Ruth and Naomi - Naomi's sacrificial love

 Xanthe Galanis

Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.  May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” Ruth 1: 8-9

It's one of the most well-known stories of loyalty and love – the story of Naomi, an Israelite woman forced to live in Moab because of a severe famine in her home country, and her Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth. First Naomi's husband Elimelech dies, and then her two sons die. By now, however, the famine at home has ended and she decides to return to Judah, but she has a dilemma.

Under the terms of a Levirate marriage, if a married man dies, the dead man's brother must marry the widow and raise a family, meaning all children born to this new union would be counted as descendents to the deceased brother. The firstborn son to this union would still be considered the birthright child of the dead husband and would inherit all the property and rights that should have been his dead fathers.

This custom insured the protection of the widow, who might have otherwise been left friendless and destitute. The law further stated that if there were no brothers, the nearest male relative would be required to perform this duty.

For Naomi to have any descendents and any measure of worth, she must require her daughters-in-law to marry her husband's nearest living relative. But she doesn't. Naomi makes a selfless sacrifice and releases Orpah and Ruth from this obligation. Thinking only of their well being, she tells them to stay with their own people and family in Moab.

It can't have been an easy decision to make – sacrificing her future for her daughters-in-law who were dear friends too. Tomorrow we'll see how Ruth and Orpah responded.

Prayer: Thank you for Naomi's selfless example. Help me to also put the needs of the people I love before my own. Amen.