During the time of the Judges, a man from Bethlehem in Judah named Elimelech and his wife Naomi went to Moab to live. They had two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, and both took Moabite wives, Orpah and Ruth. Elimelech died, but was shortly followed in death by his sons. This left a household of childless widows–which was not exactly a desirable position back in the Iron Age in Mesopotamia.
So Naomi decided to return to Judah to seek asylum among her husband’s people. She told her two daughter-in-laws that’d it be best for them to return to their fathers’ houses, since she was too old to have any more sons for them to marry. Orpah was all, sounds good to me. See you later, guys. Best of luck! But Ruth was all, No, Naomi. I will stay with you and care for you for the rest of my life.
When Naomi realized that Ruth was serious, she was all, alrighty then. And the two traveled to Bethlehem, where Naomi’s reappearance with a foreign woman caused quite a stir.