I've lived in Moab for about ten years now. My husband, Elimelech, two sons, and I left our home in Bethlehem when the rains stopped.
Not long after Elimelech built our home, planted the crops, and raised a barn for the animals here in Moab, he died. My sons, Mahlon and Chilion have taken good care of me.
We didn't have a lot, nothing extra, really. Still, God provided for our needs. I kept up with the news in Bethlehem each time a traveler passed my home. Recently Mahlon and Chilion married Moabite girls, lovely girls named Orpah and Ruth. Of course, I would have preferred they married Hebrew girls, but what could I say since we lived in Moab? There were no Hebrew girls living here..
Orpah and Ruth are nice girls. They seem to love their husbands and have been willing to follow our customs. They've asked me how to make our special Hebrew foods and help me with the chores after they finish their own.
I've actually enjoyed our conversations. Over time they've asked me to teach them the Hebrew songs their husbands know. Mahlon said he heard his wife humming one of the tunes while cooking dinner, and Chilion said he saw his wife dancing one of the Hebrew dances while doing her housework. God has blessed us with these two girls.
Not too long after my sons married, Orpah and Ruth spent less time with me. Seems they had to do more of the work than usual. Mahlon and Chilion took naps in the afternoons, they never had before and their skin turned pale. Maybe they didn't have enough to eat. I made special soups and other foods to restore their health. Neither of my sons ate much.
They worked in the fields all day then came back to their homes and went to bed after only a spoonful of supper. I don't know what's wrong with them.
I asked the Almighty to take care of them. Without His healing hand, I had feared they will die.
A week ago neither of my sons got up from bed. They barely spoke. Orpah and Ruth tried to get their husbands to eat, but they wouldn't. Yesterday, both Mahlon and Chilion died.
I want to believe God would take care of me, and my two daughters-in-law, but I didn't know how. My stomach tightened and my head hurt. I couldn't control the anger I felt growing inside my heart.
Maybe we should have moved back to Bethlehem after my husband died. Maybe we should--maybe--
Orpah and Ruth came to the door, their faces stained from tears. "What can we do for you, Mother?"
I hugged them both and invited them to the table. I could barely speak. These girls came to me, a foreigner in their country, and asked what they could do. They could have left, instead they came to comfort me. O thank you God.
I poured them something to drink then sat with them. "A traveler recently told me the Lord has visited Israel. The crops have grown and there is plenty of bread." I sighed. "I had put off returning to my home while my sons cared for our home here. Now there seems no reason to stay."
Orpah and Ruth looked at each other with their eyes wide. Orpah set her cup down. "Please don't leave us. We belong to your family."
Ruth stretched her arm out to hug me. "We'll go with you, of course. We'll start packing first thing in the morning."
I didn't expect them to be so kind. "Are you sure?"
Both girls nodded and smiled. "We want to be with you, Mother."
We pack all morning then walked away from our Moab home. We hadn't gone far down the road before I realized I had made a mistake. These girls should stay in their home country, find new husbands, and make a home.
I stopped on the side of the road and sat on a rock. "Orpah, Ruth, I have been thinking. You girls should stay in your home country. Go back to your mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have been to your husbands, my sons, and to me." I hugged them close. "May the Lord grant each of your rest in the house of a new husband."
I kissed them both and stood. The girls looked at me with their eyes wide. They shook their heads and cried to me. "No, Mother. We'll go back with you, to your people."
Sorrow pushed on my heart like a heavy weight. I could barely breathe. "No. Turn back, my daughters. I can't raise sons who can be your husbands." I gazed into their beautiful faces. "Turn back, my daughters, go--for I am too old to have a husband." Tears fell, I couldn't stop them. "No, my daughters, it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me."
What will Orpah and Ruth do? Come back next week to read more.
1. Sad things will happen during our lives. What happened to Naomi?
2. Who were here daughters-in-law?
3. Where were they from?
4. What did Naomi decide to do?
5. Who went with her?
6. After she started the trip, what did Naomi decide?
7. As you read the rest of this story, you will see God has a plan for Naomi. She doesn't know the plan right now. How can this story help you?