Here is Elimelech of the tribe of Judah living in Bethlehem-Judah. His wife was Naomi and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion whose names mean sickly and puny.

Why did Elimelech take his family and leave the “house of bread” and the “house of praise” to go to Moab? Do you think this was the right decision?

Do you see a lack of faith on Elimelech’s part?

Verse one says that they went to sojourn in the country of Moab, a country that God told Israel not to enter into. Was it because they heard there was food there? How long is a sojourn? Sojourn is like a short stay, a weekend or so.

How long did they stay? If we look at the following verses we can see how long their ‘sojourn’ lasted.

Ruth 1:3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

Ruth 1:4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

We read that they dwelled there. This means they did more than pitch a temporary tent.

It is my considered opinion that Elimelech was operating outside of the perfect will of God for his family. Elimelech has made a bad decision. Now, can I prove this statement? We need to look at the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomhy 23:3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:

Deuteronomy 23:4 Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.

Deuteronomy 23:5 Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.

Deuteronomy 23:6 Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.

We can see that Moab was cursed by God. Travel to Moab was not forbidden, however, God said not to seek their peace or prosperity. There was bread in Moab, but wasn’t God more than able to supply bread in Bethlehem-Judah?

Now we will look in the New Testament book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Although this verse may be slightly out of context, it certainly has an application here. When we disobey the laws and commands that God has given us, He will chasten us. The death of a husband and both son’s might seem extreme to us, but remember all of these events were in God’s plan. Being outside of the perfect will of God, Elimelech set up permanent camp in Moab and it cost him his life as we see.

Ruth 1:3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

Ruth 1:4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

We now see that the problem is multiplied in that Naomi’s two sons, sickly and puny get married to Moabite women. Enter Ruth and Orpah, the wives of Naomi’s two sons. Any children from those marriages would be restricted from the temple for ten generations.

How long were they there in the land of Moab? We see that they dwelled there about ten years. Their stay in Moab is a little more that a sojourn.

Ruth 1:5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

We can see the results of the wrong decision in that Naomi’s two sons die. Since the two sons didn’t have children, who will raise up children with Orpah and Ruth?

Why would this be important? There needs to be a close relative, or “kinsman redeemer” in order to pass on the heritage of Mahlon and Chilion. There is no one in the land of Moab. Both the sons have died and the father is dead also, so there is no living relative to carry on the line of Elimelech and his two sons.

How do you suppose Naomi feels now? No husband, no sons, and a couple of tagalong girls who have no chance of an inheritance. Do you think she feels frustrated, rejected of God, despised perhaps, even cursed? We will see later, that is exactly how she feels when she wants to change her name from Naomi which means “pleasant” to Mara which means “bitter”!

Ruth 1:6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.

Now we see that Naomi has an ear turned toward Bethlehem-Judah. She hears that the Lord is once again blessing Israel and that the famine has ceased and there is food in the land of the “house of bread” and the “house of praise”.

God may have raised up a new Judge who was returning the people to renewed worship in the true God. Because of their return to God the blessing would come and the famine would cease.

Naomi, a worshiper of the God of Israel, YHWH, having lived in the land of Moab for ten plus years has probably been yearning to return to Bethlehem-Judah for quite a while. She is in a land of a foreign god “Chemosh” who was the god of the Moabites. If we will reflect on our own lives, we should see that we are not happy when in the presence of people who worship at the feet of strange god’s either.

Keep in mind the perils of the journey back to Bethlehem-Judah. It is a trip of fifty to sixty miles. Here we have women who are alone. There is no protection from robbers and thieves. The journey would be very perilous. She was probably thinking, since I have been cursed of God, who cares if I die! And, we will see that she felt cursed as we go along in the study of Ruth.

Naomi rises up and strikes camp, as we would say, and heads for Bethlehem-Judah. The custom of the day was that people would accompany you to the borders of the land and then turn back.

Ruth 1:7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.

Ruth 1:8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.

We see in verses seven and eight that there is an additional appeal to the girls when they reach the border of Moab and Judah. Ruth and Orpah, with the death of their husbands, are now free to return to the security and safety of their homeland.

Ruth 1:9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

They reach the border and Naomi gives the command for them to return home.

Naomi had the right as a parent to issue commands to her children and they were supposed to obey them, and a daughter-in-law would have been considered as her own. We see the blessing that Naomi gives to these girls in verse eight. She says the Lord(YHWH) deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me.

We can see the great love that Naomi has for her daughters-in-law. She asks the Lord to show His covenantal love to them by using the Hebrew word “hesed” which means lovingkindness.

What kind of love does God have for His people? The answer, agape love. Naomi is asking YHWH to show His agape love to Ruth and Orpah as she sends them back into that pagan culture.

Once again Naomi appeals to them and says turn back. Verse nine tells us that she asked YHWH to grant them rest in the house of their husbands. What do you think that means? Go home and die? Commit suicide? No, the meaning behind this is that they were both young enough to remarry. Naomi is saying they should go home and find a new husband.

And, then Naomi kisses them. What was the meaning of the kiss? I believe it was a farewell kiss, one that would be given when they never were to meet again. and they lifted up their voice, and wept, so we see sorrow and anguish at parting.

I don’t believe that Naomi ever expected to see them again. That would bring about the weeping and sorrow that comes with the parting of long time relationships. We can see this sorrow in our own lives, it is painful, and we long for the relationship to be restored even though we know that it is not possible.

Ruth 1:10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.

Ruth 1:11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?

Ruth 1:12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;

Ruth 1:13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.

Ruth 1:14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

As we look at the above verses we see Naomi’s insistence for Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab. Ruth wanted to be with Naomi even in Bethlehem-Judah. What reasons would Ruth have to be with Naomi?

Naomi was probably Ruth’s spiritual leader and teacher. She had probably taught Ruth about the true and living God, YHWH. Ruth had deep love for Naomi. Most importantly God is leading Ruth to stay with Naomi. Ruth did not want to return to the false god’s of the land and the pagan ways of the Moabites. There may be other reasons you can think of as to why Ruth wanted to be with Naomi.

The next question was “Did Ruth do the right thing by staying with Naomi?”

She did not obey Naomi, but it seems Ruth did obey God. Unless she traveled back with Naomi, Boaz would have never married Ruth. Ruth and Boaz would not have a son named Obed who would have a son named Jesse whose son was David the King. King David would never have been born. Remember the meaning of Ruth’s name is “faithful”. And, remember that God is sovereign and He is faithful to accomplish His purposes!

Ruth 1:15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.

As we look at verse fifteen, did Orpah do the right thing by turning back? Remembering that Orpah’s name means one who turns the back which it seems she did. Was it right for Orpah to obey Naomi’s instructions? Do you remember the points that Naomi brought up and the reasons that the girls should go back home? Naomi sets them free to return to their land where they could remarry and have children. In verse eight the term for find rest is like each of you in the house of her husband signifying that they were free to remarry.

Look at verse eleven. Naomi is getting old and says to them, are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?This leads us to believe that Naomi is past the age for bearing children and she tells the girls you better go back to Moab where you have a chance of getting another husband.

In verse thirteen Naomi feels cursed of God when she says for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.

Naomi has presented her case for the girls to stay in the land of Moab. In verse ten the girls repeat their desire to return with Naomi to Bethlehem-Judah. This is even though they would not be accepted in the Jewish culture. As Moabites they would have no inheritance in Israel and would not be able to find a husband there.

Then in verses eleven, twelve and thirteen we see Naomi’s final appeal, and once again the weeping. We saw that Naomi has made some statements that really defined who she was at this point in her life.

Ruth 1:16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

First, Ruth says Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee. I believe that this event is the turning point of Ruth’s life. Remember the song “I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, No turning back”. This is where Ruth is, and her decision is to be “Ruth” (faithful) to Naomi.

Second, for whither thou goest, I will go now Ruth adds that she will not turn back, but wherever Naomi goes Ruth will go. She is saying that she is going to stick like glue to Naomi.

Third, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge Ruth says not only will I go with you, but where you lodge I will lodge. This shows us the intimacy that Ruth felt for Naomi, Mother and Daughter inseparable.

