Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Orpah

By Mary Vee
Ruth 1


From Orpah's Journal


I had great dreams of one day being married, a nice home, and children. My dreams didn't go exactly as I expected--but--well, let me tell you what happened.


A Hebrew family came to Moab, my country, to homestead: a husband, Elimilech, wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. They said they came because there was a famine in Israel. Everyone in our neighborhood liked them right away. The Hebrew family worked hard to build a home, plant crops, take care of their herd, and help others in need. 


Even though Elimilech and Naomi kept their Hebrew traditions and didn't participate in the celebrations for our gods, the neighborhood appreciated them for their kindness. The longer they stayed, the more I realized what a loving family they were and this made me want to marry one of their sons. 


Several months later, Mahlon and Chilion missed some of the neighborhood gatherings. One of my friends said Naomi's sons needed to work longer days in the fields to help their sick father. When their father, Elimilech, came to any neighborhood gatherings he sat in a corner and watched the fun, wouldn't eat hardly any of the food served, and barely spoke a word.  And then, not many mornings later, we heard Elimilech died.


The whole neighborhood cried. I hugged Naomi, his wife, and felt her warm heart working to cheer me and the other neighbors through her tears. What a nice lady. 


We all thought she would move her sons back to Israel after her husband died, but, I must admit, I was glad to see them stay. Her sons knew how to take care of the land, and she took care of them.


Naomi encouraged her sons to get married. The new wives could help with the work and their land would prosper.  I'd hoped they would chose me to marry one of them.


One year later, my wish came true. I married one of Naomi's sons and my friend, Ruth, married the other. I couldn't have been any happier. We worked together to take care of the land. Naomi taught Ruth and I how to cook our husband's favorite meals and the Hebrew songs they learned as children.


Ruth and I laughed each time Naomi told us a story about our husbands as little boys. She'd start each story with a serious face then laugh between sentences until tears dripped.  Soon she snorted while laughing, and, well, we couldn't help but join the guffaw.  I'm surprised our husbands couldn't hear us from out in the fields.


We worked hard in the morning cleaning, washing, and mending then took a break during the hottest time of the day. That's when we sat at Naomi's kitchen table and talked. Naomi's eyes brightened each time she told us about her home country, Israel.  We couldn't help but grow to love her as a mother.


I found myself humming the Hebrew songs when I was alone. I'd look around to make sure no one was watching, then danced one of the Hebrew dances Naomi taught us. I liked singing and dancing to Hebrew music, I just wished I could do the steps as well as Naomi.


My life couldn't be any better. I love my husband, Naomi, my mother-in-law, our joined homes with Ruth and her husband, and our land. 


If only life could stay this good for always. But it didn't.  Next time Ruth will share her side of the story.


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1.  How did Orpah meet the Hebrew family?
2.  What country did Orpah live in?
3.  Why did the Hebrew family come to Orpah's country?
4.  What are the names of the Hebrew family?
5.  Who did Orpah marry?
6.  What did Orpah learn from Naomi?
7.  Who married the other son?
8.  Do you think Orpah learned about God?
9. Orpah's family and her neighborhood learned to like the visiting Hebrew family, why?


Photo courtesy of Visualbiblealive.com

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