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?
The famine in Judah probably was a result of God’s punishment. However, we don’t know that for sure - but we can surely say that there is biblical evidence of a promise of a famine for disobedience to God and punishment by Him.
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?
Moab was located east of the Dead Sea (Sea of Galilee).
We don’t know why the land of Moab didn’t suffer from famine as Judah did.
However, we can review some biblical references and venture an educated guess. The information below comes from the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary and provides an educated guess.
3. Read Deuteronomy 23:3-6. In light of these scriptures, what do you think Elimelech’s decision to go to Moab?
3 “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5 But the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. 6 You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.
Elimelech disobeyed God by seeking the prosperity of the Moabites (verse 6); therefore, it was a bad and ungodly decision.
One commentator regards Elimelech’s decision to go to Moab an act of unbelief and offers the following analysis:
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?
The father of Moab was Lot and the mother of Moab was Lot’s oldest daughter.
Both were worried about the aspect of not having descendants, i.e. their family not producing offspring because they lacked husbands.
5. What can you determine about Ruth and Orpah from chapter one, verses 8, 14-17?
Orpah and Ruth treated their husbands, Mahlon and Chilion kindly (“the” dead from verse 8); and they also treated Naomi kindly (“me” from verse 8).
Orpah kissed Naomi but Ruth clung to her and stayed with Naomi even after Orpah had left and returned from going to Judah (verses 14 and 15).
6. There is a fundamental difference in the decisions of Orpah and Ruth from reading verses 15 and 16. What is that difference?
Naomi noted that Orpah had returned to her god (verse 15); however, Ruth said to Naomi “Your God will be my God” (verse 16). Ruth chose the living God but Orpah chose “her god” likely a god of the Moabite people.
Also, Ruth made a lifelong commitment to follow not just Naomi but the God of Naomi. She said to Naomi that she would die where Naomi died (verse 17). This was quite a commitment because of the age of the two women.
Naomi was likely to die many years before her daughter-in-law. Instead of returning to Moab after the inevitable death of Naomi, Ruth was saying that she would remain in the land of Naomi even after Naomi died.
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?
Your Answer Here
8. Based on a review of verses 13, 20, and 21, how did Naomi view the cause of her troubling circumstances?
She saw the hand of the Lord had gone out against her (verse 13); and that the Lord had dealt bitterly with her (verse 20); and that the Lord had testified against her and brought calamity upon her (verse 21). Consider this from the IVP Bible Background Commentary:
9. Why would Naomi tell the women of Bethlehem not to call her Naomi and to call her Mara instead?
Because the name Naomi means pleasant and the name Mara means bitter. Naomi didn’t want to be called pleasant but thought she should be called Mara instead because of her bitter circumstances.
10. Based on your reading of chapter one, 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)?
We do not know that her circumstances were the result of God’s judgment because the Bible doesn’t tell us that. However, we do know that there are some things God may have not liked. Consider this from the Book All the Women of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer:
Another commentator offers five factors in Israelite history that must be considered regarding Elimelech’s decision to go to Moab:
Yet, the Bible doesn’t specifically state that God punished Elimelech’s family for anything at all but it seems to reason that in seeking to preserve his life he actually lost it; which leads to the conclusion that God’s blessing and favor was not on him, his widow, his two sons, or their widows. Therefore, God’s punishment may have been on him because he left Judah for Moab.
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?
Your Answer Here
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.
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 chapter one that reflect this.
Here are 3 verses:
13. How can we be faithful to people like Ruth is to Naomi?
It’s important to know that meaningful relationships are ones that are built on faith and not a focus on self but loving others as we wish to be loved (Matthew 22:39). Everything else is superficial.
14. What can we learn about the character of God from the following verses?
With minor exception, the name Yahweh is consistently used in the Book of Ruth according to R.L. Hubbard Jr. in The New International Commentary, and God’s character as the covenant God of Israel is revealed in the verses below. As Israel’s covenant God he:
15. What influence have you made in someone’s life like Naomi made in Ruth’s life? Do you point others to God?
Your Answer Here
16. What spoke to you the most so far in this Ruth Bible study?
Your Answer Here
God can use you to point others to himself.
But how can God do that if you are unwilling to be used by Him – the creator of the universe? Consider this poem.