Ruth ~ Part 10
Nevertheless, both women committed to going with her. This demonstrated their deep love for Naomi. And, as we will see, it also says a lot about Ruths faith in the power of Naomis God. Huey notes:
Both Orpah and Ruth refused to be separated from Naomi. They pledged themselves to return to Judah with her. Their devotion, while remarkable in the light of what they were giving up to remain with Naomi, was at the same time high commendation of Naomis character. By following her, they were abandoning their families, friends, homeland, deities, and prospects for remarriage. 3
Good Intentions, More Poor Advice
The other reason Naomi wanted them to return home , was that she had nothing to offer. The fulfillment of women in Middle Eastern cultures was not just marriage, but also children. Naomis world and her line had come to an end. Her concerns speak directly to the law of marriage.
If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husbands brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.
However, if a man does not want to marry his brothers wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, My husbands brother refuses to carry on his brothers name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me. Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, I do not want to marry her, his brothers widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brothers family line. That mans line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled. (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).
Keeping this in mind, Naomi believed the only hope for these women was to be found in Moab with new husbands, homes and children. Her thinking is understandable, but it left God out of the picture. It gave no recognition of His power to change circumstances.
And why did Naomi ignore Gods possible intervention? After all, Israel had a history of being watched over and directed by God. The problem may be understood in light of her view of Gods past dealing with her life. From her perspective, He had been active, but to her detriment. She believed that her losses were due to Gods hand, His judgment against her for her sins. This being the case, while God might bless Ruth and Orpah in Moab, they certainly wouldnt be blessed, if they stayed with her. Instead, from her perspective, they too might suffer from any future action God would take against her.
What of Ruth and Orpah? They loved Naomi. They didnt want to be separated from her. The text is not critical of Orpahs decision to leave. The impression we get is that Orpah realizes the wisdom of Naomis words. Although she grieves, she turns toward home. She obeys Naomis instructions. Huey points out:
Nevertheless, by returning to her land she returned to her gods (v.15). So she stood in marked contrast to Ruths faith (v.16). Later tradition, probably reflecting a critical attitude toward Orpah, made her an ancestor of Davids foe, Goliath. Verse 14 is another example of the terse manner in which action and emotion can be expressed in Hebrew; there are only ten Hebrew words in this verse. 4
Ruth, on the other hand, doesnt listen to Naomi or her instructions. She instead listens to her heart. And from the outcome, we might suspect that she is also listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
To be continued.
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