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Ruth and Naomi

1ONCE, in the time of the Judges when there was a famine in the land, a man from Bethlehem in Judah went with his wife and two sons to live in Moabite territory.

2The man's name was Elimelech, his wife was Naomi, and his sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They came to Moab and settled there.

3Elimelech died, and Naomi was left a widow with her two sons.

4The sons married Moabite women, one of whom was called Orpah and the other Ruth. They had lived there about ten years

5when both Mahlon and Chilion died. Then Naomi, bereaved of her two sons as well as of her husband,

6got ready to return to her own country with her daughters-in-law, because she heard in Moab that the LORD had shown his care for his people by giving them food.

7Accompanied by her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living, and they took the road leading back to Judah.

8Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, “Go back, both of you, home to your own mothers. May the LORD keep faith with you, as you have kept faith with the dead and with me;

9and may he grant each of you the security of a home with a new husband.” And she kissed them goodbye. They wept aloud

10and said, “No, we shall return with you to your people.”

11But Naomi insisted, “Go back, my daughters. Why should you come with me? Am I likely to bear any more sons to be husbands for you?

12Go back, my daughters, go; for I am too old to marry again. But if I could say that I had hope of a child, even if I were to be married tonight and were to bear sons,

13would you, then, wait until they grew up? Would you on their account remain unmarried? No, my daughters! For your sakes I feel bitter that the LORD has inflicted such misfortune on me.”

14At this they wept still more. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and took her leave, but Ruth clung to her.

15“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her god. Go, follow her.”

16Ruth answered, “Do not urge me to go back and desert you. Where you go, I shall go, and where you stay, I shall stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God.

17Where you die, I shall die, and there be buried. I solemnly declare before the LORD that nothing but death will part me from you.”

18When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said no more.

19The two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem, where their arrival set the whole town buzzing with excitement. The women cried, “Can this be Naomi?”

20“Do not call me Naomi,” she said; “call me Mara, for the Almighty has made my life very bitter.

21I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has pronounced against me, the Almighty has brought me misfortune.”

22That was how Naomi's daughter-in-law, Ruth the Moabite, returned with her from Moab; they arrived in Bethlehem just as the barley harvest was beginning.

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