The stage was set. Naomi had taken the decision, having ruminated carefully over its import.
On the morrow, the old widow took a final stroll around her matrimonial home, (in the strange land of Moab). For one moment, she felt like a true fugitive. Nodding in deep regret, she sobbed in between her breath so as not to alert her daughters-in-law. They had truly been supportive over the past few weeks since the death of her sons (their husbands).
Apparently, Ruth and Orpah had come to stay. None had spoken about returning back home to Moab. She was an old, childless widow with no prospects at all. Financially, it would be a burden to remain in Moab, that would be an added responsibilty as both women would have to cater for her every need. What would become of their lives taking care of her here?
Truthfully, the death of her husband and sons had taken a sad toll on her as she often experienced emotional unrest.
Ruth was usually swift to detect her mood swings, letting out her bowels of love to soothe Naomi’s hurting soul.
Two days earlier, Naomi had gotten word! Finally, the Lord had remembered His people (Israel).The famine in Moab had come to an end. All of these factors culminated in her wanting to go back home.
However, many would view her a fair-weather fellow/citizen, as she thought. A greedy, prompt and selfish seeker of greener pastures!
Nevertheless, Naomi had decided to leave. It was better to die in the hands of the Lord, since His right hand of punishment had gone out against her. More still, she could still be amongst her friends and relatives, serving the full term of God’s wrath, before her old sorry head would be committed to mother earth in deep sorrow.
There was no future anymore for her in Moab. It was rather unfortunate that she had subscribed to the idea of migrating into this country in the first place.
She kissed both Ruth and Orpah, blessed them and made to leave. However,they followed.
Swiftly observing their sacks strapped to their backs, she beheld their countenances as though she could read their present thoughts. Now, the atmosphere was tense.
Silently, they trailed along the rather lonely and dusty paths, behind their mother-in-law.
The plains of Moab had a beautiful vegetative scenery… mountains swept the major parts of the country side, especially the parts that traversed its very outskirts.
Naomi stopped almost immediately, “Don’t you understand?” She blurted out with a firm countenance in an attempt to emphasize an obvious reality, but nothing could be more realistic than the co-mix of cold sweat and tears trickling down her nicely contoured cheeks, brightly befitting the glorious rays of the morning.
Naomi was a definition of a true beauty, with a wrinkled face, although deeply enmeshed in a web of woes!
It’s been 10 long years of misery in an agonizing succession. It was quite mysterious that they all became widows within this period.
Unfortunately, Moab was not as economically stable as it used to be, coupled with the crippling economic downturn that has spread like an incurable epidemic. The townspeople feared that Naomi’s foreign but powerful gods had unleashed a national terror!
The three widows stood in a transfixed position. Boisterous and unstable waves of cool air swept at intervals, swaying their garments as they occasionally kissed themselves.
Naomi’s voice shook terribly as she spoke again. Indeed, she made sense, they needed to move on with their lives. She had affected them in a profound manner. Naomi could not be surer that Ruth and Orpah would make the best of wives in their next marriages. They could be agents of transformation in Moab!
Logically speaking, there was nothing to hold on to, no hope of a better future that Naomi could guarantee her loyal daughters in Judah. They may not even be accepted in certain Jewish meetings, by virtue of their moabitish ancestry.
Worse still, their chances of remarrying in Bethlehem Judah was very slim because the Israelites were loathe to do so. Hence, they might just be tied down with the responsibility of fending for their old mother-in-law.
Ruth and Naomi thought hardly, wiping off fresh streams of tears that replace the dried out tears, from the cool air of the morning.
Still in this emotional state, Orpah held her mother-in-law in a rather prolonged embrace amidst tears and kisses. Slowly, she disengaged and turned her shawl inwards, her direction pointing towards Moab.
Naomi continued her journey in the opposite direction; whilst Ruth stood still, trying to grasp the highlight of the moment.Positioned in the middle of two directions, one led to Bethlehem Judah with Naomi, the other direction led to her home country, Moab with Orpah. But, home was with her mother, Naomi.
Oh, how she loved Naomi! Nevertheless, the choice of going on with one whose life has been attendant with great sorrow and peril was a difficult one to make. Indeed, Ruth was at the crossroads.
In one swoop, She found herself laying prostrate at her mother’s dusty feet (still trying to catch her breath). She pledged her undying loyalty to her.
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.9The 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.10And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.11And 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?12Turn 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;13Would 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.14And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.15And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.16And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:17Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.