Book Of Ruth
Chapter 1: 11-18
J. Deering, AncientPath.net
Text with Commentary and Q&A,
First, we have a quick summary of the previous lessons.
Ruth 1:1-5 we were introduced
to Elimelech and his family. They lived in Israel during the times of the book
of Judges, roughly a thousand years before King David. The Nation of Israel
was enduring a terrible famine brought about as a chastisement from the Lord
because of the sins of Israel as a nation. The book of Ruth, aside from being
a wonderful story about Naomi, Ruth, and a man named Boaz, is a book that has
dramatic foreshadowing symbolism about the character of God in His dealings
with both the nation of Israel, and the Body of Christ – The Church. Within
the symbolism of these verses is the relationship of those who have fallen from
the fellowship of God. The nation of Israel is in famine, the result of the
hard hearts of Israel’s people and their sin of entering into the idolatry of
the pagan nations around her and not “loving God with all their hearts.”
and his family, Naomi and two sons, intended to move temporarily to the nation
of Moab because they had food. The end of verse 2 states that they moved
there and remained there. We read in verse 4 that the famine lasted for
10 years after they moved. While they were in the land of Moab both sons married
Moabite women against the will of God. As the story progresses we see Elimelech
and his family representing the nation of Israel and the un-repentant heart.
There is famine in the Promised Land and the Lord’s people are moving away from
Him and marrying into idolatry. Knowing Him, we should see that judgment can
not be far away.
and then his two sons, die in the land of Moab (1:3), and the story line
shifts to Elimelech’s widow, Naomi.
Ruth Chapter 1, and verses 6-10. Word had come that the famine is over in
Israel and “God has visited His people.” Naomi gathers up her possessions
and her two daughters-in-law and begins the journey back to “the Promised Land,”
and back to her God. So too, the chastised people of the Lord return to Him,
not only having been disciplined but also hearing (or better, remembering) the
Grace of God (“He has visited His people”).
says to her daughters-in-law, “Go, return to your mother’s house.” God often
says no, or go back, when we seek Him. He’s looking for those who will love
Him because they want to. God does not want to draw us to Himself if we do not
want to go. He wants the willing heart. He will never force you to love Him
against your will.
the test of a loving heart continues in Ruth 1:11-18.
It is in this section that those often heard lovely words, “Where you go, I
will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people,
and you’re God, my God.” What a wonderful testimony of the loving heart of Naomi.
She must have been the perfect mother-in-law. One daughter-in-law, Orpah, loves
Naomi with much of her heart, but not all, and she returns to her own people,
and her own gods. We’ll read no more of Orpah, she has made her choice and there
will be no chapters 2-4 for her, no continuing story of Redemption. Ruth, on
the other hand, forsakes her former family and her former gods and takes Naomi
as her new mother, and The LORD God of Israel as her own God. What a picture
of the nation of Israel returning to fellowship with her God, and what a picture
of the salvation by Grace that God offers to every person. Some just can’t quite
give themselves to Him, and some can and do. Verse 18 is the turning point in
every one’s life when, after being invited and tried, a decision is made. “When
Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, Naomi questioned her faithfulness
no longer.” The bond was made and together they begin their journey to “The
VISUALIZED TEXT (NASB) (conjunctions
& prepositions (and other important words) underlined,
words not in original text in italics) (alternate
text in purple)
But Naomi said,
"Return, my daughters.
Why should you go with me?
Have I yet sons in my womb,
they may be your husbands?
Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:11
from Moab to Judah is the beginning of God’s plan of grace for Naomi and Ruth.
Whenever there has been disobedience, and the disobedient one turns in repentance
(changes their minds, in this case From idols To God) and seeks Him a new process
is started – the road to grace. You need to say “Yes Father, You are the one
I want,” whether it is for returning to Him for fellowship or coming to Him
the first time for salvation.
begins the process of finding the loving heart. “Why should you go with
me?” she asks. We should immediately see her point. There is food now in Judah,
but there has always been food in Moab. There are available men in Moab, but
Orpah and Ruth will be foreigners in Judah, men may not be so easy to come by
– especially if Judah has returned to the Lord’s ways (the Lord has visited
His people with food). In this hard hearted gentile land no one had offered
to take them in. What would it be like for them in Judah?
