New International Reader's Version

Ruth 1

Naomi Loses Her Husband and Sons

1There was a time when Israel didn’t have kings to rule over them. But they had leaders to help them. This is a story about some things that happened during that time. There wasn’t enough food in the land of Judah. So a man went to live for a while in the country of Moab. He was from Bethlehem in Judah. His wife and two sons went with him. The man’s name was Elimelek. His wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were from the tribe of Ephraim. Their home had been in Bethlehem in Judah. They went to Moab and lived there.

Naomi’s husband Elimelek died. So she was left with her two sons. They married women from Moab. One was named Orpah. The other was named Ruth. Naomi’s family lived in Moab for about ten years. Then Mahlon and Kilion also died. So Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem

While Naomi was in Moab, she heard that the Lord had helped his people. He had begun to provide food for them again. So Naomi and her two daughters-in-law prepared to go from Moab back to her home. She left the place where she had been living. Her daughters-in-law went with her. They started out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Both of you go back. Each of you go to your own mother’s home. You were kind to your husbands, who have died. You have also been kind to me. So may the Lord be just as kind to you. May the Lord help each of you find rest in the home of another husband.”

Then she kissed them goodbye. They broke down and wept loudly. 10 They said to her, “We’ll go back to your people with you.”

11 But Naomi said, “Go home, my daughters. Why would you want to come with me? Am I going to have any more sons who could become your husbands? 12 Go home, my daughters. I’m too old to have another husband. Suppose I thought there was still some hope for me. Suppose I married a man tonight. And later I had sons by him. 13 Would you wait until they grew up? Would you stay single until you could marry them? No, my daughters. My life is more bitter than yours. The Lord’s power has turned against me!”

14 When they heard that, they broke down and wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye. But Ruth held on to her.

15 “Look,” said Naomi. “Your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t try to make me leave you and go back. Where you go I’ll go. Where you stay I’ll stay. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God. 17 Where you die I’ll die. And there my body will be buried. I won’t let even death separate you from me. If I do, may the Lord punish me greatly.” 18 Naomi realized that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her. So she stopped trying to make her go back.

19 The two women continued on their way. At last they arrived in Bethlehem. The whole town was stirred up because of them. The women in the town asked, “Can this possibly be Naomi?”

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara. The Mighty One has made my life very bitter. 21 I was full when I went away. But the Lord has brought me back empty. So why are you calling me Naomi? The Lord has made me suffer. The Mighty One has brought trouble on me.”

22 So Naomi returned from Moab. Ruth, her daughter-in-law from Moab, came with her. They arrived in Bethlehem just when people were beginning to harvest the barley.

The Message

Ruth 1

11-2 Once upon a time—it was back in the days when judges led Israel— there was a famine in the land. A man from Bethlehem in Judah left home to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The man’s name was Elimelech; his wife’s name was Naomi; his sons were named Mahlon and Kilion—all Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They all went to the country of Moab and settled there.

3-5 Elimelech died and Naomi was left, she and her two sons. The sons took Moabite wives; the name of the first was Orpah, the second Ruth. They lived there in Moab for the next ten years. But then the two brothers, Mahlon and Kilion, died. Now the woman was left without either her young men or her husband.

6-7 One day she got herself together, she and her two daughters-in-law, to leave the country of Moab and set out for home; she had heard that God had been pleased to visit his people and give them food. And so she started out from the place she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law with her, on the road back to the land of Judah.

8-9 After a short while on the road, Naomi told her two daughters-in-law, “Go back. Go home and live with your mothers. And may God treat you as graciously as you treated your deceased husbands and me. May God give each of you a new home and a new husband!” She kissed them and they cried openly.

10 They said, “No, we’re going on with you to your people.”

11-13 But Naomi was firm: “Go back, my dear daughters. Why would you come with me? Do you suppose I still have sons in my womb who can become your future husbands? Go back, dear daughters—on your way, please! I’m too old to get a husband. Why, even if I said, ‘There’s still hope!’ and this very night got a man and had sons, can you imagine being satisfied to wait until they were grown? Would you wait that long to get married again? No, dear daughters; this is a bitter pill for me to swallow—more bitter for me than for you. God has dealt me a hard blow.”

14 Again they cried openly. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye; but Ruth embraced her and held on.

15 Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is going back home to live with her own people and gods; go with her.”

16-17 But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us!”

18-19 When Naomi saw that Ruth had her heart set on going with her, she gave in. And so the two of them traveled on together to Bethlehem.

When they arrived in Bethlehem the whole town was soon buzzing: “Is this really our Naomi? And after all this time!”

20-21 But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t. The Strong One ruined me.”

22 And so Naomi was back, and Ruth the foreigner with her, back from the country of Moab. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.