Taomi decided to leave the land of Moab with her two daughters-in-law and return to Bethlehem. However, on the way to the land of Judah, she attempted to release Ruth and Orpah and send them back to their respective homes. At first, both of them refused to leave, but after much insistence, Ruth and Orpah both cried and reacted differently. The Bible says: “Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.” (Ruth 1.9).

Orpah, after bidding farewell to her mother-in-law, left and returned to her mother’s house. She eventually gave up on the idea of continuing the journey to Bethlehem. Unlike Ruth, she did not cling to Naomi and did not discern what the latter could offer her. With no husband anymore, the interest was lesser.

We can say that Orpah invested less than Ruth in this relationship which barely evolved and remained at the initial stage: mother-in-law/daughter-in-law. She preferred to return to the land of Moab, which was under the curse, rather than head towards the blessed people of God.

Once Orpah left, Naomi said to Ruth:

Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” Ruth replied: “Do not urge me to leave you, or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Naomi, seeing that she was determined to go with her, ceased to press her. ” Ruth 1:15-18

Unlike her sister-in-law, Ruth cultivated this relationship. At the time of the separation request made by Naomi, for Ruth who had adopted her as family and not just as her in-law, it was inconceivable to distance herself from her. So she remained attached to her mother-in-law.

She had learned to know this woman and most certainly to love, respect, and value her. For her, Naomi, even in her impoverishment, had value. She didn’t stop at appearances. Even though this family found themselves isolated in this season, Ruth discerned more. Over the years, she had learned to appreciate their values, their beliefs. She had certainly learned about their God beyond the circumstance that this family was going through.

Let us remember that the people of Moab had many interactions with the people of Israel, the blessed people of God. So the Moabites knew the people of Israel. The texts of Deuteronomy 23:4-5 and Judges 3:12-14 confirm this.

While Ruth refused to leave this new family circle, Orpah decided to return to her origins despite everything she had experienced in this context. The relationship between Ruth and Naomi became one of destiny, whereas that of Orpah and Naomi remained a relationship for a reason or even for a season.

This text is an excerpt from the book “Ruth – The one we didn’t expect” written by Pastor Modestine CASTANOU.

We invite you to read the following article “DISCERNING NAOMI.

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