If Naomi had more sons then they,
the sons, would be obligated under the law to take Orpah and Ruth as wives even
before they were of available age for marriage. Naomi is not pregnant and there
will be no more sons of Elimelech.
and Answers about Ruth 1:11
- What does the use
of the word “But” indicate here?
(“But” brings contrast between Orpah and Ruth’s statement that they wished to
Israel with Naomi and Naomi’s desire to let them go free of their bondage
- Who is the key
person in this verse?
- What does she tell
them to do?
(Return to their family homes)
- Why does she ask
if she still has sons in her womb?
(Naomi is pointing out the physical reality that she is an old woman and
her womb is dead)
- How would it change
things if she did?
(Orpah and Ruth could then stay in the family and marry Naomi’s sons
(Levirate Marriage), then Naomi could pass Elimelech’s right of family,
possessions, and land on to her sons (their husbands)
- Why would Naomi
possibly not want the two daughters-in-law to return to Israel with her?
(back in Israel Orpah and Ruth would be indigent and not accepted as
Midianite (from Moab) foreigners, if she could not produce sons for them to
marry – let alone their possible age differences and the difficulties of
pregnancy, timing, with a new husband or a male family member (Levirate) who
may wish to have Elimelech’s possessions and land. On top of all that is
Naomi’s constant testing of Orpah and Ruth as to their faithfulness to her.)
- Look-up and research
(This verse alludes
to the custom (Levirate Marriage) that when a married brother died, without
leaving posterity, his brother should take his widow; and the children of
such marriages were accounted those of the deceased brother.)
(This address of
Naomi to her daughter-in-law is exceedingly tender, persuasive, and affecting.)
- What would be the
benefits to Ruth and Orpah if Naomi was to marry in the "Levirate"
(If Naomi had sons and Orpah and Ruth married them there would be the
benefit of becoming a part of an established Hebrew family, with some money,
possessions and land)
would be their possible husbands?
(The first two offspring
of Naomi, after she herself went through either marriage to a new husband from
outside the family or through Levirate marriage to a male brother-in-law,
"Return, my daughters!
I am too
old to have a husband.
I said I have hope,
I should even have a husband tonight and
Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:12
The possibility of marrying a Jew
in Judah is left out of the conversation. It could be that Naomi feels she is
now responsible for these women and there are some things she cannot promise,
like, “a good man will marry you.”
It also may be that hearing that
God has visited His people and the result was His blessing upon them with food
would mean that the nation of Israel (Judah specifically) has repented of idol
worship and the practice of marrying foreign women. Then any foreign woman entering
into Judah would make them unwanted there or at least among a great host of
unmarried foreign women who all have little or no hope of marriage.
and Answers about Ruth 1:12
What does she now implore them?
say “Return, Go”?
(Naomi's test illustrates God's desire to attract those
who willingly love Him and attach themselves to Him. Naomi does not want
either woman to follow her on the journey unless there is a desire to leave
all behind and cling to her.)
- Can you develop
a good estimate for Naomi's age at this time?
(from the context, Naomi is old enough to be considered having a dead womb
– past menopause)
- Has Naomi lost
(She has lost her hope of marrying but not her inner hope for she is
intent on returning to her land, her people, and her God)
would you therefore
wait until they were grown?
Would you therefore
refrain from marrying?
No, my daughters;
for it is harder
for me than for you,
for the hand of
the LORD has gone forth against me."
Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:13
Naomi considers herself too old to
be eligible for the Levirate marriage law. She is too old to have more children
and that would be the reason for the Law – to continue the line of Elimelech.
If they were to return with her to Israel and one of them were to use the Levirate
marriage law then Naomi would have to be their ward or possibly even cast aside.
