It’s a heart-rending scene: Their husbands are dead. Their prospects in Moab are bleak. But a rumor stirs in the fields: The devastating famine that brought Naomi and her daughters-in-law from Bethlehem to Moab has ended. It’s time for Naomi to go home.
Naomi’s daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah insist on returning with her to Judah, but Naomi urges them to remain with their families in Moab. Orpah tearfully follows Naomi’s wishes, but Ruth emphatically refuses. “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge,” she insists. “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law is beautiful and inspiring. But by remaining with Naomi, she makes a profound personal sacrifice. To really understand the tremendous risk Ruth took by sticking with Naomi, we need to understand the relationship between the people of Israel and Moab.