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|Shalom Scripture Studies, Inc.||A Hebrew-Christian Bible Fellowship|
|September, 2000 (5760)||Vol. 26 No. 9|
THE BOOK OF RUTHBy Mrs. Ari D. Hidalgo
Ruth 1: 1-5, This is a story about a Gentile woman named Ruth from Moab, that marries a Jewish man named Boaz who is in the lineage of the Messiah. How did all of this transpire? Jews were not to mix with the nations, especially marry them? Well, through much heartache, and through many different changes, especially, in the life of the family that is mentioned in our text. But, first, by way of introduction we want to look at the time element. It seems good to approximate the date sometime between 1200 to 1000 B.C., (before Christ). It was in the days and around the time of the Judges, in fact, Israel as a Nation had a total of 13 Judges that ruled God's people, of course not all at once, but rather over a period of time.
During these times, we read in the book of Judges that ..."every one did what seemed right in their own eyes". As a result, it caused much of their disobedience towards God, therefore, Israel experienced a terrible FAMINE.
The scene before us is in Bethlehem, the City where our Redeemer was born. Micah 5:2, is the prophetic Scripture that speaks of Beth-lehem, Ephratah (which means House of Bread). The Land of Israel is described in The Holy Bible as a Land that floweth with milk and honey...But, the FAMINE HIT.
FAMINE, is one of the judgments that GOD had threatened to bring upon Israel for their sins, especially, the sin against the law of the land that is found in Leviticus. 26:19,20. Israel was oppressed during the Judges by their enemies, and their fruitful land was turned into barrenness in order to correct the inhabitants (The Jews) that dwelt therein. Here we have one particular family in distress because of a FAMINE IN THE LAND.
The FAMILY NAMES are: ELIMELECH, which is the family name and the name of the husband, which signifies (MY GOD IS KING) - of a truth, this was an agreeable distinction that Israel enjoyed during the time of the Judges - for The Lord was their King as well as their Comfort, especially to this family that found themselves in affliction.
Elimelech's wife's name was NAOMI, which signifies (MY PLEASANT ONE). Among Jewish people of long ago, as well as today, oftentimes their names in reality were given to describe their character and way of life, and sometimes, it fits to perfection. ELIMELECH had two sons and their names were MAHLON and CHILION (which means sickness and consumption). The removal (because of the famine), of this family from Bethlehem into the country of Moab, on the other side Jordan was for SUSTENANCE for the family, because the FAMINE WAS SO GREAT in Israel. At that time, bread was extremely scarce in Israel. ELIMELECH took his family and started his journey until such a time when the famine would be over. I am reminded in Scriptures of others like, Abraham going to Egypt during a famine, Isaac also, sought for food during his days. ELIMELECH cared about his family, he wanted to provide for them.
The Scripture tells us in I Timothy 5:8,'If any provide not for his own, he hath denied the faith'. When he was in dire trouble in providing, he did not forsake his house, but he was caring enough to do something in order to protect them from dying.
So Moab was the answer for the time being. Some individuals when they teach this portion of Scripture, say that Elimelech should have stayed in Israel, because he eventually dies in Moab, and, after his death his two sons marry Moabitish women. Also, some will say that the SONS TRANSGRESSED the decree of The Word of The Lord in taking strange wives, one being ORPAH (meaning Fawn), and the other was RUTH (meaning Friendship) . As I previously mentioned, Jewish People were not to take strangers for their wives (that is, daughters of nations). But God, was in control, wasn't He? In I Kings 11:1, it is said that King Solomon took wives of the nations that took his heart away from God. It does not appear that his wives ever prostrated themselves to The God of his fathers, just like ORPAH which we are told later on that she returned to her gods in Moab recorded in verse 15.
NAOMI lost her husband, and then, her 2 SONS DIED. They left no children. DESOLATE was the condition of poor NAOMI (Widowhood came upon her). It is GOD who alone is able to comfort those who are cast down.
In verse 5, we read that MAHLON and CHILION DIED and were BURIED. This happened not long after they were married to the Moabitish women. NAOMI found herself in a very desolate condition. How can she be comforted? It is GOD ALONE, Who Comforted her, and it is He Who can only lift us up when we are cast down. Thank you Lord.