Naomi also recognizes that the loss of her husband and sons may in fact be from
discipline and that may continue to work against her.
and Answers about Ruth 1:13
What is Naomi doing?
(Naomi is testing them by trying to persuade them to return to
Has God’s hand
gone out against Naomi?
(God’s love is unchangeable regardless of how Naomi (or We) feel about it)
Does the fact that
a Bible character says something make it true?
(The Bible records a true record of events and people, as well as His acts
and character. If someone expresses an inner feeling, or tells a lie, it is
accurately recorded as such in the scriptures)
What does the phrase
“The hand of The Lord” indicate about Naomi?
(She still believes in her God)
What does the phrase
“The hand of The Lord” indicate about Naomi’s God?
(That He can, and does, intervene in the affairs of men and women)
What does the phrase
“has gone forth” indicate about Naomi’s God?
(That He “goes forth!”)
What does the phrase
“against me” indicate about Naomi?
(Naomi’s God can, and
does, take personal action with His children – even though at this time Naomi
is mistaken about His intentions)
Consider how long
would Ruth and Orpah have to wait - if Naomi had a new husband "even
if I should have a husband tonight and also bear sons?"
(time to get back to Israel, time to arrange the Levirate marriage with a
brother, time for the marriage itself, time to get pregnant, time (probably
about 13 years) for the son to become available for marriage (even if it is
pre-arranged) – maybe 15 years! And Naomi is already post-menopausal!)
How long would
you wait until you looked elsewhere for a mate?
Why does Naomi
say that it is harder for her than for them?
(She is old and barren – who
would want her?)
Consider the number
of times that you have thought that God was against you, when in the end
He was indeed FOR you?
(This is a common problem for many people. They have eyes only for themselves
and their situation – rarely seeing that God is working on their behalf
8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love
God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”)
What do you know
about Naomi's faith?
(She still calls Him LORD)
And they lifted up their voices and wept again;
and Orpah kissed
but Ruth clung
Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:14
such a difficult set of choices with which they (Orpah and Ruth) have been presented.
On the one hand if they choose to stay they would be parted from Ruth, divided
from their new relatives in Judah, but have the comfort of their own families
in Moab, and the possibility of marriage there.
the other hand if they choose to go with Naomi they would remain with this woman
they have come to love, but move into a land that may be hostile, a place where
it may be hard to pursue the Levirate marriage law, or even find husbands among
the local men.
At the center of the choice is the
strength and character of Naomi. In the larger picture the “turning” from idols
to God is the central difficulty. That choice depends upon how you see the one
who calls, His strength, His character.
and Answers about Ruth 1:14
What does “they
lifted up their voices” mean?
(Cultural wailing with a deep sense of loss)
What did Orpah
(Kissed and released Naomi)
What did Ruth do?
(Kissed, and clung to Naomi)
What kind of a
kiss did Orpah give Naomi?
(A “Good-bye” kiss)
What does their
weeping tell you about their relationships with one another?
(An emotional very sad time of parting with one another, Orpah – back to
her country away from Ruth and Naomi, Ruth – onward with Naomi, but away from
Compare and contrast
Orpah and Ruth's reactions.
Then she said,
your sister-in-law has gone
her people and her gods;
return after your
Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:15
reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:40
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
The draw back to Moab was too great for Orpah. Like Lot’s wife, “she looked
back.” That’s the end of the story for Orpah, no more is ever written.
Naomi continues to encourage Ruth to return after – in the same manner – as
your sister-in-law. Naomi only sees the difficulties ahead – Ruth sees the promise.
and Answers about Ruth 1:15
Why did Naomi say
(She was astonished by Ruth’s desire to continue on with her)
What did Orpah
(At this moment Orpah had already left)
Where did she go
(1. Back to her people, 2. Back to her gods)
What did Naomi
want Ruth to do?
(Return to her people and her gods [the road ahead would be bleak])
Where did Mahlon
and Chilion meet their wives?
the land of the Moabites and the Midianites)
Were Ruth and Orpah
(No, they were gentiles who worshipped false gods and idols [before])
Who was Moab?
