Naomi (Hebrew: נעמי) Standard Hebrew Noʻomi is Ruth‘s mother-in-law in the Bible (Old Testament Book of Ruth).
The etymology of her biblical Hebrew name (נָעֳמִי), which means “good, pleasant, lovely, winsome.”
Naomi is married to a man named Elimelech. A famine causes them to move with their two sons, from their home in Judea to Moab. While there Elimelech dies, as well as his sons who had gotten married in the meantime. Near destitute, Naomi returns to Bethlehem with one daughter-in-law, Ruth, whom she could not dissuade from accompanying her. Her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, remains in Moab.
When Naomi returns, she tells the Bethlehemites, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara (מרה), for the Almighty GOD has dealt very bitterly with me”. Barry Webb points out that there is both an objective element in her life being bitter through bereavement, dislocation and poverty, as well as a subjective element – the bitterness she feels. He further argues that in Chapter 1 of the Book of Ruth, Naomi’s “perception of her condition” is “distorted by self-absorption,” but that Ruth plays “a key role in her rehabilitation.” Abraham Kuyper, on the other hand, asserts that “Naomi has such innate nobility of character that she immediately elicits from us our most sincere sympathy.” The Book of Ruth depicts the struggles of Naomi and Ruth for survival in a patriarchal environment.
The arrival of Naomi and Ruth in Bethlehem coincides with the barley harvest. Naomi gives Ruth permission to glean those fields where she is allowed. Ruth is working in the field of Boaz, when a servant identifies her to him as Naomi’s daughter-in-law. It happens that Boaz is a kinsman of Naomi’s late husband. He tells her to work with female servants, warns the young men not to bother her, and at mealtime invites her to share his food.
When Naomi learns that Ruth has the attention and kindness of Boaz, she counsels Ruth to approach him directly: “… [P]ut on your best attire and go down to the threshing floor. Do not make yourself known to the man before he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, take note of the place where he does so. Then go, uncover a place at his feet, and lie down. He will tell you what to do.
(Ruth 3: 3-4)
Webb points out Naomi’s “feminine scheming” in forcing Boaz’s hand. Yitzhak Berger suggests that Naomi’s plan was that Ruth seduce Boaz, just as Tamar and the daughters of Lot all seduced “an older family member in order to become the mother of his offspring.” At the crucial moment, however, “Ruth abandons the attempt at seduction and instead requests a permanent, legal union with Boaz.”
Ruth marries Boaz, and they have a son, whom Naomi cares for, and so the women of the town say: “Naomi has a son” (Ruth 4:17). In this way, the book can be seen to be Naomi’s story: Gregory Goswell argues that Naomi is the central character of the book, whereas Ruth is the main character. The son in question was Obed, who was the father of Jesse and thus later the grandfather of King David.
Application from the Book of Ruth in our lives today
There are five important life’s applications in this narrative:
1) GOD is concerned about all people regardless of race, nationality, or status.
Ruth was not a Jew, she was a Moabite. Even though many discriminated against her, GOD loved her just the same. GOD does not discriminate, and He loves all people just the same.
2) Men and women are both equally important to GOD.
GOD cares about men and women all the same. We are all one in His eyes. While most false belief that have been constructed over the centuries often elevate men and dishonor women, Holy Scriptures teaching us consistently honors men and women at the same level. There is no difference in His Eyes.
3) GOD always cares for the needy that keep their Faith strong.
At a surface level, few saw Ruth as an important person. She was from Moab, which was a nation that originated from an incestuous encounter between Lot and one of his daughters (Genesis 19:30–36). She was a poor widow and was living in a foreign land away from her birth family.
GOD saw her as important and His Plan for her life culminated in her becoming a part of the lineage of King David (and so Jesus, as the grandmother to David). GOD’s Plan typically involves using people who are considered to be underdogs or unimportant or unimpressive from man’s perspective. His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
4) GOD’s Plan always on progress, from Ruth bloodline comes King David.
GOD’s Plan is amazing yet mistrious to us, throught a series of “little” things that all added up to important pieces in GOD’s big Plan. GOD intended for Ruth to be a part of the story of the lineage of David. So, He pulled together events such as the famine, Naomi’s relocation to Moab, their return to Bethlehem, Boaz’ bloodline, and many other events just to ensure that Ruth could be a part of His Plan.
5) GOD rescue us from the mistakes we make if truly repent.
GOD is the Most High, Compassionate and Merciful, the only Judge and Redeemer.
Desolation is the result of a sinful behaviour, Naomi was empty and devastated after she had lost everything and returned to Judah. Sins and lies rendered people empty and desolate spiritually.
GOD is willing to redeem us, He wants to rescue us from the penalty of our sins. And all we have to do to be rescued is to call on Him in faith and ask Him to save us (Romans 10:13).