1. There was a famine in the land during the time of the Judges, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah departed with his wife and two sons to sojourn in the country of Moab.

2. The man was Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and his two sons Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. A little later, after they had settled in Moab,

3. Naomi's husband Elimelech died. She was left with her two sons,

4. who married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After living in Moab for about ten years,

5. Mahlon and Chilion also died and Naomi was left bereft of husband and two sons.

6. Having heard that Yahweh had come to help his people by giving them food, Naomi prepared to return home.

7. With her two daughters-in-law, she took the road back to Judah.

8. It was then that Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, "Go back, each of you, to your mother's house. And may Yahweh be kind to you, as you have been to your dead and to me.

9. May he also grant each of you rest in the home of another husband." She kissed them goodbye. But they wept aloud

10. and said to her, "No, we will go back with you to your people."

11. Naomi said, "Return home, my daughters. Why should you come with me, when I have no more sons to become your husbands?

12. Return home, my daughters. I am now too old to marry again. Even if I hope to have a husband tonight and give birth to sons,

13. would you remain unmarried waiting for them to grow up? No, my daughters. I won't share my lot with you for it is too bitter. Yahweh's hand has been raised against me!"

14. Again they sobbed and wept. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

15. Naomi said, "Look, your sister-in-law returns to her people and her gods. You too must return. Go after her."

16. Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you. For I will go where you go and stay where you stay. Your people will be my people and your god, my God.

17. Where you die, there will I die and be buried. May Yahweh deal with me severely if anything except death separates us."

18. Realizing that Ruth was determined to go with her, Naomi stopped urging her.

19. So the two went on till they reached Bethlehem. Their arrival set the town astir. Women asked, "Can this be Naomi?"

20. She said to them, "Don't call me Naomi. Call me Mara for Yahweh has made life bitter for me.

21. I came away full but go back empty. Why call me Naomi, when Yahweh has afflicted me?"

22. Thus it was that Naomi returned from Moab with her Moabite daughter-in-law and arrived in Bethlehem as the barley harvest began.



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