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To Moab and Back (2)

Ruth 1:3-5

Victor M. Eskew




A.   In our previous lesson, we saw that Elimelech moved his family to the land of Moab due to a famine.


B.   Now, we are going to learn about some of the events that happened while they were there.


C.   We haven entitled this next section:  DEATH (Ruth 1:3-5)


I.          DEATH (Ruth 1:3-5)


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 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.


A.   Naomi’s spouse dies (Ruth 1:3)


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


1.     What a shock!  We were not expecting this.  Elimelech’s death is so premature.  We wonder:  “What was the cause?”  But, none is given.

2.    “There is a certain degree of tragedy since Elimelech had traveled to Moab for the sake of preserving himself and his family” (Stewart, 24).

3.     Death

a.    The separation of the body from the spirit (James 2:26).

b.    It is the end of physical existence on the earth.

c.    It also brings an end to the marriage bond (Rom. 7:3).


For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.


d.    NOTE:  “…and she was left…”

1)     Where the dead go, the living are not allowed.

2)    To be left indicates the loneliness that Naomi experienced.

4.    The words, “Naomi’s husband,” are interesting.  The spotlight shifts from Elimelech to his widow.

5.    NOTE:  To die in a foreign land was a disgrace to many Israelites (Exo. 50:5, 24-25; Exo. 13:19; Amos 7:17).

6.    The text states that “…Naomi was left, and her two sons.”  The sons were also left, left by their father:  provider, counselor, and spiritual leader.

7.    These sons were Naomi’s ray of hope.  They would be able to care for her and protect her.


B.   Naomi’s sons marry (Ruth 1:4)


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.


1.     Listen to the words:  “And they took them wives…”

a.    This action was one of their choosing.

b.    They did not involve their mother in the process.

2.    The death of their father is closely connected to the marriage of these sons.

a.    Were they now free from their father’s disapproval of marrying women from Moab?

b.    Were they rebounding from the death of their father, desperately seeking to fill a void?

3.     The word “took” is interesting.

a.    Definition:  to lift or raise up, to elevate or extol or exalt

b.    “The husband’s responsibility is to life his wife up to a place of safety and security, physically, emotionally and spiritually” (Peipman, 46).

4.    These wives were “of the women of Moab.”

a.    The Lord had forbidden marriages to the foreign women of Canaan (Deut. 7:3), lest they lead their children into idolatry (Exo. 34:16; Deut. 7:4).

b.    Moab, however, is not listed among the nations that were forbidden.

c.    They were still an idolatrous people.  Such a marriage would not usually be very wise (I Cor. 15:33).


Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.


5.    The names of the women

a.    The name of one was Orpah.

1)     Definition:  gazelle, mane, came to mean neck, especially stiff-necked or stubborn

2)    She was married to the younger son Chilion (Ruth 4:10).

b.    The name of the other was Ruth

1)     Definition:  beautiful or friendship

2)    She was married to the older son, Mahlon.

6.    “And they dwelled there about ten years.”

a.    The Hebrew word for “dwelled” is “to sit.”  “The family was sitting and fitting fairly comfortably in the society around them” (Peipmen, 50).

1)     Remember, it had been Elimelech’s intent to “sojourn” in Moab, but they continued there.

2)    LESSON:  What one intends does not always come to pass.  Inten-tions and reality can be different.  Reality if often hard to determine.

b.    Most believe that the ten years involves the entire period of their stay.

c.    There were a few good years for Naomi, it appears, following the death of her husband.

C.   The death of Naomi’s sons (Ruth 1:5)


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

her husband.


1.     Let’s consider several points about these two deaths.

a.    First, they both died.  This all of the “blood” family Naomi had in the land of Moab.  One said:  “Naomi has no more.”

b.    Second, they died prematurely. 

1)     Again, we wonder the cause of death, but we are not told.

2)    The death of a child before a parent is a horrible experience.

c.    Third, they died in a foreign land also.

d.    Fourth, they died before having any children.  One wrote the following:


“The name of a man must not be forgotten.  His name would live in his inheritance.  How important for him, then, that he should have a son (4:5, 10).  How devastating, therefore, for Naomi that she not only lost three men of her household, but there is no heir by which their names will be continued and their inheritance guaranteed.  Her men had died, and so had their names!” (Motyer, 38).


2.    And the woman was left.

a.    Notice she is not named, but just called “the woman.”

1)     No longer a wife.

2)    No longer a mother.

3)     No longer with a sense of identity.

b.    “Hers is a stripped bare life in the extreme of bereavement, bereft not a little, bereft three times, bereft of all” (Peipman, 54).

3.     Of her two sons and her husband.

a.    Emphasis is placed upon all that she had lost.  She lost not just her sons, but we must not forget that she also lost her husband.

b.    The future appeared to hold out nothing to her except loneliness and aloneness.

c.    Question:  Doesn’t it appear that she has every reason to give up?