Learn in this Bible study of the Book of Ruth Chapter 1 about Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their tragedy. See how God moves through a Moabite woman named Ruth.
We pray this Bible study of Ruth is a blessing to you.
Ruth Chapter 1
1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Beth-lehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. 5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.
6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread. 7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9 The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. 10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. 11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; 13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. 14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. 15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. 16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. 18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.
19 So they two went until they came to Beth-lehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Beth-lehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? 20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? 22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
1. Elimelech departed Judah to go to Moab because there was a famine in Judah. From reading the following Scriptures, why do you think there may have been a famine?
2. Where is the country of Moab in relation to Judah and why do you think there was no famine there as there was in Judah?
Note: You might refer to a Bible Atlas or your Bible for a map if you need one (many Bibles have maps - typically in the back of the Bible).
3. Read Deuteronomy 7:3-6. In light of these scriptures, what do you think Elimelech’s decision to go to Moab?
4. Based on your review of Genesis 19:30-38, who was the father and mother of Moab, the first Moabite? Also, how are Naomi and the mother of Moab similar?
5. What can you determine about Ruth and Orpah from Ruth Chapter 1, verses 8, 14-17?
6. There is a fundamental difference in the decisions of Orpah and Ruth from reading Ruth Chapter 1 verses 15 and 16. What is that difference?
7. Orpah was concerned for herself more than for Naomi but Ruth was more concerned for Naomi than for herself. With what we know about the spiritual choices each made, how does this insight affect your future choices?
8. Based on a review of Ruth Chapter 1 verses 13, 20, and 21, how did Naomi view the cause of her troubling circumstances?
9. Why would Naomi tell the women of Bethlehem not to call her Naomi and to call her Mara instead?
10. Based on your reading of Ruth Chapter 1, what do you think may have been a reason for God’s “bitter treatment” of Naomi (assuming her circumstances were in fact the result of God’s judgment)?
11. Have you tried to fix problems in your life using your own methods, talents, and schemes; and then in hindsight seen how only God could have fixed your problem?
12. Here’s some background information from a book titled Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible on the significance of the death of a husband in biblical times. It helps us understand the context of the story for this Ruth Bible study.
The death of a husband always has far reaching consequences for his family. The people of biblical times were no exception. After a period of mourning, the widowed wife might follow several courses of action.
If she was childless, she was expected to continue living with her husband’s family, according to levirate law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). She was to marry one of her husband’s brothers or a near kinsman. If these men were not available, she was free to marry outside the clan (see verse 9).
Widows with children had other options open to them. From the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit we learn that some moved back to the family of their father or brother (Tobit 1:8). If the widow were elderly one of her sons might care for her. If she had become financially secure, she might live alone. For example, Judith neither nor moved into the home of a relative, for “her husband Manasses had left her gold, and silver, and menservants and maidservants, and cattle, and lands; and she remained upon this estate (Judith 8:7).”
Occasionally a widow was penniless and had no male relative to depend on. Such women faced great hardships (cf. 1 Kings 17:8-15; 2 Kings 4:1-7).
From: J.I. Packer and M.C. Tenney, Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1980, p 418.
As you can see having a husband to produce an heir was a big issue in the culture of the Old Testament in which this story takes place. Find two verses from Ruth Chapter 1 that reflect this.
13. How can we be faithful to people like Ruth is to Naomi?
14. What can we learn about the character of God from the following verses from Ruth Chapter 1?
15. What influence have you made in someone’s life like Naomi made in Ruth’s life? Do you point others to God?
16. What spoke to you the most so far in this Ruth Bible study?