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. 2The man’s name was Elimelek. His wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites whose home had been in Bethlehem in Judah. They went to Moab and lived there.
3Naomi’s husband Elimelek died. So she was left with her two sons. 4They married women from Moab. One was named Orpah. The other was named Ruth. Naomi’s family lived in Moab for about ten years. 5Then Mahlon and Kilion also died. So Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
Naomi and Ruth Return to Bethlehem
6While 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. 7She 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.
8Naomi 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. 9May 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. 10They said to her, “We’ll go back to your people with you.”
11But 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? 12Go 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. 13Would 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!”
14When 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.”
16But 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. 17Where 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.” 18Naomi realized that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her. So she stopped trying to make her go back.
19The 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. 21I 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.”
22So 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.
Naomi loses her husband and sons
1In the days when the judges ruled,1:1 Traditionally judged there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
3Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem
6When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
8Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.’
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10and said to her, ‘We will go back with you to your people.’
11But Naomi said, ‘Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me – even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons – 13would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!’
14At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
15‘Look,’ said Naomi, ‘your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.’
16But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’ 18When Naomi realised that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
19So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, ‘Can this be Naomi?’
20‘Don’t call me Naomi,1:20 Naomi means pleasant.’ she told them. ‘Call me Mara,1:20 Mara means bitter. because the Almighty1:20 Hebrew Shaddai; also in verse 21 has made my life very bitter. 21I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted1:21 Or has testified against me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.’
22So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.