Ruth 1

1 In the days when the judges judged, there was a famine in the land. A certain man of Bethlehem Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem Judah. They came into the country of Moab, and lived there. 3 Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons. 4 They took for themselves wives of the women of Moab. The name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other was Ruth. They lived there about ten years. 5 Mahlon and Chilion both died, and the woman was bereaved of her two children and of her husband. 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 the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread. 7 She went out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her. They went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9 May The LORD grant you that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices, and wept. 10 They said to her, “No, but we will return with you to your people.” 11 Naomi said, “Go back, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Go back, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say, ‘I have hope,’ if I should even have a husband tonight, and should also bear sons; 13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from having husbands? No, my daughters, for it grieves me seriously for your sakes, for the LORD’s hand has gone out against me.” 14 They lifted up their voices, and wept again; then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth joined with her. 15 She said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people, and to her god. Follow your sister-in-law.” 16 Ruth said, “Don’t urge me to leave you, and to return from following you, for where you go, I will go; and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. 19 So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. When they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was excited about them, and they asked, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara; for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned out of the country of Moab. They came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

(Next Chapter)

Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–5

Elimelech’s care to provide for his family, was not to be blamed; but his removal into the country of Moab could not be justified. And the removal ended in the wasting of his family. It is folly to think of escaping that cross, which, being laid in our way, we ought to take up. Changing our place seldom is mending it. Those who bring young people into bad acquaintance, and take them out of the way of public ordinances, thought they may think them well-principled, and armed against temptation, know not what will be the end. It does not appear that the women the sons of Elimelech married, were proselyted to the Jewish religion. Earthly trials or enjoyments are of short continuance. Death continually removes those of every age and situation, and mars all our outward comforts: we cannot too strongly prefer those advantages which shall last for ever.

Verses 6–14

Naomi began to think of returning, after the death of her two sons. When death comes into a family, it ought to reform what is amiss there. Earth is made bitter to us, that heaven may be made dear. Naomi seems to have been a person of faith and piety. She dismissed her daughters-in-law with prayer. It is very proper for friends, when they part, to part with them thus part in love. Did Naomi do well, to discourage her daughters from going with her, when she might save them from the idolatry of Moab, and bring them to the faith and worship of the God of Israel? Naomi, no doubt, desired to do that; but if they went with her, she would not have them to go upon her account. Those that take upon them a profession of religion only to oblige their friends, or for the sake of company, will be converts of small value. If they did come with her, she would have them make it their deliberate choice, and sit down first and count the cost, as it concerns those to do who make a profession of religion. And more desire “rest in the house of a husband,” or some wordly settlement or earthly satisfaction, than the rest to which Christ invites our souls; therefore when tried they will depart from Christ, though perhaps with some sorrow.

Verses 15–18

See Ruth’s resolution, and her good affection to Naomi. Orpah was loth to part from her; yet she did not love her well enough to leave Moab for her sake. Thus, many have a value and affection for Christ, yet come short of salvation by him, because they will not forsake other things for him. They love him, yet leave him, because they do not love him enough, but love other things better. Ruth is an example of the grace of God, inclining the soul to choose the better part. Naomi could desire no more than the solemn declaration Ruth made. See the power of resolution; it silences temptation. Those that go in religious ways without a stedfast mind, stand like a door half open, which invites a thief; but resolution shuts and bolts the door, resists the devil and forces him to flee.

Verses 19–22

Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem. Afflictions will make great and surprising changes in a little time. May God, by his grace, fit us for all such changes, especially the great change!, Naomi signifies “pleasant,” or “amiable;” Mara, “bitter,” or “bitterness.” She was now a woman of a sorrowful spirit. She had come home empty, poor, a widow and childless. But there is a fulness for believers of which they never can be emptied; a good part which shall not be taken from those who have it. The cup of affliction is a “bitter” cup, but she owns that the affliction came from God. It well becomes us to have our hearts humbled under humbling providences. It is not affliction itself, but affliction rightly borne, that does us good.

Back to Top