21 The Israelites had taken an oath in Mizpah, saying, “Not one of us will allow his daughter to marry a Benjaminite.” 2 So the people came to Bethel 1 and sat there before God until evening, weeping loudly and uncontrollably. 2 3 They said, “Why, O Lord God of Israel, has this happened in Israel?” An entire 3 tribe has disappeared from Israel today!”
4 The next morning the people got up early and built an altar there. They offered up burnt sacrifices and token of peace. 4 5 The Israelites asked, “Who from all the Israelite tribes has not assembled before the Lord?” They had made a solemn oath that whoever did not assemble before the Lord at Mizpah must certainly be executed. 5 6 The Israelites regretted what had happened to 6 their brother Benjamin. They said, “Today we cut off an entire 7 tribe from Israel! 7 How can we find wives for those who are left? 8 After all, we took an oath in the Lord’s name not to give them our daughters as wives.” 8 So they asked, “Who from all the Israelite tribes did not assemble before the Lord at Mizpah?” Now it just so happened no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the gathering. 9 9 When they took roll call, 10 they noticed 11 none of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead were there. 10 So the assembly sent 12,000 capable warriors 12 against Jabesh Gilead. 13 They commanded them, “Go and kill with your swords 14 the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead, including the women and little children. 11 Do this: 15 exterminate every male, as well as every woman who has had sexual relations with a male. 16 But spare the lives of any virgins.” So they did as instructed. 17 12 They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young girls who were virgins – they had never had sexual relations with a male. 18 They brought them back to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.
13 The entire assembly sent messengers to the Benjaminites at the cliff of Rimmon and assured them they would not be harmed. 19 14 The Benjaminites returned at that time, and the Israelites 20 gave to them the women they had spared from Jabesh Gilead. But there were not enough to go around. 21
15 The people regretted what had happened to 22 Benjamin because the Lord had weakened 23 the Israelite tribes. 16 The leaders 24 of the assembly said, “How can we find wives for those who are left? 25 After all, the Benjaminite women have been wiped out. 17 The 26 remnant of Benjamin must be preserved. An entire Israelite tribe should not be wiped out. 27 18 But we can’t allow our daughters to marry them, 28 for the Israelites took an oath, saying, ‘Whoever gives a woman to a Benjaminite will be destroyed!’ 29 19 However, there is an annual festival to the Lord in Shiloh, which is north of Bethel 30 (east of the main road that goes up from Bethel to Shechem) and south of Lebonah.” 20 So they commanded the Benjaminites, “Go hide in the vineyards, 21 and keep your eyes open. 31 When you see 32 the daughters of Shiloh coming out to dance in the celebration, 33 jump out from the vineyards. Each one of you, catch yourself a wife from among the daughters of Shiloh and then go home to the land of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers come and protest to us, 34 we’ll say to them, “Do us a favor and let them be, 35 for we could not get each one a wife through battle. 36 Don’t worry about breaking your oath! 37 You would only be guilty if you had voluntarily given them wives.’” 38
23 The Benjaminites did as instructed. 39 They abducted two hundred of the dancing girls to be their wives. 40 They went home 41 to their own territory, 42 rebuilt their cities, and settled down. 43 24 Then the Israelites dispersed from there to their respective tribal and clan territories. Each went from there to his own property. 44 25 In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right. 45
1 During the time of the judges 1 there was a famine in the land of Judah. 2 So a man from Bethlehem 3 in Judah went to live as a resident foreigner 4 in the region of Moab, along with his wife and two sons. 5 2 (Now the man’s name was Elimelech, 6 his wife was Naomi, 7 and his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. 8 They were of the clan of Ephrath 9 from Bethlehem in Judah.) They entered the region of Moab and settled there. 10 3 Sometime later 11 Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, so she and her two sons were left alone. 4 So her sons 12 married 13 Moabite women. (One was named Orpah and the other Ruth.) 14 And they continued to live there about ten years. 5 Then Naomi’s two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, also died. 15 So the woman was left all alone – bereaved of her two children 16 as well as her husband! 6 So she decided to return home from the region of Moab, accompanied by her daughters-in-law, 17 because while she was living in Moab 18 she had heard that the Lord had shown concern 19 for his people, reversing the famine by providing abundant crops. 20
7 Now as she and her two daughters-in-law began to leave the place where she had been living to return to the land of Judah, 21 8 Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Listen to me! Each of you should return to your mother’s home! 22 May the Lord show 23 you 24 the same kind of devotion that you have shown to your deceased husbands 25 and to me! 26 9 May the Lord enable each of you to find 27 security 28 in the home of a new husband!” 29 Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept loudly. 30 10 But they said to her, “No! 31 We will 32 return with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi replied, “Go back home, my daughters! There is no reason for you to return to Judah with me! 33 I am no longer capable of giving birth to sons who might become your husbands! 34 12 Go back home, my daughters! For I am too old to get married again. 35 Even if I thought that there was hope that I could get married tonight and conceive sons, 36 13 surely you would not want to wait until they were old enough to marry! 37 Surely you would not remain unmarried all that time! 38 No, 39 my daughters, you must not return with me. 40 For my intense suffering 41 is too much for you to bear. 42 For the Lord is afflicting me!” 43
14 Again they wept loudly. 44 Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, 45 but Ruth 46 clung tightly to her. 47 15 So Naomi 48 said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her god. 49 Follow your sister-in-law back home!” 16 But Ruth replied,
“Stop urging me to abandon you! 50
For wherever you go, I will go.
Wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will become my people,
and your God will become my God.
17 Wherever you die, I will die – and there I will be buried.
May the Lord punish me severely if I do not keep my promise! 51
Only death will be able to separate me from you!” 52
18 When Naomi 53 realized that Ruth 54 was determined to go with her, she stopped trying to dissuade her. 55 19 So the two of them 56 journeyed together until they arrived in Bethlehem. 57
When they entered 58 Bethlehem, 59 the whole village was excited about their arrival. 60 The women of the village said, 61 “Can this be Naomi?” 62 20 But she replied 63 to them, 64 “Don’t call me ‘Naomi’! 65 Call me ‘Mara’ 66 because the Sovereign One 67 has treated me very harshly. 68 21 I left here full, 69 but the Lord has caused me to return empty-handed. 70 Why do you call me ‘Naomi,’ seeing that 71 the Lord has opposed me, 72 and the Sovereign One 73 has caused me to suffer?” 74 22 So Naomi returned, accompanied by her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth, who came back with her from the region of Moab. 75 (Now they 76 arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.) 77
2 Now Naomi 1 had a relative 2 on her husband’s side of the family named Boaz. He was a wealthy, prominent man from the clan of Elimelech. 3 2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go 4 to the fields so I can gather 5 grain behind whoever permits me to do so.” 6 Naomi 7 replied, “You may go, my daughter.” 3 So Ruth 8 went and gathered grain in the fields 9 behind the harvesters. Now she just happened to end up 10 in the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelech.
4 Now at that very moment, 11 Boaz arrived from Bethlehem 12 and greeted 13 the harvesters, “May the Lord be with you!” They replied, 14 “May the Lord bless you!” 5 Boaz asked 15 his servant 16 in charge of the harvesters, “To whom does this young woman belong?” 17 6 The servant in charge of the harvesters replied, “She’s the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the region of Moab. 7 She asked, 18 ‘May I follow the harvesters and gather 19 grain among the bundles?’ 20 Since she arrived she has been working hard 21 from this morning until now 22 – except for 23 sitting 24 in the resting hut 25 a short time.” 26
8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, 27 my dear! 28 Do not leave to gather grain in another field. You need not 29 go beyond the limits of this field. You may go along beside 30 my female workers. 31 9 Take note of 32 the field where the men 33 are harvesting and follow behind with the female workers. 34 I will tell the men 35 to leave you alone. 36 When you are thirsty, you may go to 37 the water jars 38 and drink some of the water 39 the servants draw.” 40
10 Ruth 41 knelt before him with her forehead to the ground 42 and said to him, “Why are you so kind 43 and so attentive to me, 44 even though 45 I am a foreigner?” 46 11 Boaz replied to her, 47 “I have been given a full report of 48 all that you have done for your mother-in-law following the death of your husband – how you left 49 your father and your mother, as well as your homeland, and came to live among people you did not know previously. 50 12 May the Lord reward your efforts! 51 May your acts of kindness be repaid fully 52 by the Lord God of Israel, from whom you have sought protection!” 53 13 She said, “You really are being kind to me, 54 sir, 55 for you have reassured 56 and encouraged 57 me, your servant, 58 even though I am 59 not one of your servants!” 60
14 Later during the mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and have 61 some food! Dip your bread 62 in the vinegar!” So she sat down beside the harvesters. Then he handed 63 her some roasted grain. She ate until she was full and saved the rest. 64 15 When she got up to gather grain, Boaz told 65 his male servants, “Let her gather grain even among 66 the bundles! Don’t chase her off! 67 16 Make sure you pull out 68 ears of grain for her and drop them so she can gather them up. Don’t tell her not to!” 69 17 So she gathered grain in the field until evening. When she threshed 70 what she had gathered, it came to about thirty pounds 71 of barley!
18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw 72 how much grain 73 she had gathered. Then Ruth 74 gave her the roasted grain she had saved from mealtime. 75 19 Her mother-in-law asked her, 76 “Where did you gather grain today? Where did you work? May the one who took notice of you be rewarded!” 77 So Ruth 78 told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked. She said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.” 20 Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be rewarded by the Lord because he 79 has shown loyalty to the living on behalf of the dead!” 80 Then Naomi said to her, “This man is a close relative of ours; he is our guardian.” 81 21 Ruth the Moabite replied, “He even 82 told me, ‘You may go along beside my servants 83 until they have finished gathering all my harvest!’” 84 22 Naomi then said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “It is good, my daughter, that you should go out to work with his female servants. 85 That way you will not be harmed, which could happen in another field.” 86 23 So Ruth 87 worked beside 88 Boaz’s female servants, gathering grain until the end of the barley harvest as well as the wheat harvest. 89 After that she stayed home with her mother-in-law. 90