Naomi - "Women of the Bible"

NAOMI. Wife of Elimelech of Bethlehem. Left without husband or sons, she returned from a stay in Moab with her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth. In her depression she said she should no longer be called Naomi, "pleasantness," but now more appropriately Mara, "bitterness." But later on she will find out that she indeed was blessed by God. She advised Ruth in the steps that led to Ruth's marriage to Boaz (Ruth 3:1-6), and she nursed Ruth's child (4:16-17).


1-3. Departure from Beth-lehem.
4,5. Daughter-in-law. Bereavement.
6,7. Departure from Beth-lehem.
8-18. Daughters-in-law. Colloquy.

about 1336 B.C.

Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass

(Occurs 5 times. Always denotes impending trouble, followed by happy deliverance. Cp. Gen. 14:1. Est. 1:1. Isa. 7:1. Jer. 1:3.)

in the days when the judges ruled,

(Doubtless, in the early days, before the sin of Judg. 1 developed the later internal disorders, and outward oppressions.)

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.

(So this sets the time that this story took place, for it was in the days of the Judges. That period started when the Israelites came out of the wilderness, crossed the Jordan; took control of the promised land, and set up Judges to rule over them. The time of the Judges started about 1453 B.C., and this story of Ruth took place some hundred and thirty years later. We read of this period in Judges 3:31, that time after Ehud, when Shamgar slew six hundred Philistines with an ox goad, and [Judges 4] Deborah the prophetess became the Judge of Israel.

Notice that there was a famine in the land and Elimelech took his wife and two sons and left the land to escape the famine.)

2 And the name of the man was Elimelech,

(= My God is king.)

and the name of his wife Naomi,

(= My pleasant one.)

and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites

(Ephrath was the ancient name of Bethlehem, where Rachael was buried [Gen. 35:19; 48:7].)

of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

3 And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.

(There in Moab, as a widow in a foreign land, she was left with her two sickly sons. Things would be hard on her as she tries to survive.)

4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab;

(Canaanitish wives forbidden [Deut. 7:3], but not Moabitish wives; though a Moabite man might not enter the congregation of Yahaveh. See Deut. 23:3].)

the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth:

(= beauty.)

and they dwelled there about ten years.

1336-1326 B.C.

5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

(Naomi is left with her two daughters in law, having lost first her husband, and then her two sons. Naomi is going through real hard times, first the famine, and now being left a widow.)

6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab:

(This was in 1326 B.C., the year before the second jubilee 1325-1324.)

for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.

7 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.

(Remember that when they first left the land of Israel, they came from Bethlehem-judah, of the tribe of Judah. The land of Behtlehem-judah is where her family lives and she wants to go home to live with them. She was a foreigner in the land of Moab.)


8,9-. Advice to leave her.
-9,10. Reception. Refusal of both.
11-13. Advice to leave her.
14. Reception. Refusal of Ruth.
15. Advice to leave her.
16-18. Reception. Resolve of Ruth.

8 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.

(Naomi's two sons are dead, and Naomi is releasing the two daughters in law from their commitment to her. She asked the Lord to look over and protect these young women as they return to their families. Naomi is giving her blessings to these Orpah and Ruth, and telling them that they do not have to go back with her.)

9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband." Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

(This tells us the great affection that they had for their mother in law, Naomi. Notice as we go through this book how everyone that came in contact had great affection and love for Naomi.)

10 And they said unto her, "Surely we will return with thee unto thy people."

(This liberty was allowed by the laws of Khammurabi, see Gen. 16:3.)

11 And Naomi said, "Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?

(Remember that the older son was the one to take the mother and give care, as the law was at this time, and she had no sons.)

12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;

13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me."

(Though at this time it appears to Naomi that the hand of the Lord is against her, as we know from the rest of the Scripture, this is not true, for she will be well blessed by the Lord. The people were not the only ones that loved her, for God loved her also, and would provide for her. Naomi is being honest and using common sense, as she tells these two ladies that they deserve a life of their own with another man.)

14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

(Ruth was loyal to Naomi, and would stick by her completely.)

15 And she said, "Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law."

(Remember that the Moabites did not worship the true God, but their gods. Naomi is making an effort to allow Ruth to go back, and not feel that binding commitment that she had.)

