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Naomi's Bethlehem Journey
by Wayne Blank
"There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David"
Naomi and her family moved to Moab to escape a famine in nearby Judah (whether caused by drought, or destruction caused by warfare is not stated):
"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 Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 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 Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there." (Ruth 1:1-2 KJV)
In Moab, Naomi became a widow. Her two sons, who married Moabite women while there, also died during the ten years that Naomi lived there:
"And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 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. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband." (Ruth 1:1-5 KJV)
When she heard that things had improved in Judah, Naomi decided to return home:
"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. 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." (Ruth 1:6-7 KJV)
Naomi urged her two daughters-in-law to remain in their own land of Moab; Orpah chose to stay, while Ruth chose to accompany Naomi back to Judah:
"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 ... And Ruth said, Entreat 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" (Ruth 1:8,16 KJV)
Upon their arrival in Bethlehem in spring, at the time of the barley harvest, Naomi was welcomed home:
"So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? ... 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 Bethlehem in the beginning of Barley harvest." (Ruth 1:19,22 KJV)
Naomi arranged for a meeting of Ruth and Boaz; Naomi's intent wasn't just to find Ruth employment, but find her a new husband:
"And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn [i.e. barley, see Corn] after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter."
Naomi's match-making efforts were a success, Ruth and Boaz were married. Their son Obed, who was cared for by Naomi some of the time, would become the grandfather of King David:
"So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, The Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be The Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath borne him."