Ruth, Naomi and Orpah: 3 Widows, 3 Paths
March 22, 2015 | Dixie Fraley Keller
Ruth is a book about not one widow, but three, and the different roads they took. Think of how desperate they must have felt in this ancient male dominant culture.
They had to think that “fate” was against them. Actually Naomi says that, “the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” (Ruth 1:13) She was the older widow. The other two were her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Naomi had lost her husband and her 2 sons in a foreign land.
Naomi decided to travel back to her homeland, which a lot of widows do. Naomi chose to let her daughters-in-law go freely back to their families and not follow her as tradition would dictate. She wanted them to go and find new lives in their homeland. Orpah took her up on that, and went her way. Ruth chose to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and travel with her to that distant land where she had come from.
Naomi was bitter, she said, “Call me ‘Mara,’ for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20) Naomi felt empty, she said, “I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty.” (Ruth 1:21) Naomi felt afflicted, she said, “the Lord has testified against me, and has afflicted me.” (ibid) Naomi was too old for manual labor, but Ruth went to work in the grain fields. Naomi went to work in another way…
Three widows, three paths. You have to make your choices too. One went home closeby, Orpah. We never heard from her again. One went home, far away, and one chose to cast her lot with her. The later two were written into the bloodline of Jesus.
2 widows journeying together. 2 widows figuring it out as they went. That’s what we are, widows journeying together, figuring it out as we go. Our stories will be read too, by all those around us.
Next month, we’ll talk about the origin of the word ‘Widow’, I think you’ll be surprised what it means.