There are only two books in the Bible named after a woman; Rut is one of the books.
Rut is read in the synagogue on Shavu'ot (Pentecost) because these events took place during the barley harvest.
Jewish tradition credits Samuel as the author.
In this book of 4 chapters we will learn about the kinsman redeemer.
Rut 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 Beth-Lechem, Y’hudah, went to dwell in the country of Mo’av (Mo’av), he and his wife and his two sons.
Here we learn the time these events took place. It was during the time of the Judges. The Judges stage in Israel’s history came right after the Exodus and continued on until the time Israel’s first King Sha’ul (Saul) was appointed.
A famine in the land - this could be a sign of the judgment of Adonai but it is not stated. Adonai used the famine to move this family to Mo’av where Rut enters the story.
Beth-Lechem - means House of Bread.
Y’hudah - means Praise. - This was the area of land in Israel given to the tribe of Y’hudah.
Mo’av (Mo’av) - The country of Mo’av is east of the Dead Sea, it is now a part of modern day Jordan. The Mo’avites got their start from an incestuous relationship between Lot, Avraham’s nephew, and his oldest daughter after they fled S’dom (Sodom) and ‘Amora (Gomorrah).
Genesis 19:37 And the firstborn bore a son, and called his name Mo’av: the same is the father of the Mo’avites to this day.
Rut 1:2 The name of the man was Elimelekh, the name of his wife was Na’omi, and the names of his two sons were Machlon and Kilyon--Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Mo’av and remained there.
Elimelekh means, “My G-d is King”
Na’omi means, “the sweet one” or pleasant
Machlon means, “sick” or unhealthy
Kilyon means, ‘pining” or puny
Ephratah was the ancient name of the region around Bethlehem.
Mo’av was about 100 miles from Beth-Lechem.
Rut 1:3 Then Elimelekh, Na’omi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons.
Time passes and Elimelekh dies.
Rut 1:4 Now they took wives of the women of Mo’av: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Rut. And they dwelled there about ten years.
The boys grow up and marry foreign women.
Orpah means, “deer” or “fawn”
Rut means, “beauty” or “personality” - we will see that Rut has a beautiful personality.
Rut 1:5 Then both Machlon and Kilyon also died; so the woman survived her two sons and her husband.
Rut was married to Machlon.
Rut 4:10 Moreover Rut the Moabitess, the wife of Machlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: you are witnesses this day.
It seems that that Naomi was in Mo’av for a total of 10 years. Her sons must have been very young when they died.
Rut 1:6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the country of Mo’av, for she had heard in the country of Mo’av that Adonai had visited His people by giving them bread.
A woman with out a husband or sons to provide for her was in a bad way in those days and to make matters worse, she was a foreigner in Mo’av.
Adonai had visited His people - G-d sent rain. The famine is over back home.
Rut 1:7 Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
It would have been the custom in that time for the girls to walk a little way with her, possibly to the boarder of the country.
Rut 1:8 And Na’omi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go, return each to her mother's house. Adonai deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.
Na’omi reaches a point in the journey where she is tells the girls. Look, you have been good to my sons and me. You have accompanied me far enough. Go back to your families.
Rut 1:9 Adonai grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband." Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.
Go back to your people and perhaps you will remarry.
This is a sad moment for them. They will never see each other again, no e-mail, phone, etc to keep in touch.
Rut 1:10 And they said to her, "Surely we will return with you to your people."
At this point both girls are emotional and want to go with their mother-in-law.
Rut 1:11 But Na’omi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
Who will marry you? You are not Jewish so you are not going to find another husband in Israel, and I don’t have other sons for you to marry.
Rut 1:12-13 Turn back, my daughters, go--for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons, would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of Adonai has gone out against me!"
I am too old - Na’omi is probably over 50 years old.
Even if she married again and had more boys, Rut and Orpah would have to wait for a good 20 years to remarry. By then they would be too old to have children.
Here is D’varim we see the basis for Na’omi’s comment about having other sons for them to marry. We will refer to this passage again and again as we study Rut.