RUTH 1: 6-10, we continue this beautiful story about A GENTILE Woman, named Ruth who married into a Jewish family. Her husband dies and she also is left as a widow with her mother-in-law by her side, and her sister-in-law. In the next few verses of this chapter, we read that there is something different about this young woman Ruth, in comparison to her sister-in-law, Orpah. Ruth would not turn her back from staying with Naomi. It is very apparent that both Orpah and Ruth had grown close to their mother-in-law, as they all shared a common grief, and that is, the lost of their husbands. Imagine three widows in this far away land of Moab where Naomi had no other relatives or friends. When one finds oneself in an extreme situation then decisions have to be made.
Following the deaths of her husband and sons, Naomi received word that the famine in Bethlehem had abated, therefore, she decided to return home to her own City. Bethlehem, which we know means 'House of Bread' in the Hebrew tongue, was once again blessed by The Almighty God with food. Having lost all that she had in Moab, Naomi wanted to go back to her land and people. Leaving her husband and sons buried beneath the ground of Moab, the widow prepared to return to her homeland.
In verse 6, though Naomi could not stay in Israel while the famine lasted, she on the other hand, could not stay away from her homeland when the famine ceased. Moab had afforded her shelter and supplies in the time of need, she surely did not intend to rest forever in this strange land. She, as a Jewish woman, desired to be back in the Holy Land (Israel), which was to be her resting place. By the way, this is still so true of most Jewish people that live outside of the Land of Israel today, there is always a longing in the very heart of a Jew to return to the Land that God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She had heard that The Lord graciously visited His people in giving them bread. May we never forget that The Lord our God is The Bread of Life, Who holds our soul in life and death. Thank you Y'shua (Jesus) our Lord.
In verse 7, after going a little ways out of Moab, from the place where she had found herself in distress, she was mindful of her two daughters, and stedfastly they proceeded towards Bethlehem. In verse 8 & 9, she urges them (Ruth and Orpah) to return to their mother's house, for they had houses (and families). But, not so with Naomi, for she had not a place to lay her head. She pleads with them both, ' you have dealt kindly with the dead' - 'you have been good wives and good daughters to me'. It was very evident that Naomi had won their love as a mother-in-law.
Orpah and Ruth had a sense of true love and kindness, for they were willing to go and return with Naomi to this far away place called Beth-lehem.
Mothers-in-law, and, daughters-in-law are often and at times at variance with each other. (see: Matthew 10: 35). But, not so in this case. They had gone a little ways, and Naomi continues urging them to go back and return to their mother's house. It was an act of kindness and mercy that Naomi was displaying unto them, because it seems that their parents were still alive, that they had houses to go to. Naomi unselfishly was thinking of their welfare.
Isn't it like a Godly woman to always think of others more than self. This is indeed a true characteristic of a child of God, whether in The Old Testament or The New Testament, and especially in our days. It is good to meet individuals that place God first, others next and themselves last.
That is truly loving ones neighbor. Naomi really praised them both for the wonderful conduct that they had towards their relationships with their husbands even after they had died. 'You have dealt kindly with the dead and with me'. You have been good daughters to me. It helps in the bitterness and hardness of life when one finds someone to stand by you, to comfort and support ones grief. Naomi was a godly mother-in-law. Why I say this is because, Noami sends them away with prayer (verses 8 & 9), to go back to their mother's house.
Even Y'shua (Jesus) our Lord spoke to his disciples to take care of His earthly mother (Mary). It is a righteous act when one is supportive of the elderly. It is very proper to part with prayer, and that was Naomi's desire and she did just that. She sent them home with her blessings, 'The Lord deal kindly' - 'The Lord give you rest'. She mentioned The Lord God twice in order that she might direct her daughters-in law to look up to her God as 'the only' fountain of goodness. Y'shua (Jesus) our Messiah, He is The fountain of Life, Peace and Rest. He is where all goodness comes from.
Naomi's wish was that the God of Israel would deal kindly with them. Perhaps even grant them another husband in Moab. The union of marriage is for many women a blessing of rest. But, when one is unequally yoked together, there will be 'little' rest, but rather a series of 'unrest' which usually ends up in separation and divorce. We know that complete rest only comes from our Lord. He makes the difference in our lives, and most importantly, He gives eternal rest to our soul. In verse 9, Naomi kissed them and the two young widows not only lifted up their voice and wept, but they said, 'surely we will return with thee unto thy people' (in other words), whatever will be, will be. At this time both of them were willing to go with Naomi. They must have had a good opinion of Naomi andof her people (Israel).
To be Continued....................
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