Once upon a time - it was back in the days when judges led Israel - there was a famine in the land. A man from Bethlehem in Judah left home to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.
The man's name was Elimelech; his wife's name was Naomi; his sons were named Mahlon and Kilion - all Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They all went to the country of Moab and settled there.
Elimelech died and Naomi was left, she and her two sons.
The sons took Moabite wives; the name of the first was Orpah, the second Ruth. They lived there in Moab for the next ten years.
But then the two brothers, Mahlon and Kilion, died. Now the woman was left without either her young men or her husband.
One day she got herself together, she and her two daughters-in-law, to leave the country of Moab and set out for home; she had heard that God had been pleased to visit his people and give them food.
And so she started out from the place she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law with her, on the road back to the land of Judah.
After a short while on the road, Naomi told her two daughters-in-law, "Go back. Go home and live with your mothers. And may God treat you as graciously as you treated your deceased husbands and me.
May God give each of you a new home and a new husband!" She kissed them and they cried openly.
They said, "No, we're going on with you to your people."
But Naomi was firm: "Go back, my dear daughters. Why would you come with me? Do you suppose I still have sons in my womb who can become your future husbands?