Ruth and Naomi
Adapted from Hebrew scripture.
Once long ago, in the city of Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, there lived a man named Elimelech. Elimelech was married to Naomi and they had two sons, Kilion and Mahlon. The time came when a great famine struck Bethlehem and none of the farmers could produce enough food for the city. Elimelech was no longer able to provide for his family, so he decided they would move to another city, Moab.
Several years after moving, Elimelech died. His wife, Naomi, was taken care of by her sons and their wives, Orpah and Ruth, two women from Moab. Sadly, after living in Moab for ten years, Naomi's sons both died, too.
When she heard that the famine in Bethlehem was over, Naomi decided she wanted to return home. Her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, walked her toward Judah so she could return to Bethlehem. When they were almost there, Naomi turned to her daughters-in-law. She blessed them for looking after her and for having been good wives to her two sons. She praised them for being loyal. She said that they should return home to their families. Neither woman wanted to leave Naomi, but Orpah eventually turned back and went home.
Ruth, however, would not leave Naomi. She said, “Where you go, I will go and where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people and your god my god. Nothing will ever separate us.” Naomi saw that she was determined. So the two women returned to Naomi’s home town. Naomi and Ruth found a place where they could live in Bethlehem, but they did not have any food.
It was harvest time. Ruth and Naomi saw some women walking behind the men harvesting the barley. The women were picking up the stray stalks that the men left behind. Ruth went to a neighbor’s farm and started doing the same. The farmer who owned the fields was named Boas. He saw Ruth working on his farm, and asked his workers who she was. They told him about Naomi’s return and that this was the dutiful, loving daughter-in-law who came back to Bethlehem with Naomi to live with her and take care of her. The farmer, Boaz, because he heard how devoted Ruth was to Naomi, knew that surely God looked kindly on Ruth for her allegiance to Naomi. He instructed his workers to leave extra barley unpicked in the fields to make sure Ruth had enough food for her and Naomi.
Ruth was very happy to be able to gather the barley. She ground the barley and used it to bake bread for herself and Naomi. When she told Naomi that the barley was collected from the farm of a kind man named Boaz, Naomi realized that Boaz was a cousin of her own husband, Eimelech, who had died so long before.
Boaz had also realized that Ruth had been married to Klion, one of his own relatives. He saw how loyal Ruth was to Klion’s family, even after Klion died. He could see her loyalty in the way she took care of Naomi.
Boaz felt responsible to help, and he enjoyed being with Ruth, so he asked her to marry him, and she said “yes.” After Boaz and Ruth married, Naomi lived with them. When Boaz and Ruth had a little son, Naomi helped take care of him as a grandmother.