Researched and complied By:
HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
Ruth Chapter 1
As Mother’s day pass until another year I want to look at some of the women characters in the Bible, through the remainder of the month. We will look at each chapter and at the end of the book there will be some questions for each chapter.
The book of Ruth is set during the time of the judges. This is a book of the history of Israel. This is one of the two books in the Bible where a woman is the main character. Most people believe that Samuel penned the book of Ruth. Again, the penman is not important. God is the author. In this story, we see that Jesus is descended from the Jew and the Gentile because Ruth is a Moabite woman. The teaching in Ruth is the near-kinsman redeemer. This book begins with a famine in the land. This famine seemed to be extremely widespread. God had forbidden the Hebrews to intermarry with the Moabites.
Many believe the book of Ruth to be the most beautiful love story in the Bible. Some of the quotes from this book are used in marriages. The favourite quotation, however, is not stated to a man by a woman. It is Ruth speaking to Naomi.
Ruth 1:16 “And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:”
The near-kinsman redeemer law is found (in Deuteronomy). Let’s look at verse 5 of Chapter 25.
Deuteronomy 25:5 “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother unto her.”
There is much more to it than this one verse, but you get the idea.
It is strange, to me, that Boaz’s mother was Rahab, the harlot, from Jericho (A Gentile), that befriended Israel. Ruth was a Moabite which was a Gentile. Ruth and Boaz are in the lineage of Jesus. It is interesting, to me, that these two Gentiles by birth were ancestors of Jesus. Their son was Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Verses 1-2: “Bethlehem”, which is located in the center of fertile farmland, means “house of bread.” This reference unveils the relationship between history and prophecy regarding Christ’s incarnation: during the apostasy and lawlessness of the period of the judges. (Judges 21:25), God was working behind the scenes, preparing the ancestral line of Jesus from the Old Testament to the New Testament (4:17-22; Matthew 1:5; Luke 2:4).
The introduction to Ruth (in verses 1-5), sets in motion the following events, which culminate in Obed’s birth and his relationship to the Davidic line of Christ.
Ruth 1:1 “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.”
“Famine”: This disaster sounds similar to the days of:
- Abraham (Genesis chapter 12),
- Isaac (Genesis chapter 26),
- Jacob (Genesis chapter 46).
The text does not specify whether or not this famine was God’s judgment (1 Kings chapters 17 and 18, especially 18:2).
Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord sometimes used famine to judge a nation or to get His people’s attention. This seems the case here because the famine in “Judah” was localized (the area of Moab, which had food, is only 55 miles from Bethlehem). Instead of trusting God to provide food, Elimelech tried to solve the problem by moving his wife, Naomi, and their two sons to “Moab”, thus violating the meaning of his name, “My God is King.”
Such a famine may have occurred in the days of Gideon (Judges 6:3-6).
“Bethlehem-Judah”: Bethlehem (“house of bread”) lies in the territory given to the tribe of Judah (Joshua chapter 15), about 6 miles south of Jerusalem. Rachel, the wife of Jacob, was buried nearby (Genesis 35:19; 4:11). Bethlehem eventually received the title “city of David” (Luke 2:4, 11). Later, Mary delivered Christ (Luke 2:4-7; Micah 5:2), and Herod slaughtered the infants here (Matthew 2:16). This title (Judges 17:7, 9; 19:1-2, 18) serves to distinguish it from Bethlehem of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15).
“Sojourn”: Elimelech intended to live temporarily in Moab as a resident alien until the famine passed.
“Moab” was situated along the eastern border of the Dead Sea, on the plateau between the Dead Sea and the Arabian Desert. It was about 35 miles long and 25 miles wide. Although primarily a high plateau, Moab also had mountainous areas and deep gorges. It was a fertile area for crops and herds. The nation of Edom was to the south and west of Moab, and to its north was Ammon. The tribe of Reuben displaced the Moabites from the northern part of their territory after the Israelites invaded the land of Canaan. The tribe of Gad pushed the Ammonites eastward into the desert. Moab, the founder of the Moabites, was a son of Lot by incest (Genesis 19:30-38). Balak, the king of the Moabites, joined with the Midianites in hiring Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22:1-20). Eglon, a king of Moab, oppressed Israel in the judges’ period (Judges 3:12-30), and was killed by Ehud. Ruth was a Moabite and became an ancestor of King David and of Christ Himself (2:6; 4:13-22; Matthew 1:5-16). David conquered Moab (2 Samuel 8:2), and the Moabites remained subject to Israel until after Solomon’s death. Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied Moab’s defeat and subsequent destruction (Isaiah chapters 15 and 16; Jeremiah chapter 48). Some of the Jews fled to Moab when Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C. (Jeremiah 40:11-12).
