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 Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. 3 And Elimelech Naomi's husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. 5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. 6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread. 7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept. 10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. 11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; 13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. 14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
Elimelech, Naomi and their sons migrated to Moab because of famine in Bethlehem to look for green pastures. After the death of her husband and two sons Naomi decides to come back home with her daughter in-law. To Elimelech, going to Moab was like going to America nowadays. I have divided the passage into 4 subtitles.
Going to a foreign Land (V 1-2).
Moab means water of a father. The name is from the incest son of Lot and his elder daughter. The field of Moab mentioned here was the district east of the Dead Sea and south of the River Arnon. As descendants of lot’s sons, the Moabites were related to the Hebrews. The Israelites were ordered not to trouble them and the land of Moab was not given to the Israelites for possession. The god protector of their nation was Chemosh while Jehovah was for the Israelites. Therefore, they had different religions. Moab was one of those countries that oppressed Israel during the period of the judges. However, at this time Israel had defeated and conquered the Moabites. While in BethlehemJudah (which simply means Bethlehem of Judah) there was Ethiopian hunger both physically and spiritually up to the point where everyone did whatever they wanted. It was called BethlehemJudah that to distinguish it from Bethlehem in Zebulun. Just as an aside this is where Christ will be born. Here the people were spiritually arid that Elimelech one of them ran to Moab that he knew about all what I just told you now. Going out of the country was common and was looked upon as the only means of survival.
Elimelech means God is king. Now take note of the names of each of them. Was God king of his life? If God was king in his life he would have stayed in Bethlehem and waited for God to act. Naomi means Pleasant. He had a helpmeet that would bring pleasance to her. The first son was called Mahlon meaning sickly and the second was Chilion; meaning pining (which is a slender piece of wire with a point at the end and head at the other used to fasten things). Elimelech (God is king) the head of family will have his enjoyment (Naomi) sick (Mahlon) but he should gather himself together (Chilion ) as a the head of the family and do the right thing. Yet he decides to make the wrong choice to go to a foreign land. Which land even? The land of no return. The Land where God is not honored.
A pastor came to the US and lived with us for some time. He told me he has come to do his masters in Divinity and later will do a doctorate in theology. We were searching for jobs we could not fine and later he told me he has his Masters and that he wants to do his doctorate. One day, he came back home exhausted and disappointed that we could not fine a job. So he told me since Americans do not like people who are honest he will now play the game. After some time he received a letter saying he was a doctor of what I do not know. He applied for a job and quickly had one.
The second story was that of Paul a young man who came to live with me from Cameroon. He would pray and shout as though he was one of those first time Pentecostal prophets. Paul too could not fine a job so decided to date a fat bellied lady called Melissa he met over the net. He moved in with the lady and they later broke up. Now make no mistake I am not judging any of these brothers but just showing you the dangers of going to a foreign land when God has not asked you to do so. You might want to ask me did God then send you to America. Yes he did but he sent me to go and study. Brothers and sisters going to a foreign land is not the solution. There are many people in Europe living like rats. Hiding from the immigration everyday because they do not have legal status. In America, without papers you cannot work. And so you will have to compromise one thing or the other to be able to work. Do not be deceived because you see people come here with all those glittering things they have taken on credit. They did not even buy them. They have houses they will have to pay for the next 30 years. Some are married to their grand mothers just to have papers. Others are plainly sex slaves just to have the papers to work. You are poor but you are happy. Be joyful people. I say again be joyful.
Until then, let the Lord be the center of our actions.
Prince and PA Hamilton Ayuk