Ruth 1:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Ruth 1:2, NIV: The man's name was Elimelek, his wife's name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

Ruth 1:2, ESV: The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.

Ruth 1:2, KJV: And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

Ruth 1:2, NASB: The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. So they entered the land of Moab and remained there.

Ruth 1:2, NLT: The man's name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.

Ruth 1:2, CSB: The man's name was Elimelech, and his wife's name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the fields of Moab and settled there.

What does Ruth 1:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This statement provides the names of the people mentioned at the start of the chapter (Ruth 1:1). An Israelite family—parents and two sons—flee the famine in Judah around Bethlehem. They settle in Moab, a nation regularly at war with Israel. "Elimelech" means "God is my king." "Naomi" means "pleasant." "Bethlehem" means "house of bread."

Scholars debate the meaning of the sons' names. It's possible that "Mahlon" means "sickly," and "Chilion" means "frailty, mortal." Both sons will pass away while in Moab (Ruth 1:4), leading some interpreters to see those as placeholders simply noting the son's fate. Others suggest the names are derived from machol and kalal, meaning "dancing" and "perfected." As literal names, they would have been given long before the move to Moab and their untimely deaths. These are all possibilities, but none are the least important to the message of this book.

Bethlehem is, of course, well-known to the Bible story. Rachel, Jacob's favorite wife, was buried there after giving birth to Benjamin (Genesis 35:16–19). David is from there as is his descendent, Jesus the Messiah (1 Samuel 16:1; Luke 2:1–21).

The term "Ephrath" is less certain. It refers to the region surrounding Bethlehem and is sometimes used to refer to Bethlehem, itself. It also seems to be the name of a clan in Bethlehem. Judah's son Perez had two sons (Genesis 46:12). Boaz, and therefore David and Jesus, is descended from Perez's grandson, Ram (Ruth 4:18–19). Ram's brother Caleb, sometimes spelled Chelubai, married a woman named Ephrath (1 Chronicles 2:19). It's unlikely the clan and region are named after her; she would have lived in Egypt when the Israelites were enslaved there.

The phrase translated "country of Moab" most literally means "fields of Moab," referring to physical land, not the cultural or political nation. The term refers to a specific agricultural region, although we don't know where. Likewise, we don't know what the family did there, why they stayed so long, or why the sons took wives from Moab and didn't go back to Israel. That so many things are left unsaid implies those details aren't necessary to grasp the point of the story. This book is about a young Moabite widow showing lovingkindness to her widowed Israelite mother-in-law. She demonstrates so much love that she dedicates her life to make sure the mother is recompensed for her loss.

The larger lesson is about God's lovingkindness, even for widows. He not only cares for their needs, but He also places Ruth in the ancestral line of King David and the Messiah, Jesus.