16 And Ruth said, "Intreat 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:

17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me."

(Notice that there is a seven fold consecration from Ruth to Naomi. They are:

I will go; I will lodge; your people will be my people; your God will be my God; Where you die, I will die; I'll be buried where you're buried; The Lord do so unto me.

We know that Naomi was a wonderful woman, and we see the same sincerity and beauty in Ruth as is in her mother in law.)

18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.


19-. Bethlehem. Arrival.
-19. Sympathy given.
20,21. Sympathy rejected.
22. Bethlehem.

19 So they two went until they came to Bethlehem.

(= house of bread. Jesus is the bread of life. This location will be the birthplace of Jesus, as it was also the birthplace of Benjamin, the son of Jacob, when Rachel died giving birth.

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?"

(When Naomi and Ruth entered into the city, the entire city came out to meet them. They just couldn't believe that Naomi was back in town. Naomi's good name was so well known that they all knew who she was, even after ten years, and they wanted to see and meet her. Naomi brought joy to everyone that was around her.)

20 And she said unto them, "Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.

(We see that Naomi was very hard on herself, as she felt that God was dealing hardly with her.)

21 I went out full and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?"

(God had a purpose for bringing Naomi and Ruth back to Bethlehem, for God will bring Ruth to a union that will fit into the lineage of His Son, Jesus the Christ. For a moment, lets review Matthew 1:5, 6; "And Salmon begat Boaz of Rachab; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king;" This is a listing of the blood line of Jesus, as He was conceived by the Holy Spirit of God, and born to the Virgin Mary.)

22 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.

(Therefore at the Passover. Barley harvest is the first grain to ripen in the years. Barley is a poor man's bread, and at this time it was a rich man's bread. So Naomi and Ruth arrived during harvest season, and that was a good time to store up your food supply. They are now living in Bethlehem-judah and are going to live their lives there.)

Ruth 2)

1326 B.C.

2:1 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.

(We will see that Boaz was a good and fair person.)

2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, "Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace." And she said unto her, "Go, my daughter."

(It became the law of the land that after the harvest reapers had gone over the field, the grain that was left would be for the widows and the poor to go and seek out their living. However it became dangerous for the widows and the poor, because many times the strong reapers would misuse those coming after to get the left over grains. This was well know at the time, and that is why Ruth stated "...after him in whose sight I shall find grace." Ruth would seek a field where the owner and reapers would show kindness to her as she gleaned the corn for Naomi and herself, and not have to worry about being attacked.)

18 And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed.

(Remember that Boaz gave Ruth bread and the dip for her lunch on that first day, so Ruth brought home the provisions that she had brought to the field, along with the basket of barley.)

19 And her mother in law said unto her, "Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee." And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, "The man's name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz."

(It was unheard of to come home with a full bushel of barley, cleaned in the field after the harvest. Something just didn't add up to Naomi. In most cases the widows came home with just enough for a meal, or a little more. Naomi knew that somebody was taking care of Naomi, for this was no accident. Ruth then tells Naomi that the man that helped her today was a man named Boaz. Boaz = fleetness.)

20 And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, "Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead." And Naomi said unto her, "The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen."

(The first thing that Naomi did was to thank the Lord for the gift of barley that He had provided, for she knew that God had His hand in all of the days activities in the field. Then she asked God's blessings on Boaz. Naomi knew Boaz as one of her kinsmen, related to Naomi's dead husband.

So let's look at exactly what kinsman redeemer means. The word "kinsman redeemer" in the Hebrew has a primitive oriental root; "To redeem, according to the Oriental law of kinship. To be the next of kin, and as such, to buy back a relatives property, and marry his widow." So the word "one" doesn't translate into "our next kinsmen". Lets go to Deuteronomy 25 and see what the law of God has to say about the rights of the kinsman redeemer.

Deuteronomy 25:5 "If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her."

As you read this portion of the law, remember that this is what Christ has done for each of us, when he went to the cross as our Kinsman Redeemer. This is the law that was the foreshadow of what would come over fourteen hundred years later, our salvation by redemption by Jesus Christ, for He became our Kinsman Redeemer.

This applies to Naomi's case, for her husband had died, just as Ruth's husband also died. There was no children by Ruth's husband Mahlon, so this law fit perfectly to that of the kinsman redeemer.

