Journey in the Word

Karen Ingrid Clark

Ruth: Loss to Legacy

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Week One – Day 2WK01D02

Read  Ruth 1:4-5, Genesis 19:30                 SOAP Ruth 1:4-5

 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Genesis 19:30 (ESV)- 30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters.

O – It seems that, from this passage, that Elimelech died, leaving Naomi with her two sons.  THEN, they married.  They married two young Moabite women – Orpah (fawn) and Ruth (friendship).  Lumina gave this translation of Orpah’s name, “The name Orpah (עָרְפָּה, ’orpah) is from the noun עֹרֶף (’oref, “back of the neck”) and the related verb (“to turn one’s back”). “  Interesting….  Since Orpah is the one who returned (turned her back) to Moab.

The sons married Moabite women, foreigners to them and their faith.  “The Moabites are not listed with the 7 Canaanite nations in (Dt 7:1), but they were certainly idolaters, worshipping a false god named Chemosh. Therefore some say that Dt 7:123 only prohibits Canaanite marriage and that marriages to Moabites were not condemned.”  (preceptaustin)

When Mahlon and Chilion died, this left the three women in an impossible position….  “Now there were three childless widows – Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. To be a childless widow was to be among the lowest, most disadvantaged classes in the ancient world. There was no one to support you, and you had to live on the generosity of strangers. Naomi had no natural family in Moab, and no one else to help her. Clearly the narrative is sketching the picture of an utterly hopeless, desperate situation! Just the kind of impossible situation the Almighty (Shaddai, the Sufficient One – see Ru 1:2021 – note) specializes in. The psalmist affirms that  ‘The LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow; but He thwarts the way of the wicked. ‘(Ps 146:9)” – PreceptAustin

So, the story starts, with a Hebrew woman, widowed, elderly, childless, with two widowed daughters-in-law, and in a foreign country.  They had no means to support themselves.  No family.

A – When we place ourselves in a situation where there is temptation, and different values, we are tempted to “blend in.”  Is this what Elimelech did with his family?  If the Hebrews were told not to inter-marry – why did they?  It is not that God “punishes” us for doing what we do, but also natural consequences play into this as well.  What would have happened if they had remained in their homeland?  Did the sons select brides, knowing that they were going against God’s wishes for them?   (Yet – God redeemed that choice in Ruth – LOOK what happened with her life!)

In an utterly hopeless situation, God redeems.   Naomi was widowed, childless, with two widowed daughter-in-laws, in a foreign land.  No visible means of support – or family.  And yet – God was with them.  But at this point, Naomi didn’t know that.   She only knew her circumstances.  What do I do in hopeless situations?  Do I clearly depend on Him – or do I, like Naomi did – call myself bitter?  May I cry on Him – may I seek Him – and ask Him to “abide with me.”

P – Father God, I come to You, thankful for all those times that You have provided, even in the land of Moab.  You have taught me, guided me, and led me into Your land of plenty and joy.   Help me to remember Your presence, Your leading, and Your faithfulness in those times of challenge and loss.  And now, Father, I bring our family to You – in their times of loss and challenge.  Minister to their spirits, bring healing, and comfort.   Be their Rock and strong tower today.  Abide with them today.   Amen.


Study Notes:


Bereft (07604) (sha’ar) seems to be used almost exclusively to indicate the static action of surviving after an elimination process. Sha’ar indicates that which remains or survives after an elimination process, in this case death of all the husbands. The Septuagint (LXX) translates the Hebrew with the Greek verb kataleipo (2641) (from kata = intensifies meaning + leipo = leave behind, forsake) which is a stronger way of saying she was left behind. She must have felt this deeply but she was not entirely alone either literally nor spiritually, one being reminded of God’s promise to Moses…

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the One Who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. (Deut 31:6)

Comment: The writer of Hebrews quotes from this verse in Hebrews 13:5 (note) where the promise in the Greek strongly emphasizes that God will not abandon His own no matter how bleak the circumstances. One can paraphrase it “I will never, never, never leave thee… ”

Naomi’s condition is complicated by several factors that were negatives in ancient times — she was old, she was barren, she was in a foreign country, and she had two alien and childless daughters-in-law. Things indeed looked bleak and hopeless at this juncture of her life. But fortunately, the narrative does not stop here.

Naomi’s emptiness is complete: She has neither husband nor sons. She has only two young daughters-in-law, both of them foreigners and childless. She is running on empty and all seems lost yet One Person has not left her… the Covenant Keeping God Jehovah (“I Am” – “I Am… anything and everything you will ever need.”) is in control and is ordering providence to meet the need of not only Naomi and Ruth but eventually the need of the entire world of empty humanity, as He provides the lineage through which the ultimate and final Kinsman-Redeemer will come, our Lord Jesus Christ.



Abide with Me –

  1. Abide with me; falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
    When other helpers, fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, abide with me.
  2. Thou on my head, in early youth didst smile;
    And, though rebellious, and perverse meanwhile,
    Thou hast not left me, though I oft left Thee,
    On to the close Lord, abide with me.
  3. I need Thy presence, every passing hour.
    What but Thy grace, can foil the tempter’s power?
    Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, abide with me.
  4. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
    Ills have no weight, tears lose their bitterness
    Where is thy sting death? Where grave thy victory?
    I triumph still, abide with me.
  5. Hold Thou Thy cross, before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
    Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
    In life, in death, Lord, abide with me.

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