(The first son born of
Lot’s oldest daughter who engaged in an incestuous relationship with her
father [without his knowledge, her younger sister did the same thing])
Was Moab a physical
seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Moab was the grandson of Abraham’s brother Haran [not of the seed of Abraham,
Isaac’s cousin, not a recipient of the Abrahamic Covenant])
Did Naomi expect
that Ruth should return after Orpah?
(The love between them was intense, however Naomi was giving every
opportunity to Ruth for her return to her own people)
What does this say about Naomi's knowledge and relationship with Ruth?
(It seems apparent that
Ruth has taken on not only Ruth but also her people, land, and her God)
But Ruth said,
"Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from
where you go,
I will go, and
where you lodge,
I will lodge.
Your people shall
be my people, and
your God, my God.
die, I will die, and there I will be buried.
Thus may the LORD do to me,
and worse, if anything but death parts you and
Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:16-17
urging me to go back! My choice is you, my direction is Bethlehem, my family
is your family, and My God is the Lord God Almighty.” How wonderful for Ruth,
how wonderful for Naomi. And in the larger picture how wonderful it is when
all the temptations combined do no prevent you from turning to Him. How wonderful
for the people of Judah, having been in idolatry and turned around and saying
“Stop pulling on me – my God is the one and only. Nothing will keep me from
this journey except death.”
and Answers about Ruth 1:16-17
- What does the use
of the word “But” indicate here?
(Contrasting Orpah’s decision with Ruth’s)
- Who is speaking
- What does she tell
Naomi NOT to do?
(“Don’t make me return to
Moab like Orpah did”)
- Do you think Ruth's
reaction is extraordinary?
- Spend some time
considering the loyalty of Ruth’s words to Naomi.
- Ruth’s strongest
statement concerns Naomi’s God, spend some time considering this.
- Has Ruth already
put her trust in Him?
- If so, why?
(She says “Your People, My People, Your God, My God” [the words shall be
are not in the Hebrew text])
- Of the items listed
here, which is the most telling about Ruth's spiritual condition?
(Your God, My God)
- If Ruth is already
converted here, what does it say about her time with Elimelech, Naomi, Chilion,
(Won by consistent believing lives and exposure to the Word of God)
- Consider what it
would take to make you leave this country, follow another's god, and live
with their people in their land?
- Consider where
you would wish to be buried if you died on foreign soil.
- Would Ruth probably
(the odds are good that Ruth would outlive Naomi)
- Who is Ruth’s commitment
really made to?
(She seals her commitment with “Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse…..)
- Ruth’s dialog changes
abruptly in this verse when she calls Naomi’s God something else, what name
does she use?
(Ruth goes from God [Elohim] to LORD [Yehovah - YHWH] the national Jewish
name for God)
- How long a commitment
is Ruth making to Naomi?
When she (Naomi) saw that she (Ruth) was determined to go with
her, she (Naomi) said no more to her (Ruth).
Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:18
Naomi is convinced in the change in Ruth. Ruth was determined to go. When the
nation of Israel and the land of Judah was determined to return to her God,
nothing could stop her from doing so. When someone hears the call to repentance
and restored fellowship nothing should stop them from coming home to Him. When
someone hears the call of the Gospel and they have changed their mind from
“against God,” to “to God” nothing can stop irresistible Grace.
and Answers about Ruth 1:18
did it take for Naomi to understand Ruth’s intensions?
(Ruth’s confession of her commitment to The Lord God of
Horizontal Chart for Ruth 1:11-18
1:11-18 "Ruth's Return"
"But Naomi said, "Return, my daughters. Why should you go with
me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?"
"Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband.
If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and
also bear sons,"
"would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you
therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder
for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against
"And they lifted up their voices and wept again;"
"and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her."
"Then she said, "Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her
people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law."
"But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from
following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I
will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.
17 "Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may
the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and
"When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said
no more to her."
Ruth 1:11-18 "Ruth's Resolve" Paragraph Verse Percentage Chart
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