Deuteronomy 25:6 "And it shall be, that the first born which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel."

So the seed of the first born, be given to the dead brother, by the living brother.

Deuteronomy 25:7 "And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, `My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.' "

The elders are the judges of the city. This verse is important for it will come up in the fourth chapter of Ruth. You have to understand what is taking place and why, in order to understand why Boaz does what he will do.

Deuteronomy 25:8 "Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, `I like not to take her;' "

Deuteronomy 25:9 "Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, `So shall it be done unto the man that will not build up his brother's house."

Deuteronomy 25:10 "And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed."

This is the law of the kinsman redeemer. Our Lord Jesus Christ is coming back to take a wife, His virgin bride in a spiritual sense. He is our redeemer, the next of kin that has a wife to claim, and the property that was rightfully hers. Though flesh men may think that they have a deed to land here on earth, it is God that created it all, and owns all and it is His. God gives and He takes away. The law is different today, than it was in Ruth's day, and we are always to obey civil law, the law of the land, if it be possible and not against God's plan.

However, to a point we still go by that same law of kinsman redeemer, when it come to the point that one is not able to take care of themselves, and their loved one is passed away. It is required for the next of kin to sign the right for medical care procedures, and for property to be taken care of. This is the reason that medical documents require the listing of next of kin.

This is the same legal source of the Kinsmen Redeemer law that our Lord Jesus Christ practices daily for those that believe on Him.)

21 And Ruth the Moabitess said, "He said unto me also, 'Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.' "

(Boaz wanted Ruth well protected, and as we read in verse fifteen, Boaz commanded his workers not to touch her, but leave her alone and help her. Ruth is relating all the things that happened that day to Naomi.)

22 And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, "It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field."

(Naomi knew the thinking of her people, and what the people would say, and that is why she told Ruth, "Don't let any one see you in another man's field.")

23 So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest;

(Therefore near the Feast of Pentecost. This is why this book is read at that feast.)

and dwelt with her mother in law.

(At this point in time, Naomi now knows that under this law of Kinsmen Redeemer, Ruth is as good as Boaz's wife anyway. She knows that Boaz was the next of kin to her husband, and by marriage, Ruth was childless, and in the family. So if Boaz kept the law of God, then Boaz was the one that would have to perform that right in the community. Keep this thought in mind as we move into the next chapter.)

Ruth 3)

Ruth 3:1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, "My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?

(Naomi knew that she would not be around to much longer, and she is thinking of the well being of Ruth. Though Naomi is to old to remarry, Ruth is at her prime mature age for a woman, she knows that because of Ruth's love for her, she will not commit to a man in marriage as long as Naomi needs her help and support.)

2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.

(This was, and is today, the master's work. His servants plowed, sowed, and reaped.

So Naomi is setting forth her plan to get Ruth and Boaz together, even in marriage. The barley harvest is in the day hours, but at night is when the winnowing takes place. The wind is at night and you beat the barley against the threshingfloor, to separate the grain from the chaff. Boaz is down there working, and Naomi knew that Boaz would be there all night.)

3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.

(Naomi is using good common sense here, for she knows that the work hast to get done before Boaz can set his mind to other things. The eating and drinking would not take place until the work was over. So Naomi told Ruth to go and clean yourself up, and put on some fine looking cloths and get down to the threshing floor, and wait. She was not to show herself to Boaz until he was finished with the work, and eating. Boaz was not a drunkard, but wine was the drink used for the meals, as being fermented it would not spoil in time.)

4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do."

(The marriage rite consisted of the man placing his garment over the woman. It was a form of the marriage ceremony. Though Ruth was a Moabitess, Boaz would instruct her as to what she should do.)

5 And she said unto her, "All that thou sayest unto me I will do."

(Ruth was very loyal and obedient to her mother in law Naomi. Naomi was a wise woman, and she knows the customs of her people, and she knew that Boaz and Ruth would be as good as married, because of the kinsman redeemer law.)

6 And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.

16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, "Who art thou, my daughter?" And she told her all that the man had done to her.

17 And she said, "These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, 'Go not empty unto thy mother in law.' "

(By giving these six measures of barley, it is obvious that Boaz loved and respected Naomi. The dead husband was also well respected by the family and community. Boaz not only protected Ruth, but he directed her to the rightful kin in Ruth's life. Then he saw the position of responsibility that he had to fulfill the rite of kinsman redeemer.)

