The Book Of Ruth
Chapter 1:19-22
"Ruth's Reception"

Chapter 1: 19-22
"Ruth's Reception"

J. Deering,

RUTH 1:19-22
1. Master Study 2. Visualized Text 3. Outline With Text 4. Reference Materials 5. Questions

Introduction, Visualized Text with Commentary and Q&A,

Ruth 1:19-22, Ruth's Reception

First, we have a quick summary of the previous lessons.

The Prophet Samuel is thought to have written Ruth but there is no absolute way to know. If it was Samuel, he would have been born some 15 years after the events of the book. He died sometime after the coronation of King David (about 1003 BC) some seven years after David had become king of Judah. That places him in his late seventies or early eighties during the time of the writing of the book. Whoever it was that wrote the book did so with a very special purpose: Show all of Israel the Character of God and His mighty works in keeping the nation of Israel in His fellowship and care.

Many conservative scholars see the plan of God for maintaining fellowship with Israel as the central key to the book. The lives of the family members of the book closely follow the historic dealings of God with the nation of Israel. We also see a similar pattern in the way God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, so wonderfully loves, corrects, and restores fellowship to the members of the Body of Christ. In these studies we will spend time examining these parallels.

In the first paragraph of the book (1:1-5) we are introduced to our first parallel. The people of Judah have wandered away from God and taken on Idolatry. This was accomplished, in part, by the men taking foreign wives and the influence of their gods. Probably just a few at first, but so many became involved in this practice that the whole nation was to become accountable for it. Here in these verses we are introduced to a family who will portray the actions of Judah in the story.

We should note here, that the story was not written to accomplish this by the human author. The probable scenario would be that the story of Ruth as told orally, or by that time written down, and was noticed by our author as having these wonderful parallels in it. The story, as we know it, was remembered and “published” probably for the coronation of King David when he became King of all Israel in order to “bring to remembrance” all that God had done for Israel in keeping her as His own. It may have also served to verify the kingly family line of David.

At the beginning of the story Elimelech, his wife and two sons, who live in “The Promised Land” are leaving there and go to Moab to seek the provisions of life. While there the sons take Moabite women as wives. There is famine in Israel – caused by God’s chastisement for Israel’s leaving Him and taking the women and Idols as their provisions of life – and not trusting God, and turning to Him in their time of need.  Elimelech and his two sons die in Moab just as many who have acted against God have died in the famine in Judah.

In the second paragraph of the book (1:6-10) Elimelech’s wife (Naomi) and two Moabite daughters-in-law (Orpah, and Ruth) consider returning to Judah because “God has visited His people” with food. The parallel here is that the Nation of Israel, in one of her many cycles of disobedience, recognizes that it is God who is chastising them and they in turn consider returning to Him.

In the next paragraph (1:11-18) the imagery has shifted from Elimelech and his two sons (now dead) to Naomi and her dilemma. She now is indigent and seeks to return to Judah (Israel realized that without God she has nothing). Naomi seeks to go home but has two Moabite women in tow (as Israel turns from idolatry she must still deal with all the foreign wives which she has accumulated). Naomi knows that they have been a great influence on her family as far as foreign gods are concerned and she devises a series of tests to make sure that only those who seek The Lord God would enter into the “Promised Land.” Just as the Israelites knew that God would never allow their return to Him if they carried Idols of the foreign gods in their hearts. The end result is that Naomi has winnowed the chaff away (Orpah) and only Ruth remains – “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

In the next paragraph (1:19-22) we see Naomi returning to Bethlehem, Judah. She has come with contrite heart willing to be humble before the people of the city. The parallel here is when Israel finally makes her decision to return to God, in each of her cycles of rebellion, she must do so confessing to God that once she had everything when she had Him, and now she has nothing without Him. It should be noted also that Naomi returns with the Moabitess (Gentile) Ruth who is now a faithful believer in The Lord God. Through this imagery we can see that when Israel returns from her backsliding pagan endeavors she returns with gentiles in tow that have believed due to the presence of Godly Hebrews in their midst. Even though the Israelites did not see the importance of it at the time, God has always had a place for Gentiles who sought to believe in Him and Him alone. One should consider Melchizedek – a Priest of the Most High God, whom Abraham brought tithes – before the nation of Israel even existed.

Ruth 1:19-22, Ruth's Reception
THE VISUALIZED TEXT: (NASB)  (conjunctions & prepositions (and other important words) underlined, words not in original text in italics)  (alternate text in purple)


they both went

until they came to Bethlehem.



it came about

they had come to Bethlehem,


all the city was stirred

because of them, and
the women
(Lit., "they said") said,

"Is this Naomi?"

Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:19a

 A new bond has been made. Naomi and Ruth are now a single family unit and they both respond to the call of God to return; return to Naomi’s Judean family, return to the Land of her ancestors, and return to Her God (The Lord God of Israel).

They went to Bethlehem. They did not stop short or go further. We should not miss the emphasis on the city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David, and the birthplace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As Naomi and Ruth return to the city of kings … Israel turns back to God her King. We as believers in Jesus the Christ sometimes need to turn around (repentance) and confess our sin, and return to The King of Kings.

Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:19b

“Oh My!” the women of Bethlehem said. “Look there is Naomi – she looks terrible!” Naomi had left Bethlehem “full,” joyful, and proud. Now she return worn, beaten up by life, dejected, joyless, bereft of her husband and sons – and she has a Moabitess with her. “Is this Naomi?” they ask, hardly recognizing her. This once proud and well known family has been reduced to Naomi and a foreigner.

