BIBLE: Ruth Chapter 1 – Headline: “A Cup of Gall and Bitterness”

Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.

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Ruth 1

There are only two books in the Bible named after women: One is Ruth, the other, Esther. Ruth is a gentile and Esther is a Jew.

Likewise; The book of Ruth illustrates the difference between Naomi, who is a Jew, and Ruth, the gentile.

See: Topic: Jacob’s Two Wives

The story begins with Naomi and her husband Elimelech, a Jewish family, leaving Bethlehem and traveling to Moab, a gentile nation with foreign ways.

Elimelech’s (Jewish) Family Goes to Moab (a gentile city)

Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled (Lit. judged), that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell (As a resident alien) in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
  • Timeline: If the time of the Judges begins with Othniel and ends with Eli, then the time “when the judges ruled” would be somewhere between 1391 BC – 1050 BC.
  • Symbolism: Having “a famine in the land” is symbolic of a lack of God’s Word which brings about the judgment of God. A spiritual famine can lead to a literal famine (lack of food). Therefore; the spiritual condition of Israel is already in a deteriorating state. Naomi, the wife of Elimelech, is symbolic of Israel’s spiritual deteriorating state.
  • History: the Moabites were descendants of Lot by his two daughters following the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Ruth is a Moabite from the lineage of Lot.


Ruth 1:The name of the man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites of Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to the country of Moab and remained there.

Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons are Jewish. They leave Israel in a famine (known by God as the pleasant land whenever the land is obedient.)

However; the land is disobedient, suffering a famine, and they are now in the diaspora (scattered) in the land of Moab, a gentile land.

The Hebrew meanings of their names are also symbolic of the story:

“Elimelech” means “Ascent/God is King”. Symbolically, he represents God, the Father.

“Naomi” means “pleasant” and she represents obedient Israel. When the land is disobedient it becomes “Marah” a bitter place to live.

“Mahlon”, the son, means sickly, grieved, suffering from an infirmity.

“Shilion”, the other son, means “Yearn deeply, wasting away, gradually failing in health from grief or regret.”

The two sons represent the consequences of the spiritual deterioration of the Jews.

Psalm 106:24 Then they despised the pleasant land; They did not believe His word,
  • Naomi, the wife, is symbolic of the spiritual nature of her husband.
Ruth 1:Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died (departs); and she was left (without him), and her two sons.
  • Elimelech, the representation of God the Father, departs from Naomi who represents the deterioration of Israel. God separates from Israel.
  • Elimelech has departed from Israel, but continues to work spiritually through Naomi. Naomi not only represents Israel, but is the “widow” Israel, the bitter Israel, the deteriorating, suffering Israel.
  • See Lamentations 1:1. Jerusalem is compared to a widow. Naomi later declares she is bitter when she calls herself “Mara”. She who was called “Pleasant” is now “Bitter”.
 Ruth 1:Now they (the two sons) took wives of the women of Moab: the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth. And they dwelt (lived) there about ten years.
  • Their two sons marry foreign women: Ruth and Orpah, both Moabites. (The Jews were not to marry foreign women.)
  • The Hebrew meaning of “Moab” means “of the father”. God is the father of the Jews and the Gentiles. To be a Moabite is to be a Gentile.
  • Both remained childless.
  • The Hebrew meaning of “Ruth” is “friend”. She represents believing gentiles, prophetic of the Age of the Bride of Christ, the Age of Grace.
  • The Hebrew meaning of “Orpah” is the nape (back) of the neck, associated with stubbornest (like a stiff-necked people).
  • The number TEN is symbolic of accountability.
Ruth 1:Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died; so the woman (Naomi) survived her two sons and her husband.

