Week 2: Naomi’s Tragedy – Ruth Chapter 1

Week 2: Naomi’s Tragedy – Ruth Chapter 1

Read Ruth 1: 1-22. Take turns in your group reading through this passage. After you have done the reading, look over the discussions below and decide which ones to have in your group (you can discuss them all if you have time).

 Discussion 1. As Israelites, how difficult would it have been for Naomi and her family to have had to leave their Promised Land under these circumstances of famine? Consider our study of Moab from last week. How hard would it have been for an Israelite family to move to Moab in the time of Ruth?

 Can you think of a time when you felt certain you were in a place God had called you to be, and then you were forced to leave because of something that was beyond your control? How did this affect you, and how did you respond?


Discussion 2. Names in the Bible often have great meaning and significance. What significance do these names have in Ruth’s story so far? Keep these meanings in mind as the story unfolds.

·       Bethlehem means “house of bread”.

·       Naomi means “pleasant”.

·       Elimelech means “My God is king”.

·       Mahlon may mean “sickness”.

·       Chilion may mean “wasting”.

Discussion 3. Consider Naomi’s words in Ruth 1: 11-13. Her plight is heartbreaking; according to the values of her culture, she is only a woman past child-bearing years with no husband and no sons. How do the tragic deaths of her sons and husband affect Naomi’s material well-being and economic security and strike at the heart of her sense of value and purpose?

 Naomi feels like her life has nowhere left to go. She thinks that her story is over; even God has no further reason to bless her. Have you ever been at a place in your own life when there seemed to be no future to your story? How did God respond to you, or does it seem like you are still waiting for an answer?

 Discussion 4. Why does Naomi decide to return home to Judah and why does she tell Ruth and Orpah to go back to their families?  Why does Ruth not go back? In being disobedient to Naomi, could Ruth be obeying a higher authority instead? 

Read Deuteronomy 29: 10-15. This passage recalls Moses and the people of Israel renewing the covenant – in Moab of all places! Ruth is entering into a binding covenant with Naomi, the people of Israel, and with God. How is Ruth showing hesed to Naomi? Could Ruth making this covenant with Naomi signify to Naomi that God will keep his covenant with her, despite the tragedy in her life? Can Naomi see this? 

 Has there been a time in your life when God has responded to your need through the love of another person, and you couldn’t even see it?


Discussion 5. How difficult do think it must have been for Naomi to return home? Have you ever had a time in life when it felt like everything you had lived for had come to nothing? How hard was it to face the people in your life who knew you when everything was going well?

Why does Naomi change her name (Mara means “bitter”)? Read Job 2: 11-13, 7:11, and 27:2-4. How is Naomi’s plight like that of Job? How is her situation different? Does Naomi being a woman make her tragedy seem even deeper than Job’s?

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