18 Then said she, "Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day."

(Naomi knew that Boaz would not rest until things were worked out for Ruth. Remember the attention that he gave her in the field, and warning to the young men to keep away from Ruth. He had his eye on Ruth from the beginning, and she told Ruth to just sit still and let Boaz have the time to do what had to be done.)


14,15. Blessing by women.
16. Naomi's joy.
17-. Naming by women.

4:14 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.

(So by now, the value of kinsman should be very important to each of us. It is our family, and family name. When we have a kinsman, we should never turn against them, even if they are of a difference religious preference. It doesn't matter, let them believe as they believe. We know that in the Millennium age, we will have the opportunity to have an influence one each member of our family. Kinsmen are next of kin, father, mother, brother, sister, and our first cousins, aunts and uncles. It is from that family love and kinship that your inheritance comes, because God will bless that kinship. Both these prayers became prophecy because God answered each of them. You can see the love in this family, for that is the love of our Father for His family.

This was the reason that Esau was cursed, as given in both Malachi 1:1, 2; and Romans 9:13; "As it is written, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated." God hated Esau because of giving so little value to his kinship and inheritance. This attitude was developed back in that first earth age, even before he was in his mother's womb. Esau thought so little of his kinship and inheritance that he sold his entire birthright for a bowl of red soup. He thought more of his stomach than his inheritance. God doesn't like that.

When family problems come up, take time to consider those kin, and think of how you can be of help to those of kin that need your help. Do a little praying before you act. Your kinsmen do not have to believe as you do, for each person must make up their own mind as to what they wish to believe, because they are the ones that will stand before the Father and give account of themselves. They don't account for you, and you don't have to account for them. You can still support them even when there is a difference in religious commitment. They are your kin, and if you plant the seed of truth, then leave that seed alone and allow God to make it grow. It is the Spirit of God that opens ones mind or closes it to understanding truth from His Word. Be patient and set the example that your kin can see God's blessing in your life. So the rest of the verses in this chapter deal with the seed line of Jesus Christ, through David. This relationship of kinsman redeemer is the reason that it was read on Pentecost day each year.)

15 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 born him."

(What a prayer of blessing. Stop and think what this is saying of Ruth, her daughter in law. What a compliment! "Seven sons" were considered the height of blessings from God, and here this prayer of blessing puts Ruth higher than having seven sons. The sons worked the land and gave provision for your old age, yet Ruth took care of Naomi more than could be provided by the seven sons. This is the highest compliment that one could give a person.)

16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.

(Naomi took that precious child; that grandson that would have the right of inheritance of her family, and she became the nurse to him. This child became her security, her redeemer in her old age.

Remember there was a kinsman that refused to redeem her, because he was just too busy in the world, and to tied to his possessions to care for his kinsman. Just like Esau and his inheritance, he treated his kinsman less than that bowl of soup. That kinsman was not willing to allow family to get in the way of his possession and life style, and he was willing to take of the shoe and be spit in the face for the right to walk away. There is a price to pay to be a kinsman redeemer, and he was not willing to pay that price.

This is the position that Christ was put in, to pay a price for each of us personally. Sure it cost Him dearly with His life and blood, and He was willing to pay that price for you His kinsman. He provided that inheritance for you, but just as in our flesh life, you have to accept that inheritance before it is yours, and you take it to yourself.

In Naomi's case, she has her inheritance in hand, and she values that little child more than her entire life. Remember that she was a unique woman, for the entire community loved and respected her, and there was not one word bad said against her.)

17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, "There is a son born to Naomi;" and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

(The Word "Obed" in the Hebrew tongue, meaning "serving". Obed will be the father of Jesse, the father of David. So within this verse we have the lineage from Obed to David.

Our nearest kinsman has given us an open title to our inheritance, and it can be received today, right now. All you have to do is believe upon Him and you are redeemed from the bondage of sin that leads to the death of your soul. Within that inheritance is the protection and love of God to each person that will come into the kinship of His family. The right of Kinsman Redeemer has already been paid, the provisions have been set up, but it is up to you to make the commitment, or walk away, as Naomi's nearest of kin did to her.)