In the days when the chieftains ruled, there was a famine in the land; and a man of Bethlehem in Judah, with his wife and two sons, went to reside in the country of Moab.
The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name was Naomi, and his two sons were named Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. They came to the country of Moab and remained there.
Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons.
They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth, and they lived there about ten years.
Then those two—Mahlon and Chilion—also died; so the woman was left without her two sons and without her husband.
She started out with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab; for in the country of Moab she had heard that the LORD had taken note of His people and given them food.
Accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, she left the place where she had been living; and they set out on the road back to the land of Judah.
But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Turn back, each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me!
May the LORD grant that each of you find security in the house of a husband!” And she kissed them farewell. They broke into weeping
and said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”
But Naomi replied, “Turn back, my daughters! Why should you go with me? Have I any more sons in my body who might be husbands for you?
Turn back, my daughters, for I am too old to be married. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I were married tonight and I also bore sons,
should you wait for them to grow up? Should you on their account debar yourselves from marriage? Oh no, my daughters! My lot is far more bitter than yours, for the hand of the LORD has struck out against me.”
They broke into weeping again, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law farewell. But Ruth clung to her.
So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has returned to her people and her gods. Go follow your sister-in-law.”
But Ruth replied, “Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus and more may the LORD do to me if anything but death parts me from you.”
When [Naomi] saw how determined she was to go with her, she ceased to argue with her;
and the two went on until they reached Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole city buzzed with excitement over them. The women said, “Can this be Naomi?”
“Do not call me Naomi,” she replied. “Call me Mara, for Shaddai has made my lot very bitter.
I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. How can you call me Naomi, when the LORD has dealt harshly with me, when Shaddai has brought misfortune upon me!”
Thus Naomi returned from the country of Moab; she returned with her daughter-in-law Ruth the Moabite. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.