Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

Friendship – Day 3

Ruth and Naomi – Naomi’s sacrificial love

Bible text(s)

8she said to them, “Go back home and stay with your mothers. May the LORD be as good to you as you have been to me and to those who have died. 9And may the LORD make it possible for each of you to marry again and have a home.”

So Naomi kissed them goodbye. But they started crying

Ruth 1:8-9GNBOpen in Bible reader

It’s one of the most well-known stories of loyalty and love – the story of Naomi, an Israelite woman forced to live in Moab because of a severe famine in her home country, and her Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth. First, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, dies and then her two sons die. By now, however, the famine at home has ended and she decides to return to Judah, but she has a dilemma.

Under the terms of a Levirate marriage, if a married man dies, the dead man’s brother must marry the widow and raise a family, meaning all children born to this new union would be counted as descendants to the deceased brother. The firstborn son, to this union, would still be considered the birthright child of the dead husband, and would inherit all the property and rights that should have been his dead fathers.

This custom insured the protection of the widow, who might have otherwise been left friendless and destitute. The law further stated that if there were no brothers, the nearest male relative would be required to perform this duty.

For Naomi to have any descendants and any measure of worth, she must require her daughters-in-law to marry her husband’s nearest living relative. However, she does not. Naomi makes a selfless sacrifice and releases Orpah and Ruth from this obligation. Thinking only of their well-being, she tells them to stay with their own people and family in Moab.

It could not have been an easy decision to make – sacrificing her future for her daughters-in-law, who were dear friends too. Tomorrow, we will see how Ruth and Orpah responded.

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