[CF Devotionals] 2008-05-25 - The Widow Naomi

Installment 7 ~ Chapter 1, Part 2

Verses 3-5: We are not told how much time has passed, but first Elimelech dies, and Naomi is left a widow. Scripture tells us nothing more, but as we have already seen, Jewish tradition says he died either because of his greed or because he fled his homeland.

Elimelech reminds me of the individual who lived in constant fear of the potential earthquakes in California. So he decided it was time to leave. And where did he go? – Nicaragua, just in time to experience a major earthquake. Elimelech left home to escape death, and to what did he bring himself and his family? – death.

But at least, it appeared Naomi still had her two sickly sons left to carry on the family name. Of course, the way they had chosen to do so was by marrying two Moabite women. Great choice! But, understandable under the circumstances.

Jewish tradition states that the prominence of these two men was such that they ended up marrying the daughters of Eglon, the king of Moab, so these women were princesses. And how do they come to this conclusion?

"`Ruth and Orpah were the daughters of Eglon, as it is written [Judges 3:19; (when Ehud came to Eglon to deliver God's message)] "… and Ehud said: I have a message from God to you. And [Eglon] arose from his throne." The Holy One, blessed be He, said of him: "You stood up from your throne in My honor, I will cause to emerge from you a descendent who will sit upon my throne"' (Midrash.)" 1

Of course, the problem if you go to the Judges passage is what actually happened was as Eglon stood up, Ehud stabbed him to death, in obedience to God. How the Midrash comes to its conclusion doesn't matter. It isn't supported by scripture.

As we noted last time, while marrying a Moabite wasn't specifically forbidden under the Law, they were not allowed to enter the congregation of Israel, which would pretty much be a practical prohibition. Maybe these men never intended to return home, even though their father's original intent was for a temporary stay. The fact we are talking about a 10- year stay would seem to confirm this. If this was the case, then marrying Moabites wouldn't be a problem, or would it?

And so what was the result? The two men die. Why? It may be because they were both sickly, but then again, it may have been the hand of God working in both a punishing and in an providential way.

"Jewish tradition has regarded the death of these three males (Elimelech, Mahlon, and Kilion) as God's punishment for their leaving Bethlehem. Though that is possible, the text does not indicate it." 2

And so, Elimelech's line has come to an end. Naomi has lost everything - her husband, her sons, and finally her hope.


  1. Ibid, p. 67.
  2. Reed, John W., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Volume 1, "Ruth," Victor Books, Wheaton, IL., 1986, p. 419.

To be continued.

Comments or Questions?
Geoff

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