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Book of Ruth: Three Widows, Three Choices

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


The Book of Ruth

The Book of Ruth is a short love story of only four chapters. Even so, it tells the story of three women who became widows and had to make three choices that changed their lives in different ways.

The story begins when Elimelech, with his wife, Naomi, and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, left Bethlehem, which means "house of bread" during the time of a famine and lived in Moab, a pagan nation. Elimelech died, and the two sons married Moabites. Mahlon married Ruth and Chilion married Orpah. Then both sons died. That meant the three women were now three widows: Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.

Naomi's Choice

When Naomi heard that the famine in Bethlehem was over, she decided to go back home to her country, her people and her God. It wasn't Naomi's choice to leave in the first place. It was her husband's. After his death and the death of both her sons, it was an easy choice for her to return home.

Naomi asked her daughters-in-law to go back home with her. The choice wasn't as easy for them. However, Ruth decided to go with her mother-in-law. The decision changed her life forever.

Ruth gleaning in Boaz's field

Ruth gleaning in Boaz's field

Ruth's Choice

Ruth found happiness in Bethlehem. It was a new country where people served a different god, ate different food and lived a different way. However, Ruth was a risk taker who found favor in Bethlehem.

If Ruth had stayed in Moab, her life would have been very different. Ruth married Boaz, and they had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David who became the second king of Israel. In other words, Ruth became part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. She is one of only two women who have a book named after them in the Bible. The other book is Esther.

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth clung to her. (Ruth 1:14)

William Blake's Painting of Ruth clinging to   Naomi

William Blake's Painting of Ruth clinging to Naomi

Orpah's Choice

Orpah had the same choice as Ruth, but Orpah played it safe. She did not take the risk to go to a place she didn't know or to serve a god she didn't know. She decided to stay where she was.

Orpah did have a hard time making her decision because she loved Naomi and Ruth. They had become her family, but she did not want to leave her own country which meant giving up her own culture and things she had grown up with including her pagan gods.

She was not a risk taker and did not want to risk leaving behind what she knew to go to a faraway. So, instead of going to Bethlehem with Naomi and Ruth, Orpah stayed in Moab.

We never heard about Orpah again. We don't know if she ever learned what happened to Naomi and Ruth. However, we know that those two women found peace and happiness in Bethlehem.


Every choice that we make is similar to one of the three woman. Either we will be inspired and do what Naomi did, or what Ruth did, or what Orpah did. Which choice would you make?

  • Naomi made the choice to return to that which she had left behind.
  • Ruth made the choice to take a chance on that which was different and unknown to her. She was looking ahead.
  • Orpah made the choice to take the path of least resistance. She chose to go back to what she knew.
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Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 08, 2019:

Informational and helpful. I like very much how you made the application so relatable.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on November 19, 2018:

Thanks, Martha. I am glad you learned something. Feel free to use anything I write.

Martha Rogers on November 19, 2018:

So inspiring. I love to read the book of Ruth. thank you for your GREAT WORK. I'm printing this out so I can take it to Sunday School Class with me(:) cheat, cheat.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on June 21, 2018:

Thanks, Roz and Charlie for reading and commenting on my article about the three widows and their choices in the Book of Ruth.

I have always been interested in the way the three women had choices and how they acted in their circumstance.

charlie from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans on June 21, 2018:

Another good example

always the best choice is to let God or in this age Jesus who is acting in God's stead, lead you by His Spirit. Of Course the same Spirit is found in both of them and we cannot become disciples of Christ unless we allow it to possess us as well

Roz Zurko on June 21, 2018:

This article was inspiring, what a great read. I also admire Ruth and this article it got me thinking of my own path. I enjoyed this.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on June 21, 2018:

Betty A F, yes Ruth is to be admired for taking a chance. There is a lot more I could have said about her, but I wanted to emphasize her choice to leave to go to a place unknown to her. Perhaps I will say more about her in my next article about her.

Betty A F from Florida on June 21, 2018:

This was a very encouraging article Margaret. I like Ruth's choice, she took a chance. It made me think about how often we miss opportunities by taking the path of least resistance. There's a lot of resistance today.

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