We see from this that they lived in Bethlehem, and a great famine came. To save their lives, they went to Moab where there was food. We know that God’s plan was for them to come to Moab.
Ruth 1:2 “And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-Judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.”
The term Ephrathite may refer to the traditional or aristocratic citizenry descended from the earlier inhabitants of Ephrath, which subsequently became Bethlehem (Genesis 35:19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11; 1 Samuel 17:12; 1 Chronicles 2:19, 24; Micah 5:2).
“Elimelech”: His name means “my God is king,” signifying a devout commitment to the God of Israel. Most likely, he was a prominent man in the community whose brothers might have included the unnamed close relative and Boaz (see 4:3).
“Naomi” means pleasant.
“Mahlon” means sick and “Chilion” means pining. They were of the tribe of Ephraim but living in Bethlehem in the middle of Judah.
Ruth 1:3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died, and she was left, and her two sons. Naomi’s husband, possibly, died early, because he was homesick.
According to Josephus, after he had dwelt in the land ten years, and had married his two sons to Moabitish women. But, as Alshech observes, the text shows that while he was living they were not married to them but after his death. And it is said of them only that they dwelt there about ten years. So that it is most probable that their father died quickly after he came into the land of Moab. And she was left, and her two sons; in a strange land. She without a husband, and they without a father.
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.”
“Ruth” was a Moabite who married Mahlon of the Judahite family of Elimelech. Widowed and childless she abandoned her family, country and faith to accompany her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Beth-lehem. Her radical actions continued as she secured food for herself and Naomi, and summoned the relative Boaz to be their redeemer according to God’s Word (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). After Boaz married her, she bore a son who became the grandfather of Judah’s greatest king, David. The women of Bethlehem exalted Ruth as the loving daughter-in-law who meant more to Naomi than seven sons, the ideal number, would have (4:15). Thus, her name later appears in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Her firm commitment, “Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (verse 16), brought a rich reward to the family, nation and ultimately all mankind. All of this occurred against the dark background of the judges’ period, when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” and when so few individuals really lived committed, faithful and godly lives.
Marriage to a Moabite was not strictly forbidden, but severe restrictions were placed upon the children of such unions (Deuteronomy 23:3).
Though the Moabites were an evil and despised Canaanite tribe, Elimelech and Naomi’s sons, “Mahlon” and “Chilion,” married women from there instead of returning to Beth-lehem to find Israelite wives. What began as a temporary journey to escape hardship became a decade of disobedience in which the family abandoned the land God gave them and settled into a new way of life.
Some of the great historians think that Elimelech had made the arrangements for the two sons to marry these Moabite women. We must remember, God had forbidden these marriages. These ten years could have been all together, or it could have been after the two sons married the two Moabite women. We are not told. “Orpah” means stubborn. “Ruth” means a friendship.
Ruth 1:5 “And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them, and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.”
“The woman was left”: Naomi, a widow in Moab whose two sons had died also, believed that the Lord had afflicted her with bitter days until she would die (Ruth 1:13; 20-21). No reason for the death of these 3 men in her life is given. Ruth married Mahlon, and Orpah united with Chilion (Ruth 4:10).
It seems that there were no children in either of these families. My own personal belief is that God took these two men because they married Moabite women, which He had forbidden. This leaves Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.
Verses 6-22: The death of Elimelech and his two sons (1:3, 5), prepared the way for Naomi and Ruth to leave Orpah in Moab (1:6-14), and return together to Bethlehem (1:15-22).
Ruth 1:6 “Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.”
“The Lord had visited his people”: Obviously, the Lord had sent rain to break the famine. The sovereignty of Jehovah on behalf of Israel permeates the pages of Ruth in several ways:
(1) Actually, for good (2:12; 4:12-14);
(2) Perceived by Naomi for bad (1:13, 21); and
(3) In the context of prayer/blessing (1:8-9, 17; 2:4, 12, 20; 3:10, 13; 4:11).
The return of physical prosperity only shadowed the reality of coming spiritual prosperity through the line of David in the person of Christ.
The news that Bethlehem’s famine was over and God had once again “visited His people” (Luke 1:68), signified to Naomi that God had not forgotten His people, despite their rebellion against Him (Psalm 106:4; Ezekiel 38:8). All that she lacked in Moab, she could find again at home. (Psalm 77:11).
Naomi has heard that the famine in Israel is over. Her home, like her husband’s, was in Israel. Now that her husband and her sons are dead, she wants to go home. The word translated daughters-in-law here, is literally, her brides. This is actually speaking of the brides of her sons.
