Ruth 1:1 “…when the judges ruled…”
This would put it after the Israelites got into the Promised Land and Joshua died. God through Moses instructed them to live according to the laws that He gave them. They had no need for a king because God Himself was their king. They had perfect freedom as a people. All they had to do was live in the land and obey the laws of God. When they had a major issue, they could go to the tabernacle and inquire of God through the priests. How sad that they gave all of that up to be like other nations.
2 “…went to dwell in the country of Moab…”
Seems like there is a reference in the conversations between God and Moses where God says the people aren’t to leave the land, but I can’t remember its location. The idea was that the people were being taught to trust in God and not their own methods of dealing with problems. If this is the case, Elimelech is going outside the will of God by moving his family into a foreign nation. He has now set his family up to be influenced by an ungodly culture.
4 “…they took wives of the women of Moab…”
Contrary to the law. Result of being where they shouldn’t be.
5 “…woman survived her two sons and her husband”
Not a good place to be for a woman during that time. Her husband is gone and both of her sons. And in her case, both of her daughters-in-law were foreigners.
6 “…the Lord had visited His people…”
God had taken care of the famine in His time.
8 “…return each to her mother’s house…as you have dealt with the dead and with me”
The women apparently had been good to Naomi as their mother-in-law. She entreats them to return to their former homes. I wonder why they had not converted to Judaism when they married her sons. Commentary seems to suggest they had, but I wonder if this is based on the assumption that they did so when they married. The cultural issues of that day are hard to know and understand completely. Perhaps they took on the religion of their husbands when they married, and Naomi is testing their sincerity, as the commentary suggests, when she tells them to return home.
14-17 “…Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her…your God, my God…The LORD do so to me…”
Orpah returned. Her conversion must have been tied to her husband. Ruth chooses to go with Naomi. It is unclear whether her motivation is based on love for Naomi or a true conversion to the true God, or both. She does refer to God’s name when expressing her resolve to go with her mother-in-law. Perhaps the great kindness which she expresses toward Naomi is a result of a true heart conversion. If so, it is a reminder of the heart of God. He didn’t separate the Israelites and condemn the rest of the world. He separated them so they could tell the world of Him, so He could bring all people to Himself. Ruth is a perfect example.
18 “When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.”
Sounds like a bad mother-in-law joke. Obviously Naomi was convinced of Ruth’s sincerity in wanting to come with her, so she stopped trying to persuade her to return to her former life. I wish we were told more of the thoughts of Naomi here. She was certainly depressed with all that had happened, but surely having Ruth express her desire to be with her gave her some comfort. The first of many that God would soon provide.
19 “…all the city was excited because of them…”
Noticed a slight inconsistency with the commentary which uses the King James Version as its reference text and the New King James Version which I use. Checked other translations. The issue is with the word translated excited here, but moved or stirred with other translations. The point of view can be interpreted a couple of different ways and thus determines how you would translate the word. Those going with the idea of excited view the text as saying Naomi and her family were well known in Bethlehem, so the whole town took note of her return. Focus then shifts to the women’s notice of the change in Naomi’s demeanor and Naomi’s explanation. Those going with moved or stirred see it as part of the reaction over Naomi’s demeanor. Everyone was moved or took note of the change from when she left, then the explanation follows. Either way would work, and I think either is OK as aspects of each view are expressed in both. Just depends on the point of view of the author which is sometimes hard to determine based strictly on the text. Makes the reader think and study, which I think is one reason God chose to pass on His word this way.
20 “…call me Mara…”
Literally bitter while Naomi literally means pleasant. Certainly can’t blame her for feeling this way, but she is now in a good place for God to begin to turn things around for her. He will redeem and restore.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.