Naomi Returns with Ruth

Ruth 1:Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return (symbolical of a return to God) from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had visited (attended to) His people (the Jews) by giving them bread.
  • John 6:33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Ruth 1:Therefore she went out from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
  • Naomi’s return to Judah is symbolic of the Jews returning to God. She is performing an Aliyah.
  • Note: There is only ONE way to God, not many ways as many churches teach.
Ruth 1:And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each to her mother’s house. The Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.
Ruth 1:The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.”
  • They have not found rest in Moab. The Promise Land is the land of rest. Obedience brings rest.
So she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.
Ruth 1:10 And they said to her, “Surely we will return with you to your people.”
Ruth 1:11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Are there still sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
  • This is a time of testing.
Ruth 1:12 Turn back, my daughters, go—for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, if I should have a husband tonight and should also bear sons,

A barren womb is an empty tomb. Sarah had an empty tomb and the Messiah came out of it.

Ruth 1:13 would you wait for them till they were grown? Would you restrain yourselves from having husbands? No, my daughters; for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”
  • Jews were to be a model for obedience of God. When the Jews are disobedient, the Gentiles are affected.
Ruth 1:14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
  • Orpah kissed her mother-in-law but also abandoned her. Judas kissed Jesus and abandoned Him.
Ruth 1:15 And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”
  • Note: Orpah went back to her “gods”.
Ruth 1:16 But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not (Urge me not) to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
  • Ruth follows Naomi and accepts the God of “Israel.”
Ruth 1:17 Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”
Ruth 1:18 When she (Naomi) saw that she (Ruth) was determined to go (Lit. made herself strong to go) with her, she stopped speaking to her (she stopped insisting Ruth return to Moab).

This is the story of gentile Christians today. The Jewish God is the Christian God.

  • The time of testing is done.
  • Deuteronomy 23:3 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever,
  • The Book of Ruth concludes with a genealogical list tracing the ancestry of King David from Perez son of Judah. Now these are the generations of Perez:
    Perez begot Hezron;
    Hezron begot Ram,
    Ram begot Amminadab;
    Amminadab begot Nahshon,
    Nahshon begot Salma;
    Salmon begot Boaz,
    Boaz begot Obed;
    Obed begot Jesse,
    Jesse begot David [who became king].
    (Ruth 4:18-22). (These are the ten generations of Deuteronomy 23:3.)
Ruth 1:19 Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
  • Bethlehem is prophetic to become the birthplace of Jesus, who will be in the bloodline of Ruth.
  • Elimelech was well known in Israel, but not in Moab. God is well known in Israel, but not in Moab.
Ruth 1:20 But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi (Lit. Pleasant); call me Mara (Lit. Bitter), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.
  • Exodus 15:23,25 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. 25 So he (Moses) cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.
  • When Moses cast a tree into the waters which God showed him, the waters were made sweet.


When life is bitter, remember the tree: Jesus hung on the tree of the cross to heal us.

  • Exodus 15:25-26 There He made a statute and an ordinance (regulation) for them, and there He tested them, 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”


God deals with a disobedient Israel by giving them bitterness and gall to drink during the coming seven years of tribulation when the Jews are severely afflicted. The story of Naomi reflects a time of anguish for the Jews; and like Naomi, at the end of the bitterness there is a Kinsman Redeemer who will turn their bitterness to rejoicing.

Ruth 1:21 I went out full (pleasant), and the Lord has brought me home again empty (bitter). Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty (Heb. Shaddai) has afflicted me?”
  • Naomi went out with husband and sons only to return empty. Her emptiness causes her to feel dead. She has nothing to offer to Ruth. (but a “resurrection” is coming!)
Ruth 1:22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab.
Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

The beginning of the barley harvest is the spring harvest in the first month of the Jewish year, Nisan. The First Fruits are always celebrated the first day of the week (Sunday) after the Passover, therefore; First Fruits always falls on a Sunday, the same day Jesus rose from the dead. Leviticus 23:11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

The Sabbath can fall on any day of the week depending on the year but Firstfruit will always be on the first day of the week after the Sabbath.

Below: The Spring Harvest represents those who are raised from the dead during “First Fruits”. Jesus and some of the saints whose tombs were opened all were raised from the dead on First Fruits (Sunday Nisan 18) when the wave offering is heralded. A true resurrection is when one is raised from the dead never to die again.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:20b But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

At the end of the story Naomi and Ruth will be “raised from an empty grave” thanks to Boaz who will rescue them by being their “Kinsman Redeemer”.

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