1In the days when the judges governed [Israel], there was a famine in the land [of Canaan]. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live temporarily in the country of Moab with his wife and his two sons. 2The man’s name was Elimelech and his wife’s name was Naomi and his two sons were named Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went to the country of Moab and stayed there. 3Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left [a widow] with her two sons. 4They took wives from the Moabite women; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other was Ruth. They lived there about ten years; 5and then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so the woman [Naomi] was left without her two sons and her husband.
6Then she set out with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in Moab how the Lord had taken care of His people [of Judah] in giving them food. 7So she left the place where she was living, her two daughters-in-law with her, and they started on the way back to the land of Judah. 8But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you return to your mother’s house. May the Lord show kindness to you as you have shown kindness to the dead and to me. 9May the Lord grant that you find rest, each one in the home of her husband.” Then she kissed them [goodbye], and they wept aloud. 10And they said to her, “No, we will go with you to your people [in Judah].” 11But Naomi said, “Go back, my daughters, why should you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that may become your husbands? 12Go back, my daughters, go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, and if I actually had a husband tonight and even gave birth to sons, 13would you wait until they were grown? Would you go without marrying? No, my daughters; for it is much more difficult for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has gone against me.”
14Then they wept aloud again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law [goodbye], but Ruth clung to her.
15Then Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; turn back and follow your sister-in-law.” 16But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God. 17Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do the same to me [as He has done to you], and more also, if anything but death separates me from you.” 18When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.
19So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole city was stirred because of them, and the women asked, “Is this Naomi?” 20She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi (sweetness); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty has caused me great grief and bitterness. 21I left full [with a husband and two sons], but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
22So Naomi returned from the country of Moab, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law. And they arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.