 Questions and Answers about Ruth 1:19

  1. Why "So?"
    (Another major plot shift)
  2. Until they came to where?
    (Bethlehem Ephrathah)
  3. Why repeat where they had come to?
    (When God speaks twice – you should listen)
  4. How much of the city was stirred?
  5. Why was the city stirred?
    (Naomi’s long absence, Naomi returns w/o Elimelech, Naomi returns with a foreigner who is now her daughter-in-law)
  6. What can you discern from the woman's question, "is this Naomi?"
    (10-15 years have gone by and they have not been kind years)


she said to them,

"Do not call me Naomi (i.e., "pleasant");
call me Mara
(i.e., "bitter"),



the Almighty (Heb., "Shaddai") has dealt very bitterly
with me.

Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:20a

Many commentaries say here that Naomi returns angry and bitter. I don’t think that’s the whole story. I see a woman of God at the end of His chastisement and discipline returning (having repented from leaving Him and His provisions, having turned around) and coming back to Him. She’s saying “I was misnamed.” For I went out “full of myself,” and now through His chastisement, I come home knowing who I really am. I am nothing before Him. “Don’t call me pleasant."

Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:20b

“Call me bitter!” She has been undone. How many of us have been chastised by the Lord only to return to Him bitter. We often go our own way, like the Israelites during the time of the Judges, doing what we think is justified because we want it so badly. He chastises us when we take life into our own hands - sometimes He breaks us (the Shepard’s Rod, Ps. 23), and often we return to Him bitter for it. Naomi is acknowledging that it is the Almighty that has done this, and she is bitter.

 Questions and Answers about Ruth 1:20

  1. Who spoke to the city people?
  2. Why are people's names so important?
    (Establishing major characters)
  3. What is the meaning of the name "Naomi?"
    (Pleasant, Lovely)
  4. What is the meaning of the name "Mara?"
  5. Why did Naomi want to be called "bitter?"
    (She’s bitter and wants to share it – it is OK to have feelings!)
  6. Why did Naomi blame God for her fortune?
    (She is bitter, and is in the valley between blessings)
  7. What is the significance to her calling Him, "The Almighty?"
    (She Still Believes, but has wounded pride and feelings)
  8. Does the fact that she said it make it true?
    (This is a major point in life – just because someone (or you) says something it doesn’t make it true – it only means they (or you) said it)


"I went out full,
the LORD
(Heb., "Shaddai")
has brought me
back empty.

Why do you call me Naomi,


the LORD
has witnessed against me and
the Almighty has afflicted me?"

Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:21

“Once full, now empty” but, she says “the LORD” brought me back. It is “the LORD” who witnessed against me,” it is “the LORD” who has afflicted me. There is something to be said for Naomi who genuinely recognizes that it is the Lord who has done this. She doesn’t blame the weather, Moab,

 Elimelech, or Ruth for this discipline. Instead she sees that it is from the Lord. So too does the Nation of Israel return to her God recognizing that it is He who has done these things – for her own good – that she might cling to Him, and Him alone. The believer should always remember that all things are under The Lord’s control. When life is at its worst it is best to consider that maybe you are in need of these things, or maybe He is using you to teach faith to others. Whichever it is, He is in control, and He is shedding grace upon you all the way, and in everything.

 Questions and Answers about Ruth 1:21

  1. Who went out full?
  2. What does that mean?
    (Husband, children, sons, land, possessions, happiness, etc.)
  3. What is the significance of the word "But?"
    (Contrasting thoughts)
  4. Did the Lord bring her back empty?
    (No, but she thinks so, she’s got Ruth)
  5. What is the significance of her using the term "The Lord?"
    (She Still Believes, but has wounded pride and feelings)
  6. Does the fact that she said it make it true?
    (This is a major point in life – just because someone (or you) says something it doesn’t make it true – it only means they (or you) said it)


Naomi returned, and
with her Ruth

the Moabitess,
her daughter-in-law,
who returned from the land of Moab. And

they came to Bethlehem

at the beginning of barley harvest.

Brief Commentary on Ruth 1:22

The writer sums up Chapter One. Now the story will turn to “The Redeemer.” Naomi has returned (Israel has returned) with the Moabitess Ruth (Israel and her foreign wives of idolatry), now in a family relationship with each other, and they have come to Bethlehem (returned under the authority of the King) at the beginning of the barley harvest – the fields are ripe for the harvest. The Redeemer is waiting!

 Questions and Answers about Ruth 1:22

  1. How is the word "So" used?
    (To indicate Result)
  2. Who returned?
  3. Where did she return to?
  4. Who returned with Naomi?
  5. What was her nationality?
  6. What was her relationship to Naomi?
    (Daughter-in-law, but w/ no husband)
  7. Who came to Bethlehem here?
    (Naomi and Ruth)
  8. When did they arrive?
    (At the beginning of the Barley Harvest)
  9. When is the Barley harvest?
    (The last days before Pentecost [40-50 days after Passover])
  10. What is the Barley harvest?
    (The Last harvest)
  11. What is Barley used for?
    (Animal food and soup stock)

 Horizontal Chart for Ruth 1:19-22

Ruth 1:19-22 "Ruth's Reception"

Ruth 1:19a
So they both went until they came to Bethlehem."

Ruth 1:19b
And it came about when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, "Is this Naomi?"

Ruth 1:20a
And she said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara,"
Ruth 1:20-21a
for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.  I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty."
Ruth 1:21b

"Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?"

Ruth 1:19-22  "Ruth's Resolve" Paragraph Verse Percentage Chart

RUTH 1:19-22
1. Master Study 2. Visualized Text 3. Outline With Text 4. Reference Materials 5. Questions

The Book of Ruth, Bible Study, J. Deering,, study materials are a ministry of, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them.  No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without the express permission of 2008, All rights reserved.