Ruth 1:12-22

Ruth 1:12

Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;


Here once again Naomi impresses on Orpah and Ruth that they should turn back and she emphasizes marriage as the center of the conversation.  Naomi is setting up a scenario which would cause them to seriously think about their present situation.  Naomi was probably too old to bear children and she was appealing to the desire of Orpah and Ruth to have a husband and bear children.  If Naomi had a husband that very night and became pregnant, it would still be many years before they could be married and then it would be too late for Orpah and Ruth.  Naomi is using the time element to discourage them so they would turn back.  There may also be an element here to see if they would be true to the God of Israel and would be willing to turn their backs on the false gods of Moab.


Ruth 1:13

Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.


Then if Naomi did have sons, how long would Ruth and Orpah be willing to wait for them to grow up?  Suppose while they were growing up they met someone else they liked better and then married them?  Naomi had great faith in God but she is trying to explain to the two women that she felt the LORD’s hand was against her by taking her husband which was her primary source of support in the world.  Naomi grieved for the sake of Orpah and Ruth knowing that if they continued with her to Israel then their lives would be harder than if they went back to Moab. 


Ruth 1:14

And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.


Then finally came the parting of the ways where Orpah kissed Naomi as a gesture of love but she decided to go back to Moab where maybe she would find a husband to live with now.  However, Ruth had a different spirit in that instead of going back to Moab and the false gods, Ruth decided to stay with Naomi.  The word “clave” may be understood as “staying close, abide, be joined.”  Ruth was willing to go with Naomi to help her in whatever situation she found herself in.  They must have had a very good relationship in the ten years she knew her.


Ruth 1:15

And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.


Then Naomi once again insists that Ruth join Orpah and return unto the land that she came from.  Notice that Naomi states that Orpah went back to “her gods” which means there was now a spiritual dividing line between Orpah and Ruth.  It is like two people listening to the gospel message and one is elect and the other is not.  The one who is not will go back to serve the world the way they have always done but the one who is elect will begin to serve the LORD.  This is the message of the next verse.


Ruth 1:16

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:


Here Ruth makes a tremendous declaration and at this time she probably did not know that she was the Elect of God.  Ruth here basically tells Naomi to stop pressing the issue of her returning to Moab because she is now committing herself to the God of Israel.  Ruth now sees the difference between the false gods of Moab and the true God of Israel.  Ruth was now assimilating into the culture of Naomi.  Ruth states that she would cleave to Naomi wherever she decides to live and the people of Naomi will be as her people too and the greatest profession she makes is that the God of Israel shall be her God and she will no longer have anything to do with the false gods of Moab.  Ruth was now walking in the light of truth.


Ruth 1:17

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.


Then Ruth makes a lifelong declaration to Naomi, that wherever Naomi will die, then that is where Ruth will die.  She is basically stating that if Naomi dies first, then Ruth will not abandon the land of Israel by going back to Moab even at a later date.  Ruth planned to live her entire life in the land of Israel.  Then Ruth calls upon the LORD that if she does not fulfill her commitment, then may the LORD strike her with death and even do more to her if she does not fulfill her vow to Naomi.  Her relationship with her mother in law was as strong as a marriage bond because the only way a marriage can be broken is by the death of one of one of the spouses.  The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.  (1 Corinthians 7:39)


Ruth 1:18

When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.


When Naomi realized that nothing she could say to Ruth would cause her to go back and with the declaration she made, Naomi knew that Ruth was serious and that she had a friend for life so Naomi no longer tried to talk Ruth out of returning with her even though she knew that being a Moabite might cause some problems for Ruth, even if she showed herself completely committed to the LORD.  She might still be suspect in the eyes of many, especially the women, since she was a Moabitess and not born of the stock of Israel.


Ruth 1:19

So they two went until they came to Beth-lehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Beth-lehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?


Then they continued on their journey and finally they had arrived in Bethlehem.  The name “Bethlehem” means “house of bread.”  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.  (John 6:51)  This is where the Lord Jesus Christ was born coming to the house of bread as the Bread of Life.  When Ruth and Naomi had arrived in Bethlehem the word spread rapidly that she was back.  Elimelech may had been a man of means when they left for Moab to escape the famine but now Naomi is returning home poor and maybe tattered in her looks and wardrobe.  It seemed that gossip columns existed way before our day as the whole town of Bethlehem was moved concerning their arrival.  The word “moved” carries with it the meaning of “uproar or agitated.”  Elimelech may have been well-known in Bethlehem and well off and people knew his status and what a difference ten years makes.  It also shows you something else.  At that time Israel was under God’s authority and Elimelech chose to dwell in a land of false gods and it may be that he was judged for leaving the truth and living under a false god.  It is like a Christian who claims to be a Christian and yet lives like the world.  That Christian will never spiritually prosper and may lose the blessing of the LORD in all areas of life including material goods.


Ruth 1:20

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.


Then Naomi has a conversation with some people and maybe she knew them before she left for Moab.  She then tells them to call her “Mara” which means bitter and we get the name “Mary” from “Mara.”  Remember the name Naomi means “beautiful or agreeable” and now she returns broken and because of all that has happened to her she wishes to be known as Mara.  She felt the LORD had dealt bitterly with her although she did not know that all that happened to her was in God’s plan for the continuation of the lineage of the Messiah.  The name for God in this verse is “Almighty” which comes from the Hebrew “El Shaddai” which means the all-powerful God. 


Ruth 1:21

I went out full , and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?


Naomi then tells her listeners that she left Israel full, that is, well-satisfied with everything that she needed for the trip and to sustain them while living in Moab.  Living under a false god never prospers anyone and Naomi now knows that because she left full and now returns empty including the loss of her husband and two sons plus one daughter-in-law.  Then she once again tells her hearers not to call her Naomi because the LORD was a testimony against her and the Almighty has afflicted her with much loss and sorrow.  Maybe the LORD dealt with her like this because it may have been her idea to go to Moab and live there till the famine was over, we don’t know because normally in those days the husband made the decisions for the family and the family would have to follow those decisions whether they be right or wrong.  We do not know but this we do know that Naomi took the chastisement of God very personally but again not knowing it was all in God’s plan.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  (Isaiah 55:8)


Ruth 1:22

So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest.


So Naomi and Ruth had come to Bethlehem and lived there.  At this time Naomi had two great blessings from the LORD.  First was Ruth and her declaration that she would stay with Naomi until the day of her death and the second the food famine was over and they arrived in Bethlehem just in time for barley harvest which would have commenced at the end of April.  So Ruth came out of Moab and the false god Chemosh and now began to live under the rule of the true God in Israel.  Her journey took her from eternal damnation under false gods to eternal life under the true God.  And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.  (Genesis 17:7)  Ruth and Boaz was in the Messianic line from Abraham and would have partaken in the covenant of grace as seeds of Abraham.