Ruth 1:7 “Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.”
She went forth”: “Naomi had friends (1:19), family (2:1), and prosperity (4:3), awaiting her in Bethlehem.
“She went forth out of the place where she was” is a clear illustration of repentance. Repentance means to reverse your direction. Naomi left the place where she was, to “return” to the place where she belonged (Genesis 13:1-4; 35:1; Isaiah 55:7).
It seems at this point that, her daughters-in-law were with her.
Verses 8-13: The word translated “kindly” (hesed), means “loyal love” or “lovingkindness”. Because the widowed Naomi had no other sons for her widowed “daughters-in-law” to marry, she asked God to extend His lovingkindness, or covenantal love, to Orpah and Ruth as they returned to Moab to find “husbands.”
In (verses 8-10), Naomi graciously encouraged her two daughters-in-law to return to their homes (1:8) and to remarry (1:9), but they emotionally insisted on going to Jerusalem (1:10).
Ruth 1:8 “And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.”
When they were come, as it is very probable, to the utmost limits of the land of Moab, and to the borders of the land of Israel.
“Go, return each unto her mother’s house”: The mother’s house is mentioned, and not the father’s, not because they had no father living; for it is certain Ruth had a father as well as a mother (Ruth 2:11). But because mothers are most affectionate to their daughters, and they most conversant together. And because women in those times had apartments to themselves, and who used to take their daughters to them when they become widows. Though such was the strong love of those young widows to their mother-in-law that they chose rather to dwell with her, while she lived in Moab than with their own mothers.
“The Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me”: That is, with their husbands, who were dead. As the Targum is, that they refused to marry men after their death; or rather it respects their affectionate care of their husbands. And behaviour towards them when living, as well as the respect they showed to their memory, at and since their death. And also their filial duty to her, both before and since. And particularly, as the Targum expresses it, in that they had fed and supported her.
It seems as if Orpah and Ruth had been really good to Naomi. The love they had for her sons seemed to be passed to Naomi when the boys died. They seemed to have a good relationship with their mother-in-law.
Ruth 1:9 “The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each [of you] in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voice, and wept.”
A twofold blessing is invoked by Naomi on her daughters-in-law, made the more solemn by the twofold mention of the sacred name Jehovah. She prays first for the general blessing, that God will show them mercy, and secondly for the special blessing, that they may find rest and peace in a new home.
She knew the girls were still young and they would marry again. She spoke a blessing on them both in their new life. She, in fact, spoke a blessing on their next marriage as well.
Ruth 1:10 “And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.”
When they had eased themselves in cries and tears and had recovered their speech.
“Surely we will return with thee unto thy people”: To be proselyted, as the Targum; not only to dwell with them but to worship with them.
They loved Naomi and were willing to go with her back to Israel and her people.
Verses 11-13; Naomi selflessly reasoned a second time for their return, because she would be unable to provide them with new husbands (possibly in the spirit of levirate marriage as described in Deuteronomy 25:5-6). If Orpah and Ruth waited, they would most likely have become as old as Naomi was then before they could remarry (Genesis 38:11).
Ruth 1:11 “And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? [are] there yet [any more] sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?”
The Law of Moses provided for the custom of Levirate marriage by which a childless widow would be married by her husband’s brother so as to raise up an heir for the deceased (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). Because both of her sons were dead and she was not then pregnant, “Naomi” could offer her daughters-in-law no hope of protection via this custom. She, therefore, advises the girls to return to their own people. Naomi’s thoughtfulness is underscored throughout the book.
Had there been any other sons of Naomi, the daughters-in-law could have claimed them for marriage, to keep the name of the dead husband alive. The first child of such a marriage would bear the name of the deceased. The truth is, there are no other sons. Naomi is old, and they’re probably will be no more sons.
Ruth 1:12 “Turn again, my daughters, go [your way]; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have a husband also tonight, and should also bear sons;”
This she repeated still to try their affections to her, and especially whether there was any real love to the God of Israel, his people, and worship, but still proceeds upon the same topic.
“For I am too old to have a husband”: And can never think of marrying again on account of age, nor can you surely ever think I should, at these years I am now arrived to.
“If I should say I have hope”: Of marrying, and bearing children; suppose that.
“If I should have a husband also tonight”: Be married to a man directly, suppose that.
“And should also bear sons”: Conceive and bear, not female but male children. Allow that; all which are mere suppositions, and, could they be admitted, would not furnish out any reason why you should be desirous of going with me.
“I am too old”: Naomi was probably over 50.