Fourth, thy people shall be my peoplehere Ruth recognizes the difference between her people the Moabites and Naomi’s people the Israelites. In this I believe she is rejecting her own land and the god’s of that land, and I believe this is true because of the next statement.

Fifth, and most important and thy God my God. Here is an interesting usage of words! In verse sixteen Ruth uses the word Elohim, And thy Elohim my Elohim. This was a generic name for all gods, but a proper name for the true God. Now in verse seventeen Ruth uses the name YHWH, and we will see why in just a minute.

Ruth 1:17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

Sixth, we see Ruth say where thou diest, will I die and there will I be buried.

Ruth is showing solidarity with the family of Naomi. In this period of time, families were buried together waiting for the resurrection. They expected YHWH to restore them to the land at their resurrection so they would be buried together. Where was Sarah buried, Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Leah, Jacob, Joseph? They were buried in the field of Machpelah in the cave which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite.

Genesis 49:29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,

Genesis 49:30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace.

Genesis 49:31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.

Seventh, Ruth states the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. Ruth’s preceding statements have been a vow to Naomi. Ruth has vowed to follow Naomi, to lodge, to never leave, and to worship Naomi’s God and here she invokes the name of YHWH to seal the vow. YHWH is the specific name for God and only used for the true and living God. The God of Naomi.

We are looking at a seven-fold decision made here by Ruth. In this decision that Ruth makes we can see that it is genuine, there is no falseness, no doubt, no turning back.

This is the sort of decision we make when we come to repentance and receive Christ into our lives, there is no turning back again to the old ways. Oh, we might slip once in a while, might stumble along the pathway, we could even get turned aside for a season, but we never turn back, because this decision leads to life eternal, everlasting, forever, with our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

Ruth 1:18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.

We see that Naomi is convinced and quits trying to get Ruth to go back to her own people. Did you ever have an experience where the evidence was so overwhelmingly convincing that you finally gave in to it? You did if you received Jesus Christ into your life! You did if you are born again!

Ruth 1:19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?

Naomi and Ruth head for Bethlehem and it is thought that they went directly to the city, not lingering anywhere along the way, stopping only to rest. When they get to the city the scripture says all the city was moved about them, and they said is this Naomi?

What does this mean to you? Verse twenty two tells us that it is the time of the Barley harvest, about the end of March or first of April. This is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread or the beginning of Passover. The men would have been out in the fields harvesting the grain. We see here the phrase the city was moved is dealing with the women of Bethlehem-Judah. The verb form is feminine in the words and they said. Can you imagine the talk of the women that had recognized Naomi?

Looks like Naomi, she is more haggard, and didn’t Naomi smile all the time, didn’t we call her Mary Sunshine? This women looks whipped, so very tired, and look at the way she is dressed. I thought she had died in the wilderness, and, didn’t Naomi have a husband named Elimelech? So we see the question, is this Naomi?.

Ruth 1:20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

Now look at her response in verse twenty. call me not Naomi (pleasant), call me Mara (bitter.) for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. Even though she believes that God has dealt bitterly with her she still acknowledges that He is El Shaddai, the Almighty God. She is in no way blaming God for her condition.

We see that wrong choices can lead to unfavorable results but as long as we trust the Lord He will work all things for our good.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Ruth 1:21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

Ruth 1:22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty.

Naomi acknowledges that YHWH has brought her back to Bethlehem-Judah, that YHWH is still in charge, even though she is empty. She went to Moab with a husband and two sons, and now she returns with a tag-a-long Moabite girl, no husband and no sons.

I think she is feeling pretty low, the “woe is me syndrome” and sort of having a pity party of one. She feels that Almighty God, El Shaddai has brought this entire calamity upon her and at this moment she cannot see the blessings that lay ahead.

It’s sort of like going through a long curving tunnel. At first we can only see blackness but as you get past the bend of the tunnel we start to see a little speck of light, and as we get closer to the mouth of the tunnel the light gets brighter and brighter until we emerge at the end and step into the Son-shine. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the light of the world.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

2Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.