The period in which the events recorded in the book of Ruth (the time in which the judges ruled) are among the worst in Israel’s history. Like the period of decline within the ancient Roman Empire, the Israelite nation began to crumble from within. The book of Judges repeatedly states that during this time “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”. It was an age of absolute moral chaos. As each family or group fought for its rights alone, the society became fractured.
The book of Judges runs downhill, from bad to worse. The last five chapters contain some of the ugliest stories in the Bible – tales of homosexual assault, idolatry, civil war, thievery, rape and murder. No enemy does all this: Israelites do it to each other. Clearly, the exalted nation of Israel, God's chosen people, has lost its sense of direction. The book of Ruth shines like a beautiful diamond against this bleak background.
Ruth Chapter 1 (NIV)
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab.
May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.
Exploring the Passage
These questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book.
- Why did Elimelech and his family go to the land of Moab?
- Describe Naomi’s condition after ten years in Moab?
- Are you surprised by Ruth's decision to stay with her mother-in-law? Why or why not?
- Naomi said that God was against her. Was she right to think and feel this way? Why or why not?
- How should suffering affect a person’s attitude toward God?
COMMENTS FROM YOU: Have you ever felt empty and afflicted by God as Naomi did? How did you respond? What did God do in your situation?
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