It was three weeks already. Elimelech thought nothing of returning back home! He made to stay for a little more time, perhaps fortune might smile on them in Moab.
Click here for the previous episode: Elimelech and Naomi.
They settled in fast and Elimelech soon found work.
Truthfully, the land was teeming with depraved people, with no sense of morality. Elimelech and Naomi were intentional about injecting the Jewish principles into Mahlon and Chilon . The ways and patterns of the Moabitish people were captivating as they were sinful. They could not bear to dispose of their Jewish convictions in an idolatrous land.
Months ran into years and the famine in Bethlehem Judah seemed unending. The Hebrew parents had resolved to continue their stay in Moab, but would apply caution in relating with the Moabites in guarding against a contamination of their Jewish beliefs.
Now, Ehlimelech needed to work for hours unending so as to meet up with the financial needs of his family. His sons were grown, but their freedom of association was a bit restricted for fear of societal contamination. However, Mahlon and Chilon soon became unsettled and desired to see the outside world.
Its been five whole years and Elimelech’s family had not engaged in any meaningful Jewish practice or religious feasts. His personal practice of offering burnt sacrifices on behalf of his family has become history. Elimelech soon became a far cry from the honourable and revered Elder in Bethlehem Judah.
He pondered over the twist of events… It was true that they had food to eat. Nevertheless, he had lost something else...his place with God and his place before men. But the famine!
Now, he has lost his sense of dignity before his sons… they were demanding for independence so as to explore the exciting world before them. Their father wasn’t convincing enough in his explanations as to why they must uphold their Jewish beliefs against all odds.
One year later, Elimelech slumped while working in the woods. He had suddenly developed a weak heart. This was unheard of, because he had being raised in an environment of God’s protection and soundness of health. An ailment of this kind was only common in the foreign nations. The death of Elimelech was painful indeed!
Naomi mourned her husband in the customary way and he was soon laid to rest. Reality dawned on her. However, she kept wishing and praying that things will get better.
The thought of returning back to Moab would be shameful as she assumed.
Elimelech strived, in his quest to preserve life, yet he died ! She resolved to continue there in Moab, until fortune smiled on them, so she could at least have something to fall back on as a gainful achievement of their stay in Moab.
RUTH AND ORPAH
Orpah found Ruth seated on the edges of the terrace that overlooked the heart of a prominent city in Moab. Gloom was clearly registered on the countenance of the damsel as she trudged hesitantly to adjust the rims of her royal garment, whilst uttering some incomprehensible words.
Orpah could hardly discern the exact cause of Ruth’s growing despair over everything, including the increasing rates of immorality in Moab. Orpah knew her sister too well to have also discerned that it was a matter of the heart too.
She had been approached by a bold but handsome Hebrew who looked beyond her royalty and directly asked her out.
The late Elimelech had some palatial business transaction shortly before his death, and the King’s daughters found the Hebrew gentlemen to be quite different from an average Moabite. Little wonder, the love connection was no struggle.
Days ran into weeks and the love birds thought to seal their union… Orpah was also engaged to Chilon too.
Naomi’s objection to their proposed union was only short-lived. Probably she was outrightly indifferent. They were Moabite Princesses!
Ruth was the grand-daughter of Eglon, a one-time king of Moab, who was murdered in his palace by Ehud, a judge in Israel (Judges 3).
Eglon was the grandson of Balak, the King who sent Balaam to curse the Israelites (Numbers 23)
Obviously, both kings had hostile relations with the people of Israel (God’s people). An Israelite could marry a moabite but a moabite could not join the kahal (assembly) of Israel (Deut 23:3).
On the other hand, she thought hard of the implications of this union. They were Moabite women. Although, they appeared to be very respectful, would they be willing to embrace the Jewish patterns of worship? Her sons were almost falling off their track in terms of their faith in God. Would these women become a bonus?
However, she decided to accept them completely and teach them the ways of the Lord. Although, she often felt a continual feeling of guilt over the current situation of things, but what could she do now? The death of Elimelech had dealt a terrible blow .
The marriage ceremony took place on the same day and both women moved into her home. Contrary to her prior expectation, Ruth and Orpah were homely and lovely. She found in them, the daughters she never had.
Truthfully, it was difficult to convince herself that these were moabite women and as such, may not be able to go through the process of an intense discipleship process in the intricate ways of the Lord.
They could turn back to their gods and their ways, when they perceived the rigors involved!
However, Ruth and Orpah proved their mother-in-law wrong. Their willingness and humility to learn and religiously follow all what was being taught was quite touching.
Fortunately for the duo (Mahlon and Chilon), they relished the freedom they found upon the death of Elimelech, their father.
Naomi released all of her love and herself indeed so as to indeed bless her sweet daughters-in-law. This reflected on virtually all aspects in their lives…dress sense, mannerisms of speech, contentment and worship. One could hardly detect that they were not truly Naomi’s daughters!
Unfortunately, their joy was short-lived as Mahlon and Chilon suffered agonizing episodes of sickness, which later led to their deaths. Firstly, it was Mahlon, and then Chilon.
The three women were in great despair as they struggled to restrict the free flow of tears. They wept until their lachrymal glands were inflamed. The townspeople suggested several sacrifices to Molech and Chemosh as a way of appeasement.
Probably, the Naomi had an inherent curse in her family. Having lost her husband and two grown sons in a space of ten (10) years, it left so much to be desired.
People advised the two young widows to play safe and leave Naomi for good, but they would not budge. Their relationship with Naomi has become more than what was obtained in a conventional family. Ruth and Orpah chose to stay, and they pledged their undying loyalty to always stand by the helpless old widow.
To be continued…
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- In a world of sophistication and advancing technology. We must be careful to inculcate godly virtues into our children. We must be willing to provide explanations to support our convictions because our children would have cause to question the strength of our convictions.
- Our relationship with Jesus Christ must not be nominal alone. It has to be functional (working). We cannot cover up for a lingering sin by righteous works.
- Finding relevance in God’s purpose for our lives is often geographically inclined. Elimelech had lost his place before God and before men/ The death of Elimelech in a strange land is a lesson to us all. Patience must be deliberated as a virtue in periods of extreme pressure.
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