Ruth 1:13 “Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.”
It is not to be thought that they would tarry till she was married and had children, and then till these infants were grown up to men’s estate, and be marriageable. For though Tamar tarried for Shelah, yet he was born, and of some years of age, though not a grown man (Genesis 38:11).
“Would ye stay for them from having husbands?” they were young widows, and it was fit they should marry again. And it could not be imagined that they would deny themselves having husbands, in expectation of any sons of hers.
“Nay, my daughters”: I am well satisfied you will never tarry for them, nor deprive yourselves of such a benefit. It is unreasonable to suppose it.
“For it grieveth me much for your sakes”: That she could be of no manner of service to them, either to give them husbands or to support and maintain them, should they go with her. Or “I have exceedingly more bitterness than you”; her condition and circumstances were much worse than theirs; for though they had lost their husbands, she had lost both husband and children. Or it was more bitter and grievous to her to be separated from them than it was for them to be separated from her. Her affection to them was as strong, or stronger than theirs to her, or they had friends in their own country that would be kind to them. But as for her, she was in deep poverty and distress, and when she came into her own country, knew not that she had any friends left to take any notice of her.
“The hand of the Lord”: A figure of speech which describes the Lord’s work. The Lord is spirit (John 4:24), and therefore does not have a literal hand.
Even if Naomi were married and was to conceive that very night, Oprah and Ruth would be old women before the sons would be old enough to marry. Naomi is feeling sorry for herself. She says that the LORD is gone out against her. She cannot see that the plan of God could still be working to help her.
Verses 14-18: The meaning of names plays a significant role in this narrative. At the moment of decision, “Orpah” allowed her relatives (“people”), and her false religion (“gods”), to determine her future, causing some rabbis to tease that she “turned her neck.” By deciding to stay in Moab, she chose what seemed easy, returning to her old life and beliefs, and she is never mentioned again. In contrast, Ruth followed a God she did not yet know (and thy God my God”), into an uncertain future among potentially hostile strangers, and she became a matriarch in the lineage of Jesus. Decisions determine destiny.
Ruth 1:14 “And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law, but Ruth clave unto her.”
“Ruth” (whose name means “friendship”), “clung” to Naomi. The word suggests committed, faithful cleaving within a deeply personal relationship. The same word is used biblically to describe how a husband should bond to his wife (Genesis 2:24), and a person to God (Deuteronomy 10:20).
Orpah loves Naomi and does not want to leave, but she knows that what Naomi says is true. She wants to remarry, and she kisses Naomi and leaves to go back to her home. Ruth refuses to leave and clings even harder to Naomi.
Ruth 1:15 “And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.”
At the second plea to return, Orpah turned back. Naomi pleaded with Ruth a third time to return.
“Her gods”: Refers to Chemosh the chief Moabite deity who required child sacrifice (2 Kings 3:27) and other local deities.
It is not said here, who the god of Orpah is. We do know that Ruth loves the One True God. Naomi is doing everything she can to discourage Ruth from staying. She wants Ruth to be happy. It appears that Naomi loves Ruth as she would her own daughter if she had one.
Verses 16-17: Ruth’s faith and faithfulness are in evidence throughout the book, as expressed herein her commitment to Naomi’s “God” as her own. Ruth’s own concern for Naomi is bound by a strong oath made before the “Lord” Himself.
Ruth recited her hallmark expression of loyalty to Naomi and commitment to the family she married into.
Ruth 1:16 “And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, [or] to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be] my people, and thy God my God:”
“Thy God my God”: This testimony evidenced Ruth’s conversion from worshipping Chemosh to Jehovah of Israel (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
Ruth 1:17 “Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”
“The Lord do so to me”: Ruth’s vow bore further testimony to her conversion. She followed the path first blazed by Abraham (Joshua 24:2).
Ruth had set her mind on going with Naomi, and nothing Naomi could say would discourage her. This is one of the dearest things anyone could say to another. Many ministers have the bride and groom at a wedding repeat these verses above to each other. Perhaps Ruth had learned to love God through the teachings of Naomi since she speaks of God as Naomi’s God. This is an absolute dedication by Ruth for her mother-in-law. Ruth makes the strongest statement of all when she says that she wants to be buried where Naomi is buried. She seals her statement by making God a witness of her statement. Nothing but death itself shall part Ruth and Naomi.
Ruth 1:18 “When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.”
“Left speaking unto her” simply means that Naomi accepted Ruth’s decision.
Naomi has finally realized, that nothing she can say will change Ruth’s mind.
