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Naomi and Ruth

In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, there was a famine in the land. A certain man who lived in Bethlehem went down with his wife and his two sons to the country of Moab, where there was food to be found. The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife was Naomi.

Soon after reaching the country of Moab, Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons. These sons married two women of Moab. The name of one was Orpah, the name of the other was Ruth. And they dwelled in the land of Moab for about ten years. Then the sons died, and Naomi was left with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.

Naomi had heard that bread was to be had in the land of her own people, and so she arose with her two daughters-in-law to leave the country of Moab and to return to Judah and to her own people.

When they had started on their way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law: "Go, return each of you to your mother's house. You need not follow me if you do not desire. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you, in the house of a husband."

Then Naomi kissed Orpah and Ruth, and they wept upon the shoulders of their mother-in-law, for they loved her, and remembered the many years they were happy together in the land of Moab. The two young women said to Naomi: "Surely, we will return with you unto the land of your people."

Naomi said to them: "Why will you go with me? I pray that you leave me in my age to return to my kind and kin, and that you find husbands among the men of Moab." Then Orpah kissed Naomi, and weeping, turned aside to the land of her own people.

But Ruth loved her mother-in-law more dearly and refused to turn back. Naomi said to her: "See, your sister has gone back unto her people, and unto her gods. Why do you not return also?"

To this Ruth replied: "Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God. Where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried."

When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to follow her, she kissed her again, and left off persuading her to return. So they went on together until they came to Bethlehem. When the people of that city saw them coming there was great excitement, and they asked: "Is this Naomi, who, for so many years has lived in the land of Moab?"

But Naomi replied: "Call me not Naomi, but call me Mara, which means bitterness, for the Lord has dealt very bitterly with me in all these years. I went forth full of hope and joy but I return empty; His hand has been hard upon me and He has afflicted me."

Thus Naomi returned and Ruth, the Moabitess with her, and they dwelt in Bethlehem, and it was the beginning of the barley harvest.