A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Ruth and Naomi return


Years ago, during a famine in the countryside around Bethlehem, Naomi, her husband and her two sons had moved to the neighbouring country of Moab, in order to find food. They lived there for many years. Naomi’s two sons married Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth. However, after ten years both her husband and her sons died.

Naomi with Ruth and OrpahNow homesick in her old age, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, to the care of her surviving relatives. However, she told her two daughters-in-law to return to their families, since they were young and could have new marriages arranged for them.

Orpah agreed but the other, Ruth, refused to leave Naomi, saying, ‘Do not try to persuade me to leave you or to let you travel on your own. Wherever you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will become my people and your God will be my God. In the place where you die, I will also die and be buried. May the Lord punish me if anything but death separates me from you.’

When Naomi heard this, she realised that Ruth would not leave her, whatever Naomi said or did. So the two women travelled to Bethlehem. There, God led Ruth to one of Naomi’s relatives, Boaz. Under Naomi’s instructions, Ruth got to know him and gathered food from his fields. Finally the two married and in time had children. Naomi had a home and family once more.

The story illustrates:

  • The importance of loyalty and keeping faith that God will look after his people
  • The results of faithfulness to God: Ruth became one of Jesus’ ancestors even though she was from Moab – an enemy of Israel.

Related Topics

Big Ideas: Women in the Bible

Bible References

Ruth 1:1-18, Ruth 2:1-12, Ruth 3:1-11, Ruth 4:13-17
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