What does Ruth 1:22 mean?
ESV: So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
NIV: So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
NASB: So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
CSB: So Naomi came back from the territory of Moab with her daughter-in-law Ruth the Moabitess. They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
NLT: So Naomi returned from Moab, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, the young Moabite woman. They arrived in Bethlehem in late spring, at the beginning of the barley harvest.
KJV: So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.
NKJV: So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. Now they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
Verse Commentary:
The narrator completes the first chapter of the story with a synopsis and setup for what happens next. Naomi has returned to Bethlehem without her husband and sons (Ruth 1:1–5). Her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, insisted on accompanying her (Ruth 1:15–18).

This verse has two literary marks. One is the inclusio—a literary device marking either end of a passage—closing the section begun in Ruth 1:6. This completes the story of the "return from [Moab]."

The other technique is a chiasm: the use of mirror-images, or reversed order, to arrange information, with the key point at the center (Ruth 1:15–18). This verse forms a chiasm with Ruth 1:1. The earlier verse noted things in the order of time, Bethlehem, Moab, then participants. This verse reverses this to note participants, Moab, Bethlehem, and then time.

From here until Boaz has finished the legal proceedings, Ruth is pointedly and repeatedly identified as a "Moabite" (Ruth 2:2, 6, 21; 4:5, 10). This may be to highlight the fact that she is not a native to Israel. But it may also be that this Moabitess, who should be an enemy of Israel (Numbers 25:1–5), is the one person who cares the most for an Israelite widow. In fact, she is willing to surrender her future to make sure Naomi receives justice.

Bethlehem means "house of bread." The name makes the famine even more tragic, but the famine makes the barley harvest even more cause for celebration. The barley harvest occurs around late April or early May and continues until the wheat harvest two weeks later. Because of the barley harvest, Ruth will meet Boaz. Because of Ruth's devotion to Naomi, Boaz will insist Ruth continue to glean through the wheat harvest. By the end of the wheat harvest, God will redeem the losses the women have faced and bless Israel and the world in the process.
Verse Context:
Ruth 1:19–22 describes Naomi's return to Bethlehem. Ten years prior, she fled with an empty stomach, but also with a husband and sons who filled her hands with blessings. Now, Bethlehem can again fill her stomach, but her family has died. In her bitterness, she seems to forget the faithful, loving Moabite daughter-in-law who has followed her and vows to stay at her side. She will learn soon enough how God will use Ruth to restore her hope and her future.
Chapter Summary:
Ruth 1 depicts how a person can feel "starved" for things other than food. Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, flee a famine in Bethlehem and settle in Moab where there is plenty of food and their sons find devoted wives. Within ten years, however, Naomi's husband and sons are dead. When she hears Judah has food again, she prepares to return as an old, bitter widow. One daughter-in-law, Ruth, insists on accompanying her. On the surface, a young Moabite widow in Israel would be the last person who could help, but God honors Ruth's lovingkindness and eventually uses her to restore Naomi's hope and future.
Chapter Context:
Ruth chapter 1 introduces the tumultuous life of a Jewish woman in the era of the judges (Judges 2:16–19). The Israelites have entered the Promised Land but have only half-heartedly pursued God's command to drive out the depraved Canaanites. Too often, they rejected God for foreign idols. God responds with war and famine. In the face of one such famine in Judah, Elimelech and Naomi take their two sons and flee to Moab. After ten years, when the famine is lifted, Naomi returns to Bethlehem with all that is left of her family: one daughter-in-law. They encounter Boaz, whose character is explained more in chapter 2.
Book Summary:
Though set in a time of violence and tragedy, the book of Ruth tells one of Scripture’s most uplifting stories. Naomi, an Israelite, leaves her home during a famine. While away, in Moab, her husband and sons die. Naomi convinces one of her Moabite daughters-in-law to leave her and seek a new life. The other, Ruth, refuses, declaring her love and loyalty to Naomi. When the pair return to Israel, they encounter Boaz. This man is both kind and moral; his treatment of Ruth secures Naomi’s future and becomes part of king David’s ancestry.
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