Ruth 1:19 “So they two went until they came to Beth-lehem. And it came to pass when they were come to Beth-lehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, [Is] this Naomi?”
“They came to Bethlehem”: A trip from Moab (at least 60-75 miles), would have taken about 7-10 days. Having descended about 4,500 feet from Moab into the Jordan Valley, they then ascended 3,750 feet through the hills of Judea.
“All the city”: Naomi had been well known in her prior residency (Ephrathites of Beth-lehem, 1:2). The question, “Is this Naomi?” most likely reflected the hard life of the last decade and the toll that it took on her appearance.
“Bethlehem”, Bethlehem-Judah, or Ephrath, or Ephratah, is located on the edge of the desert of Judah about five miles south of Jerusalem. It is situated on a rocky spur of the mountains of Judah about 2,500 feet above sea level just off the main road to Hebron and Egypt. Beth-lehem is surrounded by fertile fields, fig and olive orchards, and vineyards. The city was the burial place of Rachel, the wife of Jacob (Genesis 35:19). It was also the setting for much of the Book of Ruth. Beth-lehem was the ancestral home of King David (1 Samuel 17:12) and was rebuilt and fortified by King Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:6). The prophet Micah predicted that Beth-lehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah (Micah 5:2), a prophecy quoted (in Matthew 2:6). Jesus was born in “the city of David,” Beth-lehem. Christ, who is the Bread of Life, was cradled in a town whose name means “House of Bread.”
We must remember that Naomi had been gone a very long time; at least ten years. Even though she had had so much sorrow and hardship, they still recognized Naomi. “Bethlehem” means house of bread. This had been the hometown that Naomi, her husband, and two sons had left from during the famine.
Verses 20-21: “Naomi” means “pleasant, lovely, and delightful”.
“Mara” means “bitter in taste or experience.”
She thought God was against her (1:13), and had “brought” her “home … empty”. Yet through Ruth, He providentially arranged events to redeem her (Psalms 119:71, 75), and to preserve her line for the coming Messiah.
In reality, Naomi had;
1. A full harvest prospect;
2. Ruth plus Boaz; and
3. The hope of Gods future blessing.
Ruth 1:20 “And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.”
The name “Naomi” carries with it the ideas of pleasantness and delight. Her great loss seemed to belie her name. Rather, her situation appeared to merit the name “Mara,” meaning “Bitter.” Naomi calls God by the well-known patriarchal name Shaddai, “The Almighty One” (Genesis 17:1; Job 5:17). Despite her sorrow, she acknowledges the sovereignty of God over her life.
“Mara” means bitter. It seems that Naomi had a tendency to look at the negative. There were some positive things that had happened to her. Ruth loved her greatly. She felt that God had dealt harshly with her. Sometimes we need to look at home for the reason. God chastens those He loves. Perhaps some of the problems came, because of their disobedience to God.
Ruth 1:21 “I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why [then] call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?”
Of my husband and children, as the Targum; of children and riches, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi. Wherefore some Jewish writers blame her and her husband for going abroad at such a time and ascribe it to a covetous disposition, and an unwillingness to relieve the poor that came to them in their distress. And therefore, got out of the way of them, on account of which they were punished, so Jarchi on (Ruth 1:1; see Judges 2:15). But this is said without any just cause or reason that appears.
“And the Lord hath brought me home again empty”: Deprived of her husband, children, and substance; she acknowledges the hand of God in it and seems not to murmur at it, but to submit to it quietly, and bear it patiently.
“Why then call ye me Naomi”: When there is nothing pleasant and agreeable in me, nor in my circumstances.
“Seeing the Almighty hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me? had borne witness that that was not a name suitable for her; or that she had sinned, and had not done what was well-pleasing in his sight, as appeared by his afflicting her. She seemed, therefore, to be humbled under a sense of sin, and to consider afflictions as coming from the Lord on account of it, and submitted to his sovereign will. The affliction she means was the loss of her husband, children, and substance (Job 10:17).
Truly she did have a husband and two sons with her when she went out, but she certainly did not come back empty. She had Ruth. She does not have material things but is blessed to have the great unselfish love of Ruth.
Ruth 1:22 “So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”
“Ruth the Moabitess” (this title also appears at 2:2, 21; 4:5, 10). Ruth stands out as a foretaste of future Gentile conversions (Romans Chapter 11).
Israel’s “barley harvest” occurs in Aril and May. Naomi and Ruth returned at a time when God was again blessing His people. Naomi was soon to have a new beginning with God. It is never too late to start fresh with Him.
The barley harvest was the earliest of the harvest. It was generally around March when the barley was harvested. It also was the least expensive of the grain.