There once was a woman named Naomi. She was one of the few people who still liked to pray to God. When she married, she moved away from her home. She had two sons whom she loved very much. Then her husband died.
As Naomi raised her boys, she taught them about the Lord. When they were grown up, her sons married. The girls they married belonged to the Moabite tribe. These had been enemies of Israel for many years. This did not seem to matter to Naomi, though. She loved these girls as if they were her own daughters.
Then the two sons died. Naomi and the two young wives were left alone. Oh, it was a very sad time for the three women! The wives were called Orpah and Ruth. They lived with Naomi and helped in any way they could. But there was not much food in the land. The three women could not find enough to eat.
“My daughters,” Naomi said. “I have heard there is food in the land where I grew up. That is far away from here. My people were one of the tribes of Israel. I’ll go there now, but it would be better for you to go back to your own parents. They’ll take care of you. Maybe you’ll even find husbands again.”
The young women said, “No. We want to stay with you.”
But Naomi shook her head. “What will you do? I’m too old to find another husband. Don’t be silly. Go back home.” Naomi loved her daughters-in-law and wanted them to stay. But she also wanted to do what was best for them.
Orpah came up to Naomi. She said, “I will do what you wish. I will go back to my parents.” The old woman hugged her. They held each other and cried. They knew they would never see each other again. Orpah gathered her things and left.
But Ruth would not leave. She put her hand on Naomi’s shoulder. She said she would stay, no matter what. In her heart Naomi was glad Ruth wanted to stay. Naomi knew she would become an old beggar woman, with no one to help her. She wanted what was best.
Ruth, said. “You must go, too, Ruth.”
Ruth begged Naomi, “No, you’re my mother now. Please, Naomi, let me go with you. I’ll go where you go. Your people will be my people and your God, my God.” Ruth knew about the one, true God. Her husband had taught her about God and she trusted Him. “Please, Naomi,” Ruth begged. “I never want to be far away from you. God will take care of us.”
Naomi finally agreed. The two women set off for Bethlehem. That was where Naomi had grown up. When they arrived, all the old people remembered Naomi. “Is it really you?” they asked.
“Naomi, you’ve come back to us! It’s so nice to see you again.”
Old friends hugged her and the word soon spread, “Naomi has comeback home! She’s brought her daughter-in-law with her.”