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1:1-22 TEN YEARS OF HARDSHIP IN MOAB
When a severe famine struck Israel, Elimelech took his wife Naomi and their two sons across the Jordan and south to the land of Moab, in the hope of finding a living there. But Elimelech died, and within ten years his two sons, who had married Moabite wives, died also (1:1-5).
Naomi saw no future for herself in Moab, so, upon hearing that the famine in Israel had passed, she decided to return home. Her daughters-in-law loved her and decided to go with her to ease her burden (6-10).
As the daughters-in-law were thoughtful of Naomi, so she was thoughtful of them. They were both childless and would remain so if they stayed with her, as she had no other sons whom they could marry. (The custom was that if a man died childless, his brother was to have a temporary marital relation with the widow so that she might produce a son. This son would be reckoned as belonging to the dead brother, and so would carry on his name and inheritance; see Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Mark 12:19.) Naomi made it clear that they should feel no obligation to go with her. They were free to remain with their own people and begin new lives by remarrying and having families of their own (11-13).
One daughter-in-law accepted Naomi’s offer and returned to her family in Moab. The other, Ruth, was determined to go on to Israel with Naomi, trusting in Naomi’s God, whatever the cost (14-18). Although Naomi was welcomed home by the local townspeople, she was sad when she thought of all she had lost over the previous ten years (